Inherited Proclivities

I’m my father’s daughter. At least that’s what my mother would remind me of when we’d get into spats during my teenage years. She’d say I was like members of his side of the family in fact. The last time I recall ever seeing my father, I was seven years old. It was Christmas and he was enjoying his new family when my half-sister decided to bring me along for a visit to his home. Before that, I hadn’t seen him in years and the only thing that stood out about that reunion was that he called me by my full name like a greeting in a Jane Austen novel. He died when I was about eleven years old and other than my half-sister, I have no connection with my father’s side of the family. Needless to say, with memories like these, you can imagine the self-evaluation that commenced when my mother would say I behaved like these people I didn’t really know. I supposed it could have been out of anger and bias. After all, she had no qualms about reminding of how “the fruit don’t fall too far from the tree” when she’d approve of my behavior. However, I couldn’t help but feel like there was truth to all of it.

In Psychology, it is argued that we are born with tabula rasa or a blank slate on which we develop our personalities out of experience. The other side of that argument is innatism, meaning people are born with personality traits inherited from the genes passed on by parents. The truth is that brain development is hard to predict and measure considering the evidence of both sides. I’ve certainly witnessed people who quite obviously take after their elders in every way while others could almost pass for being adopted. Even more complex examples would be those who take after ancestors but are altered by experience. So it bears the question: Where is the line drawn?

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In my experience, like many fatherless daughters, I went looking for love in the all the wrong ways often finding myself in a vicious cycle of poor choices and abandonment. I found myself blaming his desertion for my lack of direction and self-esteem. I wondered if he suffered from a troubled past that led him to make his poor choices or if it was innate somehow. The questions I’d never get to ask him crippled me and, to add insult to injury, I later found out things about my parent’s love story that suggests I’m even more like my mother than I realized. To my surprise, my self-assured mother was also looking for love in all the wrong ways when she stumbled across my father. She was a daddy’s girl and my Papa, a good man but had his vices, struggled with alcohol which eventually led to my grandparent’s divorce and somewhat of an absence in my mother’s life. I imagine this had an effect on who she became. I sometimes hate to admit it, but I guess the fruit doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

From science, experience, and observation I have developed my own theory. I think there is an aspect of us that begins with a blank slate which is our innocence; our untainted sense of optimism and imagination. We will be influenced in the best ways and the worst. No one’s slate remains clean for we could not grow if it did. Naturally, with experience filtered by influence and a touch of ancestry, we will form a sense of Self and become who we are, an ever-changing state determined by choices. Because of choice, we continued to become. I do not think about the past as I once did and I did not envision my future as I do now. With this in mind, I am assured that while I share my parent’s proclivities and am a product of my environment, I am also whoever I choose to be. Namaste.

What “Yogi Life” Really Means

Yoga is all the rave these days. You probably have friends on social media striking poses with foreign names and calling themselves living the yogi life. Maybe, you’re one of them. However, do you really know what it means to be a yogi? If you think it only requires you to be athletic, limber and to give up meat most of the time, the answer is more than likely “no”. Yoga is much more than a fun way to get fit, it is truly a lifestyle.

Nearly 2,000 years ago, a sage by the name of Patanjali compiled a group of verses known as the Yoga Sutra. These verses became the foundation for true yoga practice. The text contains the guidelines of the Eightfold Path or ashtanga which literally translates to “eight limbs” in English. Each limb is a piece of wisdom aimed at developing one’s mental capacity and physical ability with the goal of achieving spiritual oneness. These limbs are 1. Yama, 2. Niyama, 3. Asana, 4. Pranayama, 5. Pratyahara, 6. Dharana, 7. Dhyana, and 8. Samadhi. Each limb is distinct in its purpose but collectively prepares the practitioner to reach one end goal.

Yama, the first limb, is summed up best with the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you want done unto you. It is about how we move in the world and how we treat the other living beings around us. Yama is composed of five distinct parts with more specific guidelines regarding non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-covetousness. The second limb, Niyama, is about self-discipline and spiritual practices. It establishes the importance of meditation and is also split into five small principles regarding cleanliness, contentment, spiritual austerity, the study of sacred scripture and surrendering to God.

