I’ll Be OK

  1. I’ll Be Ok
  2. Gayatri Mantra, Deva Premal
  3. In The Sun (Desert Dwellers Remix), Donna De Lory
  4. Magpie to the Morning, Neko Case
  5. In For the Night (Buddha Edit), The Moontrane Conductors
  6. Black Thought, Michael Tello
  7. El Bosque Eterno de los Niños, Amounsulu
  8. Planktens Cover, Gil Tamazyan
  9. Wings of Forgiveness, India.Arie
  10. Crossing Beyond, Desert Dwellers
  11. Love Cliché, Soulstice
  12. One, Aimee Mann
  13. I’ll Be Ok, Sondre Lerche
  14. Sira, Ablaye Cissoko & Volker Goetze
  15. The Orbiting Suns, Jens Gad Presents
  16. The Hours, Philip Glass
  17. Let It Go, Matt Morris

Sweat and Sorrow: How I Learned To Swing a Hammer, Build a House and Let It Go

(Raw Rach, April 2010)

I sit on the roof and soak up the great sunyata, the vast rich empty void that is the night sky, knowing, knowing that I am not this house; I am not this heat; I am not these scarred ankles; I am not this sorrow; I am not this ache of knowing I have let down my poor dead father, who placed so much trust in our ability to hold on to his baby in the years to come.

Neti-neti; not this, not that.

And sitting there drowning in that vast sunyata sky, it is all stars, it is all pine, the air is rich with lush green forest and hope and new growth and creeping Spanish moss. And I lean over and try to pick up a few of the piles of pine needles that have fallen on the roof, threatening it with their heavy wetness; I gather them in my arms, clear the sap, but the needles keep falling, falling, and we keep going, going, and at some point you realize those needles will continue to collect on that precipice whether you are there to gather them or not.

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Bartendasana: The Yoga of Bartending

(Raw Rach, February 2010)

Bartendasana: the huffing-puffing, bending-twisting, sweating-flirting, laughing-cursing embodied moving meditation that is shaking cocktails in a dimly-lit, jazz-infused, oak-scented bar. See also: bhakti ninja.

Buddha in a microbrew? Meditation in a martini? Santosha in a Stella? It’s more plausible than you might think.

Most of you know me as a yogi, or a writer, or a teacher, or maybe a baker; but for a few hours a few nights a week, I’m a bartender. Find me black-clad and spinning circles inside a horseshoe-shaped bar while straining cocktails at warp-speed on any given Friday night, and I think you’ll agree: a bartender is a bhakti ninja.

Suspend disbelief for a few minutes here, and consider the possibility that bartending might be a rich source of yoga, embodied meditation, and a kind of active “practice mat” for yogic values like compassion, patience, and peace. Sure, it can often look like just a lot of broken glasses and spilled wine, tipsy blondes and belligerent drunks, but tending bar can also provide a rare opportunity for prana-rich, fulfilling work (what Marx deliciously called “sensuous labor”), nourishing sangha, energizing physicality, and open-hearted karma yoga. My gig shaking martinis gifts me with a living, breathing space in which to practice listening, observation, mental quietude, living well in the body, and balancing the yin of my yogi/writer’s life with the yang of a bartender’s fast-paced flow. And in that practice comes the softening, the unraveling and the dharma of work that fulfills in unexpected ways.

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Why Wanderlust is Like Cheerleading Camp

(RecoveringYogi, August 2011)

Some strange sense of deja vu hung over me that whole weekend, and I couldn’t figure it out.  It was like I’d been there before.  And that’s when I realized.  Wanderlust was cheerleading camp for grown-ups.

It’s dangerous, though, you know?  Practicing in the sun for hours, concrete under your mat, knees ripped up and feet filthy, you get so lost in the contrived removal from the Real World, this Yoga Disneyland of sorts.  It’s tempting, a total tease; after all, who wouldn’t want to leave the day-to-day sludge of the work world behind to just hang out half-naked in a perpetual Savasana, listening to music under the stars, punch-drunk on Parivrtta Parsvakonasana?

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The Yoga of the Prairie

(Raw Rach, January 2012)

The roots of yogic theory, the roots of Zen, the roots of an appreciation for all that is simple and clear and populist and no-bullshit and impermanent and expansive and wide in its emptiness?

Right there on the prairie. For which I will always give thanks.

For making desolation feel normal. For making space seem fundamental. For making stillness appear friendly. And for making the constantly churning, impermanent, suffering-laden reality of life seem, well, so very natural.

Fiercely so.

SO here’s an ode to the under-appreciated land of my youth. Here’s a shout-out to the Willa Cathers and the Laura Ingalls Wilders and the Harvey Dunns who taught me, growing up there, how rich, how rare, how rolling-around-in-art is this spare, bleak, empty, sunyata place. Here’s to the scrappy pioneer spirit that infuses my own urban reality now: this understanding that only the sitting with what is difficult, and the staying with what is terrifying, and the breathing through what is grotesque and inhumane and so vastly impossibly huge that you’re reminded again and again how very tiny you are, truly a flash on the landscape of being alive, well, it all matters. And it makes us who we are.

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Holiday Afterglow

Lhasa de Sela
  1. Aureole, Jens Gad Presents
  2. The Blissed Place, Hideo Kobayashi
  3. Amber Sky, Samantha James
  4. Pling!, Shuggie Otis
  5. Really?, Bluemind
  6. Realistic, Soulstice
  7. Silver Sans, Jens Gad Presents
  8. Fools Work, Inara George
  9. Les Eaux Verts, Jens Gad Presents
  10. Guaranteed, Eddie Vedder
  11. Staraja Ladoga, Achillea
  12. What Kind of Heart, Lhasa de Sela
  13. Chanson Pour Une Femme, Althea W
  14. Farewell, Dario Marianelli
  15. Fool’s Gold, Lhasa de Sela
  16. Over the Rhine, Over the Rhine
  17. Morning, Stolen Identity
  18. Since I Fell For You, Gladys Knight
  19. Love Letters, Dario Marianelli

Eye of the Tiger

Lenny Kravitz
  1. Whole Lotta Love, Led Zeppelin
  2. Realistic, Soulstice
  3. Killing Me Softly With His Song, The Fugees
  4. Alright (3PM Mix), Soulstice
  5. Eye of the Tiger, Survivor
  6. Another One Bites the Dust, Queen
  7. No Diggity, Blackstreet
  8. American Woman, Lenny Kravitz
  9. I’m Too Sexy, Right Said Fred
  10. Smooth, Santana Feat. Rob Thomas
  11. Poison, Bell Biv DeVoe
  12. Joy to the World, Three Dog Night
  13. Stuck in the Middle With You, Stealers Wheel
  14. Lose Yourself, Eminem
  15. Like I Love You, Justin Timberlake
  16. Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater Revival
  17. Dream Weaver, Gary Wright
  18. Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad, Moby
  19. Special, Sara Devine
  20. Can’t Fight This Feeling, REO Speedwagon
  21. Comfortably Numb, Dar Williams and Ani DiFranco
  22. Hurt, Johnny Cash
  23. Someone Like You, Adele
  24. Careless Whisper, George Michael
  25. Hari Om (feat. Prajna Vieira), Ben Leinbach, Prajna Vieira
  26. Purnamadah, Shantala
  27. Offering Chant, Lama Gurme and Jean-Philippe Rykiel

Guaranteed

  1. LifeB, Nicken
  2. Shyam!, Deva Premal
  3. In the Light, Soulstice
  4. Le Booty Cinematique, J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science
  5. Break Me, Beats Antique
  6. Mantra, DJ Free & Brent Lewis
  7. Le Sangre, J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science
  8. Ramana, Prem Joshua
  9. Spiderbite, Beats Antique
  10. Dope Crunk, Beats Antique
  11. 20 Past Noon, Moves
  12. Beautiful (Jaswho Remix), Karsh Kale
  13. So Butterfly (Instrumental), Bassnectar
  14. Love Comes First, Techno Squirrels
  15. Purnamadah, Shantala
  16. Guaranteed, Eddie Vedder
  17. Om Hari Om/Sharanam Ganesha, Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band
  18. Bells, Lhasa de Sela

Lokah Samastah

  1. Lokaha, Wah!
  2. In For The Night (Buddha Edit), The Moontrane Conductors
  3. Rosada Flor, J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science
  4. Cape Porcupine, Achillea
  5. Le Booty Cinematique, J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science
  6. Om Triambakam, Deva Premal
  7. Evaporate feat. Nica Brooke, Rocket Empire
  8. Hot Photon (Ambient Mix), King Kooba
  9. Straight Blue, Rocket Empire feat. Marian Music
  10. You Already Know, Bombay Bicycle Club
  11. (The Only) Dark in the Light, Rithma
  12. Live High, Jason Mraz
  13. Breathe Me, Sia
  14. If You Want Me, Glen Hansard and Marketa Iglova
  15. Firefly, Over the Rhine
  16. Om Sri Matre, Wah!
  17. Diamonds in the Sun, Girish
  18. Let It Be Me, Ray LaMontagne
  19. Hot Photon (Ambient Mix), King Kooba
  20. Yeah That’s Right, Rocket Empire
  21. Shrine, Beats Antique
  22. Burr Dubb, Rocket Empire feat. Mina Fedora
  23. Mission, Beats Antique
  24. Arboleda de Manzanitas, Eighty Mile Beach
  25. Vinyasa, DJ Free and Brent Lewis
  26. Peaceful Steps, J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science
  27. Launch, Rocket Empire
  28. Seen the Rain, Rocket Empire feat. The Eloi
  29. Fools Work, Inara George
  30. Blue Mind, Alexi Murdoch
  31. The Hill, Marketa Iglova,
  32. Moonlight Sonata, Ludwig Van Beethoven
  33. Etcetera Whatever, Over the Rhine

Le Booty Cinematique

Caravan Palace
  1. Live High, Jason Mraz
  2. Over Time, Lucinda Williams
  3. Hari Krishna, Masood Ali Khan
  4. In For the Night (Buddha Edit), The Moontrane Conductors
  5. Rosada Flor, J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science
  6. Cape Porcupine, Achillea
  7. Le Booty Cinematique, J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science
  8. Evaporate feat. Nica Brooke, Rocket Empire
  9. I Wanna Be Like You, The Correspondents
  10. Krishna Love (Rasa Lila Remix), MC Yogi
  11. Om Triambakam (Sean Dinsmore), Deva Premal
  12. Straight Blue, Rocket Empire feat. Marian Music
  13. You Already Know (Featuring Kathryn Williams), Bombay Bicycle Club
  14. (The Only) Dark in the Light, Rithma
  15. The Lonely Spider, Lhasa De Sela
  16. Blue Mind, Alexi Murdoch
  17. If You Want Me, Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
  18. Remind Us, Over The Rhine
  19. Broken Ambers, Gil Tamazyan
  20. Map Point Baby (The Hue Remix), Rithma
  21. Simmer Down Jammie, Rocket Empire
  22. Golden Nectar, J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science
  23. Soul On Fire, Soulstice