Time is short. Be magnificent.

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Last week, after dialing in (again) just what I'm doing here on God's green earth, I changed the official Flash of White tag line to "Time is short. Be magnificent." (Thanks to Robert Greene and his transformational and eminently practical book, Mastery, for the turbo boost.) My thinking on that: Why else are we here than to become the most spectacular manifestations possible of our limited-edition, one-time-only-ever selves? Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, there's never, ever, ever going to be another you just like you are right now. Talk about a precious resource!

Maybe, like me, you feel an increasing sense of urgency. I could chalk this up to a mid-life crisis, I suppose. But I don't think that's what's going on, because I'm seeing people of all ages in "the fight of their lives," as Ben Harper puts it in his "I Believe in a Better Way" anthem.

When I say "urgency," maybe that's not the right word. This is closer: I have the most peculiar, uncomfortable, and exhilarating sensation that I'm a waterfall being directed, via an intricate series of baffles, into a straight, narrow pipe. Are you also encountering the perception of time speeding up and the intensity of everyday life...intensifying?

Who or what is doing that and why? Maybe we are. Maybe Source is. Maybe we're working together on it. I really don't know.

What I do know is that every one of us who participates in the shift that's occurring is going to become a lean, beautifully efficient, and unlimited version of ourselves. In other words, a real human being!

And while it's tempting and very reasonable to get stressed during this refining process, something I'm beginning to realize is that the single most effective way to ride these waves of transformative energy  (which can can look like job loss, illness, housing crises, death, relationship breakdowns, natural disasters, and financial distress), is to r-e-l-a-x. Get out of the "Why me?" mindset and ask "What is this for? How is this designed to help me become my best self? What can I do with this?"

Here's another approach: The other day I came across a website called GTMetrix that's helping me optimize Flash of White. You plug in your URL and it produces a list of all the elements that are keeping your site from loading quickly. I thought to myself, "Wow, I wish I had this for my life!" (And then I discovered I did when I came across Mastery.)

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So what would GTMetrix say is holding you back from being all you can be, to quote the Marines? Make a list and "optimize" it all: relationships that are weakening you, storage units and excess stuff, fears of all varieties, negative people, addictions, limiting beliefs, energy drains, shoulds and would-if-I-coulds. Now is the moment to get light and fast.

Remember why you came here? It's back there in your childhood memories somewhere, and it's never too late.If you're unhappy, it's because you forgot why you're here. So let's do some digging and get on it!

Time is short. Be magnificent.

The Joy of "No"

Squeegee your Third Eye

Squeegee your Third Eye

Our children can be our greatest teachers. Many of us grown-ups suffer from a form of ageism in which we believe that unless someone's a certain age, they can't be wise, or thoughtful, or aware. The way I look at it, kids are much closer to Source Energy than I am, having just emerged into this plane of existence. I, on the other hand, have spent nearly five decades here and occasionally forget to squeegee my third eye. (Thanks, American hero Bill Hicks; and please note that I employ other methods from what he recommends—not that I object to his methodology :).

Anyway, Cisco blew me away a couple of weeks ago with his pure-hearted, spontaneous, and utterly direct response to a question I posed. So refreshingly original was his response that I had a real sqeegee moment, smacked upside the head by the idea that you can just say "No!" to something you don't want to do.

Gasp. Pause.

What if we all did this? What would that look like?

In talking this over, a friend commented, "Well, if John does something for me, I HAVE to do something back for him. It would be rude not to."

Isn't that a nutshell version of our conditioned thinking so much of the time? And, uh, raise your hand out there (moms, I see you!) if you have a wee bit of resentment simmering (boiling?) constantly in the background as you force yourself through yet another day of doing things that you imagine will "make" others happy—even as your own soul dries up like an autumn leaf.

My response, in a precious, brief space of bright awareness (remind me I said this later, please): "Well, what if John did something for you because he wanted to? Because it brought him joy to do it? What if his gift to you was its own reward? Would you still feel obligated to do something for him even though you didn't really want to? How does that help him or you?"

So next time someone asks you do something that doesn't "light you up," just say "No!' (Optional but almost always appreciated: give them a hug and tell them you love them.)

Cisco's expertly rendered "No!" á là YouTube star Smosh will crack you up, crack up your "No-ee," and generally remind everyone involved not to take everything so damned seriously.

Let's repeal the unspoken prohibition on "No!" that has caused more misery, misunderstandings, and general chaos than the colossal failed ban on alcohol in the US from 1920 to 1933 (or, I might add, the perennially stupid War on Drugs).

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Let's resolve to remember that it's the ultimate responsibility of each and every human being to make themselves happy from within, and to quit looking to others' actions and behavior for it. Because guess what: as Cisco would put it, "that's an epic FAIL!" Every time.

