The Battle of Light and Dark

“Don’t beat the darkness with a stick. Turn on the LIGHT.”

Those were the words of wisdom Devaki graced me with after she rung me up for the overpriced sugary, new-age drink I just bought as a bribe to face myself here on the Athena Gracelandian page, finally. Gosh… it’s been two weeks and some change, since I last sprinkled my musings upon your mind… which isn’t really THAT long. But it feels like eternity, because while two weeks in Heaven flies by, the same span in the Underworld drags on like a bad case of intestinal worms. (I’m almost done with my artisan drink already. I don’t really have much restraint when it comes to sweet liquid. I just keep wanting to pour it into my ever-eager mouth.)

I’ve been at the Momshram since the day after I last posted a written report of my inner world. When I first got here, I felt drunk on springtime. Everything is LUSH and green and abounding with epic vibrancy. A rainbow assortment of exhibitionist wild flowers smile and wink from within the wide-splayed folds of everywhere, and birds sing their evocative songs of seduction and lust. Baby goats are toppling out of their mama’s immense bellies and quickly learning to leap and frolic on rolling carpets of tender spring grasses. The raw milk is flowing like wine in Rome. (or the sweet, expensive drink down my esophagus…)

Meanwhile I have been fighting for the right to wear my sturdy ball and chain in the smelly pits of hell. I guess it hasn’t helped that I’ve been in the pms and menstrual phase of my cycle. And add to that the astrological mess of the grand cross and the lunar and solar eclipse and lord knows what other celestial intensity. It boils down to me being “called forth” …You know, to evolve… to step more fully into my divine power and strength… But as I rise, in rushes a huge backdraft of fear and resistance to transcending my comfort zone, to letting go of limiting beliefs and habits of collapse. Ahhhh!!! It’s been wild!!!

Ick. I am not enjoying writing about this stuff. Do I HAVE to? No. Of course not. I am the benevolent ruler of Athena Graceland, and hence can write about whatever I fancy. But… I want to share with you the truth of the inner journey I’ve been on. Ya know… just in case you can relate… In case illuminating my inner struggles helps you to realize and transcend your own. So in service of transmutation and healing; shining light into dark crevices, I shall trudge on.

I’ve broken up with Ed at least twice in the past two weeks. And had a baker’s dozen more heart and gut wrenching conversations with him. If you want to avoid responsibility for your own brilliance, I *hightly* recommend falling madly, passionately and soulfully in love with a married (or otherwise unavailable) man!!! It’s a killer strategy for staying stuck!!!

But on the other hand, if you want a loving Relationship founded in deep friendship, mutual support and trust, that is *impossible* to become “too comfortable” and hide out in– so that you have plenty of time and space to do your soul work… I *also* recommend getting involved with a married (or otherwise unavailable) man! It’s amazing how “reality” is a matter of perspective.

I keep waffling back and forth between identification with the light side and the dark side. The contrasts are particularly ACCUTE these days. The dark is f-ing dark. And it becomes more ferocious and rabid as I beat it with my big stick. I beat it until I am exhausted and surrounded by demons… and then I fall to my knees and beg for mercy… gingerly groping for the Light switch, with a trembling hand.

I truly believe that world peace will naturally occur when we emerge ultimately victorious over the inner battle. When we choose once and for all to release illusions and rest blissfully in Eternal Truth. I will bet you EVERYTHING I have and AM, that the world you perceive “outside” is merely the effect of what you choose to believe from the inside; evidence of what you WILL to see. I know, it all seems so REAL. So convincing, is this dream world. But we ARE made in the image of God… meaning that each of us have the innate power to call forth the world. Simply by where we invest our faith. In Love. Or in fear. In Unity, or in separation. (I aspire to recognize God speaking to me in the language of light, from within all things.)

I recently took a few leaps; made commitments that required soul-expansion. I committed to going back to Ananda Laurelwood (Oregon) in June, to teach yoga to the summer interns. I also signed up to give a spiritually inspired speech at “joymasters” (the ananda version of toastmasters!), and I signed up for a month-long video challenge, designed for leaders, coaches, visionaries, teachers to get their message out to the world, by making a three minute video every day for the month of May.

