The health of our mind + body + spirit is not a static thing that can be measured at a specific level and then be pre-determined to follow a flat route; our health is a dynamic state that is always in transformation. Recently, I've had this realization that the health of our body is entirely dependent upon the level of vitality we experience in our bodies, and this feeling of vitality is the feeling of being alive. But as we all know, our moods, feelings & energies fluctuate - we are all bound to the universal law of inhale & exhale, yin & yang, high positive energy & lower energy states. So I want to ask you, under what circumstances do you feel the most truly alive? Is it when you co-create amazing sex, is it when you're hiking out in the wilderness, is it when you're bathing in ocean waters, is it when you're fishing, is it when you're making music, or is it when you're sitting in an office behind a computer screen working?
I realized that it doesn't matter what we do; it could be pilates, it could be yoga, it could be lifting weights, it could be going for a hike in the wilderness, snowboarding down the mountain, or even just swimming in the ocean in Hawaii, it could even be sitting behind a computer screen working, it could be Kundalini Yoga or Iyengar Yoga - it doesn't matter what form the practice is ultimately. What matters is that one feels excited, uplifted, energetically more alive and more present and in the moment.
As of December 2010, the time of this writing, I am 31 years old - but when you look at me, you're inclined to estimate my age to be in the early 20s. This has been true for my entire life. When I was sixteen, I looked like I was ten. When I was in college, I looked like I was 15 or 16. Throughout my twenties, people always estimated my age to be six to eight years younger than I actually was. I have extremely clear, fair skin, with very few visible signs of aging. What is my secret? Some people jokingly say, "Whatever it is you're doing, keep doing it, because it's working!" Sometimes I jokingly tell people that the reason why I look so young is because I've already attained immortality and I am a Taoist immortal and I will never age. I'm only partially joking!
The truth is a very intense story about the most traumatic event of my life, the impacts of which will be felt in my body for the rest of my life. At the age of 16, I received oophorectomy surgery in which both of my ovaries were removed - due to the fact that there were malignant tumors in both of my ovaries. Prior to my surgery, at the age of 16, I still looked like I was ten and I had not experienced any of the normal tell tale signs of adolescence. I was sixteen and had never had a period, never had any pubic hair or armpit hair, never a zit, and my breasts had never grown. My endocrinologist surmised that I had 'gonadal disgenesis' - an extremely rare case where my body was genetically pre-disposed to not launch the production of my sexual maturity, due to low or no levels of hormones in my body. The running theory has been that my body was not flooded with the appropriate hormones from my endocrine system - progesterone and estrogen - to begin all the secondary sexual growths, such as periods and breasts. Instead, when I was 16, we did a bone density scan of my body and discovered much to my doctor's and family's horror that my bones had stopped growing when I hit ten years old.
Due to the recent arrest of Taita Juan Agreda Chindoy, it seems an important opportunity has been reached for the collective to respect the traditional Religious and spiritual traditions of Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples in all areas of the world. It is absolutely absurd that Taita Juan has been arrested and detained in a federal prison in Texas, and is facing a possible 20 year prison sentance. Arresting Taita Juan for carrying Ayahuasca into the United States is equivalent to arresting the Dalai Lama for carrying Singing Bowls and a Dorje through Airport security. They are both traditional spiritual leaders of their cultures and people, and despite the different religious traditions, symbols and tools of each traditional spiritual culture - both Taita Juan and the Dalai Lama are holy people. It is time to renounce and permanently end the Spiritual Imperialism that has been in effect in North, Central and South America since the introduction of Europeans to the American continents. It is time to recognize that the Shamans and Medicine people of the thousands of diverse tribes scattered from North to South America are the Religious Wisdom Elders of their cultures, and have roles that are equivalent to both Doctors and Priests. Due to the precedent that has been set by both the Native American Church and their religious use of Peyote for their religious meetings, and the recent victory for the Santo Daime Church in Oregon which has allowed Ayahuasca to be used in Oregon for religious ceremonial use - it is now time to create a new Church that protects All Traditional Indigenous Shamanism practices in the United States.