We hope you like our video this week. Please tell us how your own "No!" practice is going! (Also, see below vid for a quick note.)

PS: Parents, lest I be misinterpreted, the Joy of No! technique applies neither to chores nor homework at our house. However, as a side note, I do believe strongly in providing incentives for children to do what you require of them on a daily basis, rather than demanding, criticizing, and bullying. (Do you like being treated that way?) With incentives, the chore- and homework-doer is empowered to achieve something that he or she wants (TV or game time, special event with family, sleepover, etc.) and thus has an active role in the outcome. Then the child has a chance to transform a "No!" moment into a "Yes!" one all by himself. Yea, sighs of relief for everyone. :)

The beauty of involuntary simplicity

Don't let this happen to you!

Don't let this happen to you!

After two years of paying $125. a month to store stuff I didn't need or want (or even remember I owned, in most cases), I finally took a day off last week to empty my 10x10 storage unit and give it all away. It was a heart-breaking, exhausting, and wonderful day.

The term "involuntary simplicity" has been floating around the Internet for a while now, so I can't take credit for it. But last week, as I tearfully watched dust bunnies swirl around my newly empty storage unit and the thrift store truck lumbered away, the phrase suddenly came home to me powerfully.

Always an advocate of simplicity and decluttering, I used to take the odd afternoon to clean out the closets or cabinets in my former big, beautiful house and take stuff to the thrift store. I loved the light, free feeling I got from reducing the number of possessions I had to organize and maintain. I realize now how relatively luxurious it is to pick and choose what you give up.

Far from being a doomsdayer or end-of-the-worlder, I avidly believe that humanity is perched on the brink of a gargantuan evolutionary leap from material-based to spirit-based creatures.

How many of you feel as though you're being funneled into a white-water rapids riding a broken-down wooden canoe with a hole in the bottom? And no paddles? Do you have a sense of shrinking material means (personally and globally) even as you experience your spirit emerging from the cocoon in the form of greater intuition, increasing glimpses of your own personal power, and awakening awareness of your essentially divine nature?

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Or you might just feel, like so many of us do right now, that you're going crazy. In which case, relax! Despite apparent proof to the contrary, all is well.

This is all part of The Plan. And (hold on here): I think we're causing this chaos collectively, as a species, to make our evolution an absolute necessity.

Why? Because The Stuff, and our addiction to it, now owns us. And it's not even the kind of abundance we really needed or wanted.

So, voluntary or involuntary, we've got to strip back down to make room for what's coming, which is beautiful beyond belief.

It is easy? Is it fun? Maybe not. It's like birthing pains, I think. But we can either fight to hold onto our stuff or help the process along by focusing on what true abundance looks like: deep, self-generated happiness, living your soul purpose, time to spend with friends and family, growing and eating real food, and connecting more and more with Spirit, however that looks to you.

I pray for squashed bugs.

Yesterday I witnessed something beautiful: I got to watch a master yoga instructor work his way through a roomful of students who were experiencing different areas of stiffness ("resistance"). He guided each of them to a personal realization of how to heal themselves. Peter Sterios, cofounder of mBody Yoga in San Luis Obispo, California, is a 500-hour registered yoga therapist (RYT), and has been studying, teaching, and practicing for more than 30 years. As a former self-described stiff guy, he's uniquely qualified to teach about compassionately overcoming resistance in the mind-body-spirit complex. I feel privileged to be continuing my own lifelong training with him at his beautiful studio.

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Among all that I learned yesterday during Peter's three-hour Yoga Mentoring class, one thing really jumped out at me. Here it is:

The Universe is a violent place. And that's OK.

This information came to light while we were all kneeling with our toes bent back. For a really...really...long...time. (OK, maybe it was a minute or so. You try it and get back to me, tough guy!)

At this precise moment, just as I was calmly (from the outside, anyway) observing myself about to blow a gasket from the intensity of the sensation, Peter brought up the topic of ahimsa.

Ahimsa is a concept in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras that is often translated as "nonviolence." It's become the basis of many a vegetarian and vegan diet, as well as countless personal practices that seek to cause as little pain and suffering in the world as humanly possible. Have you heard of the monks who won't bathe because they might kill microorganisms on their skin or in the water? I think that's beautiful in its earnestness, but then I get a little panicky because I think of the millions of microscopic organisms that I'm breathing—right now—that I just killed. There go some more! Aaaahhhhh!

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However, as Peter pointed out, "we live in a predatory universe." Everything living, in order to survive, is required to destroy something else, whether plant, mineral, or animal. Therefore, if we look more closely at the concept of ahimsa, and translate the ancient meaning more accurately, it really means something closer to "restoring balance." In my opinion, avoidance of and guilt over all kinds of "violence," even if it's the kind we use to feed our bodies or defend ourselves, is out of alignment with Nature and the natural order of things.

