Off the Mat & in the Desert – 5/19/17

Honoring the Divine Mother, I spent Mother’s Day weekend at Shakti Fest, a yoga, kirtan and conscious-living festival honoring the Feminine, placed lovingly at Joshua Tree Retreat Center in Southern California.

Shakti Fest curates some of the most insightful minds in the yoga, kirtan and conscious living worlds, such as Shiva Rae, Mark Whitwell, Saul David Raye, Mas Vidal, Hemaylayaa, Jai Uttal and Fannah Fi Allah, among many others.

I have been a yoga practitioner for over ten years. Time on my mat helps me cultivate my intuition and my ability to listen deeply to guidance available in any moment. During the weekend, guidance lead me to lectures and discussions, and away from packed yoga halls with uplifting live music. I realize most people, at least from what I’ve observed in the United States, who practice yoga stick to asana, and for whatever reason, I was called to drop in with a different form of wisdom.

Joshua Tree, CA – sunset

I participated in a discussion and public reading of The Radiance Sutras by Lorin Roche, Ph.D. This commentary is a colorful translation of an ancient hymn that captures the illumination of life. This engaging lecture reminded me that in the sincerity of our wonder and curiosity the cosmos respond with illogical magnificence. If in our questions we seek only answers, there is a dryness (like the desert!), but when we commitment to living in a state of awe and wonder, life reveals its beauty and magic continuously.

I practiced pranayama with Mas Vidal, a student of Paramahansa Yogananda, and chanted So-Hum, Hum-Sa in a room of 100+ people, vibrating with the purr of the harmonium, and felt energy ripple up my spine, shiver and shake over the crown of my head and expand my energetic body and awareness well beyond my skin.

My weekend in the desert imprinted on me no one particular teaching, saying or moment of “enlightenment”, rather the profound impact I had was the feeling of stability and truth in the vibration of these incredible teachers. I was in the presence of individuals who have been committed to their personal practices for decades. Many of these teachers are walking the talk, making self-inquiry and self-care a discipline, that at times is surely difficult and perhaps uninspiring, yet over time leads to a profound steadiness of insight and connection to Source.

I was deeply inspired by the reminder that 4-6am is a POWERFUL time, and Saturday morning of the event I woke to watch the sunrise over the mountains, painting the landscape an iridescent gold, with Joshua Tree’s playfully extending towards the sky, somehow saying – “Hey Sun, thanks for the rays. I will do my best to grow strong here in this intense climate.” It is as though a glowing jewel emerged from a vast, dark, oceanic sky. I know I could have a mentality a bit more like a Joshua Tree, grateful, steadfast and bizarrely beautiful.

I’ve committed myself the gift of early morning rising, to experience this paradoxically lively and peaceful time of day.  I was reminded of the energy that is available for us to receive when we awake at such an hour. It fuels me more than an extra hour or so of sleep, or a coffee ever could. When I wake up with the sun it’s as though I’m swimming directly in its energy, pulsing and shimmering, heightening my senses and calming my mind. I am inspired to fully commit to the practices that connect me to myself and the Great Mystery, and trust that the path will unfold before me, perfectly.

I, like many of you, can get caught in “What am I doing? What is my purpose here?”.  I realized that spending time every day slowing down, breathing and reverently honoring Divinity within me through self-care practices, means I will be in alignment consistently. And I trust the guidance I receive when I’m in alignment.

During the weekend, I saw more smiling faces than I would walking through a hugely crowded city. I’m reminded of how important it is to attend events like Shakti Fest, and experience beautiful natural environments, like Joshua Tree. It is imperative to connect with other uplifted, inspired, enthusiastic people, so that when we go back to a world of metal, cement and gray streets and skies, we bring the light of the sun, and the subtle vibrancy, stability and consistency of the desert back with us.


Stitch assisting my Butterfly pose.


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