For the last 5 days, I have been eating eggs for breakfast - prepared at home. And for the first time in MONTHS, I feel back to Normal. I finally feel re-stabilized in my energy field. My body feels like it has finally returned to a state of balance & homeostasis after months of feeling spacey, ungrounded, foggy, & depleted - which all contributed to feeling emotionally withdrawn & depressed. I've been feeling energetically & emotionally lacking all summer long, which was mirrored by experiencing financial lack and depletion on the material level. And now, after eating eggs for five mornings in a row, I feel pleasantly satiated, stable, & grounded - a deep feeling of well-being and peace is emanating from within my core. I am so happy to finally no longer feel spacey, that feeling grounded and energized is almost like the perfect state of a 'high' because I feel so energetically centered.
Most of the last 6 months, I've been eating a predominately vegetarian diet. While living at the Kipuka temple in Hawaii, we had no meat on the premises, and ate mostly things like greens, salads, beans, homemade hummus, rice & quinoa, fruit, eggs intermittently, and morning smoothies with superfoods. It was very rare that I partook of scant amounts of meat - mostly fish or chicken - at restaurants while in Hawaii - and I ate very tiny amounts of bread. I loved the way I felt on that diet, I felt very clear about my realization that I need to have lots of sunlight and eat lots of vegetables and greens straight out of the garden, but I was rather spacey.
When I returned to the mainland, arriving back in Portland, all of the sudden I immediately started consuming bread products, quite regularly - and I was no longer making my own food most of the time - as I was going out to restaurants. My energy began to crash. This combined with the feeling that I wasn't happy back on the mainland and I was not feeling financially supported on the mainland, just barely scraping by. I grew quite depressed and spent most of my time on the computer - being hired to build websites for others - which I realized caused me to feel even more spacey and ungrounded and energetically depleted, and it was causing difficulties with my eyesight. I also lived in a strict vegetarian household, and was not permitted to bring any meats of any kind into the house - so I could not prepare my own healthy meat meals, and I felt very guilty every time I prepared eggs (which was infrequent) - because my friend was uncomfortable with them.
Yosemite Bear posted a video on Youtube on January 8, 2010 - almost six months ago, entitled "Yosemite Mountain Giant Double Rainbow 1-8-10" - and this video has skyrocketed to well over 8 million views, closing in to 9 million views shortly. At the moment that it happened, it seems obvious that he had no idea what kind of a 'cultural meme' he would create by being so authentic and in the moment with his awe, wonder and excitement. In the video, while rainbowgasming over the enormous Double Rainbow, he asks: "What does this Mean?" It seems to me that the answer to that question is revealing itself in the aftermath; an answer that he never could have imagined in the moment he asked that question.
He recently was featured on the Jimmy Kimmel show, and Jimmy asked him: "What does it mean?" And Bear's response was: "Well, Spirit's talking to me." Jimmy asks, "What spirit is talking to you?" Bear responds: "The Spirit of the universe." Jimmy asks, "What is the Spirit of the Universe saying?" Bear says, "It's saying that people don't need Sex and Drugs to connect to Nature and to Spirit; they can enjoy themselves without that stuff."
Can we as a collective re-frame our perspective of the Oil Spill into that of a miracle? I realized tonight that we as a humanity all co-created this event for us to come into clarity as one humanity. As my friend, Tao, says: "Unify or Die." The time of the Lone Wolf is over, and we must come together and work together as One Humanity in order to transform this miraculous event and bring the spill and our efforts into balance.
As I spent time considering it today, I realized that the people who created this experience, specifically BP, the government, the corporations and their decision making factions, have lived their lives within a very narrow framework of reality, limited by their myopic box of what reality is, and that this event will force themselves to begin to broaden their perspectives and choices in order to drastically transform this problem. It is only when the people in BP, Halliburton and TransOcean come to really humble themselves to the Power and Sentience of our Great Mother Earth, that they will begin to make huge changes in their decisions. Hopefully this event will cause serious pause and a dramatic change of action in their future choices, and will force them to realize that the methods they are employing to clean up the problem are going to need to be radically re-evaluated, and sustainable choices, earth-centric choices will need to be activated in order to make it work. Which will mean that they will quickly approach a point in which they realize that they can't do it all on their own; they can't hide behind their media blackouts, they can't hide behind their cloaked walls and use their antiquated, old paradigm techniques, because they just won't work. They will have to think outside of the box, and they will have to approach creative visionaries with a sustainable perspective in order to right their wrongs.
