Packing came easy on Thursday before my trip. I’d been fussing all week with things, getting ready to go out of town. Tying up loose ends at work. Sending last minute emails. Staging piles (and piles!) of camping gear. Those sorts of things. Feeling burned out with all things day job, this trip felt like I was embarking on an adventure to find myself - to figure out what I want to do with my life. I mean, I already know: I want to serve in the best place possible that's most authentic to me. But I’m burned out, I’m restless and I need some space.
I woke up Friday morning at 5:30. It was the last alarm I’d set for over a week. I grabbed the cold things out of the fridge, loaded the toiletries and was out the door by 6am. Most everything had been packed the night before, carefully thinking through when and how I’d need various things. What would make the car Tetris the easiest to sift through throughout my time on the road?
I stopped at a Starbucks somewhere in the mid-cities and grabbed some coffee and something to eat. I’d keep going, heading west, up through Wichita Falls, onwards to Amarillo. By Amarillo, I was ready to have lunch but struggled to find something on the East side of town. I exited the first picnic area West of Amarillo and pulled over to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. To eat with chips and a nectarine. A meal I would eat many, many times over throughout the next week.
I’d planned all my meals of course. From beginning to end, all the moving parts were all thought through so as to cause the least amount of worry and interaction with anybody. I didn’t want to do a lot of shopping beyond buying gas, ice and perhaps some souvenirs here and there.
After Amarillo it was onwards to Santa Fe. I listened to the BKS Iyengar book Light on Life, a book that breaks down yoga philosophy with such elegance and practicality. And earlier, I’d been listening to Eknath Eswaran’s commentaries on the Upanishads. As I pulled into Santa Fe, I headed straight for The Ark. It’s a big spiritual bookstore filled with goodies, great books and the last time I was in town I only had five minutes in it before it closed. I sorta swore that the next time I was in Santa Fe, I’d make a point to visit again. I picked up a set of prayer flags for our backyard deck. I also got a book on the 21 Tara's.
I got to my friend Scott’s house and waited for him to get off work. Just for a few minutes, it wasn’t long.
He arrived and after unloading my car, we settled in for a drink. Me some pink wine and him a cold beer. We chatted about all the things while we killed a little time before dinner. When the timing felt right, we decided to head out to Paper Dosa for dinner, a delicious Indian place with alarmingly good dosas.
We ended up sharing a table with another couple. The restaurant was extremely busy and this was a good decision for all of us in order to get a table in a timely manner. We got to know them a little, although now I can’t remember their names. Either way, it made for a sweet little evening.
When we got back to the house, I changed the sheets on the bed I'd be sleeping in and took a shower. I was asleep before I knew it, with an elderly black cat named Lula purring next to me.
In the morning we got up, had some coffee and tea and I researched Crestone a little bit before getting dressed. We headed out for a fabulous French breakfast where we talked about all sorts of things - from my unease with work to his leather business. He also shared his yoga journey with me - how he’d stumbled into Iyengar yoga and it was proving to be fairly miraculous with his long disabled leg.
We headed back to his house and I took some pictures of him in his leather working studio. As much for him as for me, I’d say. We parted ways after that and I headed over to the Jackalope - a really cool home goods and garden store in Santa Fe. After endless wandering I settled on a simple teal blue dress that I’d wear almost everyday after that. I even shimmied into it in the parking lot in front of God and everyone!
The drive to Taos was uneventful and very beautiful. Upon arrival I headed straight to a delicious pizza place called Out Back Pizza. After that the Hanuman Temple for a brief encounter with Hanuman’s energy.
Turns out, Saturday is the only day they open the Temple. Fortunately for me, it was Saturday and my timing was impeccable! I arrived just after they opened the doors so I was towards the front of the line that was slowly queuing out front. Covid protocols meant everyone wore a mask and they would only allow six people in at a time to pay respects and meditate.
