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Long ago, I remember I was reached out to by a student that had lost her father tragically at a young age. She stated that she was concerned about her “failure” to him. Many big and beautiful dreams just weren’t turning out quite like that now that he was gone. As an heir to her ancestry, she didn’t want to disappoint the memory of his dreams. Jobs, a marriage, career choices, places to live…they were all ending. I too was initially surprised to hear her think herself a failure as she appeared to have everything together, yet none of us really know what anyone is going through, especially those that appear to have it all.

I contemplated this, as many of us, including myself, have felt strong demands, imposed inside or out and often due to caring or a response to prior rejection, abandonment, inadequacy or a need of love. This was clearly sensitive. She loved her father. As we gain experience, we all know that not everything works out as we pictured or according to “plan”. Polarized or outlandish imposition’s of an ungraspable ideal or hopeful stage setting often do shatter as seemingly frail & unsustainable replica’s.  Glimpses and comparisons of “perfection” surround us everywhere. It’s difficult to dodge, from the news, catchy commercials and social media, to social settings and entering into our work, homes and relationships.

I wanted her to know that this type of systemic social programming is something we easily fall for. Is this failure? I honestly sensed a breakthrough. I then remembered a quote from the Dalai Lama after having visited his home and temple in Daramshala, India:

Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.
--HH The Dalai Lama

Aha! She was “failing!”…. or more clearly spoken, she was “falling”. She was falling out of the mechanistic inertia and the lack of self ignited, self recognized, personal growth. Remember, a fall can be a groundbreaking moment. A “mistake” can be just that, a missing of the mark.

“A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant.” David Wolfe

Blue moroccan doorsOur english dictionary defines failure as “to be unsuccessful at accomplishing a purpose.” The etymology of fail comes from the latin “fallure” which is related to the word “deceive” or “fall”. Failing is Falling. No big deal, and great actually! This also means a dissolve of flimsy deception; a deception to please, to live up to another’s vision of us, or to replicate being someone else altogether, I felt that she was now possibly being asked to gracefully get up and grow, her own way. We’ve all had a few falls. Our feelings must be felt in that moment. We must also know when the time is right to get back up.

Sometimes it takes a good fall to really know where you stand.

“Failure is not falling down but refusing to get back up.” Chinese Proverb.

“I never loose. I either win or I learn.” Nelson Mandela.

For the end of the year, take the time to reflect on the nature of your falls/fails as to more clearly monitor them in the future. Many of them were truly innocent in some way. Celebrate each fall and invite them, with reverence, into the light. It is one of many ways to apply conviction to the lesson’s potential to lessen and or return again. Wrap it up and acknowledge it as a poignant teaching towards growth, not a defeat. The things that have kept us comfortable do not define us. Rarely do the things that kept us comfortable necessarily remain comforting.

Full moon cyclesCycles come in 3 stages: 1. a beginning, 2. a middle/sustaining principle and 3. an end/dissolve.

The end, (when it all appears to be falling apart), may not actually be the most difficult, as painful as endings can be at the time.  Experience a few endings or “failures” and you know this if you stick it out to witness the outcome, as it brings a new dawn. Your best, and your ability, is not static. We are all fluid beings. The end is a new chance and a new thought forming. Of the stages to a cycle, our awakening is encoded in the middle cycle, in holding it together with dignity and Grace over a long, reliable period. In doing so, no failure could be found as failure awakens us. A shadow will always exist with light. Imagine a world acknowledging and respecting our shadows or falls as evolution.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It is the holding it together, investing in the present with grace and dignity, even when feeling raw, broken, uncertain, tired, scared, unskillful and scared. That builds a depth of formidable character, priming us for something greater, an unbearable light. Embrace your scars. Scar tissue ends up being stronger than even regular tissue in the supreme intelligence of our physical bodies. See this as significant nature order doing its best to learn the lesson and resolve the injury as to more freely more on.

