Byron Bay Visits Me…

Driving up the PCH with my window all the way down, letting that pungent, day old fish market odor blast me in the face, on the cold breath of a zephyr, living today twice over as he flies across the Pacific, I am relieved. I’ve just freed myself of that noose of traffic choking LA from the 10 to the 110 to the 101 to the 405. I open my mouth to drink the winds’, cold, foul breath. I gulp it down my constricted throat, opening my airways with burning, moving air.

Hugging coastal curves, it’s hard to remember how I felt so free without driving. I come up past the big rock that separates the beautiful Malibu stretch of highway from that aluminum-guarded stretch, for which the USA is so well known. Watching the Pelicans dive, to catch their fish over the water to the West, big rock to the South, road to the North, sitting on the fringe of a whole country rolled out, behind me to the East, I listen to the wind gossip about places I’ve been.

Back in Byron Bay, living it up for one last week in Aus, I screamed into the wind on the beach. Drunk on goon and cheap shots from cheeky monkeys, that ubiquitous backpacker bar complete with dirty dancing contests, and a nightly brawl, I stood on the sand, holding hands with my fellow journeyman, feet bare, screaming screams for the fun of it. I wanted to see if they’d make it round the world, back to me.

That week, moody weather rolled across the face of the sky looking down on us, stormy then sweet. You couldn’t avoid the rain if you wanted to catch the sun so you danced in both, did handstands, and cartwheels on the beach, and splashed through little rivers, dribbling down to hide in the ocean. That’s how I met Jade and Vicki and Hayley and Catherine and Aaron and Chris and all the other outlandish gypsies who tipped back shots to my departure. Byron Bay in known for it’s unconventional set, in flowing skirts, and hammer pants, hobos sleeping on the beach or in vans on the side of the road, grilling delicacies “fish in a hubcap” and “roo in a shovel” over engine blocks. That last week swirls in my brain, like the plastic cups of goon we swirled, promising ourselves in propelled by cognative dissonance that drinking this box of wine had to be better than the last, because hangovers are a skill you have to work at.

The wind towsles my hair, and traces from the fingers of my fellow travelers at my farewell do make my skin prickle. We were 7 deep on the tables at Cheeky Monkeys lining that narrow passage, letting no hair style pass, unmolested. I don’t remember my feet touching the ground that week. All I remember is floating and freedom, and wind and storms, and it’s coming back to me, having traveled around the world over and over, it’s coming back to me now.

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The Campervan Chronicles: Part III

Traffic crawls over hot pavement like molasses. We bake slowly on the freeways, until; finally, we stumble into our houses and apartments after a long day, completely fried. Crawling inch by inch over miles and miles of broken asphalt. That joyful fast flying feeling of kinetic inertia slips away. When it lets up, when that rush hour noose loosens just enough to swerve into the fast lane, and the speedometer glides up, on that takeoff arc, and you stare up into the evening sky at a giant sliver a moon, God’s toenail, perfectly pedicured, pointing at the ocean, it’s tempting to go for a drive.

Sometimes I do. I roll the windows down and let the desert air flow in across my face, that same wind that kissed my cheeks and pushed our van from Adelaide to Uluru, all the way to the very middle of the outback.

When I lived in Sydney It was easy to smell the ocean from my front door. Driving the Great Ocean Road, I got to know the waves intimately, as they whispered me to sleep. We turn north and sneak away from the Ocean, an old lover, tiptoeing out the back. We meet the teasing wind, playing hopscotch over miles and miles of space, and a long straight road that connects the bottom of Australia to the top of Australia, like a zipper, and we’re zipping up it in our little camper van: Lisa, Marco, Andy, Vishal and I.

Dirty Harry, our handsome Wicked Camper, proclaiming to the road behind us: “Clothes off for Smirnoff.” We add to that message with homemade signs for others going our way: “Have Goon! Pull over!”

We sit outside, watching for discarded stars. For days, none of us could see them, but a box of Goon relaxes your eyes and all the sudden they start floating down like eyelashes blown by cosmic winds in droves of wishes. Andy teaches me how to photograph the night sky. We drink and play card games, and pee in bushes in the dark, careful of snakes and spiders and lonely, curious possums and kangaroos, and wallabies. We sleep in a neat stack in the van, 3 on the bottom, 2 on the top. It’s murder in the top corner.

