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Return to Oz: Accepting the Call

As a kid, the Wizard of Oz movies were probably my favoritest. People think I joke when I say I watched at least one of the two every day, but it is the honest truth. I don’t know whether it was Dorothy, those ruby slippers, the sparkling Emerald City, or simply the notion of being whisked away (in a house!) by a twister and carried to a magical land on the other side of the rainbow, but there was something about Oz that fascinated me, made me wish I was able to join Dorothy and be bestest friends with the Scarecrow that bordered on obsession. 

As an adult, I’ve accepted the fact that I probably won’t be able to visit L. Frank Baum’s wonderland, and have realized that I’ve substituted it for a more tangible location, a place that I have visited countless times outside of my dreams: Mexico. 

Perhaps you may think this an odd choice; the two seem to be worlds apart, and I don’t think I would have ever made the connection had it not been for two scenes/characters brought to life before my very eyes on my most recent trip. The first was a mountain formation in Mazunte (the first stop/town I stayed in) that called to mind the Gnome King from Return to Oz. I didn’t think much of it except that it was cool, cute that it reminded me of the Oz sequel, took a pic, posted to Instagram for others to see the resemblance, then went on my merry way without really thinking much more of it. Tra-la-la.

Then while on the last leg of my journey in Palenque, it was almost as if I was bitch-slapped with another, clearly more in-my-face correlation: a reincarnation the Yellow Brick Road. It might not have been yellow, but the resemblance to the torn-up rubble of Dorothy’s beloved guide to the Wizard was uncanny.

As I stopped in my tracks upon my sighting of the worn-out path, I began to realize that, similar to Dorothy’s connection to Oz, Mexico was, in a sense, my Oz: A land full of magic and mystery for me that keeps drawing me back to it. I can recall at least 11 trips spanning the last 16 years. What is it that attracts me to it over and over again? 

I’ll have to admit, booze had something to do with it those first couple of times: Cancun, Cozymel, Tijuana, Cabo San Lucas. But once I followed my yoga teacher to Yelapa (near Puerta Vallarta) as I was first beginning to dive into the practice back in 2007, I think that’s when I first began to feel the magic of this place (perhaps the sweat lodge ceremonyI took part in had something to do with it, too). I connected with something on that trip, I’m not sure what, but a part of Mexico came back with me on that adventure. Or a part of me stayed. Or both.

When I went down in 2012 as a travel nanny, that’s when she really got my attention: luring me to her through her sense of adventure, sense of confidence as I learned to surf off her coast; making sure I bathed in the moonlight each night as the moon shone down into my room, engulfing my bed with me in it as I slept; playing host to the “End of the World” party I attended on December 21, 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar while I was in the Mayan land. 

A few months later on my next visit, she snared me hook, line, and sinker when I travelled to the pyramids outside Mexico City where I was visited by my best friend, who had passed away a year prior, while I meditated sitting atop the Pyramid of the Moon. When, a week later, I was asked to teach at a yoga retreat center in a town I frequented while on my nannying/surfing trips, there was no way I could say no: She was quite literally calling me to her, and I had to accept. 

So when my Reiki teacher told me back in November that she was thinking of teaching the Reiki Masters course and considering making it a retreat in Mexico, my interest was piqued. Here was my teacher, who herself, to me, is pure magic, talking about leading the final course of Reiki studies in a place that spoke to me on so many levels. The spontaneous part of me wanted to jump up and say, “Yes! I’m in! Let’s go!” But that critical voice I’ve heard so much, know too well crept its way in: You’re not ready; you have bills to pay; stop throwing money away on these trips. All reasonable concerns. 

And I listened. I became wary, doubted myself. Who did I think I was thinking I could be a Reiki Master? I definitely didn’t think I was ready to teach Reiki to others, to accept responsibility of sharing the light and healing energy with others so that they, too, could help others as well as themselves. I kept telling myself I wasn’t ready to hold such a role, to have the ability to empower others. 

