Meditation in the face of Anxiety

Blame it on the full moon, blame it on the full mind – but the last two nights I haven’t slept well. This morning I woke at 4am and couldn’t relax back to sleep. I eventually got another hour of sleep but it was fitful. When I woke, I found myself in the presence of that old unwelcome companion – anxiety.

My breathing was shallow, my heart felt pierced, my self-doubt raged like a tropical storm. Anxiety, I’ve felt you long before I realized what you are. Sometimes you’ve been constantly at my side, lately you’re a rare guest. You’re almost harder to deal with the less you come because I get used to the way it is when you’re not there and so even a little time with you can feel almost unbearable.

Fortunately, what I learn in yoga and what I learn in meditation helps me to better navigate these storms. The 84th problem (which I talked about in this post) helps me to understand that these things rise and fall, they don’t need to be fixed. Yes, it sucks right now – but that’s just fear – that’s just pain. It’s something that happens to us as humans and just as it comes, so too will it go.

Breathe deep. Sit with it. Be with it. Here with it. Now with it.

Even in this space of anxiety – there is Love. I spoke here about how for me God is Love. It is in times of trial that we have to have courage of our convictions. In the face of anxiety, do I still believe that Love is the source of everything? Yes, even then I do. Can I be strong enough to both feel the pain of anxiety and also hold that belief? Yes, I can.

Then breathe deep. Sit with them – both anxiety and Love. Be with them. Here with them. Now with them. Anxiety isn’t strong enough to kill Love and it can only hide it if I let it be hidden.

Writing this 3 hours later the anxiety has passed. I sat with it. I answered texts with it. I ate breakfast with it. I talked to Mona with it. And then I noticed the anxiety had passed. Like a storm it left telltale signs, fallen branches and damp sidewalks – but the storm has passed.

Sometimes the only way out is through.

I think it’s important to write truly here and to bear witness to the reality of my humanity. I appreciate all of you and your presence on this path.

Much Love,

David

Meditation in the face of Anxiety

The Joke Explained (April Fools)

Obviously my first foray into the world of video blogging was an April Fool’s joke. I’d recorded that video off the cuff in one take last year when I noticed how institutional the white wall with the air vent behind me looked. From there, I riffed on the uninspired inspirational lecture I could come up with.

Mona always loved that bit and has encouraged me to release it since I did it. April Fool’s seemed like the perfect time.

My sense of humor tends towards the painful. I once wrote an entire short “young adult novella” that was intentionally terrible. I still have a copy, it’s called “Foxhunt: A Gritty Teenage Tragedy” and it’s a full 52 pages, probably one of the longer things I’ve written.

Humorously enough, I’d just started doing those little Google ads worldwide for the blog the day before releasing the video.  I’ve been getting visitors from all over the world coming to the site and I can only apologize to anyone who imagines that is what my blog is like.

We’ll be back to our regular posts this week, though at the slowed down pace I’d mentioned last week. I wrote the first chunk on my book last week and I’ll have 15 minutes more to write after I finish this post.

Much love,

David

The Joke Explained (April Fools)

The Yoga of Blogging (ii)

It’s the last day of March and therefore, it’s the last day of my commitment I made on March 6 to write 4-5 posts a week through the end of the month. I did it!

I’ve really enjoyed writing here. It’s been an experience to learn how to extrovert myself through this blog medium. I posted more this month than the entire year of 2015 or 2016. Except for the first week when I did 5, I did 4 every week. Sometimes that felt like a lot, but as I went on, it got easier and easier. Its flowed more naturally.

I talked here about how I was writing but that’s changed a bit. I no longer write the posts the night before and edit them day of. I write and edit the same morning. I think that has allowed me to publish things I wouldn’t have otherwise done (like my God and Goats Do Roam posts). I felt crazy vulnerable about both those posts, but the fact that I hit publish almost as soon as I wrote them didn’t allow me to second guess myself.

