Purgatory: It’s Not Just For Catholics Anymore!

I think the catholics gave purgatory a bad name. It’s actually kind of a sweet place. Not that I recommend it. Not that I’m even enjoying it. But I’m inhabiting it. And now that I am aware that this is where I am, I am opening myself to the possibility of falling in love with it. Purgatory. It’s that no-woman’s-land between heaven and hell. Like hanging out in a broken elevator that plays jazz so smooth, if you hooked it up to an EKG machine, the line would be reminiscent of a horizon slicing across a sky and sea so vast, it could be misconstrued as infinity.

But don’t let the elevator music fool you. It is anything but bland inside ME, as I mill about in this forsaken somewhere inside me, like a cow preparing to birth a handful of wet, spindly calves. My heart feels mostly broken. Sigh. I guess that’s how the light shines through. Sometimes…

And now, my beloved Devis and Devas, Athena Grace LMNOP shall explain what she means when she says she is in purgatory. Well… Yesterday I realized that I don’t know where I “belong”. Spending nine weeks in an ashram in the woods, I have become hyper-sensitized to all of the noise and energy and excessive, senseless motion of the urban environment. “Well, then,” you say, “why don’t you just move your sensitive little butt to Ananda, Mrs. Grace, and live with the God-loving yogis?” Well… maybe I will. But when I imagine being here full time… I panic in anticipation of all this incessant calmness. See? I’m in an unsolvable awkward phase. All I can really do is endure. And keep taking the step that reveals itself from this disorienting dark.

I’m feeling sorry for myself right now, can you tell? Someone PLEASE slap me. I am not here to be self indulgent. So be raw, yes. To be naked, yes. To share… but not to wallow. It’s just that not only do I feel like a cow being swatted along toward the slaughterhouse, as I prepare to return to the Bay Area and fumble into some new chapter of reality, but I also saw a picture of my ex-fiance snuggled under warm covers, holding his three day old son to his chest… and it shattered me. My heart erupted like a volcano of so many contradictory emotions: my own profound LONGING to be a mother, and devastation that it seems SO FUCKING FAR AWAY FOR ME, sadness that he chooses not to include me in his life (yes, I own that I broke his heart when I left him for another man…), joy for him, because I feel him to be truly happy and having what he wants in his life and plus, he’ll be the best dad ever, shame for feeling anything but happy for him and his wife, pure awe for the deep, open love that was transmitted through the photo… I fell to my knees and sobbed for a while. Shrug. Such is life. And so I type these words with a raw and bleeding heart. I just told Ed in a text that I would kill myself right now, if I believed it would solve anything. But I know it won’t. So I march on. He told me to remember God… and I was like “Oh yeah…” (Holding onto the awareness of God seems like clutching at a slippery soap with wet hands!) See, that’s why I keep him around. Because he is a pro at feeding me back my own medicine at just the right moments.

God… Please envelope my slashed, aching heart in your miraculous, healing love now….

I realized this morning that I can’t remember the last time I felt really, purely “happy”… Not that I haven’t… I’ve just been so busy transforming. And I’m thinking that maybe my definition of happiness is transforming with me. It’s like… well… more of a subtle, sober quietness, than a bone-rattling, skin-ripping high. But then… it’s not like I’m perpetually streaming with zen mellowness. I’m still managing to cry all the time. And yet, I feel that there is a deepening experience of myself taking root. Like more of a consistent contentment in the quiet spaces. I can’t say for sure… because I’m still dissolving. But I know that beneath the struggle, something beautiful is emerging.

Wow. I just stained the page with a big spill from the chalice of my heart. And then I took the world’s deepest, slowest inhale, and I was transported to heaven for a split second. Now I’m back… to this glorious purgatorial sphere of perception. And I’m contemplating how to sum it all up… I just keep looking at life “out there”, and measuring it against life “in here”… and all I feel is “bepuzzlement”. How do I unite these two faces of my one self? I guess this inquiry is the beginning of the next leg of the journey Home. Sigh. It seems to be such an arduous trek. I want to take the express elevator up the Mountain. But I guess if I did that, I would surely be blinded by the intensity of the Infinite Light at the top. I believe the strength and endurance we gain along the climb prepares us for the inevitable, all-consuming rapture. Or maybe we just go on foot for the sheer fun of it…

Live,
A

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Stuck On Fumble

I want to write something different. Lately I feel like I come to Athena Graceland, whining about all that life is, and all that life isn’t. And yes, I believe that life is what I make it. But these days, I feel like a skipping record caught on fumble fuck. I see people on Facebook raving about how awesome life is… and I aggressively suck in on myself, because I feel like I should be saying stuff like that too, given how essentially wise and radiant and caring I am.