The third limb, asana, is the most popular part of the yoga practice. Asana is Sanskrit for pose or posture and is about more than just one’s physical ability and agility. The practice of asanas is to build concentration and consistency necessary for following the other limbs and eventually achieving advanced levels of meditation. The fourth limb, Pranayama, which translates to life force extension is about the breath. It emphasizes the importance of breath in meditation and how it connects the mind, body, and spirit. Some even believe that breath mastery could truly extend the days of one’s life.

Pratyahara, the fifth limb, is another common practice among people of faith although under a different name. Followers of Abrahamic religions often refer to it as fasting. This is the limb that challenges us to give up external distractions and habits that do not necessarily serve us, for example, unhealthy foods or excessive television. Pratyahara directly prepares us for limb six which is Dharana or concentration. With the absence of external distractions, one can better notice the internal distractions and prepare to eliminate them. This is done in the immersion of silence to perfecting the ability to focus on a single point for an extended period of time which is also necessary for meditation.

The seventh limb is all about reaching full awareness with a still mind. This is deep meditation and called Dhyana. It is distinct from the sixth limb, Dharana, which is about focusing on one particular point where as Dhyana is about focusing on everything simultaneously with great clarity and calm. This is considered a very high level of consciousness and very difficult to achieve but certainly possible. Even more complicated to achieve is samadhi, the eighth and final limb. At this level, the yogi is able to meditate with high consciousness in such a way that she becomes one with all things, even the Universe itself. A remarkable sense of peace is attained and the practitioner transcends what we understand as the physical world.

As you can see, of the eight limbs, only one is dedicated to the strength and flexibility of the body. If you are overlooking the remaining 7 limbs, chances are you are merely exercising and not practicing yoga as each pose or movement should be accompanied by an inward purpose or lesson. Let this not discourage you as yoga is for absolutely everyone. If anything, this should encourage anyone who has begun the physical aspect of the practice and those considering it. Acknowledging and implementing all the pieces of a yoga practice will only enhance not just the physical body but the spiritual being. Namaste.

The Power of Feminine Energy

Girls don’t get along. At least that’s what we’re taught by television shows and Worldstar videos. It seems like an age-old understanding that women are either excessively docile or argumentative. We supposedly have the tendency to be combative with other women and if we have not clashed with another yet, we will. In my experience, women can be possessive and even competitive but not necessarily in an unhealthy way. In the best situations, there is no competition at all, but genuine connection and empowerment.

I recently had the pleasure of attending the birthday event of one of my massage therapy school classmates. She turned 30 and wanted to celebrate by surrounding herself with a group of strong and positive women who would send her off into a new decade with love and pieces of wisdom. I admit, as an introvert and a bit of a tomboy, I was nervous but excited about the possibilities for how this event would play out. To my surprise, I was comfortable upon arrival and it lasted throughout the evening. The energy remained bright and welcoming and I got to know a few of the ladies more personally. I even shared a bit of myself in a way I would usually feel too awkward to. I didn’t want the night to end but the good vibes even carried over to the next morning. I woke up in great spirits after getting some of the best sleep of the year. Soon after waking, I had somewhat of an epiphany about the importance of feminine energy.

Femininity has, sadly, been misrepresented and misunderstood by Western society. Our culture is highly patriarchal which has had long-lasting repercussions for both men and women. Women have been forced to compete for male attention since we outnumber them approximately 4 to 1. We’ve been forced to transcend stereotypes of being lesser and to learn how to function amidst sexual predation which has, in many cases, made us more defensive. However, in spite of the odds, women are continuing to rise up more and more to change how we are viewed by the world and by each other.

Women are spectacular beings! So much so that our drama between each other can create  millions of dollars for television networks. On the flip side, we can incubate life, raise and nurture families. We can even begin movements that can change the awareness, and sometimes even the hearts, of men. We are necessary for creation and balance. Even though our demands for respect and understanding are often met with backlash, such is the case with any young movement, we have still managed to rise above it. Imagine if every woman fully embraced her feminine power, how great the impact would it be on those around her. Collectively, we could literally change the world. Namaste!