We’re wake hung over, and walk to see dawn crack its golden eye over the rim of Kings Canyon. We were promised a Mars-scape, but with all the rain this year the Australian Outback looks like a Chia pet, with pop up forests everywhere, and mile long puddles incubating mosquitoes and flies. I count about 50 bites on my legs alone. Those bugs must have a sweet tooth and an alcohol problem to want my blood after a night like that. The sun peaks at us, and we peak at it, then troop down the slippery hillside to make breakfast on a little camp stove, on to Uluru.
Somebody mowed that big red rock! There’s lush Lorax forests all around it, but that rock is big, and red, a heart. As we walk the 10 km around it, I swear I can see it beat. Our flirty winds prevent us from climbing it so we walk it’s perimeter, and stare at it’s many, many chambers. This exposed, beating heart, pumping water like blood and letting it out through articulating crevices. This rock is alive. I know it as I leave our crew at the Ayres Rock Airport. From the plane I have a view of that giant’s heart, that earthy heart. As the plane rocks, the rock beats, a shift in vision or a shift in position. I’m pushed away by these sportive zephyrs, back to the constant Ocean, back to the front.

I roll up my windows against the teasing air. Back towards home, the traffic slows.

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The Campervan Chronicles: Part II

Forget May 21, 2011. That Rapture guy… he was a crazy. We all know when the fire and brimstone is going to start raining down on us. It’s on all the radio shows, and news stations from the West Coast to the East. They call it Carmaggedon, and it is the most anticipated, publicized traffic jam in the long and illustrious history of the Automobile. Now is the time for that start up, centrally located, pet sitting business, as Los Angelenos will be sitting, baking in their cars for 48 hours, or until they die. Water stations should be set up along every canyon. Pretty locals with encouraging signs reading: “You can do it!” “Sit, Sit, Sit!!!!” “If you got endurance call me at… “ While strings of motorists, miles long, grit there teeth and inch forward into a blazing, fiery sunset.

My brain tunes out the radio, and takes a temporal and spatial leap to that winding road next to the Southern Ocean, battered by waves and rock, where I was introduced to the courtesy nod: a polite acknowledgement of your fellow driver, who you see so seldom on these Australian backwashes. We’d just left Melbourne: Tim, Lisa, Mario and I, united by our love of that great matchmaker: the Internet, and a common goal – Adelaide.

We slowly wind our way past Torquay, that surfer swallowing beach town, and warm up to the Great Ocean Road, and it’s monstrous, stony inhabitants.  They call them the 12 Apostles although there are no longer 12. The ocean won over 4 of these natural, limestone monoliths with its constant licking and kissing, until they quivered into the sea. 8 more stand strong, but not forever. They stand like giant teeth ready to grind up surfers, and boards and unlucky, beach wanderers who descend from the cliffs, hypnotized by that rhythmic crash, of sea on rock and rock on sea, and they don’t see the waves coming for them, they don’t see.

We see, we listen, we hear, we smell that deadly salt, and leave this place just at sunset to make camp.  Tim and I share a lovely tent on soft ground. He sleeps under towels, ever Mr. Chivalry, as I’m cold, and without a sleeping bag. Mario and Lisa are in the van – he is downstairs, she is upstairs, and this is how it goes; day upon day crashing down on our wandering, winding, rippling trip to Adelaide.

We camp up Wait-A-While road with some locals and their dog, who watched TV with the Dalai Lama, while he was supposed to be guiding a meditation. These yarns spread across our campfire and light up our faces. We take the fire from the circle, and spin poi, scaring away the kangaroos and wallabies and all the other docile creatures that live in this land, unpopulated by natural predators.

Fruits and Vegetables are contraband crossing the border from Victoria to South Australia. So we gorge ourselves on greens, and toss the rest to the sea, playing catch with the passing scenery. Keeping some greenery to keep us company at night. We hide it deep in the chasms of our luggage piled high in the back seats, and hope we don’t get stopped. This sort of recklessness comes with that rolling, winding motion of effortless, driving past the sea, the rolling sea.

We share meals with contemptuous koalas, sitting on the ground and we climb up to meet them in the canopy of the rainforests. We’ve wander from the boiling drink up to the Lake Elizabeth’s serene shores, and then on to the spiked peaks of the Grampions peaking over the edge of the clouds to see what the angels are eating for dinner. Laying on that, fine, sparkly rock and soaking up visions of these moving dinner parties, sweeping past us, I don’t want to go down to the bottom, but there’s ice cream there, and a stove to make pasta in the back of our van. So we go with blessed visions of sustenance.

From the Grampions back down to the outer edges of Adelaide, the hills, the Adelaide hills that look like little Germany, or so say my two German companions. We gorge ourselves on wine until Tim knocks his nose into a handrail and is required to fill out a Health and Safety report. We drink to that sea, and that sky and that road that presses against the wheels of our van, to move us forward, against a world that’s moving backward, and keeping us in the exact same spot.

