Introducing: Varanasi Sage!

I am thrilled to introduce my first art installation that I have been designing, registering, and creating for Burning Man 2019! Check it out!

Custom-printed prayer flags create a pyramid around a fawn resting in a lotus flower, on a platform decorated with glyphs that convey a message: True wisdom belongs to the natural, non-human world. Each flag helps the participant dive deeper into the meaning of the piece, and one even has a guide to decode the glyphs. Lights illuminate the space and lights behind the lotus make the petals glow. A speaker within the platform plays sacred sounds. On the platform, a red button reads “Do Not Press.” A suggestion box below the fawn asks: “Why are you here?” A door in the back of the platform opens to reveal a zine stand, filled with zines written by me. These elements deepen communication and facilitates interaction with the curious.
A fawn does not belong in the desert, nor does it lay in lotus flowers, so it must be a magical, enlightened creature! And it’s smallness and vulnerability in a harsh environment make the participant feel compassion for the creature. Humans must choose not to destroy the natural, non-human world and instead revere it as the divine. These contradictions jar the participant, creating a sense of vulnerability, which encourage authenticity, tenderness, and the wisdom inherent compassion, harmony and gentleness.
In the spirit of this year’s theme, Varanasi Sage explores the reality that deep transformation can come from a place of peace. Even in the chaos of the playa, one can find peace. Varanasi Sage provides participants with a beautiful, peaceful place. People may feel overwhelmed or lost in deep playa — this is a refuge. It provides comfort and calm and shows that peace is always available.

via Varanasi Sage

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Burning Intentions 2018

It’s time for Burning Man! The past two years, I’ve shared my intentions for the experience because writing intentions and having a witness strengthens their power. This post makes the third. Thank you for being my witness.

This year, I’m taking a new project — a meditation and lounge space I’ve been dreaming of for several years and fundraising for with many collaborators. May the Lounge be a sacred space of healing and connection; may it bring all who enter deeper into wholeness and unity.

I’m teaching my workshop, “Meditation and Writing,” three times this year: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 3-4 pm at Stellar Dusty Moon 5:30 & H (in the Lounge!). May the workshop serve us in the unique way that we need for our paths; may it provide us with insight, peace, and grounding.

My favorite part of Burning Man is the art — may I meet the artists and have profound experiences with the art.

May the workshops I attend guide me in my journey and connect me with others. May I see the heart of the earth in everyone I meet!

Our Eyes Meet

We cross into Reservation land in Northern Arizona. The desert before us, a desolate beauty with colorful streaks, glows beneath the pink hue of the setting sun.

On the outskirts of town the highway curves past hills. Gathered at their base, shanties and shacks form small a small line. Broken boards, torn roofs, tires, cars and trucks appear abandoned and disregarded. But I see there are children’s toys and someone walking into a shack and others sitting on steps and chairs out front.

We pass at 60 miles per hour. The extreme poverty fades into the rear-view mirror.

We stop at a gas station just after dusk. A man walks to the car parked next to me. He is, perhaps, ten years older than me. Our eyes meet on opposite sides of the window. A thought flashes into my mind — were his parents or grandparents among the stolen children, forced into Christian boarding schools in an attempt to decimate their culture?

The lineage of oppressors claim me as their citizen.

***

Early in the morning, a jewelry maker sits in a long line of artisans in Santa Fe’s town square; they’ve rolled out their wares and tell the tourists passing by, “feel free to handle.” The jewelry maker looks like he is sleeping, with eyes closed and arms folded around the large yellow “G” on his green sweatshirt. His porcupine quill jewelry has caught my eye, and I kneel down to look.

Amongst his jewelry, I find a feather pendant that is perfect for my niece.

“Excuse me,” I say.

His eyes open.

“Sorry to bother you.”

“No bother,” he smiles.

“How much is this one?”

He tells me the price. I say I’d like to purchase it and hand it to him.

An older white man stands above us and jokes that he would never buy from a Packers fan. “At least you’re not for the Cowboy’s,” the older man says as he continues down the block.

“Never a Cowboy’s fan,” the artisan jokes back as he places the necklace on a card, carefully stringing the chain through notches that will hold it in place. “Although my mother is probably smacking me right now for saying that.”

But the older man is too far to hear him.

“Your mother likes the Cowboys?” I ask, still kneeling, admiring the porcupine quills dangling from silver earrings.

“Oh yes,” he said. “All her life. Now she has passed and I’m sure she is angry with me for saying anything bad about them.”

Our eyes meet.

“I’m sorry you’ve lost your mom. I can only imagine what that feels like.”

He sighs. “She died on the fourth of July. It’s what she wanted. She was on dialysis for twelve years. My sisters convinced her to get the treatments when she first got sick. After twelve years she was tired. Every time she came home she was like this —” he rolled his eyes back, put his arms out, and swayed his chest like he was off-balance.

“That’s a long time to endure so much pain.”

“Yes, I understand her choice,” he says. He holds the little package containing the necklace in his right hand.

“Thank you for sharing that with me,” I say, looking up at him.

“I miss her. I think I will miss her for the rest of my life.”

I take in what he has said. “I miss my Gramma more now than I did two years ago when she passed.”

He nods and I ask about the porcupine quills.

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Unmasking the Monuments

We drove in after dark. Large shadows, looming in the night like masked phantoms, lay in wait.

Half an hour before first light, wind shook the camper van. Rain urged us to stay under covers with tinny percussions. But we had come with one purpose: to witness dawn unmask the monuments.

