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

Saturday, August 17, 2013

LA Unplugged

Three of us; David, Yohei and I, decided to take up a small venture. Our founding team had a simple yet exhilarating mission; we wanted to jump off a cliff.

Into water, you know. We found advisers along the way, and every time we wanted to give up (about five)- we chose instead to pivot.

As we first started upon our journey, we encountered two birdwatchers. I asked if I could take their picture; they said yes.

"That's a huge lens you have there," commented Yohei.

"Yes," says the birdwatcher, Mark, "Take a look, you can see all the detail". He shows us a surprisingly HD sparrow.

I open up the camera on my phone. "You don't mind if I take a picture of your picture," I say, snapping away; adding, rhetorically, "You don't think that's weird, do you?".

"...Well, it's a little weird, yes" says Mark.

I laugh, "oh, well, we're on this camping trip, LAUnplugged. And the organizer, he couldn't come on this hike, so I'm documenting the journey to share with him."

"Unplugged, as in, you're not supposed to be on your phone".

I'm dumbfouned. "...uh, yes. Yes, you've accurately interpreted that".

"You may want to do a better job of getting unplugged".

He was right, because for the first part of the hike, all I thought about was how to share this on social media.

Friday, August 2, 2013


The worst emotion in the world is longing. Even sadness has a satisfaction to it. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

She Who Says No: Kali Ma

"So, who is Kali, with her sword?

She who cuts.

Who creates separation.

She who says No

…..in service, to a greater Yes."

-From Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus's class at Shakti Fest a few weeks ago. Sean is a fantastic performer, entertainer and teacher; crafter of tales and experiences. Applause all around. 

We explored three goddesses: 
-Saraswati, the goddess of music, art and knowledge
-Raddha, the goddess of devotion
-Kali, the goddess of death and rebirth, protection and destruction. 

Sometimes hide from Kali. Sometimes I embrace her. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Starting off Shakti: Christi Christensen, The Jah Suns, Guy Douglas & Torkom Ji

Starting off Shakti.

Last year, I loved Christi's class. I need my power- my core- to be really fully present, and Christi brings that focus. She gets it, and when you walk out of that class, your inner fire's been awakened.

This year, Christi was joined by The Jah Suns. There guys are out of this world- in a great way. Total shamans, musicians and soul brothers.

This took a yoga class on an other worldly journey to a whole new land of Shakti.

Guy Douglas brought the magic of the singing bowls, a digeridoo, shamanic drums and GONGS. Torkom Ji, also of the Alchemical Fusion of Sacred, brought a 432 hz  synthesizer and played cosmic DJ. 

Christi's sequencing rocked; the flow so natural and divine, the challenge just right. She also brought the *fun*, high vibe energy; matched by Jah who went nuts with the shakers. 

We ended with a sound meditation in savasana. Which, in my opinion, is how every yoga class should end....in complete, and total return to source energy and compassion. Absolutely epic. 

5 Tenets of Awesomeness

Core values for business, love, friendship and every other kind of relationship you can think of.

1. Honesty

I majored in honesty. No, really, I did.

I'm not as much of a stickler as I once was about it, but it still makes it #1 on my values list. Life is much, much better when one is honest (to themselves & everyone else).

What is honesty? I'd say honesty is being an open channel communicating the thoughts & opinions that are relevant to the current experience. What is relevant? Generally, anything you are thinking & feeling about another person in any relationship is usually relevant to both or more parties. Why? Because thoughts are things, and people pick up on them. Honesty clears the air, and as a culture, I think we have an under-share our experience.

Don't be scared of telling people things. I can't vouch for how that will go for other people; but it's especially true for me. I am one of the most open minded motherf**kers I know. And I've spent the past 6 years in NYC & Venice. Being afraid to tell me something is absolutely absurd.

2. Integrity

Actions are fundamentally meaningless. The most well intended move can lead to unpleasant consequences and out-of-control outcomes & being attached to outcomes generally leads to insanity. There is no point to doing anything, really, with one exception;

If you say you will. Then it's a pretty good reason to do it.

In the grand spectrum of the universe, it doesn't really matter if you will get the proposal in by 5pm on Tuesday or 3pm on Friday, or not at all. But in the microcosm of your psyche, you'll build strength and trust in yourself if you stick to your deadline.

No one is perfect (I missed a coffee meeting on Monday) but building integrity is one the most wonderful experiences on the planet.

3. Courage

With the singular exception of bungee jumping, if something scares me, I'll probably do it on principle.

