The power of stillness

I was driving west on Sunset Boulevard.
The sun was warm on my left arm as I crossed into Echo Park.
I could smell the street vendors cooking and it set me at ease.
You’re not gonna smell that in West Hollywood.
The clouds in the sky looked like pillows offering me comfort I didn’t know was even available.
For a moment I was not lonely.
For a moment I was home.
For a moment I didn’t care. 
For the moment I was able to climb the overpriced skyscrapers that serve so few.
I touched the sun and it burned my soul  black like a bowling ball that had never been rolled.
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The rain falls at a 45 degree angle as I think of dinosaurs and watch pelicans diving for fish.
The earth will wash itself of humanity with bright indifference.
The styrofoam cup will become oily sand on empty beaches with water so clear you can see the soul of the universe.

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Decaf delirium

I watch condensation drip from the car air conditioning onto the asphalt laid by men who cannot afford to live in this town. For a moment, I am sure I am not far behind them. I drink decaf coffee and Steely Dan comes onto the café sound system. I am glad my girl cannot join me today. But I hear her words anyway. “Those guys sound like pretentious frat boys.” I wouldn’t disagree. The waiter gives me my check and I walk home in the heated September LA morning, slightly high on caffeine.

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Who’s there?

There was a knock at the door, which was strange because so few people knew where I was living. I had this one-room apartment on a street lined with 30-foot pine trees. It was dead center in the town of Hollywood.

I had no cable/satellite, internet or computer in the apartment. Often, I sat for hours on end doing nothing. Well, not nothing, exactly. I searched the depths of my mind with no ulterior motive. I floated like a plastic bag on a windy street.

The times I wasn’t doing “nothing,” I read books, played guitar and taught the occasional yoga class. I had had a vision of this lifestyle when I was in India in 2006 doing exactly the same thing.

Oh yes, but I said there was a knock at the door. It was a friend who lived in the building. He was the kind of friend you knew you could definitely count on if you needed to dispose of a body. But he was also the kind of friend who would be most likely to ask you to help him dispose of a body.

He was standing in the doorway, holding a refrigerator door. I didn’t ask. I opened the door further so he could come in, with his refrigerator door under his right arm. He was very cautious not to hit it against any of my stuff, of which I had very little. He leaned it against the wall. I sat back down on the edge of my bed.

My friend says, “Hey man, I have this refrigerator door I’m going to use for an art installation I’m thinking about. But I’m out of room in my apartment. Can I store it here?”

I wanted to say no, but I didn’t. Even though I had only a one-room apartment, I had a lot of open space. I had brought a girl back to my place once and she said, “Jeez, there’s nothing here. Is this just some place you bring girls to?” I don’t remember my reply.

Anyway, he left the refrigerator door and said thanks and good-bye.

I sat for a long time looking at it leaning against the wall. I got up and moved it into the kitchen. I leaned it against the wall in there and stared at it a little longer. Then I started putting the bottled water I had on the floor on the shelves of the refrigerator door that now leaned against my kitchen wall.

I was startled by another knock at the door. It was my friend again. He had another refrigerator door. It was the top half that closed off the ice section.

“Can I store this here, too?”

“Sure,” I said, “put it in the kitchen.”

He saw what I had done with the first door and commented that he thought it looked very cool. He also said, “Don’t get attached to it because I’m going to want it back.” Then he left.

After he left, I turned off all the lights and lay in bed. It was only 8:00pm. There was another knock at the door. I didn’t answer it.

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Rain

I could sit for hours watching the Los Angeles rain out the windows of my rented room. Sometimes even the sound is enough to transport me back five lifetimes, when I lived alone in a cave. I was a woman then, and was the first of my kind to learn how to sharpen a stone. I never said I was non-violent. The few who had tried to mess with me limped away if they were lucky. The price of solitude was the muscle of knowledge.

A fire sits only slightly back from the entrance of my cave. Smoke billows out of the opening and into the tall trees. In the downpour, I am safe to show my location to the other tribes who have all settled in for the storm.

A wolf crosses the entrance of my cave. Fur wet, he looks in on me with ears down and back. I throw the remains of my rabbit dinner to him and he jumps as if being attacked. He then smells the rabbit, puts it in his jaws and runs off. Today we are friends.

The rain stills my mind with its uneven tempo. I sleep and dream of the sun.

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Go!

Oliver Stone wrote Platoon in three weeks.

That means, if you start today, your dream project could be on it’s way to completion on January 2nd, 2016.

What do you want to do?

Start a band? Write a story? Stop the war? Save the whales? Feed the homeless? Teach children to read? Write a rock opera? Meditate everyday? Lose weight? Gain weight? Learn to speak another language? Clean your apartment?…Go!

Yoga Asylum #4: Adult Yoga

One day, on the way to yoga, I was stopped by a woman walking her dog.