When it was my turn, I dinged the bell over the entrance to the shrine and put a little money in the donation box and headed in. I hadn’t brought any flowers or goods that the temple could use. Money would have to do. I sat on the floor of the temple and looked at all the shrines. I closed my eyes and sat for a few minutes to see what would come to me. “Life is for service” and “be of service” is what I kept experiencing. Fitting for Hanuman. Fitting for the questions I’m asking myself on this wandering adept adventure.
I exited the shrine room and gratefully accepted the caffeinated chai and some prasad. I had a bit of a drive ahead of me - to get to Crestone, Colorado before dark. Back at the car, I rearranged a few things and got settled for a fairly long drive ahead of me. About three hours to Crestone.
Not far north of Taos, I approached a bridge. I could see people stopping and walking to it so I slowed down as I crossed. Holy shit that was a deep gorge! I had no idea! It’s part of the Rio Grande - but way up in Northern New Mexico! I pulled into the rest area just past the bridge and walked back down to the bridge for a better look. A suicide hotline was there at the center of the bridge. It really was a “sure fire” spot if you wanted to jump. There would be no survivors.
Back in the car, I turned up some music and headed on, stopping briefly at the Earthships. The nice people wouldn’t let me in though. I was nine minutes past their closing time. I could see it was quite the place, with gardens and living quarters like buried into the earth for year round living and comfort.
I passed an Amish cart and horse. I passed into Colorado and marveled at the cannabis dispensary right there at the border.
Onwards to Crestone. I got into town and promptly hit the Higher Elevation dispensary there in town before plugging in the GPS directions to my campsite. (Nothing wrong with a little legal sativa, people.)
I found my Hicamp (called Dreamweavers) after only a little effort. When I pulled into the gate, I wasn't sure where to park or what to do so I inched forward to the doorway to the structure that was to my right. A tall, older man stepped out to greet me. “I’m here to see Jodi. I’m camping here tonight through a Hipcamp reservation.” He seemed a little bewildered at my comment and possibly a little confused. His name was Robert and the little elderly starving dog with him, he called “Shorty.” Jodi, the woman I’d been communicating with about camping, had left for Sedona just that morning, he said but that he could show me around.
Oh dear, I thought, but followed him into the house.
We started walking through the house. I hesitate to use the word “house” though because the structure seemed to me to be a series of shacks and prefab structures that had been strung together for a rambling ranch “house” effect. He took me through the “healing room” where I could see a massage table set up (complete with rumpled sheets) underneath a row of chakra colored crystals that would line up with someone’s body if they'd been stretched out on the table. I turned a corner and Robert said “Hey Merlin, come say hello to Aurah!” A little curly headed man with glasses peered out of a room, pulled back a curtain doorway. Smiling and seeming very friendly, he said “Hi Aurah! Nice to meet you.” Robert explained that Merlin was the resident wizard. I couldn’t tell if he was kidding or not so I laughed it off and said “every place needs a resident wizard, man!”
Then a peek at the shower I was invited to use. ‘Nope’ I thought. Then the kitchen where I “could put my things” if I wanted to. I opened the refrigerator door and saw it was lined with wooden shelves and the whole thing packed to the gills. ‘Nope’ I thought and we kept going. Past the washer and dryer that don’t work. Past more piles of clutter. We exited out the other end of the place and I think I understood at this point to head back out to the road and take the second entrance into the compound. I could camp anywhere I like. And then Robert made a menacing comment about mosquitoes. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant, but I would soon find out!
I pulled into the second driveway and noticed three other campers had already chosen the most obvious camping spot near a firepit. I parked my car pretty far from theirs and walked around. It wasn’t a prime camping location. It felt more like I would be camping in a dump. Piles of stuff, lumber, tools, trash, tires and more just sort of littered the place. I got the feeling that at one time it was quite the place but that Covid and a lack of work hours on the compound had left it in utter disrepair. I pitched my tent along a fence strewn with homemade dream catchers. Seemed like the most obvious place. And besides, it had a helluva view of the mountains.