As an instructor of yoga and fitness and a practitioner of the martial arts, I've often told students, "If it hurts, don't do it." Pain causes a sharp, electrical, stabbing sensation that's the body's way of yelling, "Hey! Knock that s--t off!" But I also believe there's a critical difference between "pain" and "intensity." We don't want pain; we do want intensity. Intensity, whether physical or emotional, is where growth and rebalancing can occur.

Hey, I'm doing it!

Hey, I'm doing it!

So when we work with our bodies to keep them in their natural state of flexible strength; when you tell a coworker or partner that no, it's not OK for them to abuse your good will and generosity yet again; or when we eat (hey, those organic sprouts were loving life, too!), maybe you could see that as a rebalancing of energy, not being violent.

You have a right to thrive, too. And as a human, you have the unique option to do so with wisdom and compassion. So pray for those accidentally squashed bugs! Thank your sautéed chicken with greens as you sit down for lunch. Take back your power from those who mistreat you. Enjoy the intensity of the yoga pose that always frustrates you. Practice ahimsa on your path to becoming a real human being!

Thanks for reading, and please let me know what you think. I'd love to hear from you!

To Infinity....and Beyond!

I follow a blog by Trig Bundgaard, who really knows his Bible and deciphers the original, true teachings of Jesus Christ through his understanding of ancient Greek. Plus, he leads a weekly discussion group called What Would Jesus Brew. That's all I needed to hear to get on board.

I've never thought very highly of the Bible, perceiving it as written by fear-driven men whose sole purpose was to control the masses, and particularly women. I think it's still largely used for that purpose today. But Trig has shown me that the truth is in there, if you know how to get at it.

Anyway, in the comments section of Trig's excellent post today on how Jesus has already returned, one of his readers allowed as to how every human being is “a filthy rag not worthy of His love, yet He grants me grace and has made me a new (yet still imperfect) creation.”

Hmmm, I wondered eloquently. Why would the Ultimate Power, the Alpha and Omega, Source Energy, God, whatever you want to call it, create me as a "filthy rag not worthy of His love"? Ew. Am I not defined in the Bible also as a "child of God"? Does this strike anyone as odd? Parents out there, did you set out to bring a "filthy rag" into the world?

I responded to the comment that I was sad the man thought so little of himself, being all unworthy and raggy and stuff. I wrote about my absolute conviction that every human being, rather than being a "wretched sinner" as we've been encouraged to believe, is an extension of God—a walking, breathing divine being. So far, no reply.

Most of us are either asleep to that truth or actively refuse to acknowledge it, because BOY, would we have to bump up our game. Those who recognize their inherent divinity totally wreck it for the rest of us. Talk about ruining the curve.

Why are people like Jesus, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, etc. killed? Because we can't handle the truth. We don't WANT to know what we're really capable of, because then what's our excuse for not doing it?

And what about this "sin" business anyway? Could it be that rather than all the fornicatin' and swearing and lying and killing and all the other activities condemned by our friendly neighborhood preachers, the real sin is in forgetting the divine Gift we've been given and throwing it back in the face of our Creator because, frankly, it's just way too much responsibility to live and act with the understanding that we are one with God and each other?

From another very interesting and powerful blog post I read recently called the Shield of Khamael (in the Kabbalah tradition):

The core of strength, the essence, and the coiled energy of sacred strength is within you, yet you have assigned the overseeing, control, and possession of these powers to the profane who would rule you without accountability.

Why do we give our powers away? When will we rise into our true greatness and accept the awesome responsibility and joy that come with our divine nature?

Personally, I'm with Buzz Lightyear. I say fire all the torpedoes and let's get this party started. What are we waiting for? "To Infinity...and Beyond!"

The Poison of Gossip

Do you subscribe to the radical idea that "sin" means forgetting your true nature as a Being of Light?

Do you agree that each of us is connected because we are all made of the same energy, which is Infinite Love?

Then perhaps you will agree with me that "evil" is anything that creates a sense of separation between us.

Based on these beliefs, I've come to the conclusion this week that gossip is a form of evil. It divides in its effort to conquer. I could almost believe that the powers of darkness really enjoy this toxic veering away from the Light.

A gossip is "a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts." Gossip itself is commonly defined as "rumor or report of an intimate nature."

Have you ever gossiped? I have. And I know it feels yucky. But there's also a sneaky little pleasure in it that seduces with its ability to highlight someone else's shortcomings for a change—to shift the focus temporarily to someone else's shit. Because God forbid we look at our own steaming pile.