But my teacher had planted a seed, and that idea wouldn’t go away. One of my favorite people in the world wanted to take me to my favorite place in the world. SHE BELIEVED IN ME. Which was more than I could say for myself. I mean, I DID believe in myself to certain extent, but there was always a limit to my beliefs. Which I think is normal for many of us faced with a choice to step into a role that holds much more responsibility. If I became a Reiki Master, I guess I was afraid of having to be accountable for others. What if I did it wrong? What if I screwed it up? What if I gave students the wrong information? Again, all natural fears, natural reasons the mind comes up with to keep us from moving forward. 

Even though my mind kept coming up with “logical” reasons why I shouldn’t, couldn’t become a “Master,” though, the universe was doing its part, sending me signals in hopes to override my logical mind. I received messages through dreams, seeing past relationships in a new, more honest light; I caught myself reacting to my family differently in hopes to avoid the pitfalls of pressing theirs and allowing my own buttons to be pressed; I was thinking more about making serious changes that I had long wanted to put into action but had been sitting idle on, afraid of failing in bringing my dreams to reality; a Theta healing session offered a glimpse at what my (happy) life would look like in a year’s time. 

Though I was receiving all these messages, it wasn’t until one day in January, about midway through a Breathwork workshop led by my Reiki teacher, that I received the message loud and clear. As I lay there on the floor, I felt as if I was being pinned to the ground with an intense sensation in my palms that I can only describe as though lightning bolts were shooting out of my hands and into the sky. It was so strong, so clear—I was reminded of my Reiki I course when I had been practicing on another student and first felt the healing energy flow through me and thought to myself, I am supposed to be doing this. It was there in that lightning bolt moment that I knew that I meant to complete my Reiki Masters, and I marched myself right up to my teacher once the session was over and told her to count me in.

It definitely wasn’t easy, listening to my inner truth, stepping into my higher self. It was scary, even, accepting my fate. And, now that I am officially a Reiki Master, I see how much courage was necessary to look so deep into myself and acknowledge certain tendencies, patterns, times/situations in my past where I was wrong or could have handled things differently. I’ll admit, I wanted to quit a day or two into the training, and had I not been in Mexico, had I been back in New York with an easier escape route, I might have stopped myself from finishing. But now that it’s behind me, now that I know, can see through new lenses, I am so grateful for having done it, for agreeing to REALLY look at the things, the lessons of life that keep popping up, keep returning in order for me to FINALLY GET IT so that I can change how I react, respond and continue to move forward.

The lessons/situations that seem to continuously arise in our lives do so in order for us to learn that something needs to change in order to break the habit, to free ourselves from having to relive it again through new, different relationships or situations. When Dorothy returns to Oz, everything is different. She is faced with new challenges, makes new friends, creates new enemies. If Dorothy had tried to defeat the Gnome King the same way she had the Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy probably wouldn’t have had a happy ending. She tried new tactics, engaged help from different characters, and had Belinda the chicken not ventured on this adventure with her, she may not have made it.

It can certainly be hard to try new things, new ways of doing things, new ways at looking at ourselves—and sometimes it even hurts because it means we have to admit that we were wrong. But that is how we grow: By learning from the past, learning from our mistakes.

At the end of Return to Oz, Ozma and all of Dorothy’s friends try to entice Dorothy back to Oz through the looking glass, and Dorothy is tempted until she hears her Aunt Em calling for her and she is reminded which world, which reality she is in. It’s up to us to see ourselves clearly in the mirror to see what is ACTUALLY there and not what we WANT or hope to see. Listen to your gut, pay attention to the messages around you, and accept YOUR call to your highest, brightest self. You don’t have to be a Reiki Master (or Dorothy) to accept your call. You just have to be willing to listen.

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kushandwizdom:

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Maha Rose Gets Magic Makeover

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As published in Yoga City NYC, photo courtesy of Maha Rose 

Stroll through the more industrial section of Greenpoint, and you may notice a garden, a sign of life creeping its way toward the sun along the side of an unassuming brick building.

