From my Facebook Live video, December 18, 2018 – Park City, Utah
Some call it a comeback. I’m suited up and booted up to tell you that on March 29th, 2018, I busted ten ribs on my right side, tore my right rotator cuff, broke my left hand, my left wrist and had some other bumps and bruises.
Here, I am headed right back up the fucking mountain to end 2018 on my skis. There’s a beautiful view, plenty of snow and I’m ready to roll.
I arrived at the Salt Lake City airport this morning and I have to tell you that I felt a little PTSD. I felt a little nauseous. I had a few flashbacks remembering how I was feeling the last time. I’m just utterly grateful that:
1. my body has been able to heal.
2. I’ve trained myself to not be the kind of person to give up; to quit; to allow fear to get in my way.
I truly and utterly believe in continuing to stand up as long as you can. For instance this last weekend, some of you, who have been listening to me for awhile, know how much I love my dad. How much I care for him. How close we are and how much work I had to do to figure out how to get along with him, to not “throw him under the bus”. But, how do I figure that out?
We’ve been getting along marvelously for about 30 years or so. But a few months back he came out and I just “shit the bed”. I had some real hard time with some stuff. He didn’t know it. But my wife surely did and I was agitated like a mother-fucker. So when he asked to come out again, I jumped at the chance. Some of my friends and family members said, “what? I thought it was so horrible. It was. But I’m going to make it right this time.” I figured out what I had to do to adjust myself; my own expectations, etc., etc., etc. I had an incredible weekend!
It’s like returning here, where I fell down and broke everything. Now I’m returning to that exact spot to ski through it and have a better run. I did the same thing with my family. I’ve done the same thing with my children. I’ve done the same thing with my wife. I’ve done the same thing with my ex-wife. You name it and EP keeps coming back. I don’t come back without having made adjustments; without having learned; without having some minor tests and understanding that I’m up for the task.
I don’t want you to get me wrong. I don’t want you to go back where you got your ass kicked without being a different person. Hell no, you don’t do that because you’ll just get your ass kicked again. That’s where I think some of you strange mother-fuckers keep doing this to yourself.
You have the courage and the willingness. But you lack the intellect and the common awareness and understanding. Hey, just because I want to do it and because I like to do this, does not mean I’m capable of doing it. As Clint Eastwood said in Sudden Impact, “Man’s got to know his limitations.” I recognize that I am limited in many ways and I work with it, around it, and through it.
One of the ways that I am not limited today is that I’m putting these two skis on my feet, strapping the boots in and getting down this mountain. I can’t wait! I’m excited! I don’t like getting my ass whupped. I certainly don’t like making a fool of myself or others. I don’t like behaving in ways that go against my moral and ethical value system. But I do love that, when I do those things, I’m not afraid to get back up, show face, do what I need to do to stand in that place again, and do it with dignity and grace. That’s what The Unfucked Code is all about.
You are going to hear me talk about it left and right pretty soon, probably ad
nauseam, what the “unfucked code” is. What this tribe is. What this book is. If I could sum it up, in terms of our personal growth, it’s about being courageous enough to stand back up right where you fell down and give it another try in a safe, smart, dignified way.
So, dad, thanks for coming back out and giving your son another chance again. Wifey, thanks so much for having the courage to do a redo because you got the brunt end of all of this and saw how pissed off I was. Thank you, mountain range for being here for another year. Thank you, Rick Kaufman, for inviting me, so I could strap these suckers on and do what I love doing since I was three years old.
Everybody’s asked me, “are you going skiing again? It’s dangerous. What’s going to happen…?” If something happens, something happens. I’m going to do the best I can to be safe. But if I ever go out, it ain’t going to be going out with some crazy shit going on. I am going to go out on my own terms. That’s for sure. And if I can’t do that, I’ll do second best. I’ll take a chair-lift up this mountain and walk down it.