When we reach Adelaide, and we part ways with Mario for now, but not for good. Tim, Lisa and I wander off to find beds for the night, in this glass city of Churches. We feel at home here, having watched the angels eat, watched the sea make love to the rocks, knowing there will be nothing left, someday…

All of this and I’ve moved an inch in this Los Angeles traffic, but the world has turned under me, and I’ll remember that when Carmageddon comes.

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The Campervan Chronicles: Part I

It’s been 2 plus months since I’ve been States side, and it’s been nagging at me that I never finished writing about my journey. Truthfully, after Vipassana all I wanted to do was enjoy my present company, my present location and my own presence. Now, sitting at the current coronary aneurysm of our fair city’s highway system, the 110 and the 101, for 45 minutes I’ve decided that it’s time to reconnect with those traffic-less, open spaces.

Here among the persistent buzzing of idling motors, the thump, thump of neighboring bass, the occasional honk of pushy, unrelenting intrusion from one lane to the next, I pick up a thread of Melbourne, a beautiful small city in Southern Australia. It has the same heart beat. I insert the gorgeous overtones of trolleys and trams running from St. Kilda to Fitzroy, and I catch myself closing my eyes for a split second to dive into smoky alleyways covered in graffiti. Melbourne is a tough. Tattooed, beauty ringed in a smoky halo. I spend the day with new friends caressing her corners and crevices from Union Lane to the markets near Flinders Station. She’s made herself up in every color, and they mix in the shadows to make new shades.

I’m with my dear friend Sarah, whom I met just past the “noble speech is now permitted” barrier on the last day of Vipassana. We traveled south together 2 days later to explore the musical heart of Australia. Melbourne has a vibrant music scene, with live bands playing on every block, making a strangely harmonious, clamorous din. People here walk in rhythms and counter-rhythms that work with one another and make the inhabitants chill, happy and content. I’m only passing through. I’ve come here to meet with potential travel partners for a camping trip.

After a week in Melbourne, 4 of us take off down the Great Ocean Road, a wild piece of real estate, the object of a constant bidding war between the ocean and the cliffs. The current clan consists of myself, my friend Timothy James from England, whom I have dubbed “T-Jam” for his unnatural need for Tea and biscuits, which he will bravely go without for a week. (The Tea at least… there is no separating a boy from his biscuits.), the managerial minded, lovely, Lisa Liefert: German, and our stalwart captain Mario: also German. We’re motoring down towards Torquay, listening hard for the ocean.

The crashing waves take on a strange timbre, a little less swish and a little more buzz. Traffic is funneling onto the 101, and I have to move with it out of Nostalgia. More rush hour reveries to come…



Tattooed Melbourne


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Perfect Pitch: Why I Practiced 12 Hours of Yoga

The oboist plays an “A.” Woodwinds sound like a whisper in a quiet forest, the brass are brash and bring images of military style marching band uniforms with the inevitable overly large pith helmet slipping down over the tubist’s eyes, as he puffs his cheeks and blows an “A.” The violins whine, the cellos soften the intonation, and the double bass moan as the entire string section breathes out on an “A.” Overtaking individual intonations, “A” swarms every corner of the hall.

I hear the orchestra tune to one pitch at the start of a yoga practice. People come off the street, out of tune, strangled by their every day movements. My left hip is stuck in my left hip joint, from driving around in the car. My neighbor’s shoulders are rounded over in kyphotic worship to a computer screen, and the list goes on. No one comes to the mat without bringing their day, their night, and every yesterday.

We breathe in as a group, stoking a fire in our bellies, and we Om together. The sound starts as an “Ah” at the back of the mouth, becomes an “Uh” sound towards the middle of the pallet, and closes with a gentle vibration on the lips. We tune the sound three times, at the beginning of class. We tune up our bodies for an hour and a half, breathing through motions to unfold the body’s natural alignment. At the end of class we breathe in again for that final sound, and somehow everyone is on the same pitch. The “A” rings out to every corner of the room. Practitioners get up and walk out straight and strong.

Tuning up my body through an hour and a half yoga practice is sufficient to take me through the day connected in mind, body and breath, so naturally, I wanted to see what could happen if I amped up my practice. It took all the presence from my hour and a half practice for me to sign my name to a piece of paper committing me to 12 hours of yoga. In addition each participant had a goal of $500 to fundraise for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Compared to fundraising, binding my thigh with both arms, hands clasped in prayer, raising my toes to the sky, balancing on the opposite foot and opening my heart seemed like a piece of cake.