I am in darkness. Caught in a hazy dream. Groping desperate and determined at self-imposed walls, in hopes of stumbling upon a massive, stunning, golden door, with an ornate, glowing knob that throbs in anticipation of being turned by my large, elegant hand. It is a dangerous game- looking into a future strictly informed by an out-grown husk of an imagined past. Why am I doing that? Because although it is painfully binding to the vast magnificence fighting to be born through me, it is comfortable like “holy” sweats.

I’m trying to use the tools I learned in spiritual counseling… going inside, getting quiet, lifting myself into a superconscious state. I hate the word “try”. And I prefer not to use the word “hate”. Ugh. See, I keep picking fights with myself, which is totally counter-productive to where I want to go. But the part of me invested in staying stuck, freakin LOVES IT! Anyway, it “seems” like “trying” when I go within, because it’s like visiting a foreign country where I don’t speak the language. Or maybe even another planet, where can’t breathe the air because it’s way too refined for prehistoric beasts such as Athena Grace.

I’ve taken to talking to Yogananda’s photograph in the mornings before I start my yoga and meditation. I’m always amazed at how willing he is to talk with me. Recently, he told me to have compassion for myself. LOADS of it. Like more than even GOD is capable of. And I thought cheerfully to myself, “Wow, I can do that!”. But now, here I am on the playing field, and mustering that kind of compassion is harder than it seemed at first glance. Because I want to be THE BEST. But then the gap between this fuzzy, distorted image of “THE BEST”, and the reality of where I perceive myself to be is comparable to the Grand Canyon. Though I’ve never been there, I imagine it is exponentially immense. But it is also gorgeous. Maybe the massive gap between who I am and who I think I should be is actually one of the seven wonders of the world! Maybe it is a tourist attraction that brings bazillions of humble, everyday people to their knees in awe, because the views are so stunning!

I have to bring lightness to this unsavory place I am imagining myself to be in… or else I will soon collapse in the drought of my own self-imposed forgetfulness. This morning, I got in the shower and began to sob and even though I was afraid of upsetting the other residents of Villa Luce (my Ma’s house), I had to go with it, because all this energy welling up in me sought liberation through expression.

Wait, before I go any further, I have to tell you that yesterday I officially became a disciple of Yogananda. I was sure in my heart that this was the right thing to do… but today I am feeling anxious, because now I feel this perpetual self-judgement hanging over my head, like I “SHOULDN’T” be having so many feelings. Like Yoganada doesn’t approve. (Hmmm, interesting. My mom actually DID used to say those very words to me when I was a kid… when she didn’t like the way I was behaving. She’d say in a stern, sing-song voice, “Dawn… Yogananda wouldn’t approve…” Scarry.) But yeah, I feel like he’s standing over my shoulder, watching EVERYTHING I do, and judging me for being too emotional, too free-spirited, too self-indulgent. Shit. I’m gonna hafta evolve into a healthier relationship with my guru… because this is NOT sustainable.

Ahem… so to the projected distaste of my beloved guru, I’m freshly showered and still intermittently spilling with teary sorrow, as I gather my belongings and prepare to head out of the house to find a place to write, when the harp begins to strum, and I realize I am getting a phone call. Who could it be, I wonder… I look and my iPhone screen says “Dad”. Not the first person I’d think to call while my heart is all broken in like five thousand pieces… but I answer it, because it’s been too long, and because God doesn’t make mistakes.

“Hello?” I manage, meekly, between sorrowful peels. “Athena?” he says, probably because I don’t sound like myself. “Yeah,” I reply. “Are you crying?” he asks, which sends me into another upsurge of tearful crooning. I’m laughing to myself as I reflect on the unfolding of our conversation from there; Me, doing my best to speak through waves of unbridled sorrow, and him responding with an all-too-familiar strain of masculine reason, “I can’t understand you when you’re crying like that.”