I started to lay the tarp and then my tent. The mosquitos, it turns out, are a Whole Thing in Crestone for about 6-8 weeks in the summer. The ground is saturated with snowmelt water and they sort of emerge from the ground. They don’t even need standing water to propagate. I rubbed some mosquito wipes along my legs and back of neck and arms in an effort to be able to focus on setting up my camp.
I quickly cooked my first dinner: a Kalachandji’s meal heated up in a skillet on my borrowed camp stove and hot tea. I did my dishes as quickly as I could while thousands of mosquitoes bombarded me. After securing my little outdoor kitchen for the night, I dove into my tent and zipped it up as quickly as I could. Finally: sleep after an epic travel day. I needed the rest. The next day I’d be heading up to Willow Lake at around 11,700 feet elevation….
May it be so.
I depart soon on a solo adventure. On the next new moon, if fact. It'll be just me, my tent, Sophia Pearl (my car) and a cooler full of food. I've booked a series of Hip Camp sites to get me going but I've also left several days in the middle of my wandering to get lost and see where the wind might take me. I've got some hiking in the Sangre de Cristo mountains on the agenda. And a monastery (or ten) to visit. I'll bring the iPad and write a ton, I'm sure. Other than that, I guess I'll see what happens. I'm ready to roll with whatever.
I know it's not cool to complain, but y'all, I'm totally fried at work. Crispy, in fact. These times we're living in have worn me thin and I'm desperate to recharge. My version of "self-care" has always been to take off somewhere alone. Sometimes it's a fancy foreign trip. Sometimes it's to Burning Man. Sometimes it's "just" to the family ranch for a few days. A few times I've meditated for ten days straight at the Vipassana Center south of town. I truly recharge when I have these times away, ideally alone, but sometimes in small groups. It's like plugging into an energy socket for me. It's really important and helpful for me to shut it all off and give myself tons of space and freedom. In a quasi-post-pandemic year the best fit seems to be a camping adventure, cheaper too! Fortunately my dear husband knows this about me. It was true when we married 23 years ago and it remains true to this day. I'm a much better mom, wife, friend, worker bee, citizen when I return. Oh, and prayers for safe travel are welcomed. As bold as I am and as easy as I make all this sound, this stuff is always a little scary if I'm honest.
I share this about myself to encourage you to do what YOU need to do to take care of yourself right now. A solo camping trip isn't everyone's cup of tea but there's something for you to consider and "put out there" for your self care in the near future. It could be as simple as ordering sushi next Wednesday night. Or fussing around in your garden this weekend. Maybe it's picking up a fabulous book that you haven't read since you were sixteen. On your next day off, drive to the Hill Country and have a picnic at Enchanted Rock! Do it. Do something. Set aside the time in your calendar soon to do this for yourself. Please. I hope this is the encouragement and inspiration you need!
May it be so.
Photo credit Stock image: Birds fly in front of a full moon. GETTY IMAGES
The Full Flower Super Blood Moon (on a Wednesday) is the culmination of this science experiment and here we are, dear Adepts! The daily prompts thus far have been leading to this one, so lean in, will you?...
The end game here (for me) has been to get some important themes in the forefront of my mind via day-resonant writing prompts: abundance, creativity, shadows (fears), shine, mystery, vigor culminating with a well-articulated communication from the heart to move through a challenge in my life. In essence, a heartfelt Prayer. The magic of today, of course, is optimal conditions to merge with the big flow of the “celestial court” and write down in as plain language as I possibly can the Prayer that wants to express itself through me. And then link that Prayer up with the full moon this month, which is also the auspicious lunar holiday to celebrate the Buddha’s birth, death and enlightenment. This is the basic idea anyway.
And what is the nature of the experiment we have done here? Well, the incredibly simple and obvious hack of tuning in to the days of the week and associated celestial bodies has allowed us to work what is already in motion with an ongoing aspect of modern life that everyone on the planet (for the most part) has a sense of and is an active participation in : the seven day week. By virtue of lining up with this higher order we can actively link up to the “music of the spheres” which is the whirring and spinning and orbiting of the visible planets (plus the sun and moon) in the heavens. Ultimately though, I propose that this experiment serves as a boost in realizing our true nature as a creative, active, divine force in the world.