She says, “You’re the yoga teacher at Runyon Canyon,” and I say, “Well yes, but there are 5 of us that teach there.”

She says, “I’ve been wanting to talk to you.” She continues, “The other day in class, you said, if we were facing the building during the beginning of class, that the class was going to be a motherfucker.”

I said, “Well, yes. But you can face any direction you want. It’s just that, if you’re facing the building in the beginning of class, it’s gonna be really hard to do the sun salutations because you’re facing downhill. But you can face any direction you like.”

She says, “Yeah, but ‘motherfucker’ is a negative word.”

I said, “Oh, I’m sorry. That’s just the way I talk. It’s really important for me to be myself during class. I think people are more comfortable when I’m not pretending to be someone I’m not. And I use bad words sometimes.”

She says. “Well, I’m a mother.”

I say, “Well, I try to look around and if I see children, I try not to curse as best I can.” I go on to say, “There are lots of teachers in this town that don’t use the F word. In fact, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Kamala teaches and I don’t think she swears too much.”

She then says, “When you say ‘motherfucker’ it makes me think of rape.”

I hear it in my head like a bell as I finally realize, she is saying that she doesn’t like me saying motherfucker because she is a mother and somehow I’m saying (this is a big jump) that mothers should be—I’m using her words—raped. So I say, “My mother was just at class on Friday. That’s not what I’m saying.”

Then I go on to say, “Frank Zappa’s first band was called The Mothers, which for them was short for motherfuckers, which in the 60s was a term used to say that someone was a great musician. Mostly jazz players, but I think it could work in all styles of music. Certainly I’m not saying anyone should be raped.”

Sarcastically, she says, “Oh great. The next time I meditate, I’ll think of Frank Zappa.” Then she walks away.

One of the other yoga teachers walked up to me just about then. I was a little disturbed and I told him the story and he said, “Did you tell her to fuck off?”

The next day, the “motherfucker” lady is at class and I’m teaching. I see her and she sees me, eyes on eyes like Sam Fuller would do in a film.

My first thought is, “motherfucker,” and she brings her hands together like she’s praying. You know, I don’t think praying to get people to do what you want is really what the gods had in mind… except, maybe, the guy with the horns.

I’m making an ASSumption she’s praying to get me not to say “motherfucker” in class. I’ll tell you this, if praying was meant to be a way to control people, bars would be full of guys dropping to their knees and praying at the sound of the last call bell.

So I’m not really sure what to do. The rebel in me wants to blurt out “motherfucker” and be done with it. But I don’t want to be “The Motherfucker Guy,” like that’s all I do. Did you ever see the Simpsons episode where Bart says, “I didn’t do it,” and becomes famous and goes on TV and everyone’s always waiting for him to say it until they’re finally sick of it? I don’t want to be that. I want to say “motherfucker” only when it is appropriate in my yoga class.

But I really wanted to say it that day.

But then I remember, I told her to come to class Tuesday or Thursday if she wanted to take a class where the teacher would be less likely to say that phrase. And it’s Tuesday (I’m substitute teaching). So I didn’t say it. But we did focus on the face of Frank Zappa in final meditation. Frank-Zappa-deviation-from-the-norm-297x300

It was a very good class, but I couldn’t help but notice, at the end of class, the motherfucker lady did not leave me a motherfucking donation. I did announce that I would be subbing for Kamala the rest of the week. So as they say, fair warning, motherfucker. What’s next? People telling me reverse triangle makes them uncomfortable? Yeah, me too. But we’re still going to do it.

I spoke about this on the social network and the next class, somebody was wearing a Frank Zappa t-shirt. It was awesome and really blew me away and made me laugh.

Also, the MF lady was at class… and I did say it. And she did leave me a donation.

– – – – –

This happened several years ago. Since then, I have taught thousands of yoga classes, some of them in businesses (corporate wellness), schools and retirement homes. When I teach these classes, I do avoid that phrase… mostly. I don’t have fucking Tourette’s, you know.

Why are we here at Black Market Yoga?

A student approached me after class asking about a song I played.
Turns out they had been writing a script and were a little blocked. The subconscious or the muse had momentarily stopped delivering. But in the middle of yoga class, when that song came on, the flood gates of creativity opened. An answer to the question and gift from the universal mind. Their script would be completed.
Where are we going?
All the way, to where the unconscious meets the conscious.
But maybe you don’t think you’re an artist or have a creative life.
The termite doesn’t think he’s an artist either.

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Did you hear that?

“What’s wrong? Are you drinking again?” she said.

The Indian restaurant on Sunset Boulevard had a gate with a buzzer for entry. I often wondered, would tonight be the night they don’t let me in? This used to be a bad part of town but things have changed and gentrification is just around the corner. It’s sad, but I have realized that maybe I am the earliest sign of gentrification. Within a few years, I will not be able to stand living here.

