Waking Up in the Age of Donald Trump

img_3178I WANT TO START BY ASSURING YOU THAT SUKIE IS FINE. ABSOLUTELY FINE. ALTHOUGH WE MIGHT HAVE USED UP ONE OF HER NINE LIVES TODAY… I looked out the window this morning and saw three crows in a tree, cawing quite loudly. I watched fascinated until, gasp, I saw the reason why. Sukie was perched on a very high, very thin branch of another tree, intent on those crows. Precarious as it looked, and it did take my breath away, there was nothing I could do. So I watched, wonderstruck at this moment between a cat who thinks she can fly being scolded by three great crows.

And this is where the story turns dark. Had I simply stayed watching at the window, everything would have been fine. The crows would have flown off. Sukie would have found her way down. And I would have been enriched by the moment. Instead, I grabbed my phone and went out on the deck to make a video for Facebook. And now you know what’s coming. The sound of the door opening disturbed their equilibrium. The crows flew off. Sukie’s focus was shaken and the next thing I knew, she was hanging upside down, clawing to right herself on a branch too light to support her. And down she fell. A good twenty feet or more.

It was as shocking as waking up Wednesday morning to discover Donald Trump had won the election. And not so different from what’s just happened to the 59,755,284 of us who voted for Hillary Clinton. We’ve all fallen out of the tree. Lulled by our Facebook Newsfeeds, we missed the reality of the moment. Even those of us who thought we were listening. And it’s not like the crows were not trying to warn us. They were. It’s just that we, or I’ll speak for myself, I, was in denial.

The gift of it all is waking up.

Painful as the metaphorical falling out of a tree can be, coming out of denial is a powerful weapon. And those of us who care about the great issues of our time, issues like the climate crisis, income inequality, and social justice, need more than ever before, to be in reality. Empowered, joyous, and fiercely determined, yes. But most important, in reality.

I was just looking at the lists of potential picks for the Trump cabinet. It reads like a parody. If it weren’t so horrifying, it would be laughable. I think of all the people who voted  to “drain the swamp.” No doubt some are already falling out of their trees.

A lot of us here on the ground are contemplating where we go from here. I’m not yet clear exactly what forms this will take for me personally. But for starters, let me say, slow down. Do not become reactive. Do not give into fear-based ways of thinking. Do not allow a sense of overwhelm to overtake you. Feel your feelings. Feel your rage. Feel your hatred. Feel your despair. But do not allow these feelings to rule you. Channel them into awakening. That’s where it all begins. That’s what grows us strong and resilient. That’s what makes us so pure that nothing can taint us, nothing can harm us, nothing can impede our way. That’s what fosters right action.

In the short term, there is so much outer work we can do. Educate ourselves. Speak out. Write letters. Call (or better, visit) our senators and representatives. Become involved in local politics. Sign petitions. March on Washington. Support progressive media and progressive organizations. Support Planned Parenthood. Talk to people we disagree with. All the above and more.

Although I’ve done plenty of outward action in my life, the work of my lifetime has been mostly on the inner plane. That’s the terrain I know best. That’s the terrain where I’ll say I have some mastery. So that’s where I suspect I’ll feel called as we move through these hard dark times that are a coming. Is my music a part of that? Absolutely. Do I still think that chanting is a crucial 21st century medicine? Yes. But it seems my work as a writer and teacher and therapist and healer is coming to the forefront now. Perhaps because this is where I have the most to give.

Madness, blindness, cruelty, and denial may seem now triumphant. But there is so much beauty and depth and sanity and meaning and wonder and kindness and grace and bounty and hope and possibility and yes, love, alive and strong in this country and in this world. I for one am determined to do all I can to keep this alive in myself and in everyone with whom I come into contact. Whatever I can do to remain in service to that is what I pledge to do.

Monday, November 4, 2013: We can change the world by changing our mind…

Sacred September Scene

Monday Night Class took an unexpected break the last few weeks of October. And now, while my studio is undergoing renovation, we’re been rendered homeless. Fortunately, we have Claude and her pristine yoga studio. So we do have a temporary resting place. Needless to say, I’m most grateful for this sanctuary…

As a Taurean being, I’ve never much liked change. Ironically, my life as a yogini has forced me to uproot over and over again. I’ve often suspected this outer movement was required to change my sedentary nature. Left to my own devices I’d probably have never left home…

And now, with my home in the chaos of renovation, I’m thinking a lot about perception, about how we change the world by changing our mind. Baba Muktananda often spoke of this telling us, “the world is as you see it.” People would complain to him about this or that and he’d sit back laughing and say, “change the prescription of your glasses…” I understood what he was saying, but understanding was just the first step. Living this awareness is the ongoing work…

I was out in my yard on Saturday raking leaves. This is a task I’ve never much enjoyed. I tire easily. My lower back aches. The minutes seem like hours. So I began asking myself why and remembered how as a child, I loved playing in the leaves. Same person. Same autumn season. Same leaves. The only difference really is perception. So I thought okay, let this raking be play. And I found myself — or perhaps I should say — lost myself in the leaves. And everything shifted. Fatigue vanished. No back pain. And dare I say it, bliss bubbling up from within…

There’s an interesting piece in this weeks’ NY Times about this phenomenon. Researchers at the University of Kent in England are documenting what yogis have practiced for centuries… we can change the world by changing our mind…

Here’s the lead with a link to the article:

Tell yourself during exercise that you’re not as tired as you think you are and you could make that statement true, a new study shows, reminding us that the body intertwines with the mind in ways that we are only starting to understand.


This week’s dharma talk uses the portal of Ganesha as a jumping off point to contemplate this notion:

Here’s a clip of class chanting Ganesha Sharanam:

Here’s the final dharana between chanting and silent meditation: