Entering the Realm of Infinite Possibility.

     When I took an astronomy course, my mind was blown at the sheer vastness of the Universe, the incredible, unimaginable distances that make it up. Most of the Universe is made up of empty space. The stars burn brightly, orbiting near each other in order to create immense galaxies and solar systems. There are 300 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, alone, where we call home. Look up at the sky on a clear night, away from light pollution, and one can stand in awe, neck craned, of the multitude of twinkling stars. One of my favorite memories of the stars was at a music festival, held at the base of Mount Batur, a sacred volcano in Bali. We looked up and could see stars overflowing the entire sky. I had never seen that many stars in my life. The Milky Way was clearly visible as a band of light spanning the sky. In every direction, there were beautiful glowing stars. Three shooting stars winked at us, and I laid back on the grass in complete bliss and gratitude for the present moment.

     We are truly made of the stars. The elements that make up the Earth and our bodies were created in the cores of stars at the beginning of the Universe. Like humans, the stars go through similar life cycles. Stars are born, live, fuse all elements heavier than hydrogen in their cores, and when they die, they return their elements into the Universe to sustain the lives of new stars. When we look up at the stars, we see ourselves. The stars are part of the Universe, and so are we.

     When we cultivate the consciousness of being deeply and fundamentally connected to the Universe, we can see ourselves in the stars and in each other. All of the people, situations, and experiences on this Earth are a reflection of the Universal love within us. Sometimes we need to think of the stars in order to see the wider perspective of our lives, perhaps bringing fear into the consciousness to be released. Then, we can enter the realm of infinite possibility, which is characterized by awareness of the present moment, love, and the inner wisdom of our connection to the Universe. Like the stars, we can radiate and share our light with others. This means doing what we love, what makes our spirit light up, and trusting that we have something unique to share with the world. It means leaving behind the fears, delusions, or feelings of inadequacy. Easier said than done, right? It is a daily practice, that must be returned to in each moment. It is a practice in aligning with love and our inner wisdom, that loving voice that gently asks us to Shine, brighter and brighter.


You are Stronger Than the Mind Wants You to Believe.

     There are times when I get stuck in a rut and get caught in the accelerating downward spiral of negative thoughts. Often I compare myself to others, and think, “Why am I not where they are? Why am I not as good as them?” It happens quickly. I start judging the other person and myself, and try to live up to imagined standards, failing to see the time and dedication that allowed the person to improve. However, in moments of mindfulness, I can see that these thoughts are not serving me, that they truly serve no purpose, save to destroy my inner power. At times like these, I need to be inspired and reminded of the truth.

Picture from Waves of Fire

     One of the ways in which I get out of negative thinking ruts is by getting out of my head and into my body, by taking a yoga class, hoop dancing to my favorite music, or engaging in a deep relaxation session. Yesterday, I took a yoga class at Yoga Tree in San Francisco. A great way to see a new city is to scope out local yoga studios. I took a vigorous all-levels vinyasa class, and it was killer. It was just what I needed. I need to be surrounded by loving, focused people who are trying their best and also pushing me to my limit. Often, in my home practice, I engage in the same postures and do not always challenge myself to my limit. This class, however, was a different story.

     The teacher led us through a practice of fast-paced sun salutations, with pushups, downward dogs, and shoulder and hip-opening postures. My intention for this practice was to practice for world peace. I often hold this intention in my mind, and it helps me to remember that I do not practice only for myself, but for the light, love, and freedom of all beings. If I am devoted to my yoga practice and am as happy as I can possibly be, I can show people that it is okay and necessary to fully embrace oneself and shine. Being happy gives permission to others to be happy! Throughout the practice, I felt strong and connected to my breath more than usual. That is the key. Breathe, breathe, breathe, deeper and with more awareness than ever.

     And when I was ready to collapse onto the mat, the teacher guided us into a sequence of backbends and inversions, a forearm balance directly followed by wheel pose, repeated three times. At this point in the class, I let go of my mind’s brief thought (“Take a rest”), and went right into the inversion, with the wall behind me for support. When I surrendered to the moment, I was fully present and aware of every sensation of my body. My forearms and hands pressing into the floor, being grounded, the strength of my shoulders and core keeping me stable, my legs reaching up for the sky. I could be the active participant rather than entertaining the monkey mind. I felt super proud of myself for being focused during the entire class, and especially during that particular set of dynamic postures.