A colorfully detailed sandwich board alerts passersby to the goings on inside at Maha Rose, an alternative healing center in Brooklyn: weekly meditation, laughter yoga, kundalini classes; voice lessons; arts and crafts; daily yoga; breathwork classes; Reiki trainings; acupuncture; flower essence therapy.

You may ask yourself, Is this place for real? The answer: Yes, yes it is.

Maha Rose gradually breathed its way into existence about 7 years ago, when founder, artist and jewelry designer Lisa Levine, opened the doors to her hideaway home as a place to practice meditation and study spirituality and healing practices. “It was always such a creative space that the healing was an extension of that creativity—the desire to explore more, our hidden worlds—a different sort of adventure within,” says Levine. 

At the time, there weren’t many meditation classes in Brooklyn, so Levine and friends who shared her interest in diving into the subconscious invited teachers to the space, leading circles in her living room, the same area that now serves as Maha Rose’s temple, yoga studio, and workshop.

Today, Maha is home to the Kings County outpost of Josh Korda’s Dharma Punx, a weekly class known for its guided meditations and discussions on how Buddhist principles are applicable to daily life. 

While hosting classes in her home may seem like a great way for an artist to make supplemental income, Levine insists that was not the intention. “It wasn’t so much a way to make money as a way to bring into our lives, and really close into our lives—in our home—new things and activities for us to do as our tastes and interests evolved away from bars and nightlife,” she says.

It wasn’t long before word got out that there was a space in Brooklyn that offered a setting in which to learn more about the dharma and healing practices as an alternative to the Brooklyn bar scene. “My best friend and Reiki teacher, Padma Gonzalez, would come up from Mexico every summer and work with me, then friends of mine, then friends of friends.”

Slowly but surely, Levine saw more strangers (new friends, really) in the form of both students and teachers, engaging in the practices that she cared so deeply about, delighted to see the community grow. Still living there, a private treatment room in the back of the loft offered her and other healers a space to have private sessions—Levine eventually received certificates in both Reiki and breathwork, and allowed local healers with a magic power to use the room as well.

Having finished up her acupuncture studies last spring, Levine decided it was time to do something more with the space, renovating it to accommodate a second treatment room. “It felt like the time to take Maha Rose from a backyard project to a fuller offering to the community,” says Levine. “We redid the website in the fall and are ready to launch Maha Rose for real! It’s been such an organic endeavor that it finally feels like the right time to celebrate the doors being fully open. We are ready for the revolution!” 

With so many showing interest in different avenues of thought and ways in which to take care of the spirit, a revolution seems likely. In anticipation of such, Levine moved out to make more room for healing as the roster of healers working through Maha Rose has grown. “We are increasing the number of classes and workshops offered, and there are more practitioners working out of the treatment rooms.”

On Saturday, February 15, Maha Rose will celebrate its Grand Opening Celebration. The free daylong event will serve as an opportunity to help familiarize people who may have heard of some of the practices on offer, but aren’t entirely sure what they are or how they work, as well as to meet the facilitators who bring their magic to each modality.

Stop by for free sample sessions (about 20 to 30 minutes long) of Reiki, acupuncture, bodywork, breathwork, sound healing, astrology, energy healing, Tarot readings, and more between noon and 6pm. Or come for the free group presentations, starting at 6:30pm.

Asked what her intention is for the new and improved Maha Rose, Levine says, “To hold a space of light, love, and healing in New York City, and to do that with lightness of heart, creativity, and joy. Healing is an incredible adventure for those who are willing and brave. The treasures are within-—peace and wholeness. The journey home.”

Stop by your new home this Saturday. For more info on the presentations, healers, or to learn more about Maha Rose, visit maharose.com.