The danger, the evil, of gossip is that it makes the gossiper separate from the person being gossiped about. And those who listen to, encourage, or engage in gossip are making themselves separate from the soul, rarely present to defend itself, that's the target of this malicious form of speech.

Someone famous once said: "Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone." Don't know about you, but I've very frequently forgotten Who I Am, and acted accordingly. I certainly don't deserve to throw any stones.

When we are operating from Love we are in our power as human beings. Love is the opposite of fear. When we are filled with the knowledge of Who We Are, we don't have the need to defame, slander, or libel others, much less take pleasure in it.

No. We stand with our brothers and sisters, shining the light of our bright Selves on their highest, best attributes. We turn away from the shadows that trail each of us and focus on the essence and truth of our beings. We encourage and love. We shout, "Keep going! You're doing great!"

Here's an idea: Next time you're tempted to gossip or engage with one, make a farting noise with your lips. Jim does this with spectacular success. Talk about a conversation stopper! It calls people back to remember their true nature. Or pisses them off. Either way, you just got rid of a gossip.

Much love to you on your journey! May our paths meet soon.

"There is a river flowing now very fast..."

I feel compelled to share with you these concise instructions on how to be as we move forward in our evolution from today forward, from an elder of the Hopi Nation in Oraibi, Arizona. I received this today via our good friend and medicine man Daniel Posney of the Keyktapo Awakening Ceremony:

"You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour. Now you must go back and tell them that this is THE HOUR. And there are things to be considered...

Where are you living? What are you doing? What are your relationships? Are you in right relation? Where is your water? Know your garden. It is time to speak your Truth. Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader.

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, 'This could be a good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate!

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we've been waiting for.'"

I could not say any more eloquently what it feels like our path is right now as spiritual warriors, and what that looks like.

In honor of our own warrior paths and to initiate others into their own beautiful soul purposes, Jim, Dan, and I are planning a workshop in 2012 called Training for Humanity's Quantum Leap: Skills for a Leading Edge Life. It will include the essence of what we three each bring to the world, and we can't wait to share it with you.

If you are reading this, you are a warrior. You're being called to lead during this time of change. See you in the river!

The miracle that is my $10 coffeemaker, and other wonders.

My alarm went off at 7:00 this morning.  I like to have my quiet wakeup time after emerging from the chaotic underworld of sleep (or sometimes the dreaded night-long half-doze) before I feel qualified in any sense to be a human being. Thus, I get up early in order to be up to speed with the rest of life if I have a yoga class to teach or a meeting in the morning. Imagine an oceanliner moving away from its berth, navigating out into the open sea, and opening up to top cruising speed over the course of two or three hours, and you'll have a good idea of what I'm like in the morning. (And please don't say anything perky if you happen to encounter me during this critical period. Fair warning.) Anyway, as is my custom, when my (expletive) alarm goes off, I sigh, roll out of bed, and trundle into the kitchen, where I perform my first sacred ritual of the day: I turn on the coffeemaker. When the cheery red light blinks on, I retreat to the scrumptious haven of my still-warm bed to meditate on the coming day. This period of introspection, during which I gaze in an unfocused fashion at my beloved elm tree, is accompanied by the delightful sound of my three-year-old, $10 coffeemaker from Target cycling through the gurgling, sucking process that culminates in my reluctant re-emergence from my cocoon to pour a perfect cup of hot coffee into my favorite giant rooster mug.

This morning, for some reason, it suddenly occurred to me that I'd never thanked my amazing little coffeepot. Every day it faithfully makes coffee for me without a complaint. (Those of you who know me understand what a crucial task that is.) I thank many of the other objects in my life—my spectacular, oxygen blue Mini Cooper; the gate that lets me into the farm where Jim and I live; my beautiful, silly cat who does a somersault when he sees me; my amazing kid Cisco who runs like the wind and loves to play with words; the birds who cheer me up and make me laugh with their play; the chair I lie on to soak up sun; the pretty house that shelters us.

Do I literally thank these ordinary items? Yeah, I do! I really pat the Mini when I get home or at the top of a huge hill and say, "Thanks, Mini, you're awesome." I go, "Thanks, gate!" I holler out, "Hi, crows, thanks!" I stoop down and say, "Aw, Birdie, you're so funny." Do people think I'm totally weird? Probably. That's OK. Everything has a spirit and a life force, even if it's a shopping cart, a pumpkin at the Halloween patch that no one else wants because it has a big flat spot and a black thingee, or an old laptop that accompanies you faithfully every day to the coffee shop.

So I was a little dismayed this morning to realize I'd never said thanks to my trusty coffeemaker. And I got to thinking, that $10 machine, like all of the other things in our daily lives that support us and help us, are miracles. Strong word? I don't think so; I think that's just about right.