     During the class, as we were engaged in a forearm plank, the teacher said, “You are stronger than the mind wants you to believe.” It is during those times of struggle that we discover our true inner strength. Often, it is the mind that is a distraction, with its fearful and deluded thoughts. Wherever we learned them, it is in our power to choose new thoughts if the old no longer serve us. If you get stuck in a downward spiral of negativity, you can choose a new trajectory, to align, instead, with love. Perhaps that means doing something new, something you never thought you could do, or challenging yourself to new limits. Whatever it is, refuse to get stuck and enjoy the journey.


What are some creative ways to get out of a negative thinking rut?

Follow me on Twitter at @hellolalalaura.

Response to the book Sex At Dawn

     I recently concluded reading Sex At Dawn, How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships, written by the husband and wife duo Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha. I found it to be an interesting read, very witty, informational, and thought-provoking. In this book, the authors attempt to debunk many ideas and culturally accepted standards of human nature, monogamy, and sexuality. They do so by first looking at the prehistorical sexual evolution of humans by comparing them to their common relatives in the animal kingdom, like chimps, bonobos, and gorillas. According to the book, humans have equal genetic similarity with both chimps and bonobos, which both exhibit polygamous sexual behavior. Evolutionary theorists often cite chimps’ displays of aggressive, war-like behavior to justify these impulses in humans. However, when it comes to human sexual behavior, the polygamous behavior of our closest animal cousins is often disregarded, as well as the observed peaceful existence of bonobos.

     Another interesting idea confronted in the book is the idea of the “standard narrative,” in which society tells us that humans evolved to be monogamous, to have one sexual partner for life, and the role of the male is to protect his wife, support the material interests of her and her child, and to ensure that the wife will not cheat, because then the man would be unsure of the paternity of the child. Also, according to the “standard narrative,” women trade sexual favors for the financial and material security provided by the man. This implies that women, by nature, are coy, passive, and possess a low libido, an idea which is challenged in the book. When we look at the “standard narrative,” it seems overly simplistic, or obvious, or just the way things are. However, upon a closer inspection, these commonly accepted and practiced ideas are actually social and cultural roles that have been impressed upon us, and shame is brought to those who do not fit this cookie-cutter notion of sexuality and societal roles. It forces us to try to fit into this mold, despite the fact that it may not be right for everybody.


     Sex At Dawn attempts to break down the “standard narrative” by offering an alternative perspective. Humans may have evolved to have many sexual partners. Sex is a natural part of the human experience, which can be used to create bonds within communities, as well as to increase peace and harmony. Both females and males possess innate sexual drives that should not be repressed by outdated cultural conditions. I found it interesting that in many non-Western societies in the world, and certainly in humans’ pre-historical past, people lived in communities with many partners, where sex was not only freely accepted, but celebrated, as a way of life, and a means to form bonds to strengthen the community. In these societies, women do not have to worry about being abandoned by her husband and left as a single mother, because the entire community shares responsibility for the raising of children. I found it most surprising that in these and other prehistorical communities, paternity was not a huge concern, because women often had numerous sexual partners and each of the men had some sort of a responsibility to help the rearing of children. This idea is pretty unthinkable in our present day society. Sex At Dawn also asserts that it was not until the advent of agriculture that humans developed the notion of private property, in which men now had to protect their property from others, and this concern extended to their wife and children. Why has our concept of marriage now become a legal agreement, where there can be winners and losers, more than anything else?


     This book brought up many controversial ideas. I enjoyed looking at cultural standards from a different perspective. What I took most from this book was the idea that we should no longer repress our natural, innate sexuality. It should not be shamed, hidden, or controlled. Just as if you repress hurtful thoughts or emotions, they will eventually explode, rising to the surface and causing even more pain. The repression of sexuality has many harmful effects, such as within the Catholic Church or even seen as a cause of violence and hostility in society. Perhaps, we can learn to not take sex so seriously. Sometimes, sex can just be sex, and it does not necessarily mean it is an act of love. Sex does not equal love or intimacy.

     As a woman, I’ve been getting conflicting ideas about my sexuality my entire life. I live in a culture where sexual images are rampant, yet I receive messages, both consciously and unconsciously, that my sexuality is dangerous, that it must be controlled, and I must fall into the sweet little role of a demure, passive female to be controlled by a man, that my only hope to have love and wealth is to be dependent and attached to one person for the rest of my life. Something about culture’s standard narrative does not to add up to me. It is my belief that attachment is the primary cause of all suffering, including attachment to a romantic partner. I refuse to subscribe to the idea that one person will always make me happy. I do not give away that power to anybody else, because the truth is, I am the only one who is responsible for my happiness.