 

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I’m vegan. This disclosure will make sense soon, I promise. About a week ago, I drove to a yoga class; eschewing the impulse to throw on a CD to play something I knew all the words to and loved (I think I had Sonic Youth and the Pixies on hand at the time), I decided I’d see if I could find something new—to my ears anyway (I don’t listen to the radio much)—that I liked. I wanted to hear what the kids are listening to these days. Fortuitously, the station that came on once I hit the “radio” button alerted me that it was in the midst of the week’s Top 40. Perfect, I thought to myself. Kind of exactly what I was looking for.
Then number 5 or 6 of the countdown came on without an introduction. Its fun, dance-y, toe-tapping beat played, the lyrics fun and beautiful. I found that I instinctively knew the words to the chorus before hearing it completely through the first time. Bopping my head as I grooved in the driver’s seat, singing along as best I could as I made my way to class, I was smiling from ear to ear. This song had definitely cast a spell on me, putting me in an amazing mood, a mood comparable to that apres asana feeling. I made sure to write down some of the lyrics when I got to the studio so that I could Google the song when I got home. When I did, I was mildly shocked that it was by Maroon 5 (“Love Somebody”—scroll to the end for the video), a band I’ve scoffed at many a time (usually to my sister who is a fan) for being pop rock, too mainstream, too soft for my riot grrl/indie rock/punk roots.
That said, it was my sister who poked fun at me a few days later when we were in her car, scrolling through the radio stations to find something to listen to. Hearing part of my song as she quickly moved through each station, I stopped her. “Wait!” I almost shouted. “Go back, go back!” She did, a look of horror flashing over her face when she recognized the tune. “Jessica!” she exclaimed. “This is NOT vegan! It’s too cheesy!”
Perhaps I was long overdue for this comeuppance, but even though she was mocking me for my inclinations toward the song, my preference for it did not deter, and I continued to sing along—loudly—to her as we drove, my sister nodding her head in disapproval.
While I could go on about the interesting points of this role reversal, it got me thinking about how we judge one another and the fear of being judged. I am sure every one of us has at least one guilty pleasure that we aren’t quite so sure we want the world to know about (perhaps you’re a Trekkie, own a Snuggie, have been to a fill-in-the-blank-with-your-favorite-pop-star concert [Katy Perry, Britney Spears, New Kids on the Block, et al], or watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta on the regular), assigning embarrassment, humility to the things that make us happy because someone else might not think it’s cool. 
These likes, though, are part of what make us us. So why do we decide that need to keep a part of ourselves a secret?
A few days ago, I was waiting on the subway platform at Union Square. Per usual, there were buskers at the base of one of the staircases; on this particular day, two drummers played their plastic buckets. As I waited for my train to arrive, I was about to disappear into the book I had on me when I noticed an erratic movement out of the corner of my eye. I paused, straining my neck and squinting my eyes over the crowd for a better look to see a little girl, no more than 6 or 7 years old, dancing her heart out.
She moved in fits, flailing her arms about, her ponytail swinging, pausing here and there to gauge her mother and brother’s reaction to her, then resuming her fun. It was breathtakingly adorable.
I smiled to myself at the sight, inspired by the little girl’s joy in that moment and saw that others around her were watching as well. Many watched with despondent, faraway looks in their eyes, perfecting that typical New York disaffected, bored-to-death cool as they stood there in wait. 
One woman, however, stood there watching the girl move, a sincere, almost empathetic smile on her face, a look that betrayed the woman, letting me know (and anyone else who may have noticed her) that she envied the little girl’s reckless abandon. In that woman, I could see the hundreds of times the she had wanted to break through her self and dance in public like the little girl without holding back. But her look also let me know that she did hold back, always, and unfortunately, she is not alone in that camp.
But why? Why do we hold back from following those natural urges to do something, whether it be dancing on a subway platform, speaking out for the rights of others, striking up a conversation with a handsome/beautiful stranger, going to your first yoga class? 
When we see people dancing or singing in public, we secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) judge the person who is being brave, who is just being his or herself. Most likely because we don’t have the balls to do the same. Knowing that we judge, we hold ourselves back from doing these things for fear of being judged in return.
By refusing our natural inclinations, though, we are robbing ourselves of so much joy, chances to smile, to be happy, which would then infect the rest of our day to day lives, enabling us to be happier overall. Choosing to live in monotone, holding back, we keep ourselves from living up to our utmost potential. We have the power to do anything we want with our lives, and here we are CHOOSING unhappiness. Everyone wants and strives to find happiness in their lives, so why would we ever want to do anything that KEPT us from being happy?
That we refrain ourselves from doing such small acts of pleasure, we don’t think it will leave an impact on our lives. Heck, we probably don’t even think that it would leave an impact at all. But one small act, like busting a move on a subway platform for 15 seconds, can dramatically shift the course of one’s morning, day, week, year. And by allowing ourselves to follow through with our urges, we are planting seeds—happiness seeds, if you will—that could change the course of our lives for the better, allowing ourselves to attract more joy into our lives on a regular basis. And who doesn’t want that?
Now it wouldn’t be fair for me to tell you to follow your urges without having done so myself. And I have. And I do. And I’ll admit, that first time was a little scary, but listening to my iPod one night while awaiting a train (again), a song came on that had every cell in body begging me to dance. I started small, just shifting my weight from one foot to the other, then eventually closed my eyes and just let go of my inhibitions and let myself move to the rhythm that was bouncing between my ears. Once I got into it, it was hard to stop, and I only did so once the song was over. When it was through, I realized I was smiling—and realized other passengers were smiling, too—and felt completely liberated. 
It’s not every day or every time I ride the subway that I feel inspired to dance, but when I  DO get that urge, I go with it, because if knowing that one simple small act will make me (and those around me) ecstatically (thought maybe not that much for the others) happy, why NOT do it?
So go ahead and listen to those urges. And let your freak flag fly. 