I plan to keep writing here, though at a less rigorous pace. I think 1-2 posts a week will be easier. I notice that it’s really only 1-2 posts a week that get the most views so I figure that’s a good audience interest threshold.

I’d thought about changing the name of the blog and going a different, more marketable approach – but for now I’ve decided to keep it the same. I want to put my effort more into writing than promotion. It’s okay if it’s smaller scale with an audience largely made up of people I know in person.

So what am I going to do with the other time? I’m going to start writing my book! A personal look and a jazz-style riff on the Isha Upanishad. I started writing it a long time ago and even thought to publish it on this blog at one point (you can read my one and only post about that here).

In the past, I’ve had troubles not getting a little depressed when I write and so I’ve not lasted long. However this time, the half hour time slot kept me from going in too deep that I couldn’t get back out.

I want to give a shout out to Mark Romero – who inspired this whole thing! He told me the inspiring story that his wife wrote a book a half hour a day in three months (you can find her book here). I thought about it and thought I could do a half hour a day and it wouldn’t get too heavy. So I beta-tested with this blog and now feel confident to move forward! So thank you Mark and Lara (who I haven’t met but has inspired all of this)!

I’ll write my first 30 minutes of my book this afternoon. I’m excited for it! I’m excited to keep writing here! I appreciate all of you who read, you’ve made a huge difference in my life with comments (virtual and in person)! Just by your showing up shows up on my analytics and seeing people are reading has kept me writing. If no one was coming here I wouldn’t have made it through March.

Thanks again for everything you do!

Much love,

David

The Yoga of Blogging (ii)

Meditation in times of Construction

I love the apartment Mona and I live in. It’s the Park Place apartments in Irvine. It’s got three swimming pools, a good gym, two clubhouses and lots of plants. Our apartment itself is divided up in a way I really like, hardwood floors except for carpeted bedroom and tiled bathroom. It’s got a big kitchen and we’ve divided the living room into a library space (where I’m sitting now) and a yoga room where we do yoga meditate and all of Mona’s sound healing bowls and gong reside. Honestly I’ve never loved any place I’ve lived as much as this. Overall the neighbors aren’t too loud either – for as many people as live here – they’re shockingly quiet.

All of this is leading to the one thing that I’m less than keen on, which is the construction they are doing across the street. The loud, 6 days a week, starts at 7:30am construction.

I was out late last night doing a chakra lecture at the Brea CorePower Yoga. Let’s just say the 7:30am construction site wakeup call was an unwelcome one this morning.

I’ve been doing daily meditation for over 250 days now and the construction has been going on for that whole time. So my meditations are pretty much always done in the presence of the sound of dump trucks beeping as they back up and the intermittent bang and clang of random work being done.

And this is annoying. And this may cause my meditations to sometimes lack depth. And this definitely causes less sleep some days. And this is fine too. In fact, it is probably a good thing.

I believe that the longer a practice goes without facing adversity, the more likely it is to fold once adversity inevitably shows. My practice facing this adversity of noise has helped it become stronger so that the adversity of being on vacation, or being tired, or feeling overwhelmed by too much to do hasn’t stopped it dead.

Furthermore, my meditation this morning wasn’t just a meditation on the annoying nature of construction sound. I had moments of peace through the noise. I had moments of distraction that had nothing to do with the audio. I spent time breathing into and through anxiety. I left my meditation feeling more refreshed than I entered it.

Sometimes the things that annoy us, that wake us up earlier than we want, that cut us off in traffic are also the things that train us. So yes, I’m still a little tired, but I’m also feeling at peace and ready for the day.

Much love,

David

Meditation in times of Construction

What God Means to Me

When I teach yoga I try not to get my specific beliefs too deeply into how I talk. I try to speak about essential things that will be resonant to Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus and Atheists alike. It’s important to me that I not try to push my ideology on someone else – I truly believe that everyone’s spiritual practice or lack thereof is something too important for me to try to influence. So I try to teach in a way that helps people become closer to whatever their own belief is. They can become deeper Christians/Atheists/Hindus, etc. Of course, that attempt of mine means that there are certain people who won’t vibe with my style because they want the teacher’s spiritual beliefs to be a part of the package. That’s OK, just because everyone is invited to the party doesn’t mean it’s going to be a party everyone enjoys and wants to come back to.