I just want him to be like, “Oh sweetheart… you are so loved…I’m here with you…” and I’m wondering inside why on earth I chose to answer his call… and simultaneously trying not to take myself or him too seriously. Cuz we’re both just actors in a play called “The Moment”, and I’m honestly not sure if it’s supposed to be a comedy or a tragedy…Meanwhile, he’s walking his five month old yellow lab puppy and he keeps diverting from our conversation to discipline “Koby”, and talk to all the people he’s encountering. Jesus almighty. But I decide to let it all just BE…

And eventually, he comes around, and like a fresh-water spring pouring from the side of a high and glorious mountain, he starts spouting totally kind and wise words to me. Like he’s already proud of me… for being who I am, and being willing to plunge into the Unknown… and that I could simply be practicing my yoga and meditation in a park in Oakland, and people would be drawn to my light… and I must be willing to flaunt what I’ve got so that people know what I have to offer. I’ve learned to have exceedingly low expectations of my dad. But since I let go of the hope of “getting anything from him”, he often surprises me with his love and insight. What I was left with, is a gentle invitation to remember who I am, and what I have to give. And to go for the “Big Prize”, as he refers to whatever “THAT” dream may be for me… And once again, I found myself stunned and surprised by the clarity with which my dad sees me. Considering that I haven’t visited him since last october, and it really didn’t go so well, and we live in universes neither parallel, nor perpendicular… but distant, like stars twinkling from opposite ends of a roomy galaxy.

I was walking to the Crystal Hermitage as we talked. Just as I was approaching it, my dad says, “Well, I’m just about done with my walk, so I gotta get goin…” I smile inwardly at the synchronous perfection. “Yeah, me too,” I affirm. And we lovingly wrap up our call. I am marveling at the intelligence and perfection of God, as I notice that my tears have dried and my heart feels waaay lighter.

Oh yeah, and he also told me that the “Big Prize” is behind door number three. So I shall keep groping about in this sanctified darkness that could only be God’s closet. And I pray that by pure Grace, my hand will eventually encounter that illustrious, throbbing knob.

Live,
A

Superconsciousness And Loving My Mom

I think I’ll write about how much I love my mom. Because everything else that is rushing through my mind is making my heart clench. I don’t know why… I mean, everything that is on my mind is awesome… if you boil it all down. I have been breaking a sweat since I started my Spiritual Counseling class here at the Momshram. It seems simple enough, right? You go to class, they dispense information, you stay awake and take good notes, go home and get on with your life… NOPE. As it turns out, being a spiritual counselor requires abiding in a superconscious state, which then lifts the counselee into alignment with their own innate wisdom. So, yeah, they taught us tools… but none of those tools are worth a damn if I am abiding in my small, separate self.

Superconsciousness is God-mind. Unity consciousness. The sphere where reality is not relative. I am you, and you are me, and we are seemingly individuated drops dissolved in the infinite ocean of love. That’s awesome, right? Like why on earth would my heart be clenched? Well… my best guess is because all of the ideas about myself and life that are rooted in my small, separate self are on the brink of death and they don’t appreciate that. And I have believed for so long, that that is who I am and I don’t want to die!! But really, I DO. I want to be free. I want to remember myself as the Ocean.

The last thing I’ll say about this, before I start gushing about my superlative mother, is that being a spiritual counselor is not something you do for an hour, and then fall back into darkness, separation, delusion. No! It requires vigilant practice!! In every new moment, we have a fresh choice (no, not the restaurant, dummy!)… to be identified with our limitations, fears, judgments… or to lift our consciousness up into heaven within. Like Jesus said, “Let thine eye be single, and thy whole body shall be full of light.” He’s talking about the third (spiritual) eye; the point between your eyebrows; your sixth chakra. Through practicing inhabiting this sacred center all week, I realize that I can not live there AND live in my head, in the past, in my deluded hopes…

Superconsciousness is a gentle home. It makes no demands. And being an inward ambassador of eternity, naturally, it speaks in a tenderized whisper. When it speaks. Often it doesn’t say anything at all. The Self is ever content, ever peaceful, ever free. So you can see how easily it can be drowned out by the relentless, dramatic antics of the ego.

To be a spiritual counselor, is to LIVE in spiritual practice. But thankfully, not spiritual perfect! God, if that was the case, we’d all be screwed. But everyone can practice! I guess at a soul level, we all ARE practicing. Hmmm… Sometimes that sure doesn’t SEEM like the case. Most of us seem to be clutching dam hard at the fringes of oblivion. But heck, I’m not gonna go there. Sri Yukteswar said to leave some mysteries for when we’re Self Realized. I think because on the spiritual path, simplicity and practicality go a long way. For example, I keep reminding myself to pause and lift my inward gaze to the point between my eyebrows- simple, yet potent… Like, really, what else IS there to do, beyond being willing to relinquish all that *seems* so compelling, and simply be awake. Gosh, it seems so easy. And it IS. For a fleeting moment. Until I get swept away in the rapids of my untrained and flailing mind.