The apprehension rode me for the next couple of days. Every time I walked into class, I had to remind myself “shoulders back, head up, eyes closed.” Every time I tuned in with the rest of the practitioners I’d buck that feeling. Every time I left class, it would climb back on. I sent out the usual email blasts, special little pleas to my parents, and close friends, but the money trickled in slowly. Frustrated, I did something I do only as a last resort, I listened to advice. I started posting on Facebook, writing in my blog, and giving friends and family the chance to connect, to tune in with me. I received donations from friends I hadn’t spoken with in years.

Each participant at last Saturday’s Yogathon at City Yoga brought connections to the mat. Tuning in, tuning up, tuning for every person that gave, for every person that connected and reconnected for this cause. At At the close of the practice that “A” rang through walls, rolled over the country and leapt oceans.




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Presence and Purpose: The Float Moment

Jumping over Gilit Trawangan, Indonesia

The Float Moment

“How do you get all those photos midair?” My mom’s voice has a touch of the incredulous and a dash of intrigue.

“It’s all about the timing.”

Sometimes I count “one, two, three” sometimes it’s “one, two, three, jump.” Everyone moves on the jump. I favor the “you count” method where the subject is forced to take the lead, and the photographer catches the moment, rather than doing the planning. Looking through all my photos, my friend’s photos, friends of friend’s photos there are a million pictures of people floating in midair, like astronauts. Like this isn’t earth. Like gravity does not exist.

These pictures have three parts: the bend, the spring and the landing. Each part stretches over several milliseconds and just in the middle of the middle of the spring there is one moment of pure, zero gravity joy. This is the goal. This is freedom.

When I took off over a year ago I flew west to go east, walked sole to sole with someone in Spain, with a little dirt in between. I tumbled head over heels East, West, North, South, South by Southwest and every iteration of the compass I can think of, but those teeny tiny moments of release only happen on the up that leaves the compass spinning. In that one second there is no north, no south, no east, no west, no south by southwest. There is only floating.

Reminiscing on these old moments takes me out of the present. I remind myself that I need to find that float moment in every second, to keep that zero gravity with me at all times as a reminder that I am not stuck. Every traveler faces this sticky feeling on coming home when it’s time to transition from that global movement to an inner motion; an inner purpose that helps to drive you through moments to replace the sense of destination that keeps you driving through miles and miles of space.

That one instant caught on camera signifies a shift from moving through space to freeing space that’s already inside. This slow unwrapping of potential energy to kinetic energy shines in the single part of a second. It’s easy to find out on a beach somewhere, or in the middle of a deserted road in the outback, but it can be elusive when we get caught up in a web of habits, repeats and codas and round after round of the patterns. It can wrap you up tight, waiting for a slow drain from a spider of a life.

Yoga allows me to find that float moment in my body, my breath and my life. There is room for space, for flex, for stretch. Our ligaments, our muscles, our tendons all can be reshaped by us if we choose to move, if we look for that zero gravity place in every second, in every breath. For me, to feel present is its own purpose, but to be able to help others find movement and presence. That’s why I’m participating in City Yoga’s Yogathon.

Please click the link below to donate. All proceeds go to St. Judes Childrens’ Research Hospital:


<3, Perri



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Ground yourself: Landing back in Los Angeles

Superman decelerates, landing gracefully on his feet with one arm up in the air, sometimes wit Lois Lane in tow. Spiderman crouches on the side of a building, webbing the whole city together with his super threads, and no one heard him get there. Catwoman swishes her tail back and forth on the top of a building, and Batman’s wings/cape fall silently at his sides. If only my landing back in Los Angeles were as quiet and graceful. My LA landing was bumpy, involved long lines at baggage claim and customs, and a ten minute inquisition, on why I had left the country, and how I could afford it followed by another 10 minute squint test that involved the near sighted controller staring at me, then at the book, then me, a few incredulous “Don’t look like you.” “Yes I’ve grown eyebrows since then.” After which I proceeded to cover them up, and she let me pass. This was certainly not a superhero welcome back to earth after a seeming lifetime of global frolic. Standing at the curb in the LAX Super shuttle line, it occurred to me, that I hadn’t really done anything special.

No amount of shark diving, glacier hiking or silent retreats had made a difference in anyone’s life except for my own, and all of the sudden, I felt just as adrift as when I’d left. I needed an anchor

My anchor is the mat, and like the super roster described above, it has a purpose beyond myself. I traveled for a reason, and the danger of returning to where you started is that you lose the reasons, that you left, and the wisdom that you pick up along the way.

