Just in case you’d like to dive a little deeper into my back story, including some insight into what it’s like to live at an ashram, how I almost lost my way – right at the beginning of my teaching career – and how I found it again…head over to Voyage LA for the full story!!
Below are some excerpts from the interview.
…..When I got back from India, I waited tables in Philly, paying off debt so I could be free to formally study yoga and meditation. I saved my tips for a while, and when I was 24, I moved to Australia to go live at an ashram and start a two years Teacher Training. Living at an ashram is pretty intense. People think it’s a hippie hug fest, but it’s not all love and light – at all. At all. ‘Ashram’ means ‘place of labor’ – and that means physical, emotional and spiritual labor. Ashram life makes you SEE yourself. You can’t hide from yourself. You can’t hide from your ego.
All of your shit comes to the surface and you have to deal with it…and even though you’re living in a community – you pretty much deal with it alone. You learn to hold space for yourself – which – to be honest, nobody really teaches you how to do out in the world. You have no choice but to figure it out. You have to sit with all of your emotions, fears, and weaknesses. There was no Wifi at the ashram, no cell service, no TV… while I was living there, I didn’t have a car. So…at the ashram, you can’t numb out with Netflix…you can’t text a friend if you’re feeling down…you just have to BE with yourself. And it was in a pretty remote part of Australia – so we had 120-degree heat, with no air conditioning, poisonous snakes, and spiders, fires, floods….it was like everything was designed to push you to your limits. I lived there for two years while I did my formal training….and it taught me more about myself than I can fully explain. It really forced me out of my comfort zone and challenged me – mind, body, and soul.
….Right at the beginning of my teaching career in LA, my yoga tradition was rocked by scandals, and I struggled majorly to find my spiritual footing as everything unraveled in my community. It was brutal. I was so deeply identified with my spiritual lineage and the guru culture that I didn’t know how to find my own way. In the wake of the scandals, (after a pretty significant period of epic spiritual bypassing), I questioned everything – the validity of the teachings, the integrity of my teachers…everything.
I guess I should explain a little – I was formally initiated into this Tantric lineage at 24. I took a second initiation at 27. I went deep. Did the whole shaved head, flowing robes thing. I had a serious devotional practice to my guru and took solace in my spiritual identity. For me, it was everything. I naively thought that I had all the answers – that the lineage, the guru, and the teachings were all I’d ever need spiritually.
Obviously, I was wrong…