But anyway, MY MOM IS AWESOME! It’s been exquisite to be on this leg of my journey… and get to spend so much time with her. I mean, dig this: we share a bedroom (with matching german fairytale single beds)! Yes, for six weeks over the summer, then a two week break, and now another two weeks and counting, we have been living together in hella intimate quarters. Every day, I feel amazed and grateful that this brings us closer, when it could so *conceivably* drive us further apart. You know… by being way too up in each other’s shit. But we’re so harmonious! She doesn’t get jalepeno my business, nor do I get all up in hers. But we both enjoy coming together for little segments of the day and sharing conversation, life and laughter (and sometimes I cry too). I bet if you drew some of each of our blood and looked at it under a powerful microscope, you’d see the same sense of humor splashing about in both sanguinary samples. We can laugh together in a way that is unique to us; like being the only two members of a highly exclusive and totally fabulous club.

I have also opted to be transparent with her in regards to my emotionally sprawling journey with Ed (whom I am still epically in love with and devoted to). This has been a conscious choice on my part, and has had me totter at the terrifying edge of my vulnerability again and again and again. I face my fears of being misunderstood or judged. And yet I keep choosing to expose my heart and my life to her. Every time, I am met with unconditional love. Not that she doesn’t have judgements. She might. But she does not make them the most important thing. She listens to my heart. And asks questions when she doesn’t understand. And the miracle of it, is that so many times, I have shared with her the places where Ed and I get stuck and are struggling to “see eye to eye”, and Beloved Sumitra is able to recognize an convey how Ed might be feeling/perceiving reality… and where I have NOT been able to hear HIM, I can suddenly hear him through her!!! And when I refer to this as a miracle, I mean it. (Though really, I believe EVERYTHING is a miracle… but let’s not go tumble up that ecstatic rabbit hole right now.)

I often reflect on how amazing it is to be on a spiritual journey with my Ma. Like, how many people GET THAT boon? She is such a great friend, ally, human being. If she was someone ELSE’S mom, I’d be so jealous of them!!! I even love the ways that she “messed up” raising me. Because I have the opportunity to choose forgiveness, and only see her for the love she gives and the love she IS. And likewise with the ways her “mess-ups” impacted me. Again, I have the choice to hold myself with unbounded compassion and perfect faith in the intelligence of the divine wisdom that is unfolding me with every breath.

As a child, my mom always let me eat whatever I wanted off her plate. I see this as a metaphor that extends way beyond the act itself. Jeesh, I would have a much harder time sharing my food… even with someone I love entirely. MY FOOD. Dumb, I know… But deeper than that, it’s the energetics of the gesture. Genuinely selfless giving. From pure love. She gives like this to many in a multiplicity of ways, every day. I have learned so much from her. She has learned so much from me. And we continue to raise each other up in the Light. We always will.

Sometimes I like to think about how one day, she will leave this earth. And how much I will miss her. This makes me savor every second we are blessed to share. Or maybe every tenth second… Because sometimes I fall asleep. But I am practicing waking up more and more. It takes vigilance. But it’s worth it.

Live,
A

My Chaos… It’s Actually Sorta Lovely.

This isn’t a very creative opening sentence but my goal today on the page, is to befriend myself and open my heart to all the chaos that is coursing through my veins. Is anybody else feeling extra nutzo today? This is such a bizarre chapter of my life. I want to scream. It feels self-indulgent to sit here writing about all my feelings and fluctuations… when I could be “making something of my life”. But my hope is that by letting myself just BE here, amidst the chaos and confusion, that a spontaneous alchemy will happen, and a diamond will naturally tumble forth from this imaginary weave of dynamic tension, like prismatic honey dew cascading from a fragile leaf in heaven’s own secret garden.

I feel angry. I think it is my soul trying to shake me awake, call me to ACTION. There are so many things I want to create in my life. But somehow, the days keep slipping by. Mostly all I have been doing is sadhana (spiritual practice), talking to my mom, talking to Ed, preparing healthy food, eating it, napping, more sadhana, more talking to Ed and my Ma… and then going to sleep. And now I’m here writing about it, and I want to cry and pull my hair out.

