the image on top is "Welcome Home Sweet Sugar" by Kelsey Brooks

Monday, June 25, 2012

That was a singularly strange experience in its platitude.

I am on East Coast until July 11th, visiting my more conservative jewish parents, who are actually doing a commendable job coming to terms with my more mystical existence.

It's near 1AM, and my mother and I are sitting on the embroidered and practical couch in the living room of this beautiful colonial house in mid-massachusetts, and we are watching Cruel Intentions. Here's the strange thing; there have been at least two other times where we've sat on this couch and watched Cruel Intentions.

Now, I do practice some repetition. Every morning, I wake up and go through a series of more or less similar postures and meditations (that I swear is different every day, but may appear reiterative to the outside glance). More meals than not, I'll throw some celery and spirulina in a blender. I repetitively dip my hand in the chocolate jar, or the honey jar, and I still have a nasty habit of checking my cell phone.

But I think I've named the majority of my habits. This winter, I lived in a house for 6 months- the longest I maintained a residence since 2009. Since 2009, I've 'lived' in 13 locations. These days, it's an odd coincidence if I wake up in the same place twice, and that place isn't around a campfire with CC White saying, "Darling, we are all scared your hair is going to light on fire!".

Watching this movie was so strange. At one point, I got up to go to the bathroom, and my own life seemed foreign to me. I could not believe that I was headed back to California to teach Gong Flow Yoga and travel the festival circuit. It's real enough when I've got a bunch of singing bowls around someone's head and I'm handing them some lavender, but when I'm in a suburban house in mid-massachusetts, to say my life seems odd is nothing.

Especially when I'm flash-backed to my 15 year old self, or my 18 year old self. Cruel Intention's images of New York in particular are striking... they must have made quite an impression on my mind to manifest to reality, because I've been there, in love, not on the upper east side but on the upper west, in a similar egoic reality.

My mother asked me if I wanted to go back to being 19 and going to NYU*, and....I can't say there was no truth to that- there's certainly the shadow of reminiscence, but honestly, no, not reality. The greatest excitement I felt in New York pales in comparison to the joy I am capable of feeling now. I think I took in only about 29% when I lived there (statistic falsified). I have no idea what percentage of experience I take in now, if there is such a thing (metaphor is technically flawed), but I can bet you its higher. I remember my first tastes of ecstasy in my heart center; now I feel it with my whole being. I feel much more alive, more awake, in a way more innocent than I did at 17.

For the most part ; )

I think, sitting there and watching this movie, I missed my current life more than I missed my New York one. The thing with New York, is that it will still be there, in some form. I have friends in New York that appear to struggle with the same conflict, inhabit the same worlds. Perhaps it so appears to my outside perspective, in fact, probably, but the change of my being happens now in lands unknown. And I am lucky enough to live in a world with continuance, to be near to or aware of the beloved brothers and sisters I shared New York with.

I feel more intensity of experience, novelty and growth with each passing year, and I have no urge to return to a previous time. I intend to continue that pattern. I have always looked forward to my life at 50 and if trend takes it course, I'm sure it will be pretty epic.

But sitting there, past midnight, watching the same movie: inexplicably odd.

*she is shocked I left cosmopolitan new york to live in 'provincial' Venice
I haven't written about a class I taught in over a year. Isn't that weird?

It's mostly because yoga classes are  about students and it's kind of weird to blog about them.

Occasionally I'll write out a sequence, but also it's like "yeah...yoga happened..."

As I write this, I'm watching a reiki practitioner heal a woman with some pretty active breathwork. It's powerful, and also funny.

Gong flow started as a seed on the beach in santa Monica- I ran up to him and yelled "gong me gong me".

"you can't just do that, Mona," says Brendon, incredulously.

I get in the gong chair: and I don't know what happened in there honestly. It's like the first time I did yoga: "oh...that was weird".

As I hear the rainstick, I fall back into my body. I sit up and Guy says, "you know, I've been looking for a yoga teacher...."

This is right around the second time in my life where I nearly surrendered teaching yoga. The classes I was teaching before just didn't gather momentum....

It's one of the ironies of an actor moving to NYC- a yoga teacher moving to Santa Monica has the joy of learning in a soul-and-wisdom saturated atmosphere. You get to learn and transform in the brilliant Mecca of mind-body consciousness.

But there's so much yoga all around, there didn't seem to be a need for more.

But the bowls and the gongs have such tremendous power, that they are crucial to share. Seriously, they are amazing. It's a yoga high like never experienced before, and the effects are long-lasting. I truly believe that each gong flow yoga class is a rebirth. I have never before encountered anything so nourishing. 

I hold a yoga class in honor of my birthday- it's the style I like, laid back, with an emphasis on writing and individual experience- introspective yoga ; ). 