The word "miracle" is from Old French. It originally meant something that causes wonder or astonishment, or something that makes us smile with delight. How did it come then, in modern times, to mean a thing or event that is so far out of our ordinary experience as to cause awe or shock? How, for that matter, did a miracle come to be something that can only be "performed" by someone like a Buddha, a Jesus Christ, or a top-level religious official with a long pedigree full of "spiritual accomplishments"?

I'd like to propose a radical shift in our thinking about miracles. I'd like to suggest that miracles are happening all around us, all day, every day. You know when you turn the faucet and hot water comes out? Miracle. How about when your dog runs away and the kind neighbor brings him home before you even realized Fang was missing? Miracle. What about when you turn the key in your car and a spark ignites some gas that punches down a cylinder that starts a chain reaction that makes your car take you to work or school? And don't leave out when your child smiles at you or the sun comes up (again!). All miracles.

I've been following the Occupy Wall Street movement and am so moved and inspired by the massive awakening of Americans (and humanity in general) to take back our power and our divine right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness from those who would seek to keep us enslaved to a system that no longer serves us. These protests are a really important step in identifying what we do want—by identifying what we don't.

I wonder how things would shift, though, if the protesters and everyone else started to look around and identify all the miracles that are unfolding on a daily basis. In other words, what if everyone right now who's angry, upset, and miserable began to focus their attention on what's right in their lives. I'm not talking about good old positive thinking, although that's a start. I'm talking about looking at the people or entities that we identify as our "oppressors," and—this is insane, I know—find something that's right about them. What's the miracle they bring to the world? Everybody brings at least one.

That line from Avatar (the blue people movie, not the cartoon) keeps running through my mind: "I see you." What does that mean? Like the Sanskrit namaste, it connotes a deep look within a person or object to see past the physical manifestation and its effects in the world, both positive and negative. It looks far within to the divine nature of every thing--rocks, plants, stars, people, buildings, animals, and all that exists on this beautiful planet and elsewhere. All of it is made of the same stuff, the same divine building material.

So when you witness someone who is doing something we perceive as wrong or evil, I ask you to consider this: he has temporarily forgotten Who He Is. I ask you to consider this as well: "Sin" is nothing more than forgetting Who You Are. Sin cannot occur when you remember that We Are All One. I believe that this "original sin" idea that many of the churches try to sell us to make us think people are inherently bad (and thus fearful and thus more easily controlled) is really only the forgetting of our divine origin. That we are capable of all Jesus Christ and Buddha could do, and more.

What if the next time someone "sins" against you, you take a deep breath, look them full in the face, smile big, and say, "I see you." They might curse and walk away. They might call you nuts. They might get even angrier and meaner because you're calling them on their shit in the kindest and most profoundly effective manner available. And I guarantee they're going to feel a shift—if not right then, then later. Having someone witness your inherent divinity, especially despite seeming evidence to the contrary, is Big Medicine.

Many of our leaders at all levels are sinning. Many corporations are sinning. Many religious leaders are sinning. Anyone who has forgotten Who They Are is sinning. Help them to remember (including yourself! Look in the mirror!) and stay centered on your divine purpose here as well, whatever you've identified that to be. It's easy to get pulled off center right now.

So what does this have to do with my $10 coffeemaker? It all starts with appreciation of the daily miracles that make up our lives here on Planet Earth. There's so much to be thankful for. Don't be shy—say a heartfelt thanks to your favorite kitchen appliance today!

I see you.

"She thinks too much."

That was the verdict I received on my overall health from Grand Master Zhou Ting-Jue after a one-hour session with this astonishing Qi Gong healer and Kung Fu expert at Ojai's Bernhoft Center for Advanced Medicine. Master Zhou is famous for his ability to intuit, through evaluating a person's qi, or life force, whether there are any health problems. He then uses his own powerful qi, which takes the form of intense heat emitted from his hands, to adjust the patient's own energy fields. This enables them to heal themselves.

So when Master Zhou told his wonderful interpreter Kevin "she thinks too much," in answer to my question, "How am I doing?" I was a little nonplussed.

Anyone who knows me knows I think too much. I come from a long, proud line of overthinkers. My grandmother actually wore grooves in her Malibu's steering wheel with her thumbs! So this didn't come as a surprise to me.

What DID surprise me were the effects of Master Zhou's treatment on my body and mind. First off, I'd asked him to treat me for depression and stress, which are the ailments that bother me the most. Jim watched the treatment, and said Master Zhou spent a great deal of time working around my head and what's known in Chinese medicine as the "lower Dantien." (In Qi Gong, this area is located just below the navel, and is considered to house a person's lifetime supply of qi. I do know that when Kevin asked if I was ready for the "barbeque," he was NOT kidding.)