The thought for all of us for these holidays. If you want to have a hell of a holiday, you need to unfuck yourself. Don’t be afraid to show back up, whether it’s to a friend’s house, or a family’s house. Whatever you have to do during these holidays where you have had your buttons pushed, where you haven’t been your best self; just do it.
Show up as long as you’ve grown up. As long as you’ve grown up, show up. That’s what it is. Grow up, show up! Again and again, and you’ll get it right.
We ain’t never giving up. We’re always living up. We’re always looking up. It was great to spend some time with you on this chair-lift ride.
By the way, I am wearing a helmet. It’s a new move. I don’t like the look. Got to be honest. I’m going to find one of those dudes who design the hockey goalies’ helmets to design mine.
Hope to hear from everybody this season. I wish you all the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Years.
Yoga is complete, permanent, unstained, and immovable. It’s been with humans for thousands of years, it’s here now and always will be. It doesn’t need to grow and certainly doesn’t need an ignoramus like me trying to improve it.
However, the business of yoga is a totally different beast. It’s like all other businesses—they come and go. The business of yoga isn’t important, but the study of yoga is. I’d love to see yoga studios become a place of study, introspection, and reflection, where asana was not offered but lectures, Jnana Yoga, and Karma Yoga were shared.
Yes, of course I will tend to the ‘hustle,’ because after all I am The Godfather of Yoga Rocks. I just have to keep in mind that the great business that I’ve been able to grow can’t take me away from the guy I really need to know. Personally, I’d like to see myself become more involved with the world inside of me that needs some ‘fixing.’ I think of U2 singing ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.’ I don’t want to sing that song and feel that chorus for the rest of my life. I want to find what I have buried away underneath all my insecurities, fears, and attachments.
Where does Yoga need to go in the next decade? Nowhere, but I certainly need to live it more.
Reprinted from Yoga Journal, September 1, 2017
“There is nothing more powerful than a made-up mind”, Lewis Gordon Pugh. No Sh*t!
I have seen folks bring themselves back from the dead. I have witnessed healing that was thought impossible. I have seen a 180° turn-around physically, emotionally and intellectually in some people. I, myself, have experienced many such turn-arounds. I have gone from being held up at gunpoint in a drug deal gone bad to helping others get sober. I have vowed never to speak to certain people, only to have had quality conversations with them. This all happened because the mind was made-up.
In my profession, I see people daily believing they can’t do something, while it is painfully obvious that they can. Something as simple as stepping their front foot further forward in a warrior pose, or something more difficult, like stepping out of a harmful relationship, have held people hostage. The f**king mind! It can turn a heaven into a hell or a hell into a heaven. All the while it’s doing this, it’s controlling you and not the other way around.
So if a “mind made-up” is the most powerful thing on earth, wouldn’t you want to have it under your control?
First, let’s look at how it’s NOT done. You cannot control the mind by controlling your breath! This is Yoga 101 horse sh*t. The laws of science state “the subtle controls the gross”. For instance, you look at a puppet show and see the puppets. A child sees the puppets and thinks they are all powerful. However, an adult sees the strings and then looks to see what is behind them. He finds there is a human pulling the strings. The puppet is the gross, meaning it’s what is visible to the naked eye. The subtle aspect (less visible and often unseen) is that there are strings moving the puppet and even more subtle, the puppeteer pulling the strings. Hence, the subtle controls the gross.
Your breath is the gross.You can see it and feel it. However, the mind is subtle. In order to actually make a physical choice, “let me breath easy, steady”, your mind has to send the command to the body. Therefore, your body cannot act on its own. To make it clearer, you can absolutely take deep Pranayamic breaths and be insane. The mind is never still. However, it’s impossible to have a clear, steady mind and be a mess. The same is true with asana. You can stand on your head. But still act like your head is in your ass.