Please hear me when I say that I YEARN to be my best self! To be a source of luminous, vivacious inspiration, and raw, soulful authenticity in this world… I know in my bones and guts that that is why I am here. But I have some deep habits of resistance, hiding and playing itsy-bitsy. (Way more dramatic than merely playing small!) OM KRIM KALI MA!!!! Unleash your merciful devastation upon the suffocating grip of my inner demons! Obliterate them in the destructive force of your INFINITE LOVE!!!

Stepping into commitments that stretched me beyond who I have known myself to be thus far, washed me in the aforementioned “backdraft of fear”. I felt my invisible inner self widen… and then snap shut like a violent rubber band. The voices of inadequacy have been screaming up from my depths. Actually, from a momentary vantage point of neutrality, I must say, it’s actually been quite remarkable… the choir of self denigration and pain singing up from inside me! I even withdrew my participation in joymasters. I decided instead that I must return to the Bay Area. Ananda is feeling way too wholesome and conservative for me (I got reprimanded for wearing a tank top that showed hints of my belly while I was leading sadhana). Plus I need to earn some money. Plus I can’t stand the thought of being apart from Ed for the ENTIRE SUMMER, and I burn to spend quality time with him. Plus I need to be in the company of people who speak my language and inspire my Becoming: the wild, sexy, bad-ass, ignited light warriors.

As for the video challenge, I realize that I need to reach over and grab the wheel; expel that poisonous perfectionist from the driver’s seat. I notice that I’ve got this subtle story that I have no right to stand on the mountain and sing out the message of my heart and soul UNTIL I AM PERFECT. Until I have it ALL FIGURED OUT. But my bullshit-o-meter is screaming at that. Inhale. Exhale. My job is to stand tall, feel my bare feet spread into the warm, fertile spring earth, breathe deep into my womb, allow my heart to relax open, and just let it flow, baby.

The time is NOW. The place is Earth. The meaning is Love. The word is…

OM!

Advertisements

Stalked By Destiny

When you read these words, you won’t know that I stared into space for an unusually steep stack of eternities, before I felt compelled to commit words to the page. You’ll just sip them quick, like a tepid, all-too-drinkable latte from the Starbucks drive-thru. But the reality, is that I am siting here (Pizzaiolo), mulling over the shards of my life, like a twelve-dimensional puzzle, trying to fit them together into a sensible portrait of burgeoning reality. Yeah, I’m like smoothing my consciousness with a fine-toothed comb, teasing out the moments and images, longings and thoughts that glow the brightest in here…. Because perhaps my psyche is a treasure map, seducing my awareness to ever greater heights of Ultimacy.

And now, for the effulgent flash of our beloved cliche symbol, the lightbulb (aka: a moment of clarity). What it boils down to, is that I’m coming to a place inside, where I am longing to create something deeply satisfying, and wildly impactful in the world (in addition to my dear little Alexandria Shri…). I want to use all my God-given gifts and talents to light up the world. The alternative is hella bogus. Life without passionate, creative risk is like crawling across a parched desert with no kombucha or raw milk (okay, or even WATER) to drink, and no sexy, fierce, wise, compassionate, unruly playmates to sweeten up otherwise generic moments.

Okay, sometimes I nail the metaphors… but that time I didn’t. You must mine for the FEELING beneath the words. My writing stems from liquidy depths of raw feeling. The immediacy of these energies guide me like a trail of breadcrumbs to the CANDY HOUSE.

Now, more than ever before, I am stalking my destiny. There was a lunar eclipse last night. And we’re approaching a “grand cross”. Supposedly all this current astrological intensity is serving as a raucous seduction into deeper attunement to our soul’s path and purpose.

Last July, I let go of my apartment and my job and the constricting, razor blade-laced comfort of a life that was becoming too small for me… I followed the oh-so-gentle whisper of my heart to the Momshram, where I stayed for six weeks, and imbibed my fourth yoga teacher training. Entirely apropos for year of the snake, this kicked off a hard core skin-shedding. Or maybe I was in a straight up cocoon… because I really became a puddle of tender nothing. And since then, I have been ambling with mostly patient, mostly blind faith down the path of my heart. My priority has been spiritual nourishment… which you’d think would be rather joyful. But it’s actually been sorta dark and unsettling. Like all the bright colors of my soul have been cut with sludgy, grey paint.