Naturally, this science experiment can be extended, if you feel called, as a way to diversify your ongoing experience and harness yourself to the larger mystery of the celestial-scape. There are 52 weeks per year of course so find the next week that makes sense to you and have at it!
Without further chatter, here’s the culminating writing prompt from our time together...
Despacho Instructions: A despacho hails from the Q'ero people in the Andes mountains as a means to create a prayer bundle that one offers to the elements by burning or burying. It's a way to harmonize and align the physical world with inner wisdom and a heartfelt prayer. To construct one, first you need a despacho base. I suggest you use a sheet of paper, folded into 9 squares. In this case I suggest writing the Prayer you develop on 5/26 on the base. (Use the other writing sheets as kindling if possible. Burn it all!)
Thanks for participating with me, Adepts! Over and out for now on this particular science experiment. Time for me to keep movin’. Who knows what will happen next? May it be so.
Here goes! Below are the writing prompts for six of the seven days. I have a few things to say above and beyond what’s drafted here about each day when we meet for the Lives as well as the alchemy available to study within this framework. That said, in theory, this is the basic framework of prompts that I suggest in order to co-participate each day at 6:30am whether or not you meet on the internet or not. Again, the end game here for us (or for me, at least) is to “unstick” some specific areas of our lives and make room for transformation, for spaciousness and peace with a few areas that (for me) are causing anxiety and challenge. I hope that by systematically writing about areas that correspond to the days of the week and then making intentional plans to release and surrender a Prayer that I develop on the full moon might help. I mean why the f*ck not? This is where I trust and have faith in the processes that downloaded and take action to pursue and share with anyone who also wants to do a little self-inquiry.
Here are Six of the Seven days of the experiment:
FRAMEWORK, WHAT TO EXPECT & CLARIFYING DETAILS
Thanks for the interest, friends! I’m thrilled to have companionship for this inner pilgrimage I'm starting tomorrow. (Read up on the premise.) Because that’s the nature of a pilgrimage, right? Only YOU can walk your pilgrimage and only I can walk mine. I’m merely volunteering to be our fearless Cruise Director for this particular pilgrimage/sadhana. Below is a clear outline of what to expect and what the guardrails are for our walk together. I think it's helpful to see what exactly the approach will be and how you and I can make best use of the time.
HOW TO ACTIVELY (or passively) PARTICIPATE:
“See” you tomorrow morning (5/20) at 6:30am. You now know what to do. May it be so.
Context: If you know me well, you know I have amazing super powers in getting shit done and an uncanny ability to execute (and complete!) very large and complex ideas. Zero shame in my game. Indeed, the momentum and discipline I naturally carry boggles my own mind sometimes. And if you don’t know me well, just know that I’m a quintuple Scorpio born at Dawn on a Tuesday on a Full Moon (Need I say more?) Anyway, I’m super “stuck” in a very particular area of my life. Stuck in terms of being driven by (personally, to me) important powers of responsibility and obligation but also a finicky little tickle that I can’t (and won’t) settle for less. I want to use my superpowers of accountability and tenacity to dislodge this present “stuckness”. So: I hereby propose to myself a living, breathing science experiment. I’m somewhat educated in a number of metaphysical and yogic disciplines that could prove to be helpful here and I’m also a real deal scientist. (A degree'd chemist to be exact.) I’m curious what might happen if I pulled all the elements together in a big focused inhale and then released the pent up energy on the auspicious full moon next week? Why? Well, the timing feels right and besides, I’m motivated by this particular "stuck" area of my life. (I’d rather not say what area, exactly. To each Her own, mkay? You have your own stuck areas, surely.)