I may be confusing courage with stupidity, but I don't mind.

I've found fear is often a curtain for particularly wonderful experiences (think heights, public speaking, and letting someone know you find them attractive).

How nervous I feel is generally directly proportionally to how much I'm about to grow.

4. Creativity

Once again, actions are pretty meaningless. Everything we create is going to get destroyed in a big plasma explosion one day, if not sooner.

Yet humans tend to get off on it on creating things.

Making stuff feels awesome. So does growing, building and expanding. Perfecting, crafting, capturing the human experiences in joy, music and art...

Creating is being a part of the flow; in contrast, stagnation just feels bad. In some ways, being creative just means sharing yourself with the world. And sharing is caring; data, information, resources, and just about everything else.

As long as we admit that we enjoy creating for pure pleasure, we are going to have a lovely time here.

5. Compassion

Compassion is a super power. The most paramount emotion; the one vibration that can create complete and total change, that erases the past and brings in full recognition of creative potential in the present moment.

It feels like a stretching sensation in the heart. And at first it kind of hurts, but then it feels good, you know?

It is a secret weapon with the power to change any situation. And one of my favorite things. Ever. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mythical Being

I want to be this perfect human that listens fully, then pauses, and takes a breath before she speaks.

When she does, speaks slowly; spins words of gold. I want to be this mythical being of divine communication & creativity, that brings vision to reality with each breath.

"Mythical.....But mythical people aren't real," he says, "They are mythical by definition".

"Well, maybe. I believe that I can change my way of being, and if I keep refining myself I'll eventually become a very impressive being. I want to be like Albus Dumbledore.....okay, that was a bad example because he's obviously not real-"

"-Yes. He's a character, and a symbol".

"Ok, fine. What about Hillary Clinton? Hillary Clinton is real?"

"But you don't know Hillary Clinton".

"No, but I bet you she has her game face on most of the time".

"You don't know that. She's a symbol. You see her from far away. Mythical people aren't real".

Maybe? I still want to be a mythical being ;)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ecstasy, Solitude and Progress

There are three things, Saul says, that are absolutely essential for the Bhakti yogi....

The first is Ecstasy. On the Bhakti path, ecstasy is essential. Ecstasy lifts you out of ordinary life and shows you what is possible. It also shows the truth, the bliss, of reality and the divine and wonderful love of our being.

Ah, to always be in ecstasy.....

I cannot wait for the day when I say"Oh, wow, that was a mind-blowing ecstatic rush of joy! Amazing! Now, why don't I leave this ecstatic rush gracefully? I'll just release that beautiful thought, vision or experience and move into the present moment now.....".

I'm not there yet. I will replay that ecstatic moment again and again, only to switch and fantasize into the future. Once upon a time I thought, perhaps, I could open the eternal portal to ecstasy if I always lived in distraction, Douglas Adams style. But this brings me to Saul's next point. 

Stillness. Solitude; Aloneness. The Bhakti yogi knows the importance of going off by one's self and experiencing the stillness that precedes everything. S/he knows the power gained by taking this time, and the realization that comes of it.

I love this. This wonderful truth, this little life hack. When I find it difficult to be alone (my mind likes to keep me company), I turn to yoga to clear my thoughts and remind me; I'm at the center of my experience. And my experience is happening now. 

And lastly, Progress. Progress is knowing that all love ultimately resides within the self. As we intertwine our states of stillness and ecstasy, we, paradoxically, reach for and relax into this space.

May you and I flow favorably; may we all grow. 

With @SaulDavidRaye, @Shakti Fest (Bhakti Fest's Spring Immersion).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Analytics on my Mind

I would sell my soul to run analytics on my mind.

I want to know, truthfully, objectively, what the hell it is that I do with myself most of the time.

I'd like to know my top keywords. Maybe there are really predictable like "sex" "money" and "joy". I'd just like to be surprised by my research.

I want to know the 'sites' I visit most often. How much time do I spend there? Really? Because when I'm daydreaming, I'm not often holding up a stop watch.

How many 'visitors'? 'Uniques'? Maybe I'll monitor myself for a month and record the results.

How amazing would it be to see the aggregate, and the outliers?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Keep it.

I took class with Jerome Mercier this morning. Santa Monica already heated up at 7AM. 

His classes are silent, challenging & advanced. For a change, he asked us to move through another vinyasa. 

And he said, "Don't dance. Don't flow through it. Keep your awareness, meditate through it". 

My first thought, was, "Don't dance? Are you out of your mind? Is there another purpose of human life I'm not aware of?". 