Falling…. a bit embarrassing, isn’t it? No. unabashed, it is personal rite of passage as it shows you did not repudiate and can now withstand a greater capacity and Cosmic force of both personal and broader awareness. “Samskara’s, a Sanskrit word, which is related to the word “scar”,  are deep imprints in the minds consciousness. Samskara’s are very difficult to break into. They thrive off of pretending to be set, real, and “the” right way. When you fall, time stops. Failing is groundbreaking. It can be your chance to break out of something that known or unbeknownst to you was indeed ruling you. Time’s measurement and patterns change with falls and breakthroughs.  It brings true Self confidence when you consciously and finally shake that off, no longer willing to obscure consciousness or twist its appearance. Falling is an allowance and a permission to end something that was dusty and that made dignity cloudy. “If you can see how your suffering has come to be, you are already on your way to liberation.” Thich Nhat Hanh

A great person is not one that has never fallen down but is one that does what it takes to get back up.
Marianne Williamson

Just as it’s totally uninteresting to expect everyone to think, live, speak and see like you, it is completely uninteresting and artificial to allow anyones impositions & expectations to govern your own heart.

“Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.” Prince

Monitor and take personal inventory on what did not seem to work in your habits and narratives from the year and for Winter Solstice. Doing so may make it less likely that it will be repeated. This is not failure. In with the new, this is growth and growing up. Make authentic room for the new.

Meditating BuddhaFor the rest of the year, let no idle thought of the past go unnoticed so that it clears your plate and cleans a fresh, new altar. “Let perceptions heal and errors be corrected. Refuse to get side tracked into detours so that your function is fulfilled.” A Course In Miracles.

No step towards Grace is a small step. You may and most likely will fall and fail a time or 2. All successes included failures. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu

De-clutter and make some room for the end of the year. Do some things differently and from a vision all your own, not that of another’s. “What looks like falling can largely be experienced as falling upward and onward, into a broader and deeper world, where the Soul has found its fullness and is finally connected to the whole.” Richard Rohr from Walking Each Other Home by Ram Dass

Bigger and original things are coming so fail, fall and live a little. Once you get back up that is a “wrap”!

“My life is my message.” Mahatma Gandhi

Happy Winter Solstice and end to 2018…thats a wrap! In Grace & Dignity, Swan Michelle

Meaning What You Say, As Your Life is Your Message Video

Svaha; Fire As A Ritual

One of our favorite words at the end of our very long Yoga Teacher Trainings is Svaha, which is a Sanskrit word for “throwing it into the fire”, signifying words being “purely spoken.”

Here’s your chance to proclaim “Svaha” in building your own personal fire ritual, which I too do about once per month when it’s time to allow for cycles ends.

What you need:
1 small cast iron pot that wont be used for anything else
70% rubbing alcohol
Epsom Salt

Pour equal proportions of 1/2 salt, 1/2 alcohol.
Light your fire.
Once the fire is lit, do not turn your back on it. Sit with it until it goes out on its own.
Chant the Gayatri Mantra, which is a recognition of the original light of the vast constellation that we came from.
Add personal prayers.
Proclaim Svaha anytime you spontaneously sense a mental disturbance or something that has run its course has released.
Meditate in stillness and darkness for a few minutes after the fire goes out to observe if any insights arise.
Dump the salt out right away.

Setting A Meditation Space at hOMe:

In our Reiki trainings, one of our first sets of homework as a form of Energy Clearing is to get rid of anything that is energetically taxing, expensive or has run it’s course, adding more stress to the place you are to go in, recuperate, nourish and heal.  Our hOMe signifies the quality  and content of our mind and is an important boundary for the integration of stillness.

“ To save the world, one must have a plan, and no plan will work unless we meditate.” HH The Dalai Lama


1. De-clutter the entire hOMe and donate what you give to Charity.

2. Clear out 1 room or 1 corner that is for nothing but inward practices. No cell phones go there. No computer.  The NE corner is the most optimal position in accordance with the sun. Be sure it’s a place that isn’t highly trafficked can align with stillness.

3. Keep this area clean, tidy, simple and free of distractions.  Be sure its a place you can see and won’t forget that its there as to remind you to meditate.

4. Place a few items that remind you of your innate goodness or ignite your Soul as to inspire you, be it a picture of the ocean, a teacher that moves you, or a plant. Otherwise, keep what the eyes might gaze upon simple.

5.  Have props in there that will inspire you to sit and to not move, be it a meditation cushion, free wall, blanket, blocks, a book or a harmonium. Make it official!

6. Meditate every morning for at least 5 minutes at the same time or within the same sequence of routines for the entire rest of the year, Commit to not moving so that you may align with the tone for your day that  the Divine could now speak to you in about the decisions you will make through the day. Remember throughout your day that mediation is not just on the cushion.  Allow the mood of meditation to guide all of your actions, and then act! Prayer is speaking to the Divine. Meditation is receiving the guidance from the Divine, all day long. I will meet you there.