Uprooting yourself to travel, not knowing where you’re going or what you might find there is scary. It’s adventurous. It’s overwhelming and it’s liberating as you give yourself over to everything that you encounter. Coming back to where you started, is scarier, more perilous, overwhelming and it can be just as liberating.

As soon as I returned to Los Angeles, I returned to the mat at City Yoga where I decided to embark on my 40-day journey. During these 40 days, I am committed to coming to the mat every day, and on days where that is not possible, meditation twice daily. This modification on Barron Baptiste’s method which I learned in Australia gives me a home, when I feel lost in a city I no longer know like I did a year ago. My 40 days will culminate on June 18, at the City Yoga yogathon for St. Jude’s children’s Research Hospital.  There can be no better way than 12 hours of sweaty Ommmming for a cause to connect me back to this city in a new and different way.

My goal is to raise $1000 for the charity. Please click here: yogathon to donate connect the world, and be a hero.




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Dissecting the Silence – 10 days at Vipassana

Have you ever thought of taking a plane ride around the world? From horizon to horizon, landing just where you started? The first solo, nonstop, round-the-world flight was made by Steve Fosset, beginning on Monday, February 28th, 2005 and ending on Thursday, March 3, 2005. The journey took him 67 hours and 2 minutes.  If you’ve had to suffer the inconveniences of a transatlantic flight, or just an hour long commute you can easily imagine walking down the narrow aisle with your hand luggage, trying not to bump into anyone, squeezing into a seat – possibly half your size, buckling up for take-off, and that faint, but primal fear that creeps into your inhale as the wheels leave the ground.

Now take away the seat belts.

Now take away the seats.

Leave the cushions.


The time table for the Vipassana meditation course is no secret. You are encouraged to have a look on the website before submitting your application, in order to personally assess whether you are fit to cope with the 4 am wake up call, the 9 pm lights out, and the 10 and a half hours of active meditation in between.


This is all done in silence.

No talking.

No physical contact.

No eye contact.

No music.

No reading.

No writing.

No outside influences.


In ten days one sits long enough to have circumnavigated the globe from horizon to horizon 1.5 times, or fly back and forth from Sydney to Los Angeles 7.5 times, or make approximately 105 flights between Sydney and Melbourne. That’s a lot of silent air time.

Sitting in the dining hall at the Vipassana Meditation Center in Blackheath, Blue Mountains New South Wales on Wednesday, February 23rd at approximately 6 pm, I buckle up for this silent airplane ride to Nirvana.


ANAPANA Days 1-3

Day 1:

I’m not too bothered about the 4 am wake ups, and I’m charmed by the sound of the ringing bells to motivate us from sleep to waking, meal to meditation, meditation to rest. Cracking my eyes open, I sense a slight tightness in my chest, and the word that passes through my head is “apprehension.”

We’d had an hour long sitting the night before, so I had some idea of what to expect. Make no mistake, it’s not like they dropped us in the middle of the mental outback with a cushion, a blanket, a paperclip and a penknife and said “survive!” We have a guide. He is an Indian guru by the name of Goenka. We hear his voice throughout the first day. It’s a rough and tumbling sound. A cross between an elephant’s purr, a tiger’s growl, a didgeridoo and a kazoo. He sings words of encouragement in Hindi, always ending with the phrase “Bhagavad Sabba Mangalem.” In translation it means: “May all beings be happy.”

We spend our first 10.5 hours grounding ourselves in space by finding and listening to our breath using a technique called Anapana meditation, an important prerequisite to beginning Vipassana.

A few months earlier, when I first perused the website in the comfort of my rented bed, I felt reassured by the guarantee that this is not a religious practice. The meditation hall is clean, and white and heated to the perfect temperature. There is no trace of an alter here, no musky incense only the preservative smell of cedar. There is no religion here unless you worship the God Sonique of the religion DVD/Video every night at 7. This is when we have our discourse, and is the only time we hear prolonged talk during the course of the day.

There is no visualization of any form in this technique, no repetition of any word, no coffee.

By evening I’m somewhere over Hawaii on my mental flight, and my neck muscles have seized up, then the area to the left the Atlas vertebra, then the area to the left of my occiput. This paralysis is slowly creeping up my head into my left frontal lobe.

Apprehension has grown to anxiety, to agitation and finally into, blind panic.

At 9 pm I go to the bathroom, vomit, brush my teeth, fall into bed, and pass into sweet, deep unconsciousness.


Day 2:

I wake up to a heathen ringing, resonating in my scull-cap, and take a deep breath, in an attempt to calm the pulse pulse pulse of potential explosion in my brain. “Ok” I think. “I’m here, it’s day 2, I have no pain killers: this is fact, and somehow I’m not running for the exit. It will be ok.” The word “Faith” passes through my head.