     What Sex At Dawn offers, above all, is the invitation to have meaningful conversations about our true sexual selves, to feel our emotions without judgement or repression. Every emotion that comes up is legitimate, and it should be completely okay to share whatever it is we are going through in the important relationships in our lives. To be truthful, honest, and accepting, to not grasp at relationships or cling to the idea that we must find this one person to make us happy and stable. It is my hope that we can work together to open up this dialogue, leave behind judgement, repression, and cultural conditioning, and connect with our true, authentic selves.

We all Shine On.

     This is your call to Shine On. To do more of what makes your spirit light up, what makes you smile and laugh, what makes you surrender to the infinite present moment in which you fail to notice the passage of time. For me, I am completely at ease when I’m in Downward Dog, upside down looking at my feet and breathing deeply, oxygenating my body fully with each inhale and exhale. Synchronizing the body and breath, flowing with life. Or when I am inside the sacred circle of a hula-hoop, spinning, spinning, flowing with life. There is absolutely nothing better. This is a reminder to myself and to you, to focus more on what makes you Shine. To leave behind all fears and limiting patterns of thought or behavior. To never doubt the path you are on, because all paths ultimately lead to the same place characterized by love, peace, truth, and Universal consciousness.

Waking Up with Clarity.

    Often the inner workings of the analytical mind keep us trapped and chained to old paradigms, feelings of fear, insecurity, or worry. The mind does this as a survival mechanism, to keep the “Ego” in power, that part of us that says I don’t deserve love and abundance or I am attached to this outcome, this idea of what will make me happy. Being inside the boundaries of the comfort zone may appear to be the safe choice, the logical choice, the only choice, but this is a grand illusion. Inside the comfort zone, things appear to stay the same. Yet in actuality, life is a dynamic flux, a constant and never-ending ebb and flow of coming and going, gain and loss, in which it is essential to practice Non-attachment. The emotions are always changing, situations are always shifting, and at times it may appear as if things are not going according to our plans. However, it is important to note that things are not unfolding on our time, but according to Universal time. Everything happens for a reason. Do not doubt that for an instant. Even the obstacles, the setbacks are there to guide us to a new opportunity. Perhaps the time is not right, but soon it will be. 


     To wake up with clarity is to be clear with oneself about all of the ways the mind seeks to keep us stuck within our imagined boundaries. Break down those ideas of who you are, or what you should be, or what your limits are, and open up to the flow of life. Polish the mind until it reflects truth, like a brilliant illuminating pane of crystal clear glass. Become clear about what it is that will truly bring the greatest joy and satisfaction in your life. Then, move in that direction, completely, fully, ambitiously. Hold that clear vision and take small steps toward manifesting it. Visualize it, and feel it as if it is true, now, with every cell of your being. How will it feel like when you finally accomplish your goal? What will you do? How will you acknowledge it? Believe. Believe. Believe. 


In Silence, there is Strength.

     There is a lovely quote from the ancient Chinese philosopher and author of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, who wrote, “Those who know, do not speak. Those who speak, do not know.” Much wisdom can be found in this simple quote. There is a time for extroversion, but it is in those times of silence and stillness that we are connected to wisdom, inner power, and strength. 

     Silence is a quiet strength. It does not seek to be acknowledged, recognized, or appreciated. It is the type of strength that is unwavering, and is not affected by external conditions or situations. In silence is inner power, resolve, and self-awareness. It is a time for introspection, psychological awareness, awakening to truth.

     At the Satyananda Yoga Ashrams, the practice of mauna, or silence, is observed each evening until after breakfast. Inner silence is said to help one develop awareness of the witness, that which is beyond ordinary intellectual understanding. The witness watches the workings of the logical, rational, analytical mind, without being attached to the mind. With this awareness comes the realization that one is not a slave to the mind or its conditioned patterns. This is a fundamental practice in getting still, getting silent, and getting honest with oneself about the mind’s limiting or fearful thoughts. 


     Practice silence by setting aside time each day for introspection. Give yourself a time-out, perhaps in the morning or before sleep, to open up space to witness the mind and emotions. Turn off the cellphone, rid yourself of distractions. Simply watch the mind, become the witness, and observe, without judgement, whatever comes up in that moment. Witness how turbulent thoughts, feelings, and fears wash over the mind, and in time, dissipate and flow away, like puffy clouds in the summer sky. The thoughts are the clouds, and the crystal clear blue sky is consciousness. Use this time to become aware of how and when you are speaking. Are you perhaps wasting energy by engaging in meaningless conversations or arguments? Talk less, listen more, and see what happens. Silence is a tool to become aware of the light of consciousness and to release attachment to the conditioning of the mind. 


