Monday, November 24th, 2008

Past and Future, Lives

There are two past lives I am clear about having:

First one, a recently electro-shocked patient in a mental institution. The walls were putrid green, shiny and the floor hard. There was no way out of that shattered mind.

The second was as a black woman, in a river, with bright red blood running from my recently slit throat, down over my white dress. They had just killed my husband and taken my two babies.

You know about my life-long study and research of mental, physical and spiritual wellness, as evidenced by my work.

Less known, however, is that I always resonated strongly with black culture and spent my childhood devouring the works of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison and later found the key to my dancing career by taking West African dance. Whether or not I am hallucinating my past lives, I have a deep respect for the wisdom – and hard, hard won graciousness – that courses through the veins of black people, especially those in the United States.

This is a beautiful letter, from Alice Walker to our President Elect. May you be as inspired, grateful and an advocate for your health, joy and delight whilst also making the rain come and miracles happen in your own life and community.

"We are the ones we have been waiting for."
– Alice Walker

An Open Letter to Barack Obama, from Alice Walker, writer
Nov. 5, 2008

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker

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Posted by LiYana at 8:33 pm  Comments Off on Past and Future, Lives

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Mother Theresa and Me

I'm in the air on a United flight headed toward Denver, to be interviewed on an episode of the Stuart Davis Show, "Sex, God and Rock & Roll.

I'll be interviewed along with Spiritual Cowgirl, Sera Beak, author of The Red Book (, which you must immediately purchase and dive into tip to toe – after you finish reading this post, of course. I found and read Sera's book when I was writing my own website, re-defining my life path, passion and what I wanted to put into the world. She'll inspire you to re-define your divinity, devotion and spirituality, in the sassiest, most delicious and intrepid ways possible.

But back to what Stuart and I are going to talk about:

Relationship As A Spiritual Path: Can a relationship do what an ashram does? In what ways do we use spiritual practices, communities or teachers to avoid deeper engagement with ourselves and partners?

Sexuality a a Spiritual Practice: What do I actually DO when I support people to re-define monogamy?

"The Age of Integration": We are at the apex of an evolutionary arc which has thrown people, cultures and perspectives – which previously never could have reached each other – into the melting pot of exchange and contact. What does that mean for relationships?

You'll have to tune in to the interview to get the full discussion (I'll let you know when and how to watch it), but the heart of it is that relationships, or should I say relating (the active, kinetic and dynamic verb form, rather than the static noun form) and sex most certainly can be profound, life-long spiritual path.

There is no place that is not holy, no moment that can't offer you opening to God. Perhaps there is no better place than relationships.

The way I see it, spirituality is a path, a journey, a way, with some goals along the way:
– To become fully adult human beings, to ripen the mind, body and emotions in order to awaken to the truth of who we are.
– To align with what matters, and know that nothing really matters. To be a loving, loved human being, wringing all sacred and irreverent experience from this incarnation.
– To mature the mind, body and emotions to have the experience of unity, rather than duality and separateness.
– To align our humanity with divinity; is is our humanity's interplay with divinity.
– To achieve the goal of awakening and/or enlightenment, which to come to know, beyond doubt, from direct experience, Who We Are, What does not die, That which exists always, even when the body dies.

Anything in life, with clear intention, can offer spiritual path; relationship, ashram, dancing, the dishes…

We can get confused and think that being really nice, selfless, generous and meditating a lot is very spiritual, and is what enlightenment and spirituality is about. Enlightenment and spirituality are nothing but kissing cousins, but that's for another blog post. Spirituality isn't about being Good; its about aligning with and acting from love, devotion, celebration and enjoyment as our default, not because it gets us sainted or points in heaven, but because it feels the best and is the most fun, and opens us to divinity the quickest.

As says Mother Theresa:

* PEOPLE are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

* If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

* If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

* If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

* What you take years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

* If you find serenity and joy, some may be jealous. Be joyful anyway.

* The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

* Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

* In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Relationships seem like they are "between you and them," and on one level they are; they do ripen us into our humanity. Relationships are also a microcosm of what's most sacred, "between you and God."

Posted by LiYana at 11:20 pm  Comments Off on Mother Theresa and Me

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