Still not convinced? Then let’s use alcohol as an example. Most people use alcohol to relax. No doubt a glass of wine or two will do the trick. You were stressed out and now, after drinking the wine, you are relaxed. The question is, are you really relaxed? No! What you have experienced is a temporary physical conditioned response to the alcohol, which makes you “feel” relaxed. However, once the alcohol wears off, the stress returns.
Be honest, isn’t this what you feel with your physical yoga practice? A breath and asana class can make you feel great. But then those not-so-great feelings return. The physical cannot change the mental. The asana and the pranayama are both physical. So if breath work, asana and meditation (a whole other discussion) do not control the mind, what does?
Sadly, when asked this question at dozens of yoga conferences, festivals and studios, not a single yoga teacher can answer it. Can you?
Ironically it’s not taught in a 200, 300, 400 or 500 hour yoga teacher training program. It’s not taught anywhere. Simply because the equipment in question is unknown to us and, as a result, very weak.
We are not asking the the right questions. No one is thinking. We take in all the information we are learning and we believe it. Why? Because we either agree with what is being said, or we like the person speaking to us. We reject it, because we do not like what is being shared, or we do not like the person who is sharing it. With all the powerful personalities in the yoga world and with our genuine desperation to learn, it makes for a very dangerous combination; equating incorrect information shared as being the truth.
So what am I talking about? The human Intellect in Sanskrit is called the Buddhi, which means “that which questions”. The gross intellect can question anything in the world. But it’s the subtle intellect that asks, “what’s beyond the world?”. It recognizes our likes, our dislikes, our emotions, and makes choices far beyond the whims and fancies of those emotions. It stands above our ego, which is the producer of inferiority and superiority complexes, fears and anxiety. I have a saying “no more ego, no more problems”. We all have this intellect. But like any other muscle, unless you work it, it won’t work for you.
Long before Hatha yoga came on the scene, the three yogas that are the foundation for the emotional, intellectual and personality transformations, were created. One of them being Gnana Yoga, which builds the intellect. This is the yoga of knowledge. It is not what you are studying necessarily that builds the intellect.
There are many well-read people. However, when you read without using your intellect, you cannot be objective, reflective or introspective. Your mind will look for what it wants to hear. Or reject what it does not like. When we learn from that channel, we misunderstand what yoga is, what it can do for us, and how to practice it (re-read this last sentence).
A book, not a blog, is needed to help undo all the misconceptions and properly reset the mission of a yogi. Actually there are two books: The Fall of The Human Intellect and Vedanta Treatise, both written by A. Parthasarathy. These books were written solely for the development of the intellect. In them we are given explicit “how to” instructions…
1. Wake up 60 minutes before you normally do in the a.m. (unless you already wake up at 4 a.m.). The ideal time to study is somewhere between 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. Or just get started by waking up earlier than normal! If not 60 minutes, then 30 minutes, or even 10 minutes earlier will work. Do whatever your mind will allow. Once you build the intellect, your mind will no longer own you! Read slowly and only a small amount at a time. Think about the information you read. Try to extract what the author is saying. Do not try to make it your own (yet). Let it sit, assimilate and digest.
2. Formulate questions and take nothing for granted. Question everything, especially what you are reading, including this blog. However, you need a guide to answer your questions.
Because, by just asking yourself, you are likely to be talking to the mind, which only will produce answers it wants to hear. How will you know? You won’t. You need a guide and question the guide too.
3. Introspection: This is an amazing exercise. Take five minutes before going to bed and retrace your steps of the day. Do not analyze, just observe. The genius behind this is, that once you make a habit of doing this at night, you will begin to “see” what you are doing in the day. Ever wonder why it is said “hindsight is 20/20”? This is because, after we take action, our intellect then appears. Where was it at the time of action? Our mind held it hostage. As you build your intellect, you will have it available at all times. You will never need hindsight, because you will have real insight.
No more inner conflicts or second guessing. No more “knowing and not doing”. No more “missing what’s right in front of us”. You will be on point, steady, objective, effective, efficient and free with a strong intellect. This means YOU make up your mind. Your mind does not make you up.