The spirituality here at Ananda feels pretty masculine. The whole line of gurus are men. They condone sitting still for like EVER. Listen, I am not knocking it… (like I did in a some blog posts a few years ago) I LOVE it here at Ananda. It is a sanctuary of sanity amidst a world of blind, forgetful children, flailing around in ignorance, barking up imaginary trees in pursuit of happiness that already exist within each of us, NOW. It’s a classic case of the Alchemist. Member? That magical little book by Paulo Cohello… The dude goes on this epic journey in search of treasure that was buried in the exact spot beneath which he slept at the beginning of the story…

But oh merciful Mary, my heart is THIRSTING for an integration of feminine expression in my spiritual life. I feel dried out. Must. Have. JUICE. This morning, I did my energization exercises, and then I stood frozen and tortured. I could not bring myself to do the same austere yoga poses I have been practicing day after day after day after… I haven’t danced in over two months. This was fine for a time… while I was dissolving over the summer, it was actually quite alright. And perhaps even necessary. But now the leaves are falling from the trees again, and blowing about in smooth, poetic frenzies, and I am once again becoming solid. And it’s a classic case of dance or BUST!

So incinerating in inexplicable internal flames, I put in my earbuds, and played an exquisite rendition of the gayatri mantra and began to move as my body and soul demanded. Caged in an empty, white-walled room, lit by a single candle, I danced to set myself free. It was clear that I was doing what I must, because the shackles began to loosen and slip from the silken surfaces of my soul. But then I looked to the altar. To the five men with serious faces who were witnessing my dance… And I felt misunderstood. I felt embarrassed, and maybe even ashamed for letting this essential part of me emerge and play. I cried as I danced. And I wondered if I was projecting all that judgement onto myself, or whether the gurus really didn’t approve. I’d like to think it was just the darkness of my own psyche rising to the surface for healing. Yeah. I’m pretty sure it was. Because rumor has it, there IS no “outside”; the whole world is a projection streaming from the divine play of light and shadow, born of my own consciousness. I know that’s debatable. But let’s not debate it right now. Because when it comes to beliefs, the question to ask is: are they serving and informing my life, such that I am elevated to new heights of excellence? I mean, that’s really all beliefs are GOOD for, right? Infinity is way too vast to be strangled by the “hard and fast”… But that said, we need some sort of map and compass to guide us to the Eternal Home beyond the self-indulgent, respective somewheres we insist on wandering about in…

Ok. I’m starting to love myself again. I was beginning to doubt. It’s just that lately I’ve been surfing one of my all too familiar, quasi-beloved waves of terror- that I’m gonna FAIL AT MY MISSION for this life. I came to INSPIRE. To learn and explore and share all of my profound discoveries with YOU. I came with so many gifts, and most of the time, I feel like I am squandering them as I chase my tail and think really deep thoughts. Goddess almighty, this makes me crazy!!!! And the stupidest part is that here I am, just wanting to cry about it!!!! When really, all I need to do is change the channel and get into action.

Okay. I’m gonna take a time-out from this self-critical loop through no-woman’s-land. Instead I’m gonna write about this mystical white owl who is hovering just beyond the visible edges of my consciousness. She must be immense, because with even the slightest motion of her wing thrusts, mighty majestic winds wish across the sky inside, arousing subterranean feelings of enchanted power. Come closer, beautiful creature!!! Let me climb onto your smooth, white feathered back. Carry me somewhere better. Carry me to the towering, golden, jewel-crusted gates of Grace, where I will sit and patiently do pranayama and sing flirtatious, devotional songs (see, I’m gonna use my time wisely!) until they splay open, and out rolls an iridescent carpet, fashioned from the wings of ascended angels, upon which I will tread soft and triumphant, back into the arms of a love so pure and pervading, I will melt into a sea of my own ecstatic tears and pour upon alla y’all who are still staggering about on planet earth like a gaggle of drunk turkeys on the first day of november.

This message has been brought to you by the simple pleasure of new fleece sweats, caressing hydrated, wistful skin.

Live,
A

It’s Time To Rise!!

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

Well I’m gonna give you the GOOD news, because it is so good.
The messiah has returned to earth!!!

And now for the bad news:
Haha tricked you, there IS no bad news. But the news that could be construed as “bad”, by the lazy and the cynics among us, is that the messiah is YOU. And I’m not just saying that because my poetic license is glamorously up to date. I am saying it because this is becoming so blatantly obvious to me. We are each capable of manifesting the unlimited stream of goodness that is always flowing through us right NOW. We are not victims of circumstance or the past. And if we think we are, it is simply because we have not forgiven.

