The serpent who was a hose

Avidyā is a Sanskrit word whose literal meaning is ignorance, misconceptions, misunderstandings, incorrect knowledge, and it is the opposite of Vidya.

My physical vision is changing and I notice myself seeing things that aren’t really there. This got me thinking about the more esoteric concepts of incorrect knowledge and misconceptions.

My experience of myself and observing others is that Avidya is often running the show, orchestrating events and interactions, encouraging assumptions. Our egos eat this up like chips and dip. You can’t eat just one!  The false knowledge then gains momentum and before we know it we are in a house of mirrors. Where is the truth? What do I believe? How do I know for certain??? Crazy making.

Truth is subjective to each individual’s perspective. The ant perched in front of an elephant sees the trunk and has difficulty seeing anything else. The other ant hanging out behind the elephant sees the rear legs and tail and has no awareness of the trunk. Both of these ants have their own perspective and truth, and it most likely would be very difficult to convince them of anything else without willingness on their part.

I was sure I saw a bear the other day on my walk in the woods. I heard snuffling, too (snuffling is the tell-tale sign of bears of course). I slowed my pace and held my breath, feeling my fight or flight (Flight. Duh). I slowly proceeded on the path,  getting closer to the bear when greater awareness revealed that it was a decaying tree stump. Initially, my senses perfunctorily responded with my “truth” that I was confronting a bear.  Closer inspection changed my “truth” to confronting a decaying tree stump. All that changed was my awareness.

Often in yoga there is a common parable when teaching students about Avidya.  The story involves a serpent that greater awareness reveals as a coiled hose.  Being open to see beyond our initial reactions requires willingness to see what’s on the other side of what we feel is truth. This feels risky as shit sometimes but my experience has shown me it’s well worth the effort.

Our world is bombarded with closed minds and fixed ideas and most of us have our own if we’re honest with ourselves.

How willing are you to see something different? How willing am I?

I wonder what would happen if we allowed a bit more space into what we think we know and feel as truth.9b027337c244a1d92edd101fe59b9d96

The withering quadrant

I teach students who come to see me to dig deep, to inquire, to delve into the murk. Some students hunger for this while others fidget and don’t come back to my class. It takes courage to do this work.

We have a quadrinity of selves inside of us that make up our unified Self. When we feel off our game, out of sorts, it’s because we are not addressing something in one of our quadrants. Before we wake up to svadhyaya, self inquiry, most of us are habituated to hang out in one of our quadrants. For years I hung out in my physical quadrant and completely identified my sense of “Me” with my outermost layer, in yogic terms, the annamaya kosha. We see this running rampant in our culture today, but that is a writing topic for another day.

On any given day one of our quadrants will be slightly out of whack.  It’s part and parcel of this human shindig. The work is to begin to understand self/Self and become aware, honestly, truthfully, practicing Satya (yesterday’s post). Think of an equalizer on a stereo system trying to harmonize, balance and sync up.

How are you feeling today? Not just the cursory “I’m fine” bullshit, which we all know the meaning of “fine” anyway, right?  Fucked up-Insecure-Neurotic-Emotional.  I mean, how ARE you? How’s the body feeling? Are you mindfucking and over-analyzing? Are you bleeding-out emotionally? Do you feel a sense of tether to anything bigger than you?

I’ll start, to help get us going. As I look within I for sure know I’ve been mindfucking and bleeding out. Moving and leaving everything I know is a huge adjustment. I’ve felt tremendously hurt by others in my life recently and confused by their actions.  In addition to that, the time frame of August through October is the anniversary of my mother and brother’s deaths. In general, I have processed, but I certainly can feel the over-arching vulnerability.

My sense of tether? My spiritual connect? Let’s just say it’s been sporadic like a sputtering ignition. In relationship lingo “It’s me, not you, God”. I so very much want and need a soft place to land right now. I’m trying to find it.

I know the work I need to do. Do you?


IV drip of love

Leave me alone but don’t leave me. Does this ring a bell with any of my fellow addicts in the house?

“This would be a good topic for you to write about Leslie”. I hear this fairly regularly, especially when it’s been months between words. Last time I heard it, it was from my Shaman mentor as I was processing the transition of my partner from female to male.  Many words needed then, and probably still now.

This recent notice to write was given to me just yesterday from my new therapist Michael.  Personally, I love therapy, which is a good thing I suppose, considering it’s been a touchstone in my life to help with all the various crazy and addictions since I was 11.

I am an HSP if ya’ll know what that is. It’s often misdiagnosed as many things and people have fun labeling those of us who have this trait. “Oh she’s such a drama queen” “She’s neurotic” “She’s so emotional” “She’s such a bitch”. Actually, there may be some truth in those things as there is truth in many things, but the biggest truth is that I am a Highly Sensitive Person. My emotions have always felt bigger than my body.  My family sure as shit didn’t understand it. This is a bitter-sweet gift that manifests in many of us artistic types. Being this psychic, intuitive and sensitive helps me greatly in my work as a Shaman and yoga teacher, but it sucks ass because I still feel the rest of the world, too. I’m forever finding tricks to meter the sensate. Enter stage left: anorexia, bulimia, cutting, drinking, drugging, fucking strangers, stealing, burglary, getting married, having babies, running away, treatment centers, jail, therapy, recovery, writing. Quiet. LOTS of quiet required.

Michael said I have a narrow band-width to receive love. Wow. Spot on. I laughed and agreed and said that yes, it would probably be best if I could have an53b392dabf6ff21b593ed94c6bdddf61 IV drip of love: measured, controlled, slightly distant yet still there.

As a teacher, students have wanted to adore me, lavish me, love me. This has always taken me by surprise because I’m just showing up and layin’ my thang down. I have been unaware of my influence in my students lives. Their love confused me and made me want to run. It’s typical of addicts to allow connection with strangers but not with loved ones. I find this fascinating, and certainly familiar.

I think the only people I would really allow to drench me in their love is my children. Yes, I could do that. I would love it from my family of origin but more than half of them are gone now.

As of now, I’m working on widening the port. But don’t push it.


The rings on her fingers

This week 3 years ago I saw my mother alive for the last time. I knew as I sat at the table with her and touched her hands, this would be it. The Last Time. It was a moment of nauseating, surreal and calm clarity. I think she knew it too, and I wish so very much that we could have really talked. I would have loved to have one of those cherished death-bed conversations I hear about. I tried. I said what I needed to say, that I was angry with her. She said she knew, but I don’t think she really understood why I was angry. Yes, I was angry because of all the smoking, drinking, abandoning and denial, but mostly I was angry that she broke my heart. That we were HERE, doing this death thing, and she was leaving me once again. One last time, slipping through my fingers, when all I had ever wanted was to feel her close. To have comfort.

I have always loved hands. From an early age I began to study them and notice the art. My mother had beautiful hands, with rings on almost every finger. Rings and nicotine land-marked my childhood. Clinking rings on the wine glass. Her naturally long nails.

She still wore the rings at the end, though her hands were so very different. She couldn’t light her own cigarette. I will never, ever, ever forget lighting my dying mother’s cigarettes. It felt like some massive, cosmic, cruel joke.

Going through her jewelry was and still is so exquisitely tender. Mom loved jewelry.  Cool, artistic, unique, and she rotated them around. She had her main-stays though and I kept the malachite ring she wore on her left index finger. I have to wear it on my right though.  My daughter kept the onyx ring Mom wore on her right index finger, and to this day when I see her wearing it I do a double take. Mom!!!

I feel her when I see the rings.