Purpose: To spend the week leading up to the aptly named Super Flower Blood Moon (also the celebrated auspicious day of the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha) developing a heartfelt Prayer and intention that I will offer to the powerful forces of life. This will simultaneously be the most woo-woo-hoo-doo thing I do all week coupled with the most direct, clear, no-bullshit course of action, destined to manifest because I will have harnessed my intentional Prayer to the physical elements and to my own creative, blooming, embodied life force energy. (That, my Adept friends, is magic!) It might feel right for you to join me at this time. Please do! The roadmap is outlined below. See if it speaks to you, I would welcome a companion or two. I'm a bit lost at the moment, tbh.
Approach: If you’re “in” we will have a “Zoom In / Zoom Out” approach that we perform together through a series of simple morning writing exercises culminating with a Day dedicated to embodying the Prayer: the Super Flower Blood Moon on Wednesday, May 26. Important note to interested Selves: full and rigorous live participation is requested for best results of this science experiment. Because make no mistake: this is a living, breathing science experiment where I bring many things that I have learned into an elongated experience where I can dive deeply into Realizing a fervent Prayer burning in my heart. Do you also have a fervent Prayer that needs some ignition? If so, again, you’re welcome to join me. I would love and welcome companions.
Sadhana: This particular science experiment has its own unique sadhana, or set of rhythmic practices that help keep the Forces “on the rails”. As many are aware “off the rails” is a place where we sometimes can get with these things. And it’s easy to get “off the rails” - so, so easy. So easy to not meditate. To lose focus and get distracted. So easy. A proper sadhana keeps things “on the rails” in the general direction of the Prayer. Or Dream. Or in an arc of human evolution as demonstrated by the Great Teachers of all the world’s traditions. A disciplined sadhana seems to be key in all of these scenarios.
How: for this particular science experiment, we’ll work with several moving parts, all of which will be outlined in detail over the course of a week:
May it be so.
We live in a 100+ year old house with the auspicious house number of 108 and to describe it as 'charming' is the understatement of the century. (Literally!) We have lived in this home for over 20 years and feel like we know it intimately. This house trusts us. And yet we know it stood proud for 80+ years before we even knew it existed. These days, 108 shelters-us-in-place quite nicely, all 1,400 square feet of it. And once again, it's curious to imagine that people lived in these walls through the JFK assassination, which occurred right up the street from our house. And then sometime prior to World War II, there was the time the then-owner turned it into a duplex. Not to mention the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. This was a brand new home during that era!
As you may imagine, maintaining 108 can be challenging, incredibly imperfect and yet we are completely and totally in love with her - cracks, creaky floorboards and everything. We have such fond memories of music parties in our living room with friends and strangers alike, Full Moon Salons, birthday parties, swami talks, epic dinner parties with friends and family and the abiding sense of 'home' to our two children. Our son was even born right here at home over 19 years ago in the same bedroom we still sleep in. Pre-pandemic we would host our Meditation Group in our living room on Sunday mornings. And who can forget some of our house guests on the sleeper sofa over the years? "It's not often you get to sleep by an altar" my dear friend Julia once said about crashing on our living room couch for a few days.
Sister Coronavirus has supported our efforts quite nicely to spruce up the place. We don't have a lot of money to spend on these small scale renovations so they end up being quite lackluster by some people's standards. Below is a video I made of our living room which recently underwent a deep clean and upgrade. We spent several days carefully cleaning, painting and wallpapering this space (ceiling too!) and are now enjoying the fruits of our labor. This is my favorite room of the house and makes me smile. It's always clean. It always welcomes me. It always shines. It's a 'hug' at the front door each and every time I come and go. A friend of ours even calls our living room 'The Burrow' (yes, just like the Weasley's).
Anyway, enjoy this 'virtual tour' from my inner nine year old as a break from whatever you're doing online right now. Come inside. Stay a minute. Look at some of the cool sticks, stones, feathers and shells we've collected. I'd have you over for tea in a hot second if I could, you know.
May it be so.
