Clumsy Integration

It’s amazing how much life can be crammed into the span of a single week, day or even an hour. Last time I offered my inner world to the page, I was still at Ananda, and pretty sure that Ed and I were in our not-so-grand finale. Today I am in Oakland, at good olde Pizzaiolo. It’s morning, the sky is soupy-gray and I’m contemplating putting a jacket on. Don’t tell anybody, but a huge rat just scampered across the worn, wooden floor. I can hear the feminine trill of distant opera, mingling with the sound of clinking glasses, the soft aum of a humming motor and the shhhh of water rushing from a faucet.

It feels good to tell you simple, grounding things, rather than leaping straight for the land beyond the moon. I want to be the white-haired couple who are settling in two tables away from me. They each have a news paper and a morning bun. The man just gave a little jar of homemade jam to a dude who works here. His face is bright and inviting. Gosh, I’m noticing that the grass sure looks greener beyond just about EVERY fence these days. Certainly this seasoned pair is every bit as human as I, but in this moment, they represent simplicity to me; non-striving. Presence and contentment.

And then there’s Athena Grace, working so hard. Working so hard to integrate this being human. To heal my mind, my perception of the past… To dream not just MY future, but OUR future. The future of my human family. Fatigued and determined, I climb my own self-imposed walls in hopes of scaling them and discovering a panoramic view of Truth and Love and Infinity. Who will hold me while I break down and sob?… but not for TOO long. Just enough to cleanse and polish the mirror of my soul… and then I’ll carry on. Carry on with this alchemical mission of Awakening. I promise to give away everything that is revealed to me. What’s mine is yours.

Oh stark contrast! I left the pristine gentleness of the Momshram on sunday. My Ma drove me to Emeryville, where the archangels, Jennille and Marty are now hosting me in the guest room of their thirtieth floor penthouse apartment. As Ma and I rode the elevator up, up, up to the foothills of Heaven, we made conversation with a fellow passenger, over the elevator’s sudden, inexplicable inundation of the scent fried chicken. When he exited the shiny chamber, I cheerily called after him, “Enjoy yourself!”

“I’m sure I won’t,” he replied as the door slid shut. Stupified and tickled I looked at my Ma and giggled, “I guess we’re not in Kansas anymore.” And thus began my decent back into this limping, glamorous urban world.

From an ashram to a penthouse. Now I have an epic view of a bay of liquid silver, veiled in thick, white mist and bleeding, electric sunsets through grimy floor to ceiling windows. Like all poetry at it’s finest, it comes swaddled in thick paradox. Thirty floors below, flows an incessant river of traffic: the 80 freeway. From purring crickets and dark, pristine skies pierced with starlight, to growling semi-trucks and endless, rolling scapes of city lights. My nervous system is recalibrating. It doesn’t feel graceful, but more like riding down a mile-long sandpaper slide.

Yes, I’m being dramatic. But I’m also about to start my period, and I feel sensitive and raw. And let’s factor in that the morning after my descent back into this epicentric urban madness, I began a week-long tantra yoga immersion. Just when I felt spiritually grounded… I had to go and rip up the floorboards; peel off the scab.

Pedro, my teacher keeps affirming that tantra and classical yoga are grossly disparate. While classical yogis give their all to denying/renouncing/transcending physical reality, tantrics EMBRACE this physical plane and recognize it ALL as divine. I can see the value in BOTH. I want to transcend it all as I fully, gracefully inhabit it. I guess that’s more tantric than classical… if you must slice it all apart with a scalpel. Well… it stings my heart every time Pedro scoffs at Patanjali and classical yoga.

From my “partial perception”, (as Pedro refers to each person’s unique, galactic vantage point) the practitioners of classical yoga, as illuminated by the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, are all very grounded and embodied in this earthly reality, living lives of harmony, devotion and service. I don’t see negation of life… only a grounded embrace. And yet, personally I don’t want to dress modestly and diminish my sexuality. I want to dance naked and glorious in the sloshy tides of warm, salty, semi-figurative, tropical dawns.

I guess what I’m driving at, is that I am feeling clumsy as I integrate all that I have lived and learned, to form a coherent and empowering view of reality. And when it gets to complicated, I find solace in the remembrance that I mostly want to be a kind, loving, honest and inspiring human being. I want to live by example; take care of all of my Brothers and Sisters, (yep, that means YOU, beloved child of God) and this magnificent planet on which we dance. I want to be happy and free and at peace. That is more than enough.


Linguistic Tantra

Linguistic tantra. Those words came to me as I was falling asleep last night. That is what I do here on the page. Tantra is (yikes, that’s a dangerous way to begin a sentence… “tantra is”… especially for a naïve, young western woman such as myself. How bout “tantra as I have come to understand it is”…) an ancient spiritual path dedicated to spiritual realization through embodiment, rather than transcendence. Another definition of tantra is to weave, remember? I would say that in this blog, I exercise both of those elements.

