014

"These streets took all my soul from me
Tried to leave me in the cold
These streets took my conscience from me
Now tough love is all I show."
- Future


I've been listening to this song a lot lately. I like to put it on really loud while I walk down the streets of New York. This year is my tenth year anniversary of my engagement to this city. I don't know if I'll ever marry it. It's one of those things where I'm one foot in and one foot out. But it's my city, imprinted like memory foam that has shaped me into who I am becoming. As to any creative, some bouts of feelings of lack of inspiration can creep in take over. When this happens, my tonic is to take very loud music and walk around. Tonight I was walking home from a party and I put my headphones on to this song picking up where it left off. This year has been a test. A test of faith. Of courage of strength. As I listened to the song, those very lyrics hit to my affair with New York. The pulsation of the city can steal your soul, can leave you in the cold. There's many times I felt like I wasn't going to make it. They can take your conscious, when you're surrounded by the most beautiful successful people on the planet. They can take your conscious when you slave away at your job. They can your conscious from you heartbreak after heartbreak. They can take your conscious when time moves faster here, friends move faster, passions move faster, loves move faster. But the end is what I like. 'Now tough love is all I show.' I thought, tough love. If I can make it here, if I can say I survived this concrete jungle, then absolutely nothing can get in my way. As I walked on, I caught a glimpse of myself in a window, smiled, and said, 'Try me.'

013

If I slow down enough, I sometimes have a moment to remember how I got here. It was 2009 and probably around 1am in the recording studios on the third floor at Collective Hardware. Sean Lennon and Kemp were recording some music with a few others, jamming away until the early hours of the morning. I was sitting on the couch, with a few drinks in me, when I noticed an older Korean man staring at me from the corner of my eye. He had on a fitted white t-shirt which held tightly to his very strong arms, denim jeans and combat boots. A fine Italian blazer was by his side. His hair was pulled back into a pony tail and he had side burns in a silver I had never seen before. He took a long drag of a cigarette as he looked at me with stern eyes. Moments later, he walked over to sit next to me and told me things about myself I had never told anyone in that room, in any of those rooms in that five floor building. Stunned, I turned to look at him to ask him how he knows all of that but before I could open my mouth, he smiled and said, “And you have to be happy, for no reason at all you have to be happy.” And then he got up and walked away and I couldn’t figure out if something was in my drink that took me to another planet. I later found out this was not just any man but Grandmaster Sung Baek, the 75th Grandmaster of the Dong Han Pa lineage. I eventually went on to study acupuncture with him but ironically, the teacher appeared before the student was ready. Someone recently called me a phony practitioner. In the past, I think it would have felt hurtful. My path the last seven years has for sure been challenging. There are far more disciplined people than I. There are many times when I’ve wanted to quit. To just give up. But I’m still here. I’m still trying to become the best version of myself I can be. Everyone’s practice looks different and everyone comes to this planet with different capacities but each of us has the opportunity to experience our greatness. For some, it may come easy. For others, it’s more of a challenge. But for all, the greatest practice is being able to get up, again and again, and keep moving forward to where you want to go.

012

I've been in New York for ten years and every part of me is tired. Every street is filled with more memories than people have in a lifetime. The come-and-go of this city will never cease to amaze me. One person in and then they're out. One friend in and then they're gone. One boyfriend/girlfriend in and then it's over. One job in and then it's done. Everything moves at the speed of lightening and we can't remember if we're hurt or sad or happy or angry or relieved or scared or afraid or excited. But every street is filled with a memory to take you right back to that moment where you realized that you loved something or hated something or miss something. The people who live in New York are a special breed. We are fighters. We are believers. We are hell bent on making it happen, whatever that it is and however long that it takes and wherever the winding, bumpy road takes us. We're still standing. I want everyone to feel proud about that. I have to remind myself to feel proud about that. If we can make it here, and by make it I mean still find a way to love, to laugh, to be open, to smile, to hope, to dream, to keep going, then I think we can make it anywhere. And by anywhere, I mean we can make it in our own hearts and minds to conquer anything.