For more information, read the Tao Te Ching and read more about silence

Imagine Peace.

     As a young girl growing up listening to Abbey Road, I shared my father’s adoration for the Beatles. My favorite songs were Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and Octopus Garden. These days, I have many more favorites, especially Dear Prudence, Across the Universe, and Strawberry Fields Forever. In these songs, I found love and inspiration, as well as the message of Peace.


     Throughout the years, I’ve felt intensely connected to John Lennon and his universal message for Peace. Lennon’s lucky number was 9 and he was born on October 9. I was also born on the 9th of the month in April, and the number has always held a special meaning in my life. I spent the freshman year of high school researching Lennon for a class paper. I became immersed in my findings. Although I had grown up listening to his songs, I rediscovered Lennon’s message in a deeper, more fundamental way.

     Lennon remains an enigma, a fleeting star across the dark expanse of the sky, burning brightly with truth. He stood for an idea far greater than himself. I was intrigued, also due to the fact that his life was ended so abruptly, seemingly prematurely. Something surrounding him captivates my imagination. It is his aura that still influences and inspires, his vision for the world, his optimism, his words that whisper in my ear and speak to me, even though he is long gone from this Earth. Yet Lennon still communicates his message through the medium of his beautiful songs and powerful lyrics. It is my dream to place flowers on the Imagine memorial at Strawberry Fields, Central Park, New York City, and meditate for Peace. Lennon devoted the latter part of his life communicating a simple yet powerful message of love and Peace, and it is my hope to do the same. The United States FBI even had a file on him and saw him as a threat to national security during the Vietnam War. Check out the documentary, The U.S. vs. John Lennon, for more information. The institutions of government found his message as a threat to their right to power. If many people connect in order to spread Peace, they will be more powerful than any oppressive government institution, because the peoples’ vibration will be aligned with truth and Universal Love.


     Meditate for Peace for all beings. Listen. Love. Be inspired by Lennon’s message at Imagine Peace, where people are coming together from around the world to manifest his vision. We are united in Peace in the Universal mind.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.
Om Peace Peace Peace.

The Practice of Non-attachment

     Non-attachment is a fundamental limb of Buddhist philosophy and has many implications for our quality of life. Much of our suffering is a result of being attached to things that are not ours to hold on to. Attachment can take the form of grasping on to experiences, relationships, material objects, or the pursuit of worldly gain. It can be holding on to illusions that are long past, or eternally yearning for the fulfillment of desire, which can never be fulfilled because the desire will always be replaced by the next. Being attached to past experiences or future events is destructive to our happiness because it removes us from the present moment. In the now is appreciation, gratitude, peace, and bliss. It cannot be found in the past or the indeterminable future, a vague place where we mistakenly believe that once we have attained that object, that career, or that relationship, we will be happy at last.

     In order to practice non-attachment, we must be honest with ourselves about what we are attached to. What are we grasping on to, and is it serving our personal growth? How much longer do we need to be attached to this idea/delusion/object/relationship until we can let it go? In what ways are we giving away our power, our happiness, by refusing to surrender what is gone, or what is not ours to control? Where do these feelings of attachment originate in our consciousness and why? What purpose do they serve?

     Surrendering the ego’s will and allowing the Universe to guide us each step of the way is a powerful method to practice non-attachment in our lives. Non-attachment is the power to relinquish what is no longer serving our evolution, and surrendering what is not ours to control. When we can do that, we allow the flow of grace and Universal love to show us the next step. It means appreciating the present moment, and trusting our true essence of bliss.

This post was inspired by Attachment with the King of Atlantis.

A Weekend in Fitzroy, Melbourne

Fitzroy is a super cool, funky part of town in Melbourne, Australia. Like the rest of the city, Fitzroy is vibrant, fun, and full of energy. It attracts artists, entrepreneurs, and creative types of all sorts. For my last weekend in Melbourne, I checked out Fitzroy’s abundance of quirky little shops, cafes, and yoga studios. I stayed at The Nunnery, a former nun convent turned into a hip and inviting hostel. Keeping with the nun theme, the place boasts church-inspired decor, like Jesus clocks, pews to sit on, and paintings of the Madonna. It’s all in good fun, with just a hint of irony. It certainly gives the place character, and they are not afraid to pay homage to their roots. The Nunnery was a nice place to stay because it had all the comforts, like a kitchen with free breakfast in the mornings, wi-fi, and a lounge/common area. I got to mingle with Australian and French travelers as well, a fun part about staying in hostels.