Do not be fooled. Forgiveness is NOT for the “fallible” he or she who has done you wrong. Who suffers for the burdensome grievances you choose to slog along as you trudge down the road of Life? Yep. You.

Listen to me. EVERYTHING is forgivable. Everything. You would not begrudge a tiny child for the myriad times she falls as she learns to walk… so why begrudge any of your brothers or sisters… for we are all but amnesiac divine children stumbling in the dark, that we may find our way Home. When you hold onto an image of another, based on their past behavior, you are confining both your own consciousness and theirs to a prison fabricated by your own misguided imagination.

Of course you can argue with me. And surely you can find ample evidence to illuminate any and every view point you could possibly choose. But honestly, would you rather be right, separate, miserable, alone… or at peace? Will you now choose to know yourself as the Source of Love? I come to Athena Graceland today with fire in my belly and a vision of peace for all wo(man)kind.

I don’t follow politics. Nor do I aspire to. But I know that some bullshitty stuff is going down in Syria. And I know that the U.S. is starting to bear our fangs and thrust war cries in that direction. On Sunday, I was at Stinson Beach with my most excellent girlfriend Deirdre, and we saw a dismal-spirited man standing on the corner with a wilted american flag and a sloppily scrawled sign that begged us to stop behaving like tyrannical infants, and WAKE UP. (Yes, those were my words. I have a proclivity to vivify and summarize.) And YES, I think waking up and collectively choosing something other than war is a fantastic idea!!! I am so enrolled. But here’s what I noticed- that man looked pretty unhappy himself. How is one slumped and scowling man, standing on a street corner in a breath-giving northern california beach town going to save the world? The answer is that he’s not. Nor are any of us who rage against the machine, angrily marching with signs. Because, duh, what you resist, persists. Where attention goes, energy flows. Do you really want peace? Then BE it.

I would bet EVERYTHING that if YOU offered your whole-hearted commitment to the purification of your mind, heart and body, such that when you closed your eyes and looked within, you saw an exquisite, endless expanse of softly smiling stillness and perfect, limitless love…

I’m not exactly sure how to finish that sentence. Because I have NOT perfected myself as such. So I can not speak from experience, but only from keen intuition. It is time to stop festering with all the horrifying symptoms of our collective forgetfulness, and dive straight to the ROOT. The root is within YOU. You are a mainline straight to Source. Choose to forgive all. Choose to recognize your small, calcified, limited, separate self as the colossal sham that it it is. Come on. Let’s not waste another second!!!

This morning, on the phone with Ed, he told me that tonight he is having a ride-along with a reporter from the Oakland Tribune. He did not sound too thrilled for this. On the contrary, I bet that if I had’ve checked his diaper in the moment, it would have been filled with warm, sloppy poop! Haha!! But this is no slander on my Sweetheart’s character. It is a useful caricature of an aspect of your own consciousness. And mine. You see, he told me that he wasn’t sure WHO this person was, or what they wanted… hence he didn’t know if it would be a “good” experience, or a “bad” one. And in that moment, I saw my own small, self-serving reflection. And I saw that when my consciousness is surfing that channel… living inside the question of “what can I GET from this other, and from life, itself,”… I am condemning myself to unhappiness.

So I invited him to stop waiting for the world to show up according to his narrow slab of conditions, hopes and expectations, and BE THE GIFT. Be the one to declare unconditional love, to offer sacred, penetrating presence and bottomless kindness FOR ITS OWN SAKE. If we wait for others to bend over backwards and break in order to convey a fabricated demonstration of worthiness, we might be waiting for a loooooooong time. And WE suffer for this.

To put it in the most remedial terms, it feels awesome to be nice.

And I’m not talking about pink-Betty-Crocker-frosting-out-of-the-can, nice. I’m talking about rooted-into-the-center-of-the-planet-and-the-blazing-core-of-the-galaxy-powerful-beyond-measure nice. Nice because you are acting from deep, unobscured alignment with that which you ARE at your core.

This takes practice. Lots of practice. But the good news is that you have an entire human life; an incessant stream of opulent opportunities to practice. Every single day. Right NOW.

Live,
A

Let the Bullshit Burn

Ladies and Gentlemen, live from the eye of the needle… Please give a warm welcome to our beloved linguistic exhibitionist, Mrs. Athena Grace, LMNOP!