Since “nothing is more powerful than a made-up mind”, you will be powerful. Doesn’t this sound amazing? It is amazing! Now you have the formula to make it so. So do it!
Posted – Telluride Yoga Festival
“Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once”, William Shakespeare.
Justin would have hated being glorified today. He never understood why people loved him. Why they listened to him, or even why they wanted to be around him. But we do.
When we saw Justin, we saw a hunk of a man very much like…. me! We saw a genius very much like…. me! We saw a fighter unlike…. me. I’m soft… he was fucking valiant, not in the old fashion sense of the word. He gave it its own meaning.
Most of us will never know what Justin felt daily and he would not have wanted us to. Life was not easy for him. He was different. He did not get the same pleasures from life that most do. But he tried and tried. He fought and fought. He told me he was most comfortable being a thug! But for his family, for himself, he became a yoga teacher! He went from crushing skulls to teaching flows and saving souls.
He brought thousands of people a slice of joy, a bit of comfort, a safe place to be themselves. One of the best moments of his teaching career was when he was playing his music too loud in our Birmingham studio. We shared a wall with an art dealer. The art dealer came into the studio twice asking Justin to turn the music down. The first time Justin complied.. a little (if he really complied, I would not have a juicy story to tell). The second time the man opened the yoga room door yelling, “turn the music down”. The yoga students were turned in the other direction. So they did not see the man or hear him. Justin grabbed the guy by the wrists and flung him out of the room. He then told him, “if you enter the studio again, I will snap your neck”. Ten minutes later there was another knock at the studio door. This time it was the police. Justin had to keep teaching class while the police were trying to charge him with assault and threatening physical harm. In between the cops asking him, “did you put your hands on Mr. So and So and did you threaten to snap his neck”, Justin would shout out to the class, “keep breathing and come from a place of love”. What yoga teacher gets arrested while teaching, gets out of it and keeps the class moving without them ever knowing what happened? Only Justin. He had a heroism that was unorthodox. He had a sensitivity that was surprisingly soft. He should of died many times; car wrecks, ass whoopings, drugs. But only cowards die many times before their death. He was valiant and has only tasted it this once.
Justin, as many of you know, joined a cult in 2008. Oh, I mean an ashram. The cult leader, I mean the teacher, Swami Parthasarathy, was one of the few people Justin truly tried to give himself to. He had a profound respect for Swamiji. Some of our best times together were at the ashram, not necessarily learning. But with a full house of Indians, many of whom were celibate or virgins, we told stories about our sexual encounters, drug deals, heists we pulled and other entertaining topics. No one laughed harder, louder, or longer than we did at the ashram. But when Swamiji spoke, we were dead silent. We ate up every word and with no doubt, Justin was a spiritual warrior. But that did not stop him from being adventurous there.
Once we went with the cricket team to Malaysia. We drifted off in the day and found some great vegan restaurants and gyms. I got a bit bored. So I came up with a brilliant idea to take off and go to Thailand. We did not tell anyone, because we did not want to bother them (not). In Thailand, while Justin was in the middle of a three year course in India, he met some nice ladies (you know what I mean). We were arrested twice and dined and ditched a few times. We both knew a few days there were a few too long. Upon this “realization”, I switched our plane tickets and we rushed to the airport.. oops, I drove us two hours to the wrong airport… I wish I wrote down all the lovely names Justin called me. There were some great ones. Once back in Malaysia, Swamiji, for the first and last time, ripped me to pieces. But it was the best time we had ever spent together, well worth the scolding.