And he says, "When you dance, you sometimes enter another realm, and energy moves outwards. You don't disperse your energy. You cultivate it. And then you keep it."

And it just stuck with me. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I want something. 

I've had a difficult time understanding what it may be.... despite its identity, it's elephantine presence has been undeniable. 

You have felt that silent, confusing tug of desire and perhaps have spent hours identifying.....perhaps misappropriating, its source. Subtle but it's real, of course. 

I would like to share inner space with you. 

I would like to know your thoughts and your feelings; dreams, visions and goals. I'd like to know how your mind made sense of the universe and your soul breathed amongst it. Practically, I'd like to send you messages and connect in your day. Mostly; to exist in a mutual world with consideration. Not always, but most or some of the time. 

Merge a small part of my heart-mind. 

It's really an awful lot to ask, if you think about it. 

There's a tribe of people I hold in my heart space, and if you are interested, you may partake- although your participation may rise quickly through novelty. I'm seeing several now; but this offer is exclusive. Not at all on principle, through temporality of truth. 

I am a lucky one; I share heart space with many humans. I do not need yours. But I would like to make the offer. 

There's little to it. It's a vibrational thing. Unspoken &  ephemeral; let's make it acknowledged and intentional. I would like to share inner space with you. 

Let me know if that interests you. 

I really like you. 

#muse #seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I don't know if this is a good place or not to announce that I am a total fuck up.

I have this idiotic vision of myself as a compassionate, patient person, when the truth of the matter is; well, it's not true at all.

I'm actually pushy, dominating in my viewpoints, aggressive, self-centered to an extreme; I'm still pretty confident that I'm not too manipulative but that's a subject for debate.

I do not want to be any of these things; I really don't. Especially as (since I'm self-centered), and when I am these things, the person most pissed off is me. And then, on top of that, I threaten and upset others. Which I do not intend at all. In the least bit.

I don't know if it's a cultural thing, because almost all the pushy, dominant people that don't know how to listen I know are all Russians. And everything that pisses me off about, say, my mother (who is a magical angel that still manages to annoy me) to my Russian friends (also, rad people that drive me nuts); yeah, that's not separate from me, that's ALL me, actually.

I swear to God I'm going to do everything in my power to make it better. I swear. Please, please forgive me and please be patient with me. 

Friday, March 8, 2013


There was a downpour in Los Angeles tonight. Strong in Venice. A flash of lightning, followed by a peal of thunder so severe that it awoke a nearby car alarm.

I was staying up late watching tv, whiling away the storm. The rain was more ardent than I've felt in two years on the west coast. It was even louder when I walked into the bathroom, shrill upon the skylight.

A rush of softness came upon me. I understood. Like a sign and a promise from God, I knew the tides had turned. In my favor, I suspected.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

When Can I Cast My E-Vote?

I'm pretty bummed: I didn't vote on Tuesday. 

Great struggle and sacrifice has been made so that I have the right to vote, so it's not something I take lightly. Also, like many, I want to be an active participant in creating our reality.

So I planned to vote in the afternoon. But after two meetings ran late, and I drove up and down the Valley, I had missed the 8 o'clock cut off date. 

Now, I know this is my fault, and my responsibility. I should have managed my day much better, and have voted in the morning. My bad. 

But voter turnout is painfully low. Yesterday, we're talking mid-20s, maybe low 30 percentages. I certainly won't argue that making it to the polls is more difficult, than say, back in the day by horse and carriage, but we are a population that buys our dish soap in bed. 

I'm ready to vote online. Aren't you? What's stopping us? 

California is a tech savvy state, so in 2000 Secretary of State Bill Jones actually put out a report on the feasibility of internet voting. Now looking aside the fact that this was 13 years ago (that's roughly 5 generations of silicon start-ups), let's explore their concerns:

1. Tech Threats. Viruses and trojan horse pose the same threat as ever, and an attack on your computer could prevent your voting submission or submit an altered ballot.  

2. Voter authentication. Every voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot and no voter is able to vote more than one time. Right now, poll workers compare the signature on your registration, with your signature on your ID. I don't know why or how they do this, because my signature is a bunch of scribbles. Yet CA is concerned with getting you a "digital signature" to use on your ballot. 

3. Privacy. Using a work computer? You don't want your network administrator to see your vote, do you? Well, truly it doesn't matter whether you do or don't. Secrecy is a cornerstone in our democracy. That's why e-voting is different than e-commerce. Banks monitor transactions, but no one should monitor your votes. 