That said, I write this blog in a different way than I teach yoga and I think it’s appropriate to talk a little about my belief system and background.

I was born and raised Mormon. I no longer associate with any one particular religion – but there’s a certain part of my DNA that will always be touched by my youthful experience with Mormonism.

When I was four years old, my eldest brother taught me how to pray. How to feel it in my heart and so I started praying with all my heart. I prayed to God. God didn’t look like a gray bearded man on a throne – God didn’t look like anything to 4-year-old David, God felt like something very specific and God lived in my heart.

As a result of those earnest and heartfelt prayers- the word God still has deep resonance to me.

When I reached my latter teen years and did my rebellion stage, I ran away from the words and institutions of youth. However even when I’d do LSD, I’d remember to reach out and see if I could feel God in my heart through the trip. Whenever I’d reach out, regardless of the state – I’d be able to feel that heart focus.

Of course, life came and I drifted and sometimes months would go by without me focusing on that space of heart, but it was always something I went back to – even when I rallied against the actual word “God”. I’d grown disillusioned with what is done in God’s name and so I wanted nothing to do with the name God.

That said, the word “God” always had a specific resonance because it was the name 4 year old me centered my prayer-focused heart on. As I got older I reclaimed the word. I let other people’s take on the word fade away and let it be that center of Love, center of heart that I felt as a child.

For me God is Love is no more than a math equation. God=Love. They are the same thing. The deeply resonant nondualistic Love that for me lies in the heart of every experience – that is what I use the word God to describe.

Love. To me the universe is made from the heart of Love. My whole philosophy on this is more than I can easily go into in one blog post but I felt it right to write about it here. I want to be real with you guys and let you know where my agenda comes from. It comes from Love and Love to me wears the name God and vice versa.

Much love to you,

David

What God Means to Me

The Yoga of Incubation

It’s the first new moon of Spring. New moons and Spring both are seen to be large level starting points. It’s time to plant seeds. It’s time to make preparation. It’s time to start incubation.

Incubation is something that I feel isn’t always properly valued in the yoga and transformative realm. I certainly know for a long time it was something I didn’t really get.

There was a point in my life when I was what I call a “transformation junky”. I wanted big breakthroughs and I wanted them now. Gimme all your breakthrough and give it to me now!

Breakthroughs by their very nature feel good. We’re breaking through from one state to a new state and there’s an onrush of excitement. It makes sense I wanted to experience that all the time.

The metaphor I have for this process of constant breakthrough is taking eggs straight from the hen’s butts and hitting them with a hammer to crack them open. You can make an omelette with enough of them and that’s cool – but if you let the egg stay warm and incubate, you get something far more rare – you get a new life.

I was cracking eggs left and right – breaking shells and breaking walls – but where was the new life?

New life is something that only comes with the passing of time. Sometimes time passing and builds you up to one of those “Oh my God, this is huge” breakthrough moments, but those by their very nature can’t be every day, on and on – ad infinitum.

Incubation is the slow work. It’s the opposite of a quick fix. It’s a 40-week process on average from conception to birth. That’s 280 days, and there’s really nothing a person can do to turn that into a 3-day seminar where you start the first day with conception and end the third with a healthy baby.

So too, the idea for new life changes may come in a flash of inspiration – but turning them into day-to-day lived reality takes a lot of small moments. Tiny choices – almost inconsequential – made time and time again.

So let’s honor those slow moments that might get relegated to a montage in a movie. Let’s honor the incubation. Plants seeds, tend them with loving care – and then see what grows.

Here’s to incubation!

Much love,

David

The Yoga of Incubation