People ask me what my blog is “about”… so I give this topic plenty of thought… (I just realized if you scramble the letters of blog, you get GLOB!) Mostly what I come to upon contemplation of this question of intention and essence is that this blog is a forum for full disclosure of my [nearly] unbridled mind, and therefore, my humanity, and therefore, the divinity implicit within that. (And paradoxically, I do this both entirely selfishly, because it is more fun than anything else in the world for me, and selflessly, because I yearn to inspire you, set you free, invite you to relate to yourself and the world through this celebratory, holistic and liberated view) In the recent evolution of our collective quest to realize ourselves as spiritual beings, we tend to give over so much of our own power and authority to outside sources; teachers, priests, people with shmancy letters after their names, etc. We are constantly assessing ourselves, others and the world in terms of “good or bad”, “right or wrong”, “spiritual or not spiritual”… and personally, I find all of this stifling and generally blasphemous.

Maybe I’ll just put some erudite letters after my name. Athena Grace LMNOP. There. Did that make my words gain some substantial weight? Ahem, Athena? You have to BLEED to earn letters. You have to study so hard that you have no time to exercise and your pants no longer fit on your lardy, sedentary, though academically elite body and your friends forget you exist. You have to read a copious amount of mile high academic books written by very “important” people you’ve never heard of that put you to sleep after two minutes. (I guess you can surmise my attitude toward higher education… Listen, it has its place… I know. Nothing is BLACK and WHITE (except black and white, of course).

But I HAVE earned my LMNOP. Where? In the school of mostly soft knocks. Life, I mean. Yeah, by the grace of All Pervading Yummy-ness (I used the word “yummy” because it makes Mykael cringe and dry heave… in the best way…) life usually doesn’t have to knock TOO gut wrenchingly hard to get my attention. Soft knocks are analogous to grimace inducing activities such as getting a filling at the dentist. It’s a pain in the ass, but it’s not that bad. I mean it’s no goddamn champagne brunch in an English garden to spend a day with a mouth full of novocain, but it’s far, far, FAR from the end of the world, or even damaging in the least. In fact, it’s actually a useful, long term investment. But still, though each individual knock may be construed as “soft”, they DO add up, and I have been knocked around enough to be an authority on some things…

I am expert enough to know that you can’t just go drawing lines in the sand of life and declaring that “this” is spiritual, but “that” isn’t. Oh, well, I suppose you CAN, but doing so is comparable to chopping off some of your very own limbs or cutting out arbitrary vital organs. “I need my heart… but this old liver… man, it’s just kinda gross looking… It infallibly makes me cringe when someone says “I fell off the path”, referring to their spiritual path. News flash~ Spiritual paths do not go in STRAIGHT LINES. They twist and turn every which way like the love child of a new fangled, treacherous, barf-a-licious rollercoaster and the world’s most ornately tangled pretzel. That’s just the way it is. Even someone who takes a side trip along the less than romantic and way less than esteemed road of alcoholism… or murder… is on their spiritual path. For God’s sake, stop chopping life up in little pieces and driving around with it hidden in the condemning recesses of your trunk! Come on, then, make yourself useful around here, and get to forgiving!

Linguistic tantra. Another facet of what I do here on the page is I play. Have you heard the Sanskrit term, “Lila”? It means the divine play. The tantras describe this world of maya (illusion) as an elaborate and frivolous divine play. Just for the sheer monkey of it! Microcosmically, that is what I do here on the page. (Even when I feel serious, I usually can still locate at least one single goofball bone SOMEwhere in this heavenly body of mine, and I unleash it on the page in the name of remembering the implicit Hokey Pokiness of life.)

I’ve already written about the weaving aspect. But just to reiterate, I weave all the voices, hearts, beliefs and images that slide through my moment to moment experience both inside and out.

This blog is also a convergence of heart and mind. In the shower this morning, I realized that the voice (throat) is located smack dab betwixt the heart and the head. Frankly, I find this thrilling, since what could be more necessary in life than a peaceful, harmonious and inspired marriage between heart and mind? Gosh, come to think of it, that’s fundamentally the same as striking a healthy balance between the divine feminine and the divine masculine, which seems to be what we are all clumsily attempting these days here on planet earth. Once, in a tantric philosophy lecture, my teacher stated that “man”, the root of the word “mantra” means both heart and mind in Sanskrit, and “tra” means to traverse. So mantra is a traversal of the heart and mind! And so is this blog, a playful traversal of my heart and mind. But Jesus, it’s a pretty longwinded mantra…

Linguistic, mantric, tantric spiritual freestyle. That’s what I’ll tell people my blog is “about” from now on.