I’m vegan. This disclosure will make sense soon, I promise. About a week ago, I drove to a yoga class; eschewing the impulse to throw on a CD to play something I knew all the words to and loved (I think I had Sonic Youth and the Pixies on hand at the time), I decided I’d see if I could find something new—to my ears anyway (I don’t listen to the radio much)—that I liked. I wanted to hear what the kids are listening to these days. Fortuitously, the station that came on once I hit the “radio” button alerted me that it was in the midst of the week’s Top 40. Perfect, I thought to myself. Kind of exactly what I was looking for.

Then number 5 or 6 of the countdown came on without an introduction. Its fun, dance-y, toe-tapping beat played, the lyrics fun and beautiful. I found that I instinctively knew the words to the chorus before hearing it completely through the first time. Bopping my head as I grooved in the driver’s seat, singing along as best I could as I made my way to class, I was smiling from ear to ear. This song had definitely cast a spell on me, putting me in an amazing mood, a mood comparable to that apres asana feeling. I made sure to write down some of the lyrics when I got to the studio so that I could Google the song when I got home. When I did, I was mildly shocked that it was by Maroon 5 (“Love Somebody”—scroll to the end for the video), a band I’ve scoffed at many a time (usually to my sister who is a fan) for being pop rock, too mainstream, too soft for my riot grrl/indie rock/punk roots.

That said, it was my sister who poked fun at me a few days later when we were in her car, scrolling through the radio stations to find something to listen to. Hearing part of my song as she quickly moved through each station, I stopped her. “Wait!” I almost shouted. “Go back, go back!” She did, a look of horror flashing over her face when she recognized the tune. “Jessica!” she exclaimed. “This is NOT vegan! It’s too cheesy!”

Perhaps I was long overdue for this comeuppance, but even though she was mocking me for my inclinations toward the song, my preference for it did not deter, and I continued to sing along—loudly—to her as we drove, my sister nodding her head in disapproval.

While I could go on about the interesting points of this role reversal, it got me thinking about how we judge one another and the fear of being judged. I am sure every one of us has at least one guilty pleasure that we aren’t quite so sure we want the world to know about (perhaps you’re a Trekkie, own a Snuggie, have been to a fill-in-the-blank-with-your-favorite-pop-star concert [Katy Perry, Britney Spears, New Kids on the Block, et al], or watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta on the regular), assigning embarrassment, humility to the things that make us happy because someone else might not think it’s cool. 