After the session, I felt a sharp burning sensation in my lower abdomen, and discovered that I had a small, circular first-degree burn right below my navel. As the week went on, I began to notice a strange sense of detachment from all the activities of my usual daily life, as though I was watching it all from above. My body felt weird, too, and new in some way, as though I had come back into it from another place and had lost the operating instructions.  I went around like that all week.

And then yesterday, in the shower (where I do most of my thinking--I haven't actually experienced a shower in probably 12 years), I remembered a scene from one of my favorite movies, Dan Millman's Peaceful Warrior. I think often about this one scene in the movie where the young hero suddenly clues in about being present. In the film, he's a gifted gymnast, but is trapped from making the leap to true excellence by overthinking. Suddenly, while taking a shower, he somehow understands in a moment of beautiful clarity what it means to be present, and to have peace from the crazy person who's constantly jabbering in our heads. He sees each drop of water, he's in awe of the light streaming through the window. He just is.

So I realized, still in my own shower and still in problem-solving mode, that being present is the opposite of thinking. And that if I could be present more in my own life, I would automatically be thinking less. Problem solved.

Thanks to Master Zhou's message, which closely correlates with the oft-provided opinion of my martial arts teacher/husband/best friend Jim, I've really been watching myself think and then making the effort just to be. A great Zen master once said, "When you're washing the dishes, wash the dishes. When you're sweeping the floor, sweep the floor. When you're on the toilet, be on the toilet." There are endless opportunities to practice this, and when you do, everything gets bigger, breathing resumes, and a beautiful relaxation settles in to snuggle with you like a slinky, purring cat.

As I'm always reminding my yoga students, if you can just learn how to get out of your own way by not thinking so much, then Source Energy can flow through you and allow you to do the things you were put here to do. My mom likes to ask sweetly when she comes to my class, "Are you listening to yourself, honey?" Uh, thanks, Mom.

My teabag announced to me last night: "A relaxed mind is a creative mind." I think I'm going to give this presence thing a try.

How do you practice presence in your daily life?

NOTE:  I just want to let you know, it's my own damn fault I got burned by Master Zhou's powerful energy. I was supposed to say "hot"  when it became too intense, but I figured (using impeccable logic) that if some is good, more is better. So if you go see Master Zhou, say "HOT" when the barbeque fires up!

Tidal wave dreams, or How I learned to relax and love the sucking sound

I used to have a recurring dream about running to escape massive, apocalyptic tidal waves. I would wake up exhausted and frantic, just before the thrashing water got to me.

As asleep in my life as I was at the time, I didn't realize that these dreams were trying to tell me something. Namely, that BIG change was coming my way and I'd damn well better turn and face it.

One child, a divorce, two businesses, a new relationship, and three moves later, I think I get it now. The monster wave dreams have finally stopped and I'm almost unrecognizable from the person who had them, because I did finally muster the courage to face the angels/demons that were trying their best to teach me how to face fear in a life-affirming, empowered way.

And yet, I'm feeling now in my waking life something very like the overwhelming energy that terrified me in those dreams.

What's this all about?

My sense is that something big this way comes again, but not just for me this time—for all of us.

Whether you read up on all the latest developments in the impending global financial collapse and the approach of the Blue and Red Kachinas, you're making plans to move to a safe-haven state, or you've stocked organic, non-GMO seeds in your cellar, many, many people are feeling waves of fear and dread. And this is on top of the usual daily anxiety generated by the heavy demands put on us to function within and contribute to an unnatural, broken, and corrupt global economy.

It's tempting to shut down, go dark, and head for the hills with my cans of Campbell Soup and a couple rolls of toilet paper.

But as my Jim always says when I get tweaky, "What do warriors do?"

Well, now. First of all, I doubt there'd be a hoard of Tomato Bisque involved. Second of all, I bet a warrior would be looking for ways to help, rather than thrashing around in the sticky, sulphurous quagmire of endless breaking news from www.theworldisending.com.  (BTW, that's not an active site--there's hope yet!)

So here's what I'm going to do with my increasingly acute awareness that Something Is Coming, in this order:

1. Breathe: It's amazing how much better you feel instantly when you remember to do this! Lately, thanks to my wonderful friend Letha Kiddie, I imagine each in-breath causing my heart to blossom like a huge flower and each out-breath sending beautiful golden light/love out the top of my head. (I started out with releasing any negative energy through my crown until my astonishing 11-year-old boy suggested recently that my technique might be "polluting." Humbling, no?

2. Relax: My lifeguard mom used to tell me that if strong water ever took me offshore, just to float easily until I got back near land or someone came to get me. Thrashing and struggling? Not so much. Note: Also attracts sharks.