They buzzed us in and we sat at our usual table, surrounded by the faces of Indian god-men and women that adorned the walls.

The music was a low drone with an Indian woman howling over the top of it. But there was something else. I heard voices. It was an Indian woman talking through a megaphone from a million miles or years away. I thought it was odd they were playing this strange music. It was very “college radio”. The talking behind the drones and the woman wailing had me completely entranced.

“This is the perfect piece of art,” I replied.

Then there was a click to the right of me as the restaurant owner clicked off the speaker phone he had been checking his messages on. The voices went away and I laughed. I already missed that moment of perfection where I did not know the difference between art and reality.

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I have a spiritual name now…

I went to the Golden Bridge yoga studio to get gonged by Harijiwan. I have been checking him out on and off since 2004, when I was checking out all kinds of different yoga styles. I must admit, in my first kundalini yoga class, I was definitely thinking, “Oh shit, I joined a cult. How did this happen?” But when I found Harijiwan, there was something different. He was funny and irreverent and every time I mention him on twitter, a group of Sikhs respond, telling me about his criminal record. What they don’t seem to realize is that is one of the things I like about him. So stop e-mailing me, please.  Let’s face it: at this point, most yoga teachers I know have predispositions towards criminal behavior anyway. One man’s crime is another man’s… path to abundance.

Anyway, I was standing in line to sign up for class. When I got to the register, the guy behind the counter said, “Hello, Daniel,” which surprisingly still spooks me. He said, “I used to take your yoga class.” I teach in a very transient community so people are coming and going all the time and I try to learn their names but there are things I did in my youth that have impacted my memory and sometimes I need a pass. So I said, “I’m really sorry, I don’t remember your name.” And he said, “I have a spiritual name now.” I didn’t know what to say. The pause seemed really long. I heard a lot of things in my head, like… “I just told you I don’t remember your name. Why are you telling me you have a spiritual name now? I DON’T UNDERSTAND.” So he tells me his new spiritual name. (Sorry, I forgot it.) But I remember thinking his parents are going to be pissed and upset when he tells them. They will definitely think he joined a cult. Truly, I get it. The pissing-your-parents-off thing goes way back. I always want to be real forthright and honest with people, but I’m learning it just doesn’t always work. So I say, “That’s GREAT,” and smile.

I get everywhere early. I hate being late. So after I paid, I waited in the outdoor café area for a while, sitting alone, which has been how I always like to have these experiences of spirit and exploration. Eventually “they” tell us to line up and I’m a little confused about where to put my shoes but I figure it out and walk in the room that is already mat to mat. How the hell did this happen?

I find a small spot behind a woman that is dressed just like Harijiwan. She has a blanket laid out in a place that could fit 3 yoga mats. I ask her if she could move a little of her blanket so I can put my mat down and she doesn’t say anything. So I ask her again and she looks at me, avoiding eye contact, and says NO. I thought about asking Harijiwan to ask her to move some but he was running around trying to get things straight because it seemed like maybe they had promised him more space or a bigger room for the night than he was getting. Plus, I figured since this woman was dressed like him, she was probably a big-time groupie that sleeeps on his front lawn and attends every one of his classes… unlike my lack-of-commitment, once-and-a-while deal. So I fold my mat in half and sit down. I look at the back of the woman taking up 3 spaces and I see she has a rash on the back of her neck that is bleeding a little from scratching it. I think about leaving and trying to get my money back but I feel a little bad for her and Harijiwan, who is running around all smiles. He’s a pro.

Harijiwan always talks before class. Like I said, he is funny and also informative. I think he’s been doing this yoga teacher thing since ’74. Which means he says a lot of stuff that if I heard another teacher saying I would only believe about 25%, but Harijiwan definitely has me nearer to 75%. He tells us about a planetary alignment and talks a little about Bob Dylan. He is very engaging and I hope he gets his own reality show. Russell Brand interviewed him once on TV, so it may only be a matter of time.

When the gonging begins, we have to lie down. So I fold my legs up so I can lie down and fit on my half mat. Good thing I’m a yogi. Mr. Jiwan delivers as he always does. I know it seems like a strange thing to go lie on a floor with a bunch of people and listen to a guy hit a gong. But I enjoy it almost more than lying on my floor at home listening to Exile on Main Street. Both are truly moving—if not spiritual—experiences. As Mr. Jiwan gongs us, I have many moments of realization. I think about all the things I did to piss of my parents and I realize how they caught on so much faster than me. I knew that if I changed my name to a spiritaul name, at this point, they would both pause and then say, “That’s GREAT,” and smile at me.

You can get your spiritual name today. Just click here: http://www.3ho.org/spiritual-names

If you don’t already have Harijiwan’s album or Exile on Main Street, you should definitely pick them up. A spiritual experience can be had anytime. Enjoy.

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