011

On a cold night in February, Allison and I made our way into the packed Rose Bar for a friend's fashion week party. He just launched a new collection and was celebrating with a huge bash with a live performance by a rapper on the rise known as Saint Jhn. It's been years since I've been back in that scene and while I was fully expecting to be miserable and overwhelmed by the industry I left behind, something wild happened. I missed it. A lot. When I left the fashion industry for yoga seven years ago, I went through a renunciation period. I sold all my clothes. I stopped caring about menswear / fashion / the latest + greatest. I stopped going to events and parties. And I thought I was doing the right thing by trading that in for yoga, green juice, and lululemon. But what happened that night was I felt inspired. Peoples outfits inspired me. The performance, which we fucking incredible, reminded me of my love, and I mean love, for rap music and inspired me. The collection inspired me, making me miss my life in menswear. I couldn't remember feeling inspired like that. Good like that. Alive like that. Not having to do XYZ to get to that space except show up and be surrounded by creatives and creativity. I've been letting this marinate for a while, as I've spent the last few months rekindling my love for fashion and blasting Kodak Black, A$AP ROCKY, Saint Jhn, and Migos in my ears as I walk down the streets of New York. We're always under the influence of what we should do that rarely we tap in and remind ourselves what feels good. What inspires us. What lights us up. My mission statement has changed since that night : the practices of awareness are not meant to make you more aware of what a piece of sh*t you we are (aka not another way for us to feel bad about ourselves). They're meant to make us aware of what really lights us up and be fearless about pursuing that, no matter how different it looks that what we thought life would look like. So now if you excuse me, I'm heading back to Pinterest for more photos like this, cause it's just making me feel real good

009

In February my Teacher sent me an email saying I was not allowing to come back for one month. I was not allowed to respond to the email. I was not allowed to reach out. To meet your Teacher in this lifetime is one of the most treasured gifts. The bond is incomparable. They may feel nothing for you but you feel everything for them. Their job is to act like a hammer, chiseling away all of your insecurities, doubts, fears. It's by no means an easy process. I've left his office crying many times. I'm often so angry at him for reasons I can't even formulate and yet I have more respect for him than anyone on the planet. His approval is everything to me, which he knows, and thus he will not give it. He will challenge every insecurity of mine so I can conquer each one. While he can be hard, he has been there for me through some of the most challenging experiences in life, and helps me get through those that linger through the memories of traumas of childhood, long before we met. When I finally returned to his office, my directions were to take the trash out, clean, then go sit in the room and meditate. For two hours, I have to sit in this room. No mantra. No sound. No breath work. Just sit. I cried for two hours. I came out of the room red faced and puffy. "How was it?" He asked with a smirk. "Can't you tell I cried the whole time?" And for the first time in six years he gave me a high five. I learned how much we run away from ourselves. I learned it not in the way I read that in a book. I learned it by sitting with myself for two hours on that first day back and seeing what all the distractions have pushed down. The phone can distract me, food an distract me, meditations can distract me, mantras can distract me. But without going in and just feeling everything and letting ourselves process the pain, we don't let it ever settle. It's just a credit card bill that never gets paid. To be able to sit with ourselves is now my understanding of the first step of healing. Everything. It takes practice but with time, we can begin to demagnetize the imprints of memories that construct who we are and create a new layer, layer by layer, of who we want to be.

008

 l'm on day 8 which is a huge feat for me since day three is always my silent sniper. It's reminded me how much writing makes me feel good. It's reminds me that I have a gift. It's reminding me to focus on my strengths, the inherent strengths I have that require no effort on my part but to show up and allow them to express themselves. Too often, our weaknesses take the forefront. The parts of ourselves that we do heart wrenchingly want to change to feel better. The parts of ourselves we try to hide from the world. The parts of ourselves that rob us of our radiance. But what if we stopped focusing on our weaknesses and instead stopped to take in the fragrance of power that comes from honoring our gifts?

007

Five years ago I just moved into my apartment in Williamsburg and on the first day I noticed a very, and I mean very, handsome man working on his motorcycle in front of our building. He smiles. I smiled. I walked into the building thinking I should have said hi. I eventually decided to go back down but he was already gone. I boldly left a note on his bike with my number. What I didn't realize was that he lived two floors above me. Over the last five years, he has become a very special light in my life. Whenever I need help with something, Andre is there. I feel safe knowing if I need anything or if I'm in trouble, he is there. He walks around the neighborhood and everyone knows him. He shakes all the old gents hands. He compliments all the grandmami's and makes them flash toothy grins and blush in ways they probably haven't in years. He knows everyone's name and he's the kindest person I've met. Anytime I need something, he's there for me. Whenever I can't reach something, he helps me. Over the last year I made a goal to finally get back in shape, to feel as strong as the athlete I once was. We go for long runs in the park and talk about life and he knows so much for someone I would have judged as knowing so little. At the end of our last run, we did a sprint where I almost fainted. I watched him take off with dust trailing behind in my face and I could barely move my legs after ten laps. I continued anyways, moving as fast as I could. He stood at the finish line smiling, waiting for me to give me a high five. Him standing there, with a huge smile, reminded me I need him. I need friends. I need support. I need great people to remind me to be great. I need allies to show me my blind spots. I need enemies to show me where I have room for growth. The spiritual world enforces this idea that we don't need anyone but ourselves. The reality, I think, is that we need everyone to help us see + mold the best version of ourselves.