3. Be an agent of calm. Eden Sky made a YouTube video on 2012 and the period leading up to it. I saw it a year ago and have been thinking about it ever since. She sees humanity as currently undergoing a "global healing crisis" and calls on us to become Medicine Warriors to "uplift the whole" during this "deeply accelerated" transition time. She says we have a choice: we can live out of great fear or great love.

So let each of us ask ourselves at least daily: What am I giving my attention to? According to the Vedic scriptures, whatever you focus on will become stronger in your life.

As the approaching storm builds, as we encounter bigger and bigger waves, let's encourage each other to surf those waves, to find a sense of play and excitement and empowerment as we once again become masters of ourselves and the energy all around us.

It's what warriors do.

I could be happy if you'd just stop doing that.

I saw (and promptly stole) a photo today from my old racing buddy Mike Croucher's Facebook page, and it perfectly crystallized something I've been thinking about for weeks. I notice many others are having very strong reactions to the photo as well—mainly those who are frequently slowed down by drivers who seemingly refuse to make way despite the opportunity to do so. Here's the photo:

And here's my question:

Why do so many people now drive at or below the speed limit in the fast lane and refuse to move over for the 22 cars trailing angrily behind them?

Seriously, I think about this a lot. Every time I get on the freeway I see this happening, and it prompts such anger and outrage in me that I scare myself. I think I feel so strongly because I make three assumptions about why the driver at the front of the line, who almost always has plenty of room and opportunity to move right,  is doing what he/she is doing:

1. He/she is so completely ego-driven that to move right and let faster cars pass would be an admission of inferiority or worthlessness.

2. The slow driver feels that he/she is keeping us all safe by forcing us to go the speed limit  (I call this the "self-appointed traffic cop syndrome"), and/or (even worse, in my mind) that none of us behind him/her have a right to "rush" or "pressure" him/her with our "crazy" driving habits.( This would be what I fondly term the "human speed bump" phenomenon.)

3. The slow driver is completely asleep at the wheel of their vehicle and their life, and is absolutely oblivious to the raging freight train of humanity behind her trying to pick up the kids, get to work, buy the groceries for dinner, and generally live their lives. When you do finally get a chance to pass these people, notice the empty looks on their faces. Reminds me of Attack of the Body Snatchers. Lights are on, but nobody's home.

So what I'm looking for here is some input into whether my assumptions are correct or not. Are you a slow driver who prefers to travel in the fast lane? Why do you do it? I really want to understand. I know that there's no such thing as good and evil, that we're all One, and that all of this is part of the Divine Plan, etc. But this just mystifies me, and I feel that until I understand the motive or reasoning behind why some people insist on driving slowly in the fast lane despite the chance to move over, I'm a little stuck in my personal spiritual evolution—literally and figuratively.

My sense is that, as I suggested in my post yesterday about Curious George, some people are responding to the Global Speed-Up and Vibrational Elevation by generally slowing WAY down in an effort to control what cannot be controlled, i.e, human evolution. As for myself, I'm working on breathing, compassion, and knowing that happiness comes from within myself, not having miles of open roadway ahead.

What do you think? Can anyone help me out with this?

Meanwhile, if you see a blue Mini Cooper on your ass in the fast lane on 101, know that I'm sending you thoughts of love and light as I wait for any chance to pass you—any chance at all.

Curious George on acid AND speed

That's who lives in my head these days. How's the weather in your head? I teach yoga to kids, and we often talk about the feeling of having Curious George in our heads. They get it right away. In some Eastern teachings, it's called the Monkey Mind--that sensation of an incessantly jabbering creature expounding endlessly and self-importantly on all sorts of utterly irrelevant crap just because it likes the sound of its own voice. And God forbid we have any quiet, because who knows what might happen? All hell would break loose, no doubt, if that frickin' monkey would just shut up for half a second and stop narrating our lives for us...

I was watching this movie (The Quickening) last night and my mind (for like the fourth time this week by other stuff) was completely blown by the film's message, which in a nutshell, goes something like this: "Humanity has until about October 28, 2011 to understand that We Are All One and that we are divine creatures on an important mission we've forgotten, or the shit's gonna hit the fan."

I know! I can't believe I'm buying it either! I mean, I'm from New Jersey, for God's sake! But nevertheless, don't you totally KNOW--even if absolutely nothing happens on or around October 28--that we as a species have to stop the consumer-driven, material madness that has brought us to the point of self-extinction? (Note: Here's another cool flick about how our consumer society was started on purpose and quickly took us over body and soul. Have your "Mom-I-need-the-new-Wii-Exploding-Brains-Bonanza-that-Mikee-just-got" kid watch, too!)