Weaving, Whales and a Call to LOVE

I’m at Hudson Bay Café this morning.  Though the café is pretty full, it is ominously quiet here and the energy feels… dull?  It feels to me like we were all at war last night, fighting for something we mostly have forgotten in the first place, and this morning we are all weary as hell and our souls are bleeding in a hundred and eight places.  But our spirits are still full of a covert strain of strength and hope as we all sit in mostly silence together, recharging with warm caffeine and greasy, crumbling pastries.

Am I making this up?  Maybe, but something about this sketch of the now seems valid and true.  I went to my friend Aron’s birthday party last night, and even gathered among friends, I felt like I had three flat tires.  Why?  I dunno… you tell me… what is going ON, on this planet right now?  This morning I found a blog written by a woman who is particularly into looking at the world through the conspiracy theory lens~ ( And I guess her simultaneously intelligent and righteous slant on things is coaxing my mind into a slightly condemning strain of curiosity.  She seemed to think that Japanese whalers are slaughtering whales mostly to exile their energetic vibration from our planet.  Honestly, this is not so far fetched to me… Come on… think about it~ WHALES.  It doesn’t take a genius to feel whale energy on cue.  When I think of these immense, ancient, peaceful ocean mammals, I flood with respect, awe and an implicit spirituality.  Surely they are anchoring very powerful frequencies onto this planet.

Energy.  Remember, everything is energy… Life is energy soup.  It’s easy to forget, being habituated to our collective hang up on the most gross expression of energy~ physicality, form.  But pan your camera back and switch modes so that you can recognize all of creation as a humming mess of mingling frequencies.  Now consider the frequency cocktail here on earth.  Whoa.  Imagine that cocktail sans whale vibes.  Really… don’t you think that’s fucked?  How long have whales been churning earth’s oceans with peace and ancient wisdom?  That’s right… a LONG time.

I appreciate this mysterious voice of a co-blogger speaking to me through the vastness of the internet, first thing this morning.  But I will say that although I found her perspectives intelligent and expansive, there was an ingredient missing for me.  Love.  Focusing on all the manipulative strategies of control executed by “the powers that be”, by nature induces a sense of helplessness and fear, which can so easily spin out of control, if that’s your default lens on reality.  My feathers were more than a little ruffled after reading her voice on the world’s current wonky state of affairs.  Ruffled feathers… are a good thing.  As long as we use them as a gateway to INSPIRED ACTION.  We are the world’s gardeners, and right about now, we BEST be planting seeds of love, no matter how challenging that feels.  Simple.  Be a kind, generous neighbor.  Pick up trash, even if you weren’t the one to cast in on the unconditionally loving body of our Mother… There are an infinite well of simple ways to love RIGHT NOW.  If you hug someone, hold on an extra heartbeat or seven, and remind the “other” that it’s truly okay to simply rest in this connected place for a few vitalizing eternity wrought moments.

Weaving.  I see my blog as a tapestry woven from the influence and interconnectedness of so many voices, hearts, minds.  No different than life, really… We are raised to believe that we are “INDIVIDUALS”… and yeah, sure, that’s true enough.  But that individuality is but a specific confluence of a whole chorus of voices, ideas, experiences.  A unique weaving of the many colorful threads composing LIFE, its self.  One definition of the word tantra is to weave.  Trust me, tantra is a word that in modern day is used so liberally frivolous.  Most dummies just think it’s this elitist, fancy, spiritual sex.  Ummmm, nope.  Tantra is an ancient-assed spiritual path, embracing the divine through all creation and beyond.  Rather than transcending, ascending, those on the tantric path use EVERYTHING of the here and now as a vehicle of realization.  As I continue to deepen my understanding of the intricate weaving that is life, I am beginning to grasp the idea of tantra as weaving.  One of my Maha (Great) yoga teachers, Sianna Sherman, said that it wasn’t until she took a class in weaving that she TRULY felt intimacy with that definition of tantra.
As I look into the never ending plethora of mirrors that this world provides, finding little pieces of myself everywhere, I am coming to understand the weaving that is me, that is you.  Every book I read, every blog I peek in on, every conversation I have, every single person who anonymously nestles near me in the café, and even the silent though potent presence of our ancient oceanic friends turns over soil in my mind, heart and soul, creating fresh strands of words, feelings, ideas, beliefs.  This is a profound, intricate and indubitably divine weaving.

Am I the weaver, or the woven, or both?  Am I self important to think that I am DOING any of this earth bound, yet celestial weaving?  Is it a collaborative effort between All Pervading Light and little, lovely me?  I yearn to consciously gather each beautiful, sentient thread and weave a world of peace, conscious creativity and reverence for the interconnectedness of all life.  God, may we all actively participate in fashioning the tapestry of life in the spirit of a durable and celebratory LOVE…