006

I've been thinking a lot about trust lately. Trust within the tension. The friction of change. When we have an experience that gives us anxiety, do we go through that fire and learn something that might catapult us through growth or do we trust our body's signals and walk away? Or both? At MediClub circles tonight I led the opening share and I brought up this topic of trust. Across the board, we're all trying to figure out how to do that. I had dinner with a friend after and he said, "I always thought that trust meant you believed the outcome was going to happen but it's really hoping it will happen without being sure. To trust first and then believe later." I've experienced that the higher I go the more things are thrown at me to challenge my trust. In some areas I am firm. In other areas I feel like I'm losing my mind and can't find my inner compass. @jesseisrael reminded me tonight that the more you sit in the fire of not knowing, the better you get at handling with the heat. @freeandnative always reminds me the Universe is sending us tests to see if we can trust ourselves, love ourselves, and believe in ourselves enough in our ability to come through when we want to give up. As the powerful Nina Turner said, "We can't have testimony without a test, and we are being tested right now for whether or not we've got courage enough, hope enough, fight enough and love enough to do what is necessary." Trust is a muscle. We just have to use it

005

I don't really want to write this post because it's my weak spot but I figure if even Superman has a weakness, I my as well. Everyone has their kryptonite. Mine is love. My romantic life is perpetually Monica yelling out, "I'M BREEZY." In my relationships and now as a single 20-something in New York City, I've been forced / inspired to look at those...not so breezy parts of myself. The biggest lesson, the biggest reflection, the biggest shadow I've come to realize is my inability to trust : to trust myself, to trust others and that they won't hurt me, to trust that I'll meet my partner-in-crime. I've been thinking about trust all day :: where does it come from, how does one earn it, how do we hone in on it when we would much rather try to control an outcome, whether it be in dating, in work, in healing a health issue. And I realized, we have two choices, only two choices, and nothing but these two choices. One is to trust our neurosis, which haven't gotten us anywhere except to trouble. And two, is to trust the Universe. One takes away our power, one gives us power. The imprint of our memories which create our neurosis can cause us to forget that the Universe wants what's best for us. Trust is just a muscle. Starting any new work out suck royally brut eventually, with enough persistence and steadiness in our discipline, we see results that we didn't imagine possible. So I think trust is like that. We have to do some heavy lifting to learn the art of trusting ourselves, trusting others, and trusting that everything will be okay, more than okay. And if we can't do that, that is why God created chocolate.

004

I spent the whole day trying to find a picture that could recreate the image I saw in New Mexico in June 2015. I couldn't, so this will do. The desert sky was the brightest blue I had ever seen in my life. I was standing in the Tantric shelter looking towards the tent Harijiwan was about to start teaching in. People were moving sluggish in the heat, carrying their mats, sheepskins, and everything else inside as if they were carrying bricks. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something white flowing in the wind, like a curtain catching a cool summers breeze. I turn to my left and see four women walking to the tent, in head to toe white, high white turbans with a long veil flowing behind them. I was mesmerized. As I walked down as stepped inside, I saw them sitting in the front row, with more women dressed the same. Each of them had their veil attached to their turban by a pin at their forehead which held a massive jewel, each in different colors. It was like something out of a movie about royalty in the East, many, many years ago. @harijiwan sitting on the stage, finally took the microphone and said, "Guru Hans who found the Tantric necklace just passed on so well chant Akal for his to help his soul pass on from the Earth's magnetic field into the blue ethers." I think my jaw was on the floor. I felt like I was in Star Wars. Or Harry Potter. Or both. I feel like I lost touch with magic in life years ago. To believe in something unbelievable. To use my imagination to experience something. To have hope in that there is something more then just the every day hustle we do. This practice has given me that. To learn about the unknown and unseen. To believe in magic in the world, when everything around us seems to be falling apart. To learn about things like the Radiant Body, the metallic psyche, White Tantric, the Blue Ethers, 11th day of the moon, Hansani, Sodarshan, Sobagh, Tershula, Blue Gap, the Quantum Technology of the Shabd Guru, Humanllogy ... all of these have blown my mind open to look for magic in the world, once again. Maybe it's real, maybe it's not. I don't care. All that matters is the world is once again magical and that's enough for me