Justin was given his own “rules” at the ashram, not because he could not follow their rules, well maybe it was exactly because of that! But Swamiji understood that Justin had one of the brightest, subtle intellects in the world. It was just a bit covered. The whole place was behind him and cherished him. So when I was searching for words about J, I texted Swamiji’s assistant and asked “is there any way Swamiji can write something about life or death? Anything that he sees fit..?” One minute later, in the middle of the night in India, Swamiji wrote:
“Matthew Arnold says, “life is an arrow shot from the darkness, flutters in the light for a while and vanishes back into the darkness”. We must acknowledge that this young man’s glitter was brilliant. He was a soul loved by all of us and it is pity that he left us so young. The ashram remembers him kindly and so do all of us. May his soul Rest In Peace and comfort.”
So let us not be mad, or sad. There is no loss! Knowing JVD was a tremendous gain. The only loss in life would have been to miss out on knowing him and none of us missed that! We are celebrating a brilliant, well loved man. Cancer does not really kill us. Our egos do. Our ignorance does.
Life is precious. Its magic is in the little things, not in our big dreams. We all experienced JVD. He was a Viking, a gladiator. He is fucking JAX. He worshipped Jack Bauer. He lived his 24 and in it, your paths, our paths collided. That’s life! That’s the gift, the connection. My girls and I lived with him. We were a family. He was so loving to them, so protective. That counted to us; to him. There was shit too. Lots of it. But the very worst of times brought about the very best of him and our family. We all struggle. We all court lies. We all sell ourselves short. But Justin even did that great. He went big! Even at his worst, we all saw his beauty. It was always right there and the shame was he could not see it.
The last bit of dialogue we had, per usual, was deep and philosophical. Warning! To honor J, I did not edit this. There is vulgar language which will be translated after I read the original copy.
EP: How are you today, my brother?
J: I’m feeling pretty good, just not looking forward to Wednesday.
EP: That’s awesome. Fuck Wednesday! Go in and act like Ragnoth from the Vikings.
J: Ha ya, he is the man! I’ve probably read 20 books about him. The show is actually somewhat accurate. They considered him like a god. Some shit they recorded about him is crazy. Real life bad mother fucker.
EP: I’m a real life twat. There will be nothing recorded about me, but a few shit yelp reviews.
J : Unfortunately, yes you are! But at least you know your station.
EP: A man’s got to know himself.
J: The fact that you know you’re a twat almost makes you not a twat. Not quite, but almost.
EP: I think it makes me a bit more tolerable when people know that I know.
Some of you might find the language rude, upsetting, and what a miss that would be. If you allow words to bother you, then you missed out on Justin. He was a wordsmith. His love of language was like him, special. Now for the translation/subtext of the conversation….
EP: Hi, my brother. I’m worried for you and cheering you on.
J: I’m feeling good now. But I’m scared about going in again.
EP: All you have is today. Tomorrow you will be a hero, because that’s who you are.
J: I’m not a hero. But I read about them and I’m scared.
EP: Me too! I’m scared and afraid of what people think of me.
J: Yes, you are. You are full of fear, but at least you are aware of it.
EP: At least I know myself.
J: The fact that you know it makes the fear almost disappear.
EP: It makes me be able to tolerate myself a bit more.
J: It does and I love you!
EP: I love you!
Justin would want me to tell you do not miss out on what is really being said in life. Often people cannot say what they really feel or mean. Justin was one of those people. But for those who
really knew him, he did not need to say a thing. We knew by a laugh, a smile, a question or comment, even a blow up. We knew in that space between words who he was and how he felt. But for today just in case there is a shadow of a doubt about how he felt, I will be his voice and say to the four most important people he had, what he told me about them and what he wanted to tell you.
Dad, “I have never respected another man like you. Your perseverance, family devotion and patience with me was second to none. I, more than anything, wanted to make you proud and I realized when I came home that I made you proud just by being me. Thank you for freeing me and making it that easy to please you. I remember while studying about “what a great man is”, I told Eric “dude, this is my dad”. Oh, and you know how I know you are gay….
Leah: I never meant for my little sister to take care of me. But I always meant to tell you that I am so proud of you. The choices you have made for yourself and our family are the kind I wished I could have made myself. I did all I could with what I had and I know you loved me no matter what. I really loved you the same way. I got so much joy watching you live your life. Keep living it the way you always have: with dignity, integrity and class. Avi will take the best of me and help to fill the void I leave behind. Don’t let Eric or Cliff corrupt him.