I’m getting tired of drifting on wily tides. I want to unzip my chest and let the colors of my heart run and bleed and stain the undisciplined, dreaming minds of the hopeless. Today I am inclined to believe that the God I adore can be tasted in the delicate sweetness of beauty and pleasure and delight.

Just before seven this morning, I was riding BART to the enchanted lagoon (Temescal Pool), and I scanned the train to see who the “people in my neighborhood” were… Friends, it was fucking tragic. Without exception, they all looked eleven-twelfths dead!! I even have the stealthily snapped photo to prove it. My hypothesis is that these people were all heading to jobs they despise, living juiceless, autopilot lives, because they have been asleep so long, they forgot they had another option. And yes, I inhabit my own pathetic version of that. And it’s pissing me off. I’M ATHENA GRACE!!!! I was NOT born to partake in this trending strain of self-imposed bondage!!!

I want to unearth Heaven Within, and spread it around like a hopelessly contagious virus!!! I want flowers to bloom where I have walked and frowns to melt into undeniable evidence of all-pervading ecstasy!

Now I’m staring at the page again… Because like, honestly… where do you go from there?

I’m hopping a train to the Momshram this afternoon. Up until this morning, I was resisting going. I felt attached to all this concrete and noise. Just kidding. More like my Man, the creative, conscious, exuberent vibe of my Bay Brea peeps, sweating out my demons (and perhaps a few token angels) in bikram yoga, and gliding like a mermaid through liquid, aqua love at dawn. But today I say yes. I’m ready to re-enter the Sacred Forest. Hug my PRECIOUS mother, and sing the meal blessing song with her before we feast on delicious, rainbow colored salads, designed by yours truly (you gotta wonder where the silly phrase, “yours truly” came from… and moreover, you gotta wonder about the goofballs who keep it alive…), unleash my wild heart on the endearing, half-awake masses who show up for my sadhanas!!… Breathe in the love of the trees and perch next to Ma and sing my heart out at sunday service!

Gosh… That all sounds pretty God. Where do I sign up? Oh wait, this is MY LIFE. Sweet! What was it I was clawing for at the beginning of this blog? Purpose. Meaning. Sacred engagement. Focus. Service. Sigh. Trust the path, Mrs. Grace. You might imagine you are stalking your destiny…

But actually, your destiny is stalking YOU.

Om. Peace. Amen.

Ecstasy: The Return

Wow. If this isn’t a classic case of the hero(ine)’s journey, I don’t know WHAT is!… Here I am, the lone little hobbit, descending back down the treacherous mountain, into the lush and innocent valley that is my home… worn, weather beaten, triumphant, and pulsing with inner strength. Yep, I’m back in the bay area, after my nine week and three day quest. And by the grace of my nature, here I am, trying to add it all up (and divide by ONE!)…

I’m actually surprised by how glad I am to be back in the Bay Area. Honestly, I thought I was like so over this chaotic, polluted, yet somehow sublime meca … Not so. Laurelwood was awesome and necessary. But it was also rugged in many ways. Sorta like backpacking for years in the wilderness. I didn’t realize how hard it was on me to spend so much time indoors. Or to do without my daily dose of “ecsta-ser-cise”. That’s a combination of “ecstasy” and “exercise” incase you didn’t gather that on your own. Because I have noticed that those two words are almost synonymous for me. I swear, I hit up my old lover, bikram yoga, the first chance I got, and as I formed my body into still and sacred shapes, breathed, poured tangy sweat, and felt wild unsayable things bursting and dancing inside me, I realized I was making love with myself.

Imbibe= to absorb or soak up, as water, light or heat.

Yes, I was imbibing embodied, transcendent ecstasy. Same thing in the pool this morning! Holy JESUS. I LOOOOVE temescal pool! Salt water. Outdoor. Sensually stroking through liquid bliss. Flying through a cool and shimmering slice of gentle, wet, sky. Love becomes nearly tangible as it shushes across my naked, singing skin.