One of the most interesting things for me about the Quickening is that it so perfectly explains why I and so many others have been experiencing the seeming speeding up not only of our thought processes, but also the pace of daily life, of how fast information is coming at us, the number of tasks we're being asked to handle simultaneously, and the rate at which we're discovering and committing to things that excite us and inspire us, all while leaving old friends, partners, and jobs and finding new ones that resonate with our suddenly and sometimes inexplicably widened viewpoint. It's mind-boggling, isn't it?

I keep hearing people (particularly women) announce, "Oh, my GOD, I don't know when I turned into such a raging bitch/asshole. I don't know what's wrong with me!" Well, guess what, it's going around. Curious George is about to take a flying leap off the cliff of humanity's evolving consciousness, and he doesn't like it one bit. So he's jabbering faster and faster and faster to try to forestall the inevitable, and making you crazy in the process.

Here's what you can do: Meditate.

Seriously. Find a method and use it. Doesn't matter what it is, just do it for at least five minutes morning and night. (I have my favorite place to learn: insert shameless plug here.)

I can hear you now: WHAT!? You've GOT to be kidding! You want me to sit and actually watch and listen to the steaming cauldron of shit that is my waking mind?

I know, I get it. There's no one with a bigger, smellier cauldron than mine, believe me. But here's what's interesting. If you sit with your Curious George for a few minutes, sometimes he starts to get quieter. Mine even took a short nap last week before resuming his litany of things on our to-do list that have to get done or the universe will stop spinning. It was wonderful. It's what little ol' you can do to help the race evolve and save the planet.

Even if you don't subscribe to some of the ideas or projections in the Quickening, watch it, take what you need or want, and know that living with Curious George on acid AND speed is all part of a plan to make you remember Who You Are. Like, now.

Watch, listen, love, serve. Be joyful at the transformation! Leave fear and Curious George behind as you step into your power as a Human Being. You have everything you need right now.

Much love to you, and thanks for reading!

Why I drink coffee and I'm not going to stop.

You know, I love coffee. Everyone who knows me knows I love coffee. That's how I got the nickname Redbull, I suppose. Yes, I'm a coffee achiever, and lovin' every minute of it, as Seinfeld's Kramer would say (although in a very different context). I get twice as much done everyday than the average person. Are my adrenals burned out? Probably. Why do I get out of bed in the morning? So I can have my coffee. After I have my coffee, I meditate. I feel much closer to God/Source/The Universe after I have my coffee. Meditating without having had my coffee is like listening for a pin drop through thick, wet wool wrapped around my face. "Sorry, all operators are busy. Your call could not be completed as dialed. Please try again later after you've had your coffee."

My friend Brenda Crane told me recently that people whose brains are accustomed to coffee and who enjoy their morning latte perform WAY better in all kinds of brain tests than people who missed their coffee that morning. However, people who don't ever drink coffee did equally well in the tests as the people who had their lattes. Hmmm. Well, that horse is out of the barn (for me, anyway). Have you seen that movie Limitless? That's how I feel about coffee, and--increasingly--kriya yoga. Also, qi gong as taught and practiced by Master Zhou. Even, in some cases, antidepressants. (Yeah, I know I'm gonna catch it for that one.)

I also love to cite studies (people tend to leave me alone when I cite studies) about how drinking coffee prevents Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer. The fact that I don't have a prostate doesn't bother me.

We human beings are limitless, of course. As Jesus said, "All these things that I do, you can do--and more." We've just forgotten Who We Are and how to do all the cool stuff we now fearfully call "miracles." Like heal cancer with a touch. Like allow our bodies to die when and where and how we damn well decide so we can choose a fresh, new one to play in or start all over. Like project such potent love to others that they wake up to their own divine nature, or at least get pointed in that direction.

We're so afraid of our phenomenal power that we often persecute or kill those who try to remind us or actually show us. After all, if we knew what we were capable of, what excuse would we have for watching Beavis & Butthead or working for $8. an hour at Walmart despite being smart and capable? People who show us what's possible raise the bar and wreck the curve. Generally, they don't end up being too popular with the majority of folks.

Well, I think that's changing. It's getting less dangerous to speak the truth, although it still takes big balls and a heart of gold. Meanwhile, I'm sticking with my coffee until I figure out how to learn Sanskrit in an afternoon or download Blackhawk helicopter schematics directly to my brain. At least I'll be alert while I'm tryin'!

Much love to you.

PS: If you drink coffee, please make sure it's organic, shade-grown, and freshly ground. I definitely do not recommend anything from Starbucks. Sometimes I go in there and ask, "Do you have any organic today?" I usually experience hemming and/or hawing from behind the counter. You could remind them that their corporate policy is to serve at least 10 percent organic.... Use your power as a consumer! (OK, that's another post.)