Mom: I so often gave you my worst because I knew I was safe with you. I know it wasn’t fair. But all of my yelling, all of the short temper was on me. Believe it or not, taking it out on you actually saved me many times from doing something more destructive to myself or others.
You are the glue. You are our leader. You were my champion. No one has fought for another like you have fought for me. You did not make a single mistake. It was me making them.
Do not feel responsible for my demons, my struggles. I wanted to tell you this so many times, but couldn’t. I loved you so deeply, it scared me. I felt so “seen” by you and I could not handle it.
I wanted to. But know this, any ounce of comfort I felt in the world always was traced back to you. I heard your voice in my head daily and felt your love. I took advantage of that love in the wrong ways many times. But finally in the last few years, I took it in the right way and as physically sick as I was, I had never felt better. Please take that same love you gave me and give it to yourself. Don’t let my leaving, leave you behind. Dad, Leah, Fane, grandma, Avi and you have a blast. Laugh! Eat! Eat some more and laugh some more. Travel. Help people! You are gifted and most importantly, give Eric all my shoes. Oh, and my best watch.
Grandma: my dear grandmother. You have created a family like no other. Your strength, genius, kindness, and selflessness have set an example for all of us to live by. You need and want so little, yet you give and love like a giant. I heard you, grandma. I listened. All the conversations you tried to have with me, they were not for nothing. I even told Eric the other day, “grandma might be the baddest human being on earth”. Thank you for giving all of us each other. My death, grandma, isn’t a tragedy, its life. Some live long lives. Others don’t. But we all pass. You have seen so much life, hang in there and see some more. There is no better person god keeps on this earth than you.
For the rest of us, one of Justin’s favorite quotes from the “Sons of Anarchy” is from Tara when reintroduced to the love of her life, Jax:
‘We don’t know who we are until we are connected to someone else. We’re just better human beings when with the person we’re supposed to be with. I wasn’t supposed to leave, I belong here”.
There is a proverb Justin and I believe in fully, “a stone fit for a wall won’t be left in the way”. Justin no longer belonged here. But we do. He left us with each other. Let us honor him in our relationships. Rejoice when thinking of him. Step out of our comfort zones. Be willing to work as hard as he did to transform himself and help lift each other up.
A final word from Justin to all of us, spoken by Jax Teller from the “Sons of Anarchy”.
“Here’s the lesson for you all today and for always: hold on to the simple moments. Appreciate them a little more. There’s not a lot of them.
Finding things that make you happy should not be that hard.
I know you will face pain, suffering, hard choices. But you cannot let the weight of that choke the joy out of your life.
No matter what, you have to find the things that love you! Run to them.
There’s an old saying: “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. I don’t believe that. I believe the things that try to kill you make you angry and sad. Strength comes from the good things – your family, friends, the satisfaction of hard work.
Those are the things that will keep you whole. Those are the things that you hold onto when you are broken.”
Justin left the world with a walk-off home run, a fucking hundred foot putt and sunk it to win it all. There is nothing sad or tragic about it.
He left a world champion. He made peace with himself. Committed to being who he was even if it was ugly at times.
He vowed to be genuine and became that. He learned how to be loved and received it.
He learned how to be patient and felt at ease with it. How is this tragic? Terrible? Sad? It’s not.
I had a brother whom I cherished. He was many things to many people. We celebrate having someone like this in our lives. Will we miss him?? Yes! Is it painful thinking about not seeing him again?? Yes!!
So if you love him and mention loss, tragedy, or fuck cancer again, I would not be surprised if my thug guru of a brother came down from the heavens and slapped some sense into you. Death comes in all kinds of ways. Who cares? What Justin would want for us is to live because life comes in all kinds of ways. Live!