What if the violence and clashing we're witnessing is really about an unmet desire for physical connection? What if the psychology of 'the bully' archetype so rampant in certain communities is really about a deep fear of being unacceptable? I wonder what would a proactive intervention, simply as a thought experiment, with a bully look like?
Here are my working thoughts on this topic. Or, perhaps this is how I'm trying to cope, who knows.
I ruminate these things as an ongoing, personal thought experiment. For example, I wonder what might happen if the peace that passes all understanding were to unveil gracefully in the hearts of those who participated in the Capitol Riots? Oooo, or better yet, Donald J. Trump himself?
What if we were to collectively launch a thought experiment where we envisioned forgiveness, regrouping and consistency with a prayer for peace? Just like ball players do before a big game. They imagine specific drills and shots so that when the time comes, they are at-the-ready. What if we got "at-the-ready" for transformed hearts? What amazing heroism could be revealed for humanity? As a platform to move forward with minimal resentment. To recalibrate. To ultimately heal.
It doesn't mean accountability isn't called for or necessary. In fact, quite the contrary. All I'm suggesting is that these steps (for me) allow a path to move forward without poisoning my own heart.
May it be so.
Both the kids are out of the house and in college. They both have their own struggles and successes with this new and challenging semester. (How Paul and I are doing is a whole other story!) While my boy is four hours away and just starting his college experience, my girl has been on her own for a few years now. Covid and all things tumultuous have really shaken her world and after a few weeks of living with us between semesters, I finally captured all the knowledge I have been trying to impart in words and in my own example: the importance of sleeping well and waking clearly and having a rhythm with the day, especially when times are trying. Here goes... Maybe it's useful for others as well.
Purpose: to offer my daughter, who is equal parts a disciplined Warrior Spirit and receptive Sensitive Creature, a basic practice to help with sleeping, studying and living the best possible life “during these times” or anytime, really.
What is a sadhana? Quite simply, a sadhana is the daily (spiritual) practice that informs and enhances your life to one of purpose and detachment. A sadhana requires real discipline and the ability to “show up” for yourself day after day, week in and week out. The one outlined in this document has no religious or overtly "spiritual" aspects to it. Please know that my personal sadhana is much more robust. This is merely a trustworthy and firm foundation full of practicality and “mom-sense” to help you wake a little clearer and sleep a little deeper.
May it be so.
I've been performing a quiet, personal science experiment for the last couple of years that entails wearing certain colors on certain days. (Longer time readers and friends know I love a good science experiment.) It goes like this: the names associated with the days of the week are in alignment with certain planetary bodies. Meaning, when we say in English "Sunday" we are referring to the Sun. "Monday" is referring to the Moon. "Tuesday" is pointing to Mars, although the Latin based version of things, as in Martes, which is Spanish for Mars Day. And so on.
If you consider it for a moment, we collectively align over and over in conversations, receipts, emails, court documents, news articles, so on and so forth in reference to the day. In fact, you probably see or hear the day of the week you're living on that day hundreds of times, reinforced over and over and over in multiple dimensions, like a mantra.
As I've mentioned, each day of the week aligns with a celestial body but also a certain set of attributes and colors. I stumbled across the concept ages ago during one of my yogic-ayurvedic-study adventures and then a couple of years ago decided to give it a try for myself. What does it mean to align with the "energy" of a particular day of the week? Does it make a difference? What happens if I don't wear as much grey, black and brown? What happens if I wear the "wrong" color on a particular day? Do I even own all the colors in my clothing? Where do I even start with this science experiment? Are there other changes that I notice as I wear the colors, particularly as they pertain to the chakras? What if I charted my progress in a spreadsheet? Hm...
I made myself a little chart based on my various research adventures:
(Please note - these are my personal notes captured in chart form based on an amalgamation of LOTS of this stuff floating around in various reference materials. It's my personal version of things and the data set I'm using for my personal science experiment.)
Over the last two and a half years I have been wearing colors that correspond to the days of the week. And yes, over time I have noticed some shifts. If forced to articulate them, here they are:
May it be so.
Periodic updates from Aurah in the Field.