I put on my warmest clothes with a sense of defeat and doubt. We wouldn’t have much of a sunrise in a storm.

When I stepped outside, as if on cue, the rain eased to a drizzle, merging the space between earth and sky, wrapping us in mist. Lightning flashed in the distance — dancing in bold streaks — thunder clapped to proclaim the illumination.

I sat patiently for the show. At first she was only a fleck below the clouds, but soon, a sliver of pinkish orange light at the horizon split the sky.

Black against the night sky, the monuments began to emerge, to take clearer shape, to reveal their red rock, to show they surround us near and far, to claim their land. Castles, cathedrals, ancient architecture shaped by the Artist’s hand, etched and chiseled into towers, walls, cliffs, and colorful layers.

When dawn captured the sky, we stepped through red sand in the direction of the three closest monuments, the only ones on the early morning trail. The smell of rain rose from the earth, but it was dry and quiet. Passing clouds, their softness, an ever-changing background, emphasized the stoic rocks.

Walking below, standing at their feet, staring up at their grandeur, I felt the knowing of the One far greater than I. Ancient energy, with the power to lift its own monuments and hold them in its hand as if to say, “This — is my Creation.”

Rain continued its pilgrimage to earth as we finished the trail. I looked to the monuments, a rainbow appeared momentarily, as if to say, “So are You.”

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Canyon Meditation

We chose not to look at the map and found what we believed was a path. As we walked, the forest seemed to hold us while birds sang its melody. We passed elk tracks preserved in dry mud and saw a tree that had been used as an antler scratching post. I wished I could walk without knowing our destination.

Upon hearing human voices speaking languages from all over the world, we knew we were close — and suddenly — the forest opened.

A magnetic pull from my heart led me to the canyon rim as though I were under enchantment. My body shook with adrenaline. Before me, a chasm ripped the earth and rocky, layered peaks formed colorful monuments, temples, pyramids, and fortresses. Spires and pillars rose from the ground like giants. Greater and larger than Stonehenge, than Chichen Itza, than man could ever be.

Nature’s chisel wielded by the Great Artist etched walls with shadowy crags and adornement. Creation coalescing into wonder from nearly two billion years of both violent and gradual evolution written in the rock. Lava and mud spreading and widening the canyon carved by wind and water, plateaus rising, glaciers melting, the continent crashing into volcanoes and making mountains. Erosion — pushing, pulling, forming megaliths and smiles that become wings of expanded freedom. A testament to my limited, human experience.

The river deepens the canyon as she moves to the sea — her former grandeur evidenced in decorated cliffs — she is now a mere trickle of what she must have been before dams and reservoirs closed her veins like tourniquets.

The Artist exhibits the freedom to transform, to shift — to evolve into beauty, into living inspiration.

Even with their loud voices, the other tourists don’t bother me. The vastness is large enough for us all. So large that I sense I can give all the heaviness of my heart to the canyon. All the pain of memories and attachments can release. And my heart will become expansive; my heart and the canyon will merge into one, magnetized like the continent and crashing into volcanoes. If I let it fall, it will tumble into the river and be swept away to the ocean. I can let it go — I can give it all to the One who is capable of transfiguration.

I hear the wind before I feel her. She comes up from the canyon depths and brushes my face. I feel the coolness of her touch. She is a whispering echo saying, “hush.”

Crows fly with feathers straight and light in the space between earth and sky. Above the canyon, below stars. Small, yet fearless. As we must be.

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Overcoming Resistance

The past couple weeks were hard. I was in a major funk — my heart felt closed to myself and the world around me and I haven’t been writing because of it. When I feel shut down, I usually don’t force myself to write, it’s an easy excuse. (“I don’t feel like it,” I say to myself.) And then it gets worse because I’m not living my soul’s purpose; I’m not doing what brings me joy. Resistance and bad moods compound each other, they love each other.

It’s a vicious cycle.

When the funk began, I started writing a post on the practice of staying with unpleasant emotions in order to ease them with presence. I’ve been practicing this lately and it seemed fitting for me to write about it when I had so much hardness heaviness in my own emotional body and had to practice it constantly. But the writing came out clumsy and uninspired. And when I read it over — I knew it stunk! It read like a lame high school essay; no real depth of understanding, nothing truly compelling or engaging.

I kept at it. I had to post something! I wasn’t going to just quit this blog, so I revised it a couple times, but ultimately, I had to put it away. It repulsed me. And I didn’t have the drive to look at it for well over a week. It was like my resistance to writing was snowballing — adding weight and size each day I refused to write. My self-imposed deadline came and went. Then the next week’s deadline came and went. Finally, I sat down and opened the document, but I sat with my body turned away from the screen. I wanted nothing to do with it! I read the first couple of sentences and got up for a glass of water. Not one cell in my body wanted me to do my work that morning.

I was in the throws of creative resistance.

Recently, I read in The War of Art the only way out is through and decided I would test the theory. I took some time to free write — to write whatever came to mind even if it was petty or nonsensical. Soon enough, the words flowed. And I was rewarded for my effort to overcome resistance when Inspiration brought me this post.

When resistance comes — and it comes to me often — I now have the knowledge to push through and not let it phase me. Whether it comes in the form of a sour mood, doubt, a list of errands, or any other excuse, I have succumbed to resistance more than I would like to admit. Yet now I know the nature of this illusion: it’s simply a thin veil, deceptively impenetrable, but easy to drop.

As for the funk — that, too, disappeared once I started writing.

Resistance may feel like being between a rock and a hard place, but there is always a path out