003

 A couple week ago at MediClud circles, we talked about waves. How live is just a series of waves and you have a choice : to learn to ride them or get taken down by one. I've been in some choppy waters the past few weeks after months and months of smooth sailing. It reminded me that no matter what, storms will come. It's part of nature. It's reminded me that change is not linear but we can keep swimming in the directions towards where we want to be. And it also reminded me that sometimes, the waves seem so big and so terrifying, or maybe you're just learning how to surf and everything is scary, but if you can find the strength to say, "baby, bring it on" you might find you actually catch the wave and ride it out. So these choppy waters have been taking me down but I keep standing up and paddling out and I think that's the point of it all. Today I went to the gym and got on the treadmill and it had a little TV in front of my face. I didn't turn it on. I just looked at myself in the reflection. I stared for a long time. I ran hard. My favorite song came on, 1942 by PND so I cranked up the volume. And I looked at myself, smiled, and said, "baby, bring it on."

002

(earlier today) it's 7.23 am on a Saturday morning. I'm in head-to-toe white heading to my 4th White Tantric workshop. There's a lot of promises behind the event so as I sat on the A train, which was filled with sleeping men and smelled like rotten egg rolls, I tried to think if my life has changed much since that first course two years ago. Of course, now that I ask myself whether or not I've changed, I'm totally blanking, like when Chris asks me to tell him what a pulse means. Five years of a masters degree in Chinese Medicine, all this inner + outer work, and he takes one look at me with the stern eyes of a Master and my mind becomes a blank as a freshly cleaned chalkboard. Gurujas once said in class, "80% of your life is set for you when you arrive on planet earth so you can't do much about that but you can change how you react to it." I come from a background of addicts, so I tend to think self-destruction runs through my veins. If I can look back, every training I've done, every class I've taken, every cleanse I've tried over the last five years has been to eradicate it, to clean that part of me out. Not much worked, at all, until I found Kundalini Yoga. So when I heard White Tantric was coming to town two years ago, with all of its glorious promises, I was determined. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. Ever. I came out with such amazement at what I could do, what this body could do, what this mind could do. That's the reason I keep going back. Most of my life I disliked myself. Yoga + meditation became a way to like myself. White Tantric has been an opportunity for me to utterly amaze myself. To be able to say, "I did it" when my strong dislike for discipline leaves me saying I couldn't more than I would like. While I can't pinpoint that Tantric has done this or has done that, it's an opportunity to put myself through the fire so when the coals of life burn hot, I can say, "remember that time you did it?" and walk across with grace (or something like that).

001

Since January my life has changed a lot. I let go of a skincare line that brought me much recognition but I wasn't happy. I began teaching more and working with private clients, which was fantastic until I started to feel uninspired. But I'm doing what I love, I thought. It wasn't until this week that I realized that yes I'm doing what I love but I was still molding myself to the expectations of the industry, of others, and ultimately not listening to myself. Things have been fantastic, for sure. I feel better than ever, for sure. I'm happier than I've been in a long time, for sure. But when @jesseisrael sent me a response the other day that said, "We're on the same team, D" it reminded me that we're all in this together. All the time, just trying to figure out how to make this life work. And I forgot that as I subtly positioned myself in a way that didn't reflect that. I just got off the phone with my dad and he's a very successful entrepreneur in Baltimore who's been having a wild week, as is usual when you're running massive operations. When I asked him how he does it, how he faced so many massive challenges on a daily basis, he said, "Baby every morning you still gotta get up. Get out of bed. Do 100 push-ups and face the day." (Yes at 50-something he does 100 push-ups every morning). Some days are good. Some days are bad. But everyday we've got to get out of bed and face the day. And I think if we can remember to connect with others and be vulnerable enough to say, "hey, me too, I'm in it, here's my hand" we can get through a lot, together. A friend of mine gave me their hand the other day and reminded me it's okay to jump off to writing more, something that I love but haven't been doing. With their push, I've decided to do 100 days of writing, sharing, observing. So here goes nothing. Or everything. Who knows what unfolds when we fearlessly commit to our passions but I'm ready to find out.