I guess you know you’re living the right life when you look out your eyes, and extend the tender, invisible fingers of your heart to grope about the immediacy of your environment (within and without, because, duh, “as above, so below”), and you say to yourself, “Wow, I’ve never been HERE before.” Mmm, I like that spin on this moment as breathed by yours truly. This moment feels prickly, though potentially benign… like a threatened porcupine. Lately I’ve been having this experience of people asking me how I am, and noticing that what comes out of my mouth sounds more pathetic than I mean for it to… Powerless. Irresponsible. (God, I hope I start my period soon. I feel like a bursting, glutenous tick.)

I dunno about you, but lately, I have been attracting a loud, clear message that our personal and collective karma is rising to the surface to be healed, digested, transmuted. And I’ve been asking myself what that IS for me… What are the personal stories of lack, limitation and bondage that I have been lugging around? I think the dousing rod of my self-inquiry is drawing near to something powerful… because I suddenly feel like I could burst into you-know-whats. But I won’t collapse. I’m just here to take an honest look at myself. Because I want to be my very best.

“But then,” pipes in my resident philosopher, “What is my best?… It *seems* like it’s that loftier-than-thou, demigoddess image of who I *could* be… if… I wasn’t all tangled up in myself. But I’m not that. I’m THIS me. Who is sitting here on the cushioned bench at Pizzaiolo, steeping in the thick din of decadent first world existence, musing on who I am, who I could be, and dare I say it, who I *should* be.”

I thought I believed that everyone truly IS doing their best… but today, I’m not so sure. Personally, I think I could be doing better. It hurts to say that. Because it doesn’t feel very self-loving. But I don’t want to keep letting myself off the hook. It’s painful to be as powerful and brilliant as I am… and incessantly drift across my finite days here on planet earth, uncommitted, untethered, uncertain. I’m coming to the point where feeling myself in this all too familiar place MAKES ME SCREAM INSIDE.

And that brings us back to the subject of karma. As I mull over this subject, what’s coming into focus, is the unhealed little girl in me, who just wants life to do it for her. She is nauseatingly comfortable in such phrases as “I can’t, I quit, I dunno…” The image that arises is an atrophied muscle. I welcome the fiery anger rising up from my belly and spreading into my chest.

The nebulous call of my destiny is coming into increasingly sharp focus. I cannot continue to collapse in crusty, pathetic habits. The fierce and steady desire to be a mother, to bring a child into the world is pressing me up against an excruciatingly uncomfortable edge inside myself. This longing tugs at the depths of my being every single day. And I wonder, “how on earth can I take care of another human being, when I can barely take care of myself?…” And I feel shoved against the oppressive wall of my own self-imposed limitations. God it pisses me off. How can I articulate this texture of my experience in such a way that you can taste the gravity of it? Is that enough? The fire is growing in me. I pray that it becomes hot enough to consume my feigned weakness.

Who is the woman in me who is “qualified” to be bestowed with the great blessing of motherhood? I feel some self-judgement arise in admitting that this is the question around which I aspire to organize my life. But one thing you can count on here in Athena Graceland is raw honesty. Mostly… unless I’m too chicken on a given day. But generally, I’m all about ripping the bandaid off…

Besides, it’s all tied in together. This karma knocking, the deep longing to become mother, and this rising fire inside… is a call to embody my strength. That’s the essence of it. The version of me, who is banging at the door, demanding to be realized is the leader. The teacher. The author. Grrrrrr I just want to stand up tall and bold and strong and CALL FORTH A WORLD OF PEACE.

Karma. What’s a bitch gotta do to break through? Well… I’m here. And I’m writing it down. And I’m letting my breath flood in and stoke the flames of longing. Feed the fire, Mrs. Grace. Feed the fire. Let nothing be spared. I’m fucking tired of half-heartedly calling myself a writer, covertly pressing the “publish” button, and hoping *someone* will hear me… and find comfort or strength, illumination or inspiration in what I have to share. I want to let my voice be heard, far and wide. I want to trust what comes through me. I want to give myself to a vision big enough that it scares me, stretches me, calls me forth.

I will! But I must break free from this prison of indecision and powerlessness. What is the next step? Today… Now… May I have the clarity and wisdom to recognize it, and the courage to say YES.

Live A.