What Does It Mean to Vibrate Higher?

Western society, lately, has begun to embrace a few ethereal philosophies. This shift has lead to the common use of a few terms that perhaps some of us aren’t quite hip to or lack clarity on. In browsing the web, yoga studios or underground media, you might have come across the phrase, “vibrate higher”. You might not have understood it but felt it resonated with you or maybe you thought nothing of it at all. In actuality, this term is grounded in science but is essentially what spirituality is all about.

In the current phase of scientific discovery, it is believed that atoms are the simplest form of all matter. These atoms bond together to create molecules which are the smallest unit of a chemical compound. The most commonly known example of a chemical compound is water which is formed by the binding of 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom. It is understood that molecules are in constant translational and rotational motion, meaning that even objects that appear solid are actually always moving. This is referred to as molecular vibration. In 1905, German physicist Albert Einstein presented his Theory of Relativity with the formula: E = mc2 (“m” standing for mass, “c” for light, and “E” for energy). It explains that all matter, or mass, can be converted into energy and vice versa. Energy exists on vibratory levels of low to high frequency and its characteristics, such as whether it’s visible, heat-generating, high-pitched, etc., are determined by where it falls on that scale.

Human beings are special in that we are aware of these concepts and have the ability to alter our energy, and thereby our vibrations, by the choices we make. The same way we decide which radio frequency to tune in to for our favorite music or talk shows, we have control over what we tune into on an energetic level when interacting with our surroundings. Those who consider themselves mediums or psychics who are able to communicate with the spirit realm are tuned into higher frequencies that allow them to be in touch with realities that others are not. The same would be the case for animal whisperers and prophets. According to what we know about physics, technically, all humans are capable of such skills. To some degree, most of us notice it when we get an odd feeling that something is about to happen just before it does or when we get “bad vibes” from people we just met. Some people are born with one or more of these special abilities already developed while the rest us would require much practice due to existing on such low vibrations for so long.

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Unfortunately, due to the state of Western society, we face a lot of obstacles when it comes to raising our vibrations. We are exposed to unclean and synthesized foods, we live hectically with little room for genuine spirituality, we are convinced that money and the possession of things are what make us important and that particular sizes and shapes define our beauty. This bombardment of falsehood keeps us rolling on the hamster wheel of pomp and circumstance leading us to put all our focus on things that, in essence, matter not in the grand scheme. This might explain the growing epidemic of psychological and physical dis-eases and civil unrest amongst communities. Depression, chronic pains, segregation, and hatred are all symptoms of living on lower vibrations. While it is no easy task, the simple solution to all of this is to start with the self.

Author and movie producer Darryl Anka once said, ““Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” With this in consideration, you can manifest a better world by starting with yourself. There are a few depictions out there about how this works, one of which is a Coke commercial broadcasted a while back. It shows how small acts of kindness can have a huge impact. When we are kind, courageous, loving and generous, even in unpleasant situations, you not only do yourself a service by being your best self for your own well-being but you become an example and an inspiration for others to do the same as they go one about their lives. These are the small changes that can alter a society over time. Remember, in spite of an atoms microscopic nature, its interactions with other atoms create significant happenings every day from the formulation of the water you drink to life itself.

The next time you hear the phrase, “vibrate higher”, I hope it takes on a deeper meaning for you. Keep in mind that you are a countless amount of atoms that came together to make a countless number of ever-moving molecules. Those molecules came equipped with different levels of consciousness or vibrations that you are free to explore. I hope you consider to explore the higher planes and encourage those around you to consider it as well. When you start to operate on higher planes of consciousness, you ultimately take part in changing the world for the better. Namaste!