The main street in Fitzroy is called Brunswick Street, with heaps of little shops, cafes, bars, and pubs. You can wander around all day, sneaking a peek at local art, fashion, designers, and books, then duck into one the myriad cafes for a quality Melbourne coffee and a bite to eat. If you travel to Melbourne, you must indulge in a good coffee that the city is known for! These people know their coffee and there is a thriving coffee culture here. One of my favorite cafes is Seven Seeds, nearby in Carlton.

Graffiti Artists on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy

During the weekend, I checked out two yoga studios: Ashtanga Yoga, off of Brunswick Street, and Gertrude Street Yoga. Both of the studios were lovely. First, I went to a led Ashtanga class. It was my first time practicing the style of Ashtanga yoga, which is based on specific posture sequences. The instructor was knowledgeable and kind of intense. She would call me out when my alignment was off and guide me to the proper position. I enjoyed the Ashtanga class and would love to practice further.

I really felt at home at the Gertrude Street Yoga class. It was a strong, dynamic class. The instructor led us through a bunch of vinyasas and got me working hard. Her style was similar to my favorite teacher at Dhyana Yoga, so it was super nice. Also, the space was super beautiful. We got to practice on the third level, overlooking the city.

In addition to the yoga studios, my favorite spot around Fitzroy was the Happy Herb Shop on Smith Street in Collingwood. They had heaps of healing herbs for health, energy, love, and detoxing. I picked up some Damiana and Mugwort tea. Damiana is an aphrodisiac, and helps relieve depression and anxiety. Mugwort is a super potent herb used for lucid dreaming, so I had to give it a try. Mystic Medusa calls Damiana/Mugwort the Aphrodisiac Shamanic Tea. I also picked up some hemp oil, which is absolutely amazing. I use it mixed with essential oil for my skin, instead of chemical-laden lotions. Hemp oil is natural and has a light, earthy hemp smell. I have recently cut many beauty products from my regime, like nail polish, lotion, and hair products, in order to reduce my exposure to toxic chemicals that are commonly added.

Fitzroy is definitely a groovy part of town to hang out if you travel to Melbourne. Check out Trippy Taco on Gertrude Street for yummy vegan tacos and nachos, go thrifting and vintage shopping, have a coffee, discover amazing graffiti art on side-streets and alleyways, take a relaxing yoga class, or get your mates together and go bar hopping any day of the week on Brunswick Street. Cheers.

Hoop Dancing – Flow and be a Flower.

     Recently, hula hooping and hoop dancing have taken on a whole new form, evolving from the 50’s era craze and the beloved, ubiquitous childhood toy. Hoopers, dancers, flow artists, and performers can be found in their backyard, the park, at music festivals, lazy summer picnics, and circus acts. In Baltimore, there is a lovely woman who brings a ton of hoops to the weekly farmer’s market and invites everybody to join in the fun. The plastic circle called a hula hoop conjures up images of little children happily throwing the toy around their waist. Today, it’s not only kids who are picking up the hoop.

     I was inspired to start hooping over a year ago, when I saw a beautiful, graceful hooper at a rave and I promised myself I would learn. I remember not being able to hula hoop when I was little. Maybe I just did not believe in myself enough to try, but this time, I trusted myself and gave it a go. I ordered an adult sized hula hoop on Etsy, with pretty sparkly tape in bright green, pink, and purple. From that day on, I picked up the hoop daily, playing my favorite music and practicing for hours on end. I watched YouTube videos of amazing hoopers and tutorials on hoop tricks. With these resources I taught myself, stumbling through the movements until I perfected them. When I discovered the joy and love of hooping, my life opened up in amazing ways.


     Hooping is graceful, blissful, energetic, sensual, and expressive. When I am in that sacred circle, I flow with life. I am in the now. When I am hooping, there is no place I can be other than the present moment. It is when I connect to my loving Inner Child, who wants nothing more than to play, laugh, and smile. Spinning, spinning, smiling at the sun. Playing in the park in summertime, barefeet, soaking up the healing energy of the earth. Flowing with grace, opening my heart, connecting with nature and my body’s unique sense of movement. Life is better when I am hooping because I am connected, engaging in an ecstatic dance and celebration of Universal Love. Hooping is this and so much more. I am so grateful I found this medium of self-expression that I can share with the world. 

Love, light, and hoops.