So, with these barriers, what's the process to implementation? My dream is 'remote internet voting'. That means using a computer not necessarily owned and operated by election personnel. Like the one I am typing on now. But that's not going to be the first step. At first, it's going to be internet voting kiosks at the polls. This  will allow internet voting to be tested for authenticity, and minimized the threat of viruses. From then on, we'll be able to move into private residences (though that's a big jump), and maybe, one day, mobile devices. 

Like I said before, this report came out 13 years ago. We better jump on this fast. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Why Yoga Glo Rocks My Socks

I've been spending a lot of time at CoLoft, in Santa Monica, so maybe I'm biased. But tech makes things better. More accessible, more efficient and more productive. In my mind, tech makes me superhuman. In reality, it kills my attention span and makes me a twitter addict. Still I love it.

But YogaGlo is an exception. Here is a piece of technology that makes my life easier, more efficient, and productive, and actually tames my ADD.

YogaGlo is a subscription service that streams online yoga classes. Cool concept, right? But the execution is flawless.

When you sign up (they offer a 15 day free trial, so do it up), they ask you your focus. Maybe it's firming up your core, or getting some relaxation. Some of my favorites were improving concentration (yes, please) and increasing the mind-body connection.

Based on this focus, they suggest classes to you; one class each day. This is helpful because YogaGlo offers every kind of yoga; vinyasa, power, kundalini, yin, restorative, meditation, anusara, ashtanga, hatha- you name it. So you're really going to need their "Search" feature.

I love the search feature. Here's where the magic happens. They categorize their classes with keywords or "specific uses", such as detox, energizing, hormone balancing- you name it. Whatever you need that day- a clear mind in the morning or to get to sleep at night.

It gets better: time. Making time for a yoga practice is difficult. Getting to the studio, parking, taking an hour or an hour and a half class, changing and driving to your next destination can be a three hour process. That pretty much devours the entire unscheduled time of the average adult.

This experience is absolutely beautiful and totally worth it. But it's just tricky to fit in on a consistent basis. This is why YogaGlo is amazing. You can take anywhere between a 5 minute and 120 minute practice. A 30 minute class? Impractical at a studio, but available at your fingertips. Many mornings I can't take a full hour for my practice. But I've got 15 minutes.

Through this app, I've discovered Kia Miller (whose kundalini classes are amazing) and finally took some of Kathryn Budig, Elena Brower and Jo Tastula's classes. I couldn't even catch Elena when I lived in New York. Now she's in my bedroom (sweet).

There is a flip side, though. Because you can do yoga at literally any time, it can increase a tendency to put it off. Studios offer discipline by getting you to that 7pm class. But if you've already got the discipline, or you just can't make it to class, YogaGlo is your spot.

YogaGlo did not pay me to write this review. I'm just this much of a dork. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Strength to Overcome

           The Hanuman Chalisa is an epic poem of devotion that makes me feel like I can do anything.

           Absolutely anything.

           Nothing is too frustrating, trying or hopeless when the chalisa is playing. It flicks on some internal power switch in my heart while simultaneously removing despair static.

           Hanuman, also known as "The Monkey God" is a Hindu deity that symbolizes strength, courage, devotion and my favorite quality, grace. In the words of Krishna Das, Hanuman represents the "strength to overcome all obstructions, all problems...anything that's in the way of us accomplishing our goals...and of course our ultimate goal is to open our hearts."

           It is said that reciting the poem brings great strength, the full verse by verse benefits outlined here.

Here's a few of my favorite renditions of the Chalisa....

1. I heard this one last summer (the very first time I heard about the hanuman chalisa). It's probably still my favorite.

2. You may not know this about him, but artist Trevor Hall is a fantastic kirtan singer.


3. Krishna Das has several versions of the chalisa, but this one on the album "Gate of Sweet Nectar" sounds so very hopeful and joyous. I recommend buying the mp3 because the sound quality is worth it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Personal Statement: Cohesion in Being

 In college, I was a young, ambitious bulimic, with little compassion for the existential terror that gnawed at the edge of my psyche. At seventeen, I moved to the biggest city America had to offer, to study at its most liberal, creative and arguably leftist institution. Never had I ever tried sex, drugs, racial disparity in student populations, or books by Focault and Emma Goldman.

I wanted to know every way there was to think, and in my first few years alone I took classes in over ten fields of interest. Of particular impact were Gallatin's interdisciplinary seminars on identity, power, race, gender and environment. I credit these courses with both nightmares and insomnia, but also for opening up my eyes to the complexity of the world.