Three Ways Your Online Presence Indicates You’re Not Ready for a Relationship

If you spend a good amount of time on social media you will more than likely come across a significant number of posts romantic in nature. Maybe some of your online friends are yearning for relationships or expressing their feelings about a bitter break-up or negative thoughts about the opposite sex (or whoever they’re in to). Often these people will go into great detail about their romantic status or current opinions about love be it good or bad. They may even attack a dating pool they find at fault for why relationships fail. In truth, I’ve always found these posts cringe-worthy and not just because of the intimate oversharing. The unconscious subtext of these posts tend to tell a great deal about the maturity level of the author which appears unsuitable for the committed relationship they so desperately seem to desire. Here’s why:

1. Lack of discretion.

No relationship is perfect under the best circumstances. When private matters are publicised there is an added stress factor that many relationships do not survive, as we’ve seen time again with celebrities. While we all are free to choose how to manage our lives in any aspect, whenever we present divisive details to outsiders, we open the door for interjection and interference. These outside opinions influence us and may even trigger thoughts and feelings that don’t allow us to properly heal and forgive the mistakes of our lovers or even ourselves. These types of posts may also be misrepresenting us to potential partners. You may be shooting yourself in the foot by revealing so much before someone really gets to know you. These outbursts can be a turn-off or a set up for the exact opposite of what you want.

2. Lack of mindfulness.

The Law of Attraction tells us that if we do not make room for what we want it is less likely to come to us. The same goes for romance. Although no two relationships are the same, all romantic partnerships require a certain level of discipline to function well. If your online presence is primarily composed of your weekly club hopping ventures and drug money stash, you may not attract that wholesome partner seeking loyalty and companionship. On the flip side, if you’re the type to emphasize your loneliness, you will likely attract someone who will prey on victim behavior and take advantage of you.

3. Not taking accountability.

The most common posts I run into are often the type that points fingers. Whenever we experience more than one disappointment of a similar sort, we tend to want to blame those who disappointed us and not ourselves. Indeed, others may have some responsibility in whatever may have gone wrong; however, it is wise to take responsibility for the parts we play in the experience of others and our own. We must keep in mind that we chose our lovers, we chose what we put up with and how long we put up with it. From this, we can grow and bring what we’ve learned to our next relationships.

In a nutshell, whatever messages you are putting out into the Universe, you are receiving a response for it. The same rules apply for the internet and romantic attractions. If it seems you’re not attracting what you claim to desire, chances are it’s time for some introspection and a revamping of how you present yourself. You might be surprised at how much of your happenstances are a reflection of you. Namaste!

Girl Gone “Spiritual”

I come from a traditional Black Baptist background. Practically growing up in the church, I’ve done a lot to serve it. From dancing and singing to ushering and speaking, I was very involved and proud of it. Through 5th grade, I had only attended private Christian schools. When I began attending public school, I was the girl respectfully inviting all of her friends to church events and services.  It was all I had known and what I believed was the only way to go until about halfway through college, although the exposure to new thought frames really began in high school.

The public school system in Sacramento, California is highly diverse and I found myself floating amongst and fitting into various circles. Consequently, I was exposed to many frames of thinking which was initially a culture shock but still intriguing. From my peers, I was introduced to Numerology and the details several other religions. I still considered myself a devout Christian but I had started to develop questions. I was particularly thrown back when the First Lady of my church gave a brief Astrology lesson to a group of us girls on a trip as I was taught such things were Satanic. When I questioned it, she insisted that was not so. Needless to say, this prompted further questions.

In college, although predominantly Black environment, I was even further exposed to a plethora of belief systems and ideas. I could feel myself changing with each piece of new knowledge I’d obtain. A close friend of mine, Theo, was greatly responsible for this expansion. He would passionately fill me in on what he had leisurely studied about ancient traditions from all over the world. We would watch films and listen to music while deciphering the emotions and thought processes behind its creation. Ironically, we were both also a part of the campus church choir. We would discuss the differences between our Baptist and Catholic backgrounds and critique sermons. There were several others in my circle with different beliefs about God and the world and some who did not believe in God at all. It was a remarkably enlightening experience to have close friendships with such a smorgasbord of people. Such was the case with my instructors; no two seemed to have the same views on religion despite most coming from the same Catholic background. I took note of these things which slowly shifted my approach to spirituality but outside of adding meditation to my practices, my religious ideas were fundamentally the same until I met my fiance.

