there is so much going on that i don't know where to start. yikes!

let's begin with dharma, something that's been on my mind for several months now. as my teacher abby tucker defines it,

Our dharma (cosmic responsibility) is to be our authentic selves. If we step into, cultivate, and expand into our authenticity, then we will meet our life's true purpose. So, dharma isn't about what you are supposed to DO, it's about being who you already are. It is adharmic to attempt or desire to be anyone else or anything else than your most authentic self.

i've spent my entire life trying to figure out what i'm supposed to be doing with myself, but really it's only been in the last year, since eccolo closed, that i've started to realize that it doesn't matter what i actually do as long as i do it fully, authentically, and honestly as my self.

if i am happy, i can make others happy. does it matter if my business card has no title, or that my job has no label, or that i can't be put into a box? i'm learning it doesn't.

and in realizing that, i've been able to distill the essence of my work into a little golden nugget: to bring people together in community around food, to take care of them and love them, to make them feel loved and want to go back out into the world and express that love to others in whatever way moves them most. this is my work, this is my dharma. and i may find more than one way to express it. knowing me, i probably will. but this is who i am, my truest self.


oh, there's been so much hullaballoo over the piece in last sunday's nyt mag about john friend and anusara yoga. i've resisted mentioning john on this blog for a lot of reasons (including the fact that my tendency toward hyperbole and gratuitous overuse of exclamation points wouldn't do much to dispel the cultish reputation of anusara and its practitioners attitudes' toward john), but the week i spent with him in february changed my life. i can point to it as one of the most singularly transformative experiences i've had, and i call daily on the lessons i learned that week to guide me through both physical and emotional experiences of my everyday life.

i have been graced with the good fortune of having many brilliant teachers throughout my life, and i've also had the opportunity to work closely with quite a few people who are among the best in the world at what they do; i am able to identify greatness with ease.

and john friend is perhaps the most dynamic, skillful, and sensitive teacher i have ever known. of course he's not perfect--no one is--but in less than a week's time, i knew that he was someone i wanted to learn as much as possible from, and find a way to work with.

i've definitely wondered from time to time if anusara is too culty or shiny-happy for me to deal with, but once i really began to understand the guiding principles and philosophy of this yoga, i realized that i've known it all all along, deep within myself--i just never had the words or actions, or such elegant words or actions, to express it so well. and this sort of understanding takes time; from the outside, it's so easy to look at anusara as culty, shallow or preachy. but deepen your gaze, and you'll see its indisputable beauty.

and as for the strange insinuation that running a successful business and having a meaningful, spiritual organization must be mutually exclusive, or the idea that john is a money-hungry CEO, well, i definitely have my own first-hand experience that lies in conflict with that claim: the dude offered to support my work with $5k without having ever even met or heard of me, simply because i asked. no one else in my life has ever done such a thing, not even any of the fabulously successful people i work with/for on a regular basis (not that there is anything wrong with that; just trying to paint a picture for you all here).

i feel i have a unique perspective from which to view this situation, as both a devoted student of anusara and a writer with one foot firmly in the world of journalism (i'm lucky to know several nyt and nyt mag writers and editors well). in my opinion, the nyt is peerless in this country and possibly the world, in the quality of its reporting, but i suppose that again, no one is perfect. i'm all for telling stories from all sides, but i also want to read the truth (or at least something that somewhat resembles the truth), and to know that the reporters are sensitive enough to understand the intricacies of a situation.

it's always easier to portray a person as a caricature of him or herself than it is to dig deeper and get a sense for why someone is a certain way. if anusara has taught me anything, it's to try to serve the highest with my every action, and guess what, it's not easy to do that! when i met john in february, it took me a couple of days to understand why he was selling anusara so hard to us. i sort of felt like he sounded like a used car salesman when we had already all bought cars from him--hadn't we all paid the money to come to the immersion? hadn't we all reorganized our lives, some of us flying from halfway across the country or world to be there? wasn't that proof enough that we were already committed? i was sort of turned off and unsure what to think. but then, i let go of that and had some of the deepest experiences in my body and mind that i'd ever had. i had amazing physical and emotional shifts that demonstrated to me what this guy was really about. and as i went on to meet people who were there who'd barely ever taken an anusara class, i realized that john was talking to them. my friends and i are so very lucky to have some of the most fantastic teachers out there; i'd assumed everyone is so fortunate. but, as for food, the bay area is one of the hearts of this yoga community, and so folks from other places aren't graced with such a wealth of incredible instructors. i'm watched over like a hawk in every class; i have the principles, loops, anatomical and philosophical foundations of anusara drilled into me on a daily basis. when on the fourth nine-hour day with john i crossed paths with someone who still had no idea what the second basic principle was, after john had been talking about the principles for nearly twenty-five hours straight, i finally understood what the deal with the used-car salesman act was. duh--some people really need that! do you see what i mean by digging deeper?

john responded yesterday quite beautifully to the piece on his blog, but it's this eloquent, even-handed interview with waylon lewis that really demonstrates why i consider him one of my greatest teachers.

that's enough about that.

more soon...and i promise it won't be about john.

edited to add: this response by ethan nichtern on huffpo might be the best one i've seen yet.