These likes, though, are part of what make us us. So why do we decide that need to keep a part of ourselves a secret?

A few days ago, I was waiting on the subway platform at Union Square. Per usual, there were buskers at the base of one of the staircases; on this particular day, two drummers played their plastic buckets. As I waited for my train to arrive, I was about to disappear into the book I had on me when I noticed an erratic movement out of the corner of my eye. I paused, straining my neck and squinting my eyes over the crowd for a better look to see a little girl, no more than 6 or 7 years old, dancing her heart out.

She moved in fits, flailing her arms about, her ponytail swinging, pausing here and there to gauge her mother and brother’s reaction to her, then resuming her fun. It was breathtakingly adorable.

I smiled to myself at the sight, inspired by the little girl’s joy in that moment and saw that others around her were watching as well. Many watched with despondent, faraway looks in their eyes, perfecting that typical New York disaffected, bored-to-death cool as they stood there in wait. 

One woman, however, stood there watching the girl move, a sincere, almost empathetic smile on her face, a look that betrayed the woman, letting me know (and anyone else who may have noticed her) that she envied the little girl’s reckless abandon. In that woman, I could see the hundreds of times the she had wanted to break through her self and dance in public like the little girl without holding back. But her look also let me know that she did hold back, always, and unfortunately, she is not alone in that camp.

But why? Why do we hold back from following those natural urges to do something, whether it be dancing on a subway platform, speaking out for the rights of others, striking up a conversation with a handsome/beautiful stranger, going to your first yoga class? 

When we see people dancing or singing in public, we secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) judge the person who is being brave, who is just being his or herself. Most likely because we don’t have the balls to do the same. Knowing that we judge, we hold ourselves back from doing these things for fear of being judged in return.

By refusing our natural inclinations, though, we are robbing ourselves of so much joy, chances to smile, to be happy, which would then infect the rest of our day to day lives, enabling us to be happier overall. Choosing to live in monotone, holding back, we keep ourselves from living up to our utmost potential. We have the power to do anything we want with our lives, and here we are CHOOSING unhappiness. Everyone wants and strives to find happiness in their lives, so why would we ever want to do anything that KEPT us from being happy?

That we refrain ourselves from doing such small acts of pleasure, we don’t think it will leave an impact on our lives. Heck, we probably don’t even think that it would leave an impact at all. But one small act, like busting a move on a subway platform for 15 seconds, can dramatically shift the course of one’s morning, day, week, year. And by allowing ourselves to follow through with our urges, we are planting seeds—happiness seeds, if you will—that could change the course of our lives for the better, allowing ourselves to attract more joy into our lives on a regular basis. And who doesn’t want that?

Now it wouldn’t be fair for me to tell you to follow your urges without having done so myself. And I have. And I do. And I’ll admit, that first time was a little scary, but listening to my iPod one night while awaiting a train (again), a song came on that had every cell in body begging me to dance. I started small, just shifting my weight from one foot to the other, then eventually closed my eyes and just let go of my inhibitions and let myself move to the rhythm that was bouncing between my ears. Once I got into it, it was hard to stop, and I only did so once the song was over. When it was through, I realized I was smiling—and realized other passengers were smiling, too—and felt completely liberated. 

It’s not every day or every time I ride the subway that I feel inspired to dance, but when I  DO get that urge, I go with it, because if knowing that one simple small act will make me (and those around me) ecstatically (thought maybe not that much for the others) happy, why NOT do it?

So go ahead and listen to those urges. And let your freak flag fly. 

(Source: psstnothing)

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Happy Monday!

Happy Monday!

Tags: mondays yoga
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Hits from the Gong: Using Sound Vibration to Breathe Life into New Intentions

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As published in Yoga City NYC

Hearing about the special New Moon Double Gong ceremonies in Alphabet City, I was intrigued with how such an ancient, tonal sound would be instrumental to intention setting, a way to mindfully call into one’s life a goal or resolution, be it physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual.

