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Community Events Stories of Power Tools and Tips

I’m Not Alone

Nature knows well about the cycles of endings and rebirths.

I was born amid the concrete, in a busy city, and my experience of nature was limited to the plants in my grandfather’s patio. At home we had a dog, two canaries in a cage, and two water turtles my mother cared for, all orphans that brought some color to the pale gray atmosphere.

Occasionally I went to the park, where I worried about who would play with me since my brothers enjoyed entertaining themselves without my presence. I carried a shaky feeling in my belly all the times I was around them; I feared getting hit. During the family summers spent at the beach, I was on the outside, observing how others enjoyed the ocean. Looking back, I was disconnected somehow, as if life was not meant for me.

I moved from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles, and after 25 years of developing a career, I moved again to a place I didn’t even know existed. On the big Island of Hawaii, nature grows raw and wild, active volcanos destroy and build new land, double rainbows shine through the rain and ocean waves erase the shake, the fear, the anguish.

In my new house, I pull the relentless weeds that grow between the banana trees my neighbors gave me. Although they may have a purpose, weeds do harbor insects and diseases damaging my new garden. I want to pull out what hurts and keep what nurtures me.

Do the weeds know they will die? What do plants know?

I had another house before, a seven-acre dream for my family to rest, unite, and thrive. I worked for ten years to finish the building, a shelter for peace, for connecting deeply. I insisted on something that was not meant to be.

Have you ever insisted on something that was never meant to be?

I created a castle and placed a prince on it, a white house with many windows to view the green lush and early morning sunrises. I had a plan, but it was not God’s plan. If there is a God, I guess she would acknowledge my efforts in trying to know her.

Is there a destiny that we are meant to fulfill?

When things don’t work as planned, what do we do?

I adapted and placed the house for sale. I protested and complained. I didn’t want to give up bathing in the rain as plants do. Walking under the light of thousands of stars on new moons; meditating under the full moon shadow. Breathing fresh air as if for the first time, listening to thousands of myna and saffron finches chirping in the mornings. Sleeping in the deep darkness of silence.

Something told me to move on. I held tight to the house posts. The day it was sold, I cried like I have never done before. Yet I knew I needed to live in a city with a good internet connection for my online classes: close to my son’s school and basketball practice; closer to people. I needed to reclaim a space where I could own my journey, my growth, and my beauty. I closed a cycle, with grief also for the ending of my marriage. 

I’m allowing the growth a new me. It feels like for fifty years I have been living a life for others, for an idea of how to behave to be accepted; to please in order to receive love, and to allow being imprisoned in order to belong. I said yes when I wanted to say no, I cleaned after someone else’s mistakes, I held tight when I should have let go.

Today my inner tree grows new understandings. I feel bravery sprouting at my feet. I have grown big ears for listening, and big arms to hold it all, the ugly and the shiny. If I see a friend, my attention is devoted to listening to her; if I teach a class, I am authentic and honestly aligned with myself, without anxiety, and without the need to get things done in a certain way.

I am not the sum of my accomplishments, but the sum of my understandings.

I am re-surfacing from the underworld of patriarchal standards, breaking the chains of what it means to be a woman. Hawaii taught me how to change my car oil and filter, fill my propane tanks, trim my trees, and fix what is broken.  I drive with a machete in my trunk, and a swimsuit and towel by my side, ready to meet challenges and to have fun.

I recognize wildlife everywhere: I am fed by mangos and avocados, washed by raindrops, embraced by the wind, and rocked to bed with the sound of coqui frogs. Nature tells me that my life was meant for me.

I want to hold the hands of my beloved ones as I hold geckos and dead birds. I want to honor my relationships like the natural world honors me.

As I type, I am engulfed by life’s rhythmic tunes.  My dog lays by my feet, her snores tickling my skin. To the west, I hear distant cars passing by. To the east, laughing children run. They are dying and rebirthing, going through cycles like me. I am not alone.

Hamakua Coast
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Community Events Stories of Power Tools and Tips

Experiencing Freedom in Mexico!

I am standing with my suitcases packed, gazing at the blue-turquoise ocean and wishing for this moment to last forever. In a few hours I will be flying back to Los Angeles, but I don’t want to go back. I want to be suspended in the intersubjectivity, created by our group here in the sacred Maya land, a place where time bends in the intertwined spaces of myth and history.

Our trip to Mexico was not a tour – it was a transformative adventure. I fell in love with each participant, each hero of this seven-day journey. Together, we took long walks, swam in pools and Cenotes, shared meals, practiced movements and sang old songs in our long drives. We slowed down thoughts and opened ourselves to listen to each other’s stories. We connected with an ancient culture that taught us about uncertainty and death. We listened to the power of the ancestors, to birds in the jungle, to the silence at the top of the pyramids. We were part of it.

The tears we shed in our goodbyes seemed to wash away all doubts about who we are. Today we face the clear sky, inhaling the sun energy inside. We are also the Maya, we are part of the dream of the plumed serpent, journeying through experiences, recognizing and remembering ourselves.

Orion still shines on top of my head, the pleiades just behind me.

On this journey I embraced my whole being, accepting my shortcoming as I accepted the curves at the edges of the pyramid, laughing at some irrational thoughts popping in my head about what might happen, and experiencing life as it is: raw, edgy, pure, wholeheartedly awesome.

My tears at the end were at realizing how well everything went, how blessed I was to be around vibrant beings shinning innocence and wisdom. I updated old interpretations about hardship and suffering. None is needed to live in this new time, 2020, a year to jump grooves.

Thank you to you all, friends and my real family, for these moments, forever sealed in my heart.

Aerin

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Stories of Power

Don’t Waste Your Time and Your Power Fearing Freedom.

Can you deviate from the path that your fellow men have lined up for you? And if you remain with them, your thoughts and your actions are fixed forever in their terms. That is slavery. The warrior, on the other hand, is free from all that. Freedom is expensive, but the price is not impossible to pay. So, fear your captors, your masters. Don’t waste your time and your power fearing Freedom.” – Carlos Castaneda

Over dinner my son mentioned the upcoming Valentine’s Day, and that he had received a rose from a girl at school. As my husband served us pasta and zucchini, my son asked me if he could send flowers to her. I nodded. I was curious to know if the boys in the class sent flowers to each other. When I asked him, he responded:

“Is that something I can do?”, my son asked eyes-wide open.

“Do you want to do it”? I asked.        

“Yes, sure.”

My husband intervened: “No way, that is not common. Flowers are usually for women.” 

I got the familiar crunch in my