I finished my tantra yoga immersion three days ago, and I’m still trying to make sense of it. Compared to the Ananda Yoga teacher training I just finished, this one seemed haphazard and all over the place. Mining the gifts bestowed upon me over the seven days of the training has been like being on a treasure hunt in a midnight labyrinth. Because of who I am, I find this simultaneously frustrating and exhilarating. Heck yes, I like to work! And yet, do I really need to pay a thousand dollars to work so hard? But let’s not hang out in that frivolous mind fuck. I have way more important layers to unpack.

On the second to last day, a woman asked the teacher a question that, like a loose spark, ignited a blazing fire in me. Before I dive in, I want to meander three steps to the left, and say that I was repeatedly turned off by the nature of the questions that many of the students asked the teacher. From my “partial perception”, it seemed like many of the women were so quick to give their power over to the teacher. As if he was not a more mortal, but a Shiva dancing on a heaven-scraping pedestal. This play was reminiscent of the guru-disciple relationship… which I have some genuine reverence for. But the trouble with that, is that Pedro is not a guru. Nor does he portend to be one. He’s a man with a beautiful, truth-seeking soul, a strong, devoted practice and a burning drive to share what he has unearthed within himself. Anyway, lemme keep this plug concise- Stop giving away your power and TRUST YOURSELF. (and yes, I am saying this to myself, as well as to alla y’all.)

And now for the bread and butter of this blog. The woman’s question wasn’t really a question at all… it was more like a deep wound being voiced in a space where she felt safe to share, and hungry for healing. She confessed that she had issue with all of the devotional chanting (and general praises) to Lord Shiva we were doing. She confessed wounding around the masculine, and thus a preference to worship the Goddess. (In retrospect, I’m mildly amused by how Pedro grappled with response to her “question”. I mean what can you say to that, really?)

But hallelujah that our friend brought this issue to light! It is an important topic for us all to explore together, here in Athena Graceland. We ARE living in a sorely imbalanced world, at this time. I am stating the obvious here. We are killing each other, raping the earth, and limping along in a pathetic fever dream of “each man for himself”. It sucks.

BUT MEN ARE NOT TO BLAME.

Yes, you could certainly argue with me. A very convincing case at that. But WHY on earth would you argue for the right to BLAME? Blame blows. As an esteemed ambassador for the New World, I am here to tell you that it is time to cleanse our calcified misgivings in the holy waters of forgiveness.

Listen up. We are all in this together. We must stop dividing ourselves and come together as one human family. We are all children of God. And if the G-word turns you off, don’t choose to get hung up there and miss the message. Love. Love is the creative glue of the universe. And thru the eyes of Love, we all look exactly the same; equally, unsayably magnificent.

Yes, absolutely it is time for women to rise up. Goddess YES! Everywhere I turn, I am surrounded by wise, powerful and beautiful women who are waking from the dream of oppression, and rising up. Together. But if we condemn and despise our men, we are only striking against ourselves.

I was eating my lunch at the Berkeley Bowl on my way to the last day of class… feeling tender and premenstrual… and this dude looked me up and down, and I felt a mild twinge of disgust. I will testify that it sucks to be looked at like a piece of meat. But here’s the thing- men don’t know any better. They have all been trained by a society of low consciousness, where we’ve all passively agreed that it’s acceptable and even desirable to sell sex. And underneath the surface of this lie, we are ALL starving for genuine connection, acceptance, love.

Think about it- what good is it gonna do for me to close my heart to that man, who is simply ignorant. That will only serve to widen the divide. Women- stop condemning men for acting like dopes. It is time for us to come together and remember our wholeness, raise each other up. And from this foundation of unwavering self-love, true power and forgiveness, we must serve as guides and teachers for our men. Stand proud and glorious in who you ARE ,rather than pretending to be who you think you need to be in order to “get love”. We are each the SOURCE of Love. Ask for what you want. Acknowledge, praise and reward men when they get it right. We are all in this together. Just like men would not be here without women, women would not be here without men.

Women and men have different areas of strength and expertise. The time has come to recognize and celebrate our differences, and work together to co-create a balanced healthy world where love prevails.

What stories, misgivings, old wounds must YOU let go of, in order to step into this brave new paradigm of forgiveness and joyful co-operation? Please, on behalf of humanity, (not to mention the thrival of your own heart, body and soul…) LET GO. Let go of hurt and blame, and choose instead the joy of working together to build a world of peace, love and unity. Oh, and listen, don’t wait for others to “earn” your generosity. Live by example. The revolution is YOUR unconditional love.

Live,
A