The event was led by two highly respected women from different fields: sound healer Lucy Child and clinical psychologist Emily Horowitz. How would they pair up to create this unique offering, I wondered as I walked into the beautiful, dreamlike setting of ABC Sanctuary with its stain-glass window flanked with butterfly wings painted on the walls, the space lit up by candles large and a large tree branch on the altar. It felt as if something had started to shift in me before anything had officially happened. Mats lined up to perfectly fill the space, I found a spot, lay down, and waited for the magic to begin.

“[It’s] a really good time to work with intention: the beginning of things, the beginning of a new cycle,” explained Horowitz about holding this gathering on the New Moon. “And the gong is so good at helping you do that too because the power of sound is so strong, so to couple that with the New Moon energy just magnifies it.”

In essence, the significance of the New Moon is like hitting the reset button on what you are trying to attract in your life, or what you’re trying to work past or let go of. And lying there, bathing in what felt like tidal waves of sound, its power seemed so potent.

Repeating my intention to myself as I bathed in aural ecstasy, there was a release, like something had been sucked out of me. Something left my body and felt as if it hovered over me. I felt the vibrations of the room from the gongs and all the other instruments the two women used and was overcome with emotion.

Both Child and Horowitz’s first gong experience also unleashed extreme emotional responses in them. Discovering the gong in radically different ways—Child during a Kundalini class, and Horowitz at a Chapel of Sacred Mirrors Halloween party—both women felt an instant connection to the ancient instrument; entranced by its sound, they knew that it was something they needed to pursue.

“I felt a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety as things were coming up,” recalls Child. “It was, for me, a profound experience. I cried afterward. Right away, I just made a beeline to the teacher and the gong, and I said, ‘What is this thing, and how do I get one?’”

“I was totally transported,” says Horowitz. “The vibrations were just culminating in my heart, and I could feel my heart beating and this explosion of energy bouncing out of my heart, just this love feeling. It was amazing.”

The two came to study the instrument from two different entryways: Child, disenchanted from the business of being a singer/songwriter, felt herself drawn to a sound-healing program at the Open Center; Horowitz sought out workshops and private lessons with master gonger Don Conreaux. “‘You don’t play the gong, the gong plays you,’” says Horowitz, quoting Conreaux. “But you kind of have to learn to get out of your own way and just be intuitive and just go with the flow with what the gong wants to do.”

“I had always felt like music was inherently a healing medium,” says Child. “And I was already into alternative therapies and healing circles—even shamanism.” Studying shamanism in locales such as Cusco and Machu Picchu, the feeling of community that surrounded the ceremonies and meditations she attended resonated with her the most. “We found intentions for ourselves, but as a community,” she says. “There was this big accent on community that I feel is lacking in our regular society. We’re very individualized.”

Meeting at a mutual friend’s wedding that Child was playing her gong at, Horowitz was thrilled to meet another female gonger and vice versa. “I had never met someone—a woman—who played the gong that wasn’t Kundalini. So we just hit it off and said let’s do something together,” says Child.

“Most [people] who are attracted to healing work are women,” says Horowitz, “but for some reason, in the gong community, there are more men. So it was really nice, and we both talked about that feeling, Wow it’s really cool to work with another woman and do this kind of feminine type of thing.”

And what better way to infuse the gong world with feminine energy than to host gong ceremonies in celebration of the ultimate feminine energy: the moon?

“I just feel like this is something that we need energetically, because I know how much I got from it,” says Child. “I just want to create a sacred space for people that they can go and release stuff and find comfort in the presence of others and music and sound and listen to the gong.”

The next New Moon Double Gong ceremony will be held at ABC Sanctuary on Friday, August 9 at 9pm with an energy exchange of $25. RSVP here for your spot.

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“I’m here to physically get myself in better condition, mentally get myself in better condition, to align myself with Times Square and all the people here—particularly the women.” So began a segment by Fox News’ Bob Beckel that covered the Solstice celebration in Times Square two weeks ago. 