Throughout the first two hours of morning meditation from 4:30 – 6:30 am, I do my work. I focus on my breath. I watch the inside of my eyelids. I allow my muscles to do whatever they want, without allowing myself to spin it into something future and sinister, and like a bored toddler they realize they’re not going to get what they want by acting up, and they relax.

Headache gone and faith restored, I continue through the day learning to feel my breath just under my nostrils and on my upper lip.


Day 3:

Yesterday’s headache is nothing compared to today’s non-physical malady. Boredom has come in and set up shop with his friends frustration and fatigue.This place has so many clocks I feel like I’m in Dali’s painting. The bulletin board’s header is Day 3 with a timetable attached. The same timetable as yesterday, and the day before. The clock just above the bulletin board is 5 minutes faster than the clock in the our bathroom, so depending on where one is in the dorm they’ve either traveled back or forward in time. Just breathe.

As the third night’s discourse begins.

“Tomorrow will be a very important day. You will receive Vipassana.”



Day 4:

I wake up as per usual, with what I’ve come to look forward to as my thought of the day running through my head. Today it’s my friend Elizabeth’s voice saying: “Be open to all the possibilities.”

The schedule is a bit different today. We are instructed via our push pin dictator, that we are to stay in the meditation hall continuously from 3 pm to 5 pm in order to receive Vipassana. We all gather after our 5 minute break, and are welcomed with the usual growl of “Start agaaaaaiiiin. Start agaaaaaiiiin.” We carelessly arrange ourselves on our pillow thrones as the voice explains the technique.

The rules are simple. This technique demands total surrender. Read: staying in one position for the entire time.


1. No opening your legs, hands or eyes.

2. You are not meant to visualize any form, or chant any word of concentration.

3.You are simply to observe how you physically feel in your body, “part by part. piece by piece. from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.” This practice will develop, both your awareness of the body and your equanimity to all sensations.


This is not hard for the first 15 minutes, until I realize that I’ve tucked my foot under your tail bone and my other foot is off to the left, 2 inches farther than it should be for an hour long sit. My fingers are tingling, and then they start vibrating and it feels like someone has stuck a pitchfork in my shoulder. “Anicca.” Goenka recites. “This too, shall pass.”

My breath is going from measured, to raw, to ragged as fireworks blast off in all parts of my body. I’m sure that when I open my eyes, steam will be rising from my legs, encasing veins full of lava. Possibilities are coming up all over the place. The possibility of pain. The possibility of numbness. The possibilities of both gangrene and amputation. All of these are valid possibilities. All of the sudden the pains are dissolving and become tingling all up and down my body, and I observe my mood shift from angry to joyous. This shift, instructs Goenka, is what you must observe with equanimity, because it, too, will arise and pass away.

“The next 6 days are very important to developing this technique. Your 3 group sittings every day will be Pali: Additthana, sittings of strong determination. You will return in one hour for another hour sitting.”

Finding my land legs again, I don’t really know what to think.

In an hour, we’re back as promised. This time I arrange myself a bit more carefully, but still after about 20 minutes, my muscles are rioting, rising up in revolt. They want to be heard. They stretch against the bones which are vibrating in an attempt to maintain order.

I’ve come here to get to know my body, and it is as angry as an engine that’s gone 10,000 miles without an oil change.


Day 5:

“I have so much to learn” loops through my brain with each ringing of the morning bell. I’m calm and accepting.

The chanting is more rhythmic and roiling this morning. Each session I start at the top of my head and walk through the neighborhood of my body, getting to know the neighbors. I’m in conversation with my hip for several minutes.

“Oh hello. Right hip is it? How’s the weather today? Oh I do agree it’s a bit chilly. Right, well, right knee is expecting me. I’m sorry you’re feeling a bit under the weather.” I move on to the next small house of sensation to check in. It’s been awhile.

There are external influences to ignore. An amorous fly buzzes sweet nothings in my ear, rustles and shuffles from those people who find it impossible to stay still.

The routine is starting to get to me. I meet a frog in the shower today, and I’m happy for the company. In the second session of the day, someone breaks, erupting in laughter; we all follow and are immediately hushed up. Goenka’s bedtime stories are keeping me going.  My dreams are starting to become more vivid and strange. I awoke from a short nap, where I had been spending some time with an ex boyfriend. “Let’s go.” He said as we sat on his big bed. “I can’t. I’m at Vipassana.” Frustration and pulsation: this feeling and this sensation go together.


