Traversing the outer and inner Self

With the beauty and power of southern France still rippling through me, I arrived in Lisbon at the end of April for a satsang intensive with Advaita master Mooji, to dance the wild inner terrain of the Self. His only interest is in liberation, freedom, awakening, and his ‘pointings’ to the direct truth of who we are, are so direct and powerful that I feel my deep yearning catalysing and all my ideas and concepts falling away. To know, first you need to ‘unknow’. My experience in the satsang intensive was so powerful that I cancelled my flight to Nepal, and as I write this, in a couple of hours I will be going to stay at Mooji’s ashram for the next week or two, followed by a silent retreat at the end of May, for a full month of immersion. I can’t say exactly what is happening, except to say that something is changing, and it is so sweet.

I am also excited to announce some upcoming offerings in Melbourne, Bali, and Thailand, including a 30hr Mantra and Nada Yoga Certificate in Bali in June, where I will get to weave in my insights, experiences and discoveries to share with you. All the details are here, if you are interested to join me somewhere.

And all of life is a continuum, an evolution, an unfolding… and although it’s a little ‘late’, I offer you some words and some images from my experiences in southern France, because it is, in fact, timeless…

In the lifetime that has been the last 2 weeks, I have climbed mountains, held all-night vigil and slept in caves, traversed gorges, wandered through the most enchanting forests, become lost and found in the weavings of a natural labyrinth, been blessed by innumerable waters in the form of sweet and salty rivers, creeks, lakes, seas, natural springs and thermal springs, waterfalls and deep pools in deeper gorges, I have spoken with a thousand trees and rocks, and listened to the songs of a thousand birds. I have been blessed by a snake, giggled with glee at flamingos, and enchanted by the patient, awkward wisdom of beetles.

I have followed that silent inner voice to mystery and synchronicity, and I have spent most of my waking and sleeping hours in the sweetest solitude, finding my place in the nature of things, and never feeling alone.

I have visited daily all these sacred places of nature and the sacred places of humans: churches, basilicas, cathedrals, chapels, abbeys, grottos, castles, towers, and initiation caves. And I have been learning the importance of weaving the greatness of each into a single thread of life-giving and life-sustaining connection.

I have been diving into the history of two thousand years, the stories and renderings of the lives and teachings of Mary Magdalene and Jesus, the Romans and the Gauls, the peaceful Cathars who were murdered as heretics by the Catholic church, the troubadours and the knights, the kings and the crusaders, the people who lived, walked, loved, built and were shaped by this land across the centuries.

In each of these places I have meditated, prayed, and sung. And I have been meditated, prayed and sung to. I have contemplated the great mystery of life, god, the sacred feminine, the profound and the mundane, the dual and the non-dual, peace and war, spirituality and religion, spirit and soul, love and forgiveness, and renewed my constant prayer for freedom, love and awakening – even though I do not even know what that is anymore. I have let go of ideas and found nothing to replace them with.

For a mostly non-coffee drinker, non-dairy eater, I have drunk countless coffees and eaten way too much cheese and croissants and loved every moment of every flavour. I have discovered the mirror-selfie and the timer-selfie, and taken one of each. I have become really good at saying, “Pardon, je ne parle pas Francais…” and people are still kind and sweet and patient.

I have been re-wilded, sweetly contented and utterly awed at every turn. I am both still and whirling with joy. But mostly I have found only that I know nothing. Which makes everything possible.

 

With love,

xo Mei Lai

 

The A to Z of Yoga: A is for Awakening

A to Z yoga posesNearing the end of four months of travel that has taken me on a round-the-world extravaganza from Australia to Bali, Peru, Greece and back to Bali, and included seven weeks of intensive yoga trainings, four weeks working with plant medicine, two weeks of teaching retreats, countless hours of meditation, and fabulous adventures into the inner and outer cosmos, I somehow impossibly found myself at a loss for what write. Overloaded with exquisite experience and insights, everything has been wanting to spill onto the page all at once. And in the bottleneck, nothing could come out. Searching for an answer to writer’s block, and desperately wanting something to share with you all, I realized I needed to go back to basics, back to the building blocks…

So here it is: The A to Z of Yoga.

Over the next 26 weeks, I will be offering some of my personal insights into yoga, Sesame Street style. As with any great journey, expect some of the unexpected – and of course some old favorites. If anything, I hope you will be delighted, informed, and inspired to continue your own journey of yoga as a fearless adventurer, a pioneer into the frontier of the incredibly unique experience that is you.

 

Kundalini_2

A is for Awakening

It is no mistake that this is where we start on the journey of yoga. This is the point. It is the start of it all, and hopefully, where we ‘arrive’.

Since the beginnings of yoga sometime around the 5th century BC, somewhere around the Indus valley, yoga has been a quest for awakening. Call it self-discovery, enlightenment, liberation, the unfolding of consciousness, the journey to the heart – yoga is the path of awakening the self to the Self. This Self is the undeniable experience of oneness, of love, of bliss, that is the fabric of existence underlying our ‘everyday’ reality.

Now, if we were following the modern interpretation of yoga, we probably should have started with A is for Asana. But the fact is, asana is only one teeny little tool in the colossal toolkit that is yoga. And, believe it or not, it is not even essential…

What we know as yoga today is really a collection of practices, techniques, ideas and philosophies developed over many centuries by those who sought this ‘true’ experience of Self. Through searching, experiencing and discovering, these seers and sages were able to create a kind of map of practices and their results, to help guide the rest of us hungry wayfarers towards happiness, liberation and awakening. But let’s be clear: there are so many different paths, practices, conflicting ideas, and possible experiences on the journey, that to label any one thing ‘Yoga’ is to miss the point entirely.

So remember this: there are many ways to climb a mountain. Most important is that you know where you are headed, and that you take the first step.

But to think that awakening is something that you get only at the end of the journey, after much hard work and discipline, is also misleading: surprisingly and paradoxically, awakening can be gradual or it can be spontaneous. And it is a wholly unique experience for each person. What we are doing when we ‘practice yoga’ is not forging our way to awakening: it is only clearing away the debris for the river to flow – but when the rains come is not up to us.

 

Hungry for more?

Grab yourself a copy of “Wake Up Now” by Stephen Bodian, and/or “The Enlightenment Process” by Judith Blackstone… and…

Here are a few more A-words to add to your yoga lexicon. Let these words take you down the rabbit hole of your own research, exploration, and contemplation:

A is for: Authenticity, Ananda, Awareness, Arjuna, Ahimsa