I guarantee Justin left when he wanted and was suppose to and is chillin’ right now. So what’s tragic is the selfishness that’s involved with death. I’ve cried and cried and will continue to. But not because he is gone. But because while he was here, I was blessed to share in the brotherhood of our MC and because I know he is finally at peace.
Samcro forever, brother. Hold a spot for me at the table. You can even have the gavel. I’ll be there one of these days. Actually, I take that back. When I get there, I’m taking the gavel from you.
As yogis who have studied collectively for over thirty-seven years, we are filled with information, from ancient to present teachings, about the art of conducting relationships. Yet as we sit here thinking about a Valentine’s message on relationships, we both choose the importance of being playful together!
The simplicity of having fun carries a lot of value in a relationship. When we are playful, we laugh. When we laugh, we are experiencing a moment of freedom. We are present. Laughter lowers levels of stress by altering cortisol levels, creating happiness and a special connection with your partner. Conversely, stress is kryptonite for any relationship. It makes us uninspired to be romantic and keeps us alienated from one another, leading to a disinterest in sex, which then causes all sorts of other problems. But let’s keep this article playful 😉
Children tend to laugh three times more than adults. Being playful brings out that wonderful child-like quality within us which makes us feel light-hearted. Laughing with someone creates a bond, and bonding is continually needed in order for a relationship to flourish and to feel trust with your partner.
Since many people complain about their partner not being present or engaged in the relationship, playfulness can reinforce that your partner is with you and you are with him/her. Take a moment to reflect if you are the one who might need to add some playfulness to your relationship. If so, here are some fun suggestions we do together to ensure our relationship stays alive, healthy and present.
1. Give each other silly, sweet nicknames so that when you say their name or hear your name, it automatically makes you softer and sillier.
2. Watch a movie or TV show that makes you both laugh hysterically. Rewind a funny moment and watch it again. Crack up at each other cracking up!
3. Do things together that you would do as kids … bike ride, skateboard, kick a ball around in the park, go to Disney World, play dress up (in whatever way you want to interpret that.)
4. Play games when you’re doing mundane, routine things, like driving, or eating dinner at home. For example, play eye spy, license plate games, or sing songs together.
5. Remember your teenage years, when you might have been a bit more adventurous and willing to do rebellious things that now as an adult you might never do? DO THEM ANYWAY!!! Pinch your partner’s butt cheek in public, dance, or step away from a party to go make out!
6. When you see your partner stressed out, make them laugh in any way you can. Make silly faces, speak in an accent, tickle them and talk gibberish. Lighten the mood with your presence.
These are just a few ways that help us stay young and exciting during the ups and downs of a relationship. Be the couple that plays, stays engaged, interactive, in the moment and creative.
Every day will be your recess and the world will be your playground—all while hanging out with your BFF!
Written by Rina Jakubowicz and Eric Paskel
Rina Jakubowicz and Eric Paskel are both students of the foremost Vedanta teacher in the world, Swami Parthasarathy. Rina and Eric are published writers and international touring teachers. They have owned and operated multiple studios and have led retreats and trainings worlwide. Rina and Eric are currently based out of Los Angeles where they somehow find sanity amongst the “cray”. For more information, check out rinayoga.com and ericpaskel.com or electricsoul.yoga.
Eric Paskel teaches yoga to inmates at San Quentin, creating a “prison break” without ever leaving the prison.
It was not a hard sell when my teacher, Swami Parthasarathy, told me during one of our first meetings, “The whole world is a prison, and your only job in life is to get the hell out.” I did not even have to ask what he meant or where he got that information, because I knew I have always been in some kind of cell or another. According to Vedantic philosophy, freedom is defined by one’s happiness not being connected to any external agencies, i.e., people, places, and things (the world). Bondage (prison) is defined by one’s happiness being dependent on people, places, and things.