After Laurelwood, EVERYTHING TASTES BETTER!!! (Except Ed. He always tastes better.) I went to ecstatic dance on sunday morning, and good lord, it was the first time in too many forevers, that I’d landed in that wild, frenetic, strain of heaven, and felt “at home”! (Over the last nine or so months, as I’ve been in this deeply transformative and vulnerable shedding process, my experience of ecstatic dance has mostly been one of landing in that sphere of high energy in motion and feeling overwhelmed and way too tender and eighty-sixing it outa there.) Now I’m squealing and shrieking with delight about how god it felt to be there.

I’ve been trippin’ on this whole notion of “spiritual” a lot lately. That over-stuffed word can be as much of a fuck, as religion itself. “I’m spiritual, he’s not.” “That’s spiritual, this isn’t.” Reminds me of that poem by Hafiz where he’s all sympathetic and tender towards us human folk, because we MUST be exhausted, spending all day “dividing God”. Yeah. Dividing God sure IS a full-time occupation. It’s so weird that we have SO far to go, considering we are already here!

But what I was driving at, is that it annoys me how people at Ananda sometimes display this elitist attitude… like “Over HERE, on THIS path, we’re so tra-la-la…” Us and them. Sigh. It’s a reflection of my own deluded consciousness. Who am I kidding… I am hella quick to draw lines in the sand and rank my nebulous dream of my “self” above and below “others”. Probably as soon as I knock it off, the “outside world” will realign with my refreshed inner reality.

But gracious me, I can’t seem to walk a straight line of thought for the life of me! I must be drunk! Drunk on ecsta-cer-cise. And spring time sunshine. And delicate cappuccino aftermath. And the passionate kiss that my Man just leaned over and shared with me. Yeah. Ed’s working on his [grown-up] biz right next to me. We’re at Pizzaiolo. The wood oven is blazing with sacred, translucent orange flames, glasses are filling the lusty spring morning with clink, and people are doing whatever it is that people do at hip urban cafes. Shrug. “Important stuff.”

Okay, lemme make the point I was trying to make three paragraphs ago, before I blurred into tangential, non-sequiturian ecstasy-induced blathering. I’m saying that from my galactic vantage point, I don’t recognize a true division between the spirituality expressed in a spiritual community, and the spirituality that innately oozes from the creative, conscious, connected, open-hearted friends at ecstatic dance. I believe it can be a “pitfall” on the spiritual path to start asserting who and what is “spiritual”, and who and what isn’t. I believe God is LOVE, and love is everywhere, mischievously smirking; just waiting to burst out and be revealed.

Seriously, this is the most profound and spiritual moment of my life. Right NOW.

Being at Ananda Laurelwood was a rough ride in many ways. Being indoors, being in perpetual rain and cold, being away from my delicious lover and best friend. (I missed you too, Mom… but it’s different…) Not getting enough exercise. Not getting enough animal flesh. Not touching or being touched enough. Being mostly surrounded by people who had a way lower threshold of authenticity, openness and willingness to reveal and be revealed in the most raw and rudimentary fashion….

And yet…. something happened while I was there. I was not just scrubbing toilets, I was scrubbing the dingy crannies of my soul. Not always a glamorous endeavor. But SO worthwhile. Do you know what I mean? Like sometimes the heart calls us forth on a journey that the conscious mind can NOT make sense of. But still, the heart quietly requests us to let go of what we “know”, and step out beyond the edge of the mystery. I am learning to say yes to the omniscient wisdom of my heart. It never leads me astray.

A lot of the training I have been undergoing recently has been about reclaiming connection with my Self; remembering that truly, the joy is within me. (Which naturally implies that THE JOY IS WITHIN YOU, TOO. Pause a moment, and let that sink in. I mean it. Close your eyes and say to yourself, “All the joy I could ever want is within me RIGHT NOW!”)

********PAUSE. BREATHE. OPEN. ALLOW.***********

I was so curious to see how this new version of me would experience its ISness, in “old familiar” settings, beyond the seventh day adventist boarding school turned ashram. And I am not so surprised, yet completely delighted to discover that I am the same as I have ever been… and yet completely new. More available to refract the vivacious rays of Infinity. More evidence as to why I ought to trust my exquisite heart for the rest of forever.

Om. Shri. Om.