Perhaps my curiosity developed faster than my sagacity, for soon enough I was engulfed by experiences that I had no category of understanding for, and which refused to slide neatly into my worldview. As a first-generation immigrant, I was raised in a courageous family with fairly old-fashioned values. Although we always had some disagreements, the more I went to my urban liberal arts school, the more the gulf widened between our perceptions of reality. I'll admit that during this time, I questioned everything, including my sanity.

Mid-way through my freshman year, I discovered adderall, which seemed like a great solution for the pesky problems of food and rest. At first, adderall stopped my binge/purge cycle, and allowed me to actually concentrate. Over time, however, its original effects declined, and I upped my dosage in panic, overwhelming my sympathetic nervous system and placing continuous stress on my adrenal glands. My Sophomore year, I declined sleep, and, shockingly, my academic performance suffered as well.

These were not my proudest moments, but they are also important to me. Right around this time,
somehow, I started realizing that my experience wasn't fixed. That my experience of the world
depended on my perception and interpretation of it. I began to explore my own psyche.

I discovered a local, donation-based yoga center, and got hooked instantaneously. When I practiced, I
discovered a strange, and astonishing, sense of presence. I began to understand myself,
mentally and physically, and the world provided an abundance of methods for self-examination. I
began a new series of classes in existentialism, physics and philosophy, and took an independent study
on brainwaves, entrainment and binaural beats. The links between neuroscience and philosophy called
out to me, particularly in respect to the role that music and vibration play in the psyche. My studies
finished off with classes such as “Body and Soul”, while my colloquium themed itself on the meaning
of integrity. I was learning to be kind, and honest with myself.

I have spent the past five years discovering and exploring a variety of healing and therapeutic modalities, that have each brought me clarity and comfort in their own right, and joy blended together. These forms include yoga, sound therapy, kirtan, psychotherapy and meditation. To the strict Western mind, it appears I haven't studied since college. Yet I feel there was a scholarly demeanor to my pursuits. I read books, kept journals, sought out teachers and showed up to class, every day.

Last year, I co-founded a small yoga and sound healing service that aims to bring the benefits of sound meditation to the public through donation-based events.

Yoga gave me my first opportunity to listen to client's concerns and, occasionally, offer a helpful pose, breath exercise or meditation. I would like to offer more. I desire to study counseling in order to ease and aid in the experience of others, and to get a better grasp of the human experience. Perhaps one day I'll have a better grasp on what makes us hold on to past experiences or let go of them, what activates a positive mood or a negative one, and how one can become comfortable with one's mortality and existence. I would like to learn.

Why have I not turned to counseling before?

The truth is, and I am ashamed to say it, I was disturbed by the idea of a "helping profession". Meditation has brought up a few things for me, and one of the scariest is my own internalized misogyny. Not too long ago, I felt that the movers and shakers of this world were creators and leaders, who independently pushed their will forward. I always imagined that when I was most in my element, when things felt right, I would be a very active being. I believe I was wrong. To my astonishment, my most authentic self can be a very receptive self. The greatest, positive, most active change I can create is to feel compassion.

When I was at NYU, my director of student affairs, Danielle Insalaco-Egan, was the sort of person who had crayons and coloring books for all the confused 20 year olds. I came into her office once, in state of distress, seeking comfort and reassurance. She listened to me for a while, and absorbed my confusion. Then she spoke, slowly, and said;

"I think I've learned.....the world is full of walking wounded. And no one knows how to act".

My goal is to become a licensed Marriage and Family therapist, with an interest in existential and humanistic trains of thought. I also aim to research the effects of sound meditation as a means of legitimizing this practice and spreading it to the public. Sound meditation instruments are an excellent tool for those who 'cannot meditate' due to anxiety and uncontrollable or repetitive thoughts. They are also powerful for working through deep issues and finding release. I believe they inspire feelings of compassion for one's own experience, which can be incredibly therapeutic.

As for my future aspirations, I one day dream of a public center where psychotherapists can practice with clients on a walk-in basis. Fundamentally, the center would have a safe space that would be filled with the soothing sounds of Tibetan singing bowls, gongs and other healing instruments. There would be space for self-led practice of yoga, rooms for one-on-one therapy, and also an area to sit and study. Perhaps there will be a tea shop, for extra revenue. First in my own self, and then in the outside world, I would like to create an urban sanctuary that would be a safe haven for anyone feeling lost, stressed or confused.