Consider Your Own Prison
I have never once, not even for a split second, felt happiness that was not connected to something in some way. Check it out: ask yourself if you are happy. If you said yes, there is most likely a reason linked to it. Hence, your happiness is because of something, someone, somehow. Believe it or not, that is not happiness. Why, you ask? Because whatever is making you happy has a shelf life! It may go away, or the pleasure you get from it will fade. But one way or another, everything in this world has a shelf life, even you! Ask your friends and family the same question, and if they respond, “I’m great,” ask them why they are happy. They will have a reason which will not be, “I Am.”
I do not care how big your prison is or what amenities you have. I do not care if you have a television and a nice kitchen in your cell. I care about getting out of jail! Sure, it may be easier gaining the grace I am looking for in the suburbs of Los Angeles, where I live, than it is in San Quentin State Prison. But every day, Beverly Hills folks imprison themselves and in San Quentin, inmates are finding freedom.
Finding Freedom in San Quentin
I visited San Quentin in March after having lunch in Marin County, California, with my yoga agent and friend Elana Maggal and photographer Robert Sturman, who made this visit/yoga class happen. The irony of pulling into San Quentin five minutes after dining in one of the most expensive suburbs in the country was astounding. Yet knowing what I know about freedom, I smiled and said to myself, “You are just leaving one prison for another.” I prepared nothing and had zero information about what was expected of me, not even how long the class was going to be. I quickly discussed with James Fox, the head of the Prison Yoga Project, what I could expect from the inmates. Before I could take it in, we were standing in the yard of the infamous prison, without an armed guard. Our only armor was two yoga mats!
The students entered class on time, participated in setting up the room (there were tables and chairs everywhere), introduced themselves, and then sat peacefully on their mats. The mats had to be set up in a semicircle, because the students are on high alert when someone is behind them. I was not allowed to walk around the class or adjust anyone. “Doing that could trigger a PTSD or fight-or-flight response, ending in harm,” I was told. I was, as were the students, completely at ease. The students were fully engaged throughout the entire class. The level of commitment on their mat was second to none. They listened to every word I said, and I could see them processing the philosophy in every breath. Yoga was being practiced! It was not in the poses. They understood all too well that yoga is not about posing. It’s about getting out of jail! We created a prison break without ever leaving the prison. I could feel their deep hunger for personal freedom, and that was their gift to me. Teaching yoga to anyone, anywhere, is a joy for me, but it’s not always easy. Teaching at San Quentin was effortless.
Finding Freedom Everywhere Else
In suburbia, there is a different kind of prison. It’s one where there are no bars, yet many are stuck in a box. The difference is awareness. The student in jail knows he is there. If he wants out, there is an attitude and energy that drives him. As for the rest of us, we do not see ourselves in prison, so there is no sense of urgency. There is a lackadaisical approach to life, to our yoga practice. Even those reading this are reading it for the most part for their entertainment, not their enlightenment. Therefore, teaching yoga to those who are unaware that they are not free is like prying gum off the bottom of a shoe. It’s a tough job and being a yoga teacher does not in any way place you above the people you are teaching. I see it the way the yoga scriptures lay it out: We are all in the same boat, until we are completely out of the boat.
I know one person who is free. But because I am not, I cannot really be sure of it. I just know he is different, and everyone else I have ever come across is the same. A conditioned person cannot know what being unconditioned is like until they are unconditioned. It’s like sobriety. An alcoholic cannot possibly understand sobriety, until he is sober. I am not sober, so to speak, and that brings me back to the beginning of this story … our only job in life is to break out of jail, to know our infinite self, to reach our ultimate state of pure peace, bliss, and wholeness.
I want to be free and by God, it’s difficult. I feel the bars even though I cannot see them. They come up when I lose what I love, or get something I do not want. The walls cave in when I feel threatened that something of “mine” will be taken away. I throw myself into solitary when I covet the careers of others or cast stones at those I do not approve of.
There is much to do in order for me to gain my freedom. The good news is I have the key: it’s me!