Beckel, bedecked in khakis, suspenders, and makeup caked on so thick you’d think he was getting ready to take his place onstage for a play or musical, stood out like a sore thumb as he mockingly participated in my 10-minute class at the Athleta- and Tampax-sponsored event. My best friend (who so lovingly came out to support me and looks glorious here in a Peaceful Warrior pose in the bottom right hand corner at 0:47) warned me that Fox was there taking footage and interviewing students who made it out that day. But there were literally thousands of people in front of me taking my class, so I had many other bodies to take in while teaching my short sequence.

When I was through, though, Beckel, called me over. “Hey, I want to talk to you!” he commanded. I had never been interviewed before, and as someone who is usually on the other end of the interview process, I thought it bad form to ignore someone who probably just wanted to know more about yoga. Feeling refreshed and relieved that my moment in the spotlight was over, I cooly and calmly answered his questions, which ranged from the professional—Is yoga a legitimate form of exercise?—to the not so professional—How big is your waist? Clearly, this wasn’t exactly a serious interview. But I tried to answer his questions politely and with a smile, hoping my facial expressions weren’t betraying the discomfort I was trying to hide.

I’m not going to lie: It was a little exciting to have been interviewed by an actual news station, even if it was Fox, with it’s obvious Right views and biased coverage it’s been long associated with. But how wrong could a segment on yoga go? Apparently, very.

“You know the thing about this gathering of these yoga people? Some really good-looking women. Really good-looking women. And anybody looking for a date or something, I’d come down here and practice yoga.” This was just one of many sexist remarks made by Beckel & Co. of the Fox Five when it aired later that day. The women newscasters chastising male yogis as undateable, another man stating that yoga was evil, that it wasn’t legitimate exercise but a form of glorified stretching.

To go so far as to say that yoga is evil is like saying you hate flowers. Yoga isn’t doing anything to you—it’s your decision to participate or not. No one is trying to convert you, and to say that it is “evil” really underlines that the person who said it has no form of reference to make such a judgment. (Though the newscaster does state that he used to have a yoga teacher for a roommate, so me thinks that there may be some hostility there for whatever reason, that maybe his bad experience with one yogi enabled this blanket statement that he now, unfortunately, is sharing with the rest of the country on national television.) That 16,000 people showed up to participate in some form of yogic offering that day surely can’t mean it’s evil.

Then to date or not to date: That is the question. I am thoroughly disgusted that Beckel recommends the yoga class/studio as a place to pick up women, and am saddened to hear such prejudiced remarks from the ladycasters that a man who practices yoga is not suitable for dating. What does dating have to do with yoga anyway? This argument seems like a cheap ploy to attract more viewers, and it so clearly misses the point of yoga. A true yogi does not show up to their mat in hopes of attracting a member of the opposite sex, but rather is in it for the liberation they feel during and after class, for a sense of well-being, seeking a sense of peace and a deeper connection to their body, mind, and spirit. I mentioned this to Beckel when he asked about its legitimacy as exercise, that its not just about the body, but the mind as well, yet this bit of information I provided is nowhere to be seen or touched upon in this yoga discussion.

The whole video makes a mockery of the practice, with the sexist remarks,  misogynistic, uneducated views; the women here seem to be okay with the males degrading and objectifying female practitioners, taking part in reverse sexism as they mock the male practitioners. And it breaks my heart that something so wonderful, so sacred has been whittled down to something less than the sum of its parts. Beckel even mistakes Downward Dog, probably the most well-known pose, for Dipping Dog, indicating that he knew next to nothing about the practice before participating in the event—the least he could have done was some homework before getting in front of the camera and harassing students trying to find some Zen in the middle of the crazy streets of New York City.

“They’re the nicest people in the world. I tell ya, these people are peaceful. There may be something to this yoga stuff that I’ve been missing,” says Beckel in his sendoff of his live reporting. He’s right, he is missing something, but if he had opened up his heart—and his mind—to the teachings, to the soul, the basis of this sacred practice, perhaps he’d have seen more than just the sweaty bodies that remind him of sex and maybe even a glimmer of how deeply a personal experience this practice is to those dedicated to it.

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