When I was nineteen, I stepped foot inside of my first rave, and it changed my life. I was coming out of a deep teenage depression wrought with mild alcoholism. The rave called me to it. I felt such a strong pull towards that dark, dank ice rink in Oakland, but I had no idea the lasting effect that night would have.
It was on that dance floor that I first connected with my spiritual self. I had felt that connectedness, that oneness before, but not since I was a child running free amidst the ocean breeze.
On that dance floor, with the bass pounding, I felt the presense of God/the universe/the divine. I felt my heart open and my lungs expand. With that first breath, I knew I would never be the same. I had never felt a breath so deep and, though it would be three years until I started practicing yoga, those moments on the dance floor, connecting with the oneness of everything, were preparing me for a journey I had no idea I was about to go on.
Through the music and the dancing, I began to heal. Like anything the beginning phases of healing are exciting, beautiful, freeing, but as time goes on the real work begins and the darkness comes out. It is then that you are given a choice--continue forward or shove it back down inside pretending that beautiful moment in time never existed.
In his yoga sutras, Patanjali talks about how drugs can bring you to an enlightened state, but that for most people the state isn't lasting.
Raves were known for their drug culture. Fortunately, I danced my way through one that flaunted the motto, "Love the music, not the drugs."
And, though I did still do some drugs, they were mostly of the hallucinogenic variety. With each trip, I delved deeper into myself and extracted new pieces of me. After every trip, I was inspired and motivated to follow through on the revelations I'd had while tripping. Not everyone had that same ability.
In their sober state fear would take over, they'd push the drug experience aside and continue on through life in the same anxiety ridden way they had been in before. I never understood it. How could they have this experience that connected them so deeply to the divine, to the universe, only to go back to the same dark hole?
For me, each trip inspired me to move forward, to let go, to embrace life more deeply. And then I started practicing yoga and meditating, which only furthered the connectedness I'd developed on the dance floor.
With these experiences being a part of my daily life, I found that my true darkness, insecurity, and fear were coming at me strongly. They had to be released before I would be free. The beginning phases of this releasing process are extremely shattering. It invokes levels of fear I never thought possible, but I knew I had to keep going forward. And, as I am a "stubborn asshole," to quote a dear friend of mine, in the beginning I thought I knew EVERYTHING! In the beginning, I was very arrogant about my journey.
I didn't know shit.
And I know even less now. What I do know is that I am so grateful I continued to face my fears, that I took my experiences and used them to catapult me forward, to help me heal, and ultimately, to help others heal. I am grateful that I spent the time doing the work and that I will spend time every day for the rest of my life working on healing and helping the world heal. I am grateful that I didn't shove the shit back inside and ignorantly become numb to life. I am grateful I have the courage to feel my feelings so that I can be free, so that I can love.
Having the courage to work through and release these hidden beasts takes time. It takes dedication. It takes patience. And it isn't easy, but once a glimpse of freedom shines through you know that all of the work was worth it. Every moment of pain was worth it to be able to breathe deeply and feel completley, without fear, without strain, without attaching and holding on.
Every moment is worth it. And, along the way, that pain, that hurt, the angst, the fear, it can be used. You have a choice you can avoid it or you can face it and use it, alchemize it into light, into beauty, into music, into poetry, into stories that you can give to the world to help it heal too.
Recently, I went to a yoga class on a helipad taught by Elena Brower and Jennifer Pansa with beats by DJ Tasha Blank. It was such a beautiful experience and it evoked memories from my time on the dance floor. With the setting sun and the water behind me, the soft beats in my ears and the guidance of a beautifully meditative flow, I felt the convergence of every piece of my spiritual life being brought together in one place. My heart swelled, and all I felt was grateful, so grateful for the beauty of my life.
In those moments of deep gratitude, I am reminded of times when my angst was so bad that I couldn't see outside of myself, that I cried more than I smiled, that I battled to get out of bed because my heart ached so deeply, and then I thank God that I had the strength to feel those feelings completely, that I used that pain and wrote my heart out, that I do yoga and meditate every day and that today, I am lighter, freer, happier; I am able to smile and breathe and feel the beat of my happy, grateful heart. In those moments, all I want is to help others see that they can feel this way too.
Peace and Love,