DaMarko is gnostic and extremely argumentative. He hit me with tough and triggering questions that really made me think outside of my emotions. I stayed grounded in what I knew initially but our debates encouraged me to study further. Truthfully, he reminded me a lot of my closest uncle (and probably the only relative) who did the same. Consequently, I developed my intellectual understanding of faith and religion. They both inspired me to consider the history of my heritage which also played a big part in how my initial faith came to be.  They also encouraged me to look inside of myself for answers. All of these experiences prepared me for what I eventually received that completely change my views.

Theo, having remained my good friend and go-to for ethereal conversation, sent me a link to a video that changed my life. It was episode 12 of the Spirit Science series on YouTube. Presented in the fashion of a cartoon, it was seemingly childish at first but the more I listened the more engulfed I became. It touched on everything from ancient practices of spirituality and religion to the mayhem of modern day society and the philosophical theories that connect them. It helped me connect the dots in my own experiences and granted me a different understanding of everything I had been taught. I still rewatch it from time to time to catch the information I might not have before and I always pick up on something new.

In a nutshell, my spiritual journey has seen many phases. I believe the Universe set me up to be exactly where I am today. I no longer consider myself a Christian but I have an appreciation for what Christianity brought to my life. I also embrace other forms of religion and spirituality. Religion taught me discipline, spirituality taught me openness and connection. Now, life and human nature take on more evolved meanings for me and I want to share what I’ve learned with the world. Wherever you are in your journey, be there and embrace it. Learn what the Universe is attempting to teach you and you just might be surprised at where you end up. Namaste!

Happiness Journey: An Introduction

It seems, today, that everyone is trying to find their happiness in something. We strive towards the lives we think we want through our careers, relationships, and even health. Somewhere in the midst of all the grinding, we realize that with each promotion, new lover or pound lost, after the initial elation has faded, there is still something missing. Why is it such a struggle to find long-lasting satisfaction? The answer for me was to simply stop looking outside of myself.

I grew up in a happy home for the most part …or so I thought. As I got older, truths were revealed to me that had not been so during my childhood. Consequently, I became more aware of myself and realized that things were not as peachy as I had originally perceived. While I cherish the beautiful moments of my life, in retrospect I was, in fact, not really happy. In reality, I was riddled with anxiety and depression. I often felt unheard and did not have a handle on my emotions. I was physically unhealthy; overweight and lethargic. Regardless of being blessed enough to vacation regularly and receive lovely gifts on holidays unlike many other children, true happiness was not something I understood until much later.

I’ve had quite a few experiences that chipped away at my self-esteem. So much so, after a while, I further perpetuated the idea that I did not have much worth. Once I began to turn my life around, it was like I had developed a new set of eyes for how I saw myself in the past and present. It turned out that my lack of respect for myself opened the door for others to disrespect me. I would complain and take out my frustrations on others (usually by accident), and myself, in unhealthy ways which only made matters worse. Paradoxically, I was self-conscious but not very self-aware. Thankfully, that is no longer the case.

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It was not until the end of 2016, age 27, that I really started on the path to genuine fulfillment. I gained more life experience and knowledge about the world and myself. I was tired of the mundane lifestyle of doing what I thought others wanted of me. Instead, I decided to take a different route and live life my way. I turned to a more holistic and natural lifestyle. I distanced myself from toxic people and work consistently on making myself less toxic. I started on a career path that brings me joy and purpose without the need of approval. Most importantly, I learned to love and appreciate myself deeply.

I find it important to share this as it is the fuel behind my writing. I almost did not begin this blog because I do not consider myself an expert writer or life liver; however, I realized that wasn’t the point. My passion in life has always been to bring joy and healing to the world in some form or fashion, so I decided to join the ranks of sharers – experts and novices alike – who have unknowingly poured into my life so much and helped me along my journey. I’ve come across many people over time from varying backgrounds and one thing is constant – each of us has a story. That story is usually filled with pain and a quest to find happiness. So, as you find bits of my story throughout my blog, I hope that it helps you find the answers you need and inspires you to pass the torch. Namaste.