So, the title is a bit of a misnomer, but it serves the purpose of an easily identifiable label that most people can attach meaning to. My ancestors weren't technically Amish, or even Mennonite, but a different Christian sect that had quite a similar theological perspective and lifestyle as the Amish. Known to others as the German Baptists, referred to often as the Dunkards, my ancestors had a very similar lifestyle as the Amish. When the German Baptists went through the great schism of the 1800s, among the main triggers were whether or not women should be allowed to be preachers and how wide the width of the bonnet strap should be. Thus, my ancestors split off and went the more modern route, which became the Church of the Brethren. The Amish, the Mennonites, the German Baptists, and the Church of the Brethren are all labeled under the sect, "Anabaptists". (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anabaptists) The Anabaptists bear no resemblance at all to the Baptist Church; the main identifying trademark of all the Anabaptist Denominations is that they did not baptize infants. In order to become a member of the church, one had to consciously choose to become baptized as a young adult. They lived very disciplined lives, predominately in rural settings, most of my ancestors on both sides of my family were farmers. They were very Christian, very conservative, did not dance, did not drink, seemingly did not have sex for pleasure, and lived very simple lives. There's a lot that is admirable about their lifestyle perspectives, and yet it's taken me probably all my life to un-program my subconscious of all these patterns that were deeply instilled from a young age.
Today I left the Big Island and spent the day in airports and on planes, flying back to Portland, Oregon. I sit here now, back in Portland, the city of Roses... Immediately I notice a lack of natural sounds in the atmosphere; the wind rustling, coqui frogs, the rustling of leaves and branches, the pitter patter of a drizzle... I miss the Coqui frogs like mad. I notice a lack of twinkling stars in the sky; they are lost here by the grey clouds blanketing the city. I wonder, where is the nearest beach? How do I get back to the magic?
It's official, my heart has fallen madly in love with Hawaii. Like falling madly in love with a lover or beloved, only this time it's with the way my entire being and body feels, when in the sunshine, on the sand, in the water, absorbing the steam from the steam vents. I am in love with Hawaii the way one feels when they have finally found home after a lifetime of searching and waiting for that feeling of home.
Not only will I return, but it is very likely that I will be cultivating and gathering all the necessary sundry check-list items in my life so that I can return to move there and settle down for.... indefinitely. I see myself moving there within the next few year. Not 100% sure it will be the Big Island; want to check out Maui and Kauai before I make a final decision. But I feel certain that Hawaii is my home, and I feel it in the cells of my body.
Let me preface this first by saying: I'm not a native Hawaiian. I have not been studying Hawaiian spirituality for a long time. I have only been introduced to the words and concepts of Hawaiian spirituality recently. I'm a white chick from the mainland United States. I mean absolutely no disrespect, and my understanding presented here is primarily intuitive. I have been introduced to these words and concepts recently through others; through conversations with friends who have lived in Hawaii for a while, through books and online sources.
Last year I met up with Dreaming Bear, and we went for a journey out to the Applegate River area in Southern Oregon for an afternoon spent by the river. There he told me about the word 'Aina'. He explained to me that 'Aina' is the Hawaiian word for the Land, and for the spirit of the Land and Nature. It was so lovely to finally have a word for something that I've always felt, but never had a name for in our American linguistics. I love the word Aina, as it gives a name for the energy of the land, and by giving it a name - it is as though consciousness is breathed into it. I spent that afternoon by the river, meditating upon boulders, bathing in the cold, clear waters and contemplating the nature of Aina; the great web of life interconnecting reality in what we know as ecosystems, small and large.