Just kidding, it's all introspective. 

Anyway, Guy comes over and gongs the group. Kara, a friend of mine, began to sing in these aerie ethereal tones. It's strange to say what happens during a sound bath, especially if its your first or second time. You enter into a realm without language, and since language is pretty much all I'm used to describing things (I haven't yet ascended to music), it's pretty tricky. One gets up and says, "Wow. Something happened. I'm not sure what it is though". And as with all mystery, I seek to understand. 

Guy had a class with a teacher up in the valley; to which I came. I re-experienced my childhood. I walked through the rooms of our New Jersey upstairs appartment. I pretended I was sailor moon and danced around late at night. I sat up on the drawer eating a rasberry-cheesecake muffin. I could feel the texture in my mouth. I walked outside the cafeteria and into the playground. I felt the fuzz of textured dots in arts and crafts. I remembered my humiliation of letting Mike know that I liked him, and the pride of standing up on a bench and announcing the importance of staying calm.

Four to fourteen. In 14 minutes.

About a minute into the gong flow, the worries I had been ignoring came up. The thoughts floated in and out, the music threatened them. I listened to the bowls; I imagined what it would be like to think in music. It seemed to be a very simple good idea. Let's try it.

We asked to hold a gong and yoga class at Zoe's, to which she generously and beautifully agreed!

Our first class, which we taught at Zoe's Love Dome, had 5 people in it. 

The next one, had 15. And Zoe's is a very small space! We were mat to mat, and there was no question; something significant was happening. 

Afterwards, we had to take reservations and then it got tricky- we need a big space- we can't do this by donation. But we want to have it open, so we set a suggested donation- but that confuses people as well. Setting up extremely heavy musical instruments, asking sound healing musicians to work for 2 hours, then taking it all down is a lot of work. And we are openly trying to get by. This sounds like a bunch of mind marble, doesn't it? Sure feels like it. But it's a nice mind marble to have, because the real question is, 

How can we share this experience to the highest degree? 

Afterwards, came Lucidity Festival, where I began to comprehend the power of the gongs. And where I faced my internal demons of misogyny and vowed to become and self-actualize. 

Then, was Symbiosis, where Guy and I learned about each other through challenge, and I fell in love with the singing bowls. Symbiosis was my first encounter with the phrase "brutaful". Brutal, and beautiful. I always imagined that my most activated state would be a busy, talkative way of being. I'm a fairly busy, talkative person, and I suspected when I was being at my fullest, it was when I felt drained of energy, forcing myself to say the next word. I learned that my most activated state is often when I'm listening. Even as I type that I feel a twinge of insecurity- doesn't this run in the way of my feminism? Am I simply too weak to take an active role? Chill out, fears, this is an empowered move, I assure you. Much 2nd wave feminism took for granted that "strong and active" was clearly superior, and it's a way for all people to be. Not so, says the 3rd (and possibly 4th?) wave, "receptive and calm" are markers of a strength so powerful it was repressed and feared. Own it. Bring it back.

Then came LIB, where I learned patience? (maybe) And decided that festival culture and the meaning behind it was as pretty close to the purpose of life as I can imagine. Please pardon me, productivity, but celebrating our short time together on earth through artistic creation is critical. 

Since then, it's been a whirlwind of website creation (Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Yohei), finding photography, seeking space, contacts and conflicts: all for the beautiful birth of transformative experience. 


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Urban Home Gardens (part 2!)

Oh my gosh, it's all grown up! Check this out,

Top left hand corner, that's the arugula, with the lovely spring blossoms at the top.  It's about two and a half feet now, and it took me by surprise because I realized I didn't actually know what arugula looked like outside of a bunch at the market. I guess that's a step up from not knowing what arugula is at all, but is just one more showcase of my paltry agricultural skills. Or, rather, my fledgling agricultural skills.

I must say, once this garden was planted, it was quite the independent offspring. I watered it a few times, and Kimi planted an additional Shisho leaf, but for the most part; Matt planted it, it flourished. 

 Kimi chopped up in a salad the other day. To the right of the arugula are some fiesty bits of kale. Traveling downward one encounters the Shisho leaf, an absolutely magical edible her that is as ubiquitous in Japan as basil. It's that little leaf underneath your sushi. 

We also have a wide array of lettuces in the middle. From this adventure, I've discovered that lettuce is very hard to keep clean. I marvel at how relatively dirt free the stuff at the market is.  

See the thyme at the front? That thyme took so long to grow in. It thus became the butt of many jokes, "Stop taking your time, thyme!"

In the foodie world, there's always thyme for puns. 

Once again, a billion times thank you to Matt from Urban Home Gardens in Mar Vista. Thank you for making us such a beautiful garden, and being a pioneer for love, ecology and agriculture.