Day 6:

“Today will be a challenge.” The bell ringer is having a bad day today, and we are all suffering. The newness of this Bikram style of meditation is wearing off, and the sensations are becoming clearer and more uncomfortable. By the 6th day we’ve reached the doldrums: there is no going back and going forward is going to involve 60 more hours of still sitting, 18 of them sitting still. I know consciously that there has been no recorded “Death by Sitting,” barring of course those suffering from DVT who would do well to avoid this sort of meditation.

Sitting down to round one, I close my eyes and enter the soundless, formless, inner lids, and slowly I start mapping what I sense. This mental cartography of one’s own consciousness can be wonderfully soft, sharply painful, excruciatingly boring or all of these things at once. I return to my mental plane seat and buckle up for a view of what’s going on today in the shifting world of my body.

I spend immeasurable time flying over the vast Snoozy plains of the largest continent: Boredom. Unexpectedly I arrive at the Great Depressions: large canyons that swallow up any light as you map the insides of their craggy ridges. They cause a great heaviness and anxiety in the chest. The deepest of all, Got Dumped Gorge, is deep and well tread, but I’ve never quite been able to reach the bottom of this pit. I feel it may very well come through to the other side of this inner world. Lifting my consciousness out of these pits I continue on over rolling land until I hit First-Kiss canal very unexpectedly. These flowing tingling sensations, make me forget completely about that deep space farther up, and I ride the wave floating around blissful beaches made up of the grains of lovely moments that blow here and there with the energetic waves and the wind.

I’m basking in the peace of these shifting coasts, juicing each second to make it last, instead of trying to squeeze it out of existence with oscillating thoughts of the past and the future. This is what this meditation is about. The change that makes this inner world heave up and down and create new landmasses, and take them away.


Day 7:

No inspiring thoughts come to me today. I just feel alone. I check the bulletin board twice as often than normal to remind myself that it’s day 7. It is… still. After breakfast I see my room-mate heading for the shower. I don’t know her real name so I call her SITS. It’s short for Sings In The Shower. I love taking showers when she does, because I get a soundtrack.

During lunch recess I retrieve my socks from the line. They are still damp so I proceed to dry them with a hairdryer, but it’s not working. The girl next to me pushes the button by the outlet, and I blast my face with hot air. The silence is rent with shatteringly beautiful laughter. It takes a second to realize it’s me.

By the end of day 7 we have 30 hours more of our mental backscratching to go, and the fatigue is potent. It takes a lot of effort to scour your brain over all your body parts, resulting in a sort of electric constipation, where the energy is just stuck. They offer us laxative tea at 5 o’clock tea time.

During the last sitting of the day, I’m more focused than ever, watching the hazy bits of my body. The middle children of meditation that don’t feel pain, and don’t feel pleasure, just a numbness, an overlooked-ness. Cloth on my skin is sensation, itching is sensation, and then I feel a heart beat.


Day 8:

On the morning of the 8th day, the valley outside the dining hall is full of milky mist like my teacup. I squint my eyes, cup the hills with my hands and purse my lips. Downstairs, someone has left the Day 7 sign up, and you can read the confusion in the wrinkled brows of the nervous, fidgeting women, who aren’t sure whether they’ve actually made it through the first week. The mood is visibly more relaxed, when the mistake is rectified by midday. By the third session of the day, the third mental orbit of my inner earth, the icecaps are melting and the rocky, continents of emotion are sinking into a deep, liquid relief. I crack my eyes at the end in a wash of energy.


Day 9:

I’m crying. I’m crying when I wake up. I’m crying when I sit down in the hall. I’m crying when I get up from the first two hours. This is new. Crying is the first external emotion I’ve shown. It’s not loud sobbing, and it’s not a single tear. It’s a silent, wet, overflowing originating from a tightness around my sinuses.

On the afternoon of the 9th day, tea is running a few minutes behind. As we are queued up outside the dining hall, one woman starts to laugh. Laughter spreads like a bush fire among cracked, dry voice boxes. We’re almost there.


METTA DAY Days 10-11

Day 10:

After our morning group sitting, we take our last silent pause. In the cumulative day, we are learning a new, soothing type of meditation called Metta translated as “loving kindness.” After we receive instruction, we can break our silence. During those last silent minutes we meditate on love. We give and receive forgiveness.

Walking out of the hall and onto the grass I am laughing, crying, tuning up my voice box and introducing myself.


Day 11:

Vipassana is a powerfully visceral meditation technique where the students sits in one unchanging position for long durations while experiencing the sensations of the body to develop both awareness of sensation and equanimity in all sensation.

This definition is the best I can do to define something that cannot be understood intellectually.

I first felt it the first day waiting, patiently… very patiently… for my headache to leave. I welcomed faith with a sensation of relief on day 2, only to have it turn to frustration on day 3, because the painful sensation of the headache had passed, and faith was now boring and stale. Frustration turned to anger, anger to acceptance, acceptance to faith, and so on and so on and so on. Each of these emotions equal in their impermanence, and so each a rational emotion, only as long as I let it pass.

For me Vipassana is peace. For me Vipassana is acceptance. For me it is different from what it will be for you. It is what it is, and it has to be felt to be understood.


Bhagavad sabba Mangalem. May all beings be happy,



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Did you know a Kangaroo Could Total a Car???

Strange but true I know! Kangaroos are very dangerous pests in Australia. They look like white bunnies that have had blood dumped all over them “Carrie” style, grown 7 feet tall, and can punch a hole in your car or knock you across town with there feet. No, this has not happened to me, but it is a very real threat along with the dinner plate sized spiders and the infamous drop bear that is a Koala that will drop out of the trees onto your head and attack you, or so say the native Australians, although they’re generally a few deep at the pub during such conversations.


I have not yet encountered any such creatures, because I’ve been living in Sydney and surrounding myself with lovely lululemon yoga rats! We’re a very mellow breed. We go to yoga classes daily, and mix it up with acro yoga, xtend barre, pilates classes and dance classes. You can spot a lululemon yoga rat by their super stretchy, black pants, shiny top and tendency to ask if you’ve seen all the crazy, useful hidden pockets in their gym bag. Things are even more beautiful in the store as we gear up for the Christmas season. It’s very odd to have summer in December (although it’s a bit of a wet one). I go the beach with my lovely friends and house mates. I’ve recently moved a few minutes outside the city into a fantastic house with 6 other people. My housemates cooked the most beautiful thanksgiving dinner, and we had representatives from the UK, Germany, Australia, Columbia, Canada, France, India and of course US represented hard core.


It hasn’t been all work. I’ve been chilling on the beaches in Bondi and Manly, going for long walks around the bays. The deep sapphire blue water licks the shore, creating these perfect vistas. Australia is known for it’s walks, and I’m looking forward to exploring more of them. (As long as I don’t meet any kangaroos!) I won’t let it be so long next time, until I write!


Hope all is well, and I wan to hear from all of you!!!


Passionately yours,



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The Transposition of Things – my first six weeks in Sydney

G’day as they say here in Sydney :)

It’s been awhile since my last update, mostly because I’ve been settling in, job searching, apartment hunting, and generally sleuthing out the best life possible for the next few months. After unpacking for the zillionth, and hopefully final time – at least for 6 months – I’m ready to sit down and fill you all in on my comings and goings down here in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s COOOOLD! It’s winter at the moment, and Sydney gets chill breezes, just like L.A. in the winter months – no snow though, and for that, I am thankful. Everyone I’ve come across says the same thing: “Just wait until Spring!” So I’m warming the chillier months by working at lululemon athletica in the heart of Sydney on George Street.

I’ve never been more excited to go to work in my life! I bounce out of bed, and positively prance down the street in my neon work out gear, which is one of the best perks of working in athletic wear! I am dressed whimsically for the city, which, like NYC seems to have a uniform of all black, but it also has the increadibly laid back attitude of Santa Monica. It’s like if Los Angeles and New York City took running starts in a game of chicken, and forgot to put the breaks on, they would collide and become Sydney.

Everything looks and feels like home here, but it’s just tweaked a bit. Business close around 6 pm everyday, except Thursday – shopping day, with reduced hours on the weekends. Life comes before work. It is winter in summer, and when I landed here, everything seemed backward. I was in shell shock. Australia is not like Asia, where everything is foreign. People live a westernized life, but in a different key, at a slower, leisurley tempo. If you fold the world in two on the equator and faced the two continents to look at each other, I bet they’d be long lost twins. Looking at a map of Australia it feels like I’m looking at the U.S., but upside-down: Maine is now Tasmania, Florida is in the tropics still, but it’s North and it’s called Cape York Pen. Texas is now the Northern Territory, and has a city called Darwin – a tad less creationist then it’s mate.

I feel inside-out, upside-down, transposed and tessalated, trying all the different things I’ve always wanted to try, and being all the different people I’ve always wanted to be. My work is led by my passion, running neck and neck with a life filled with compulsory leisure hours. I am learning to be still. I am learning to be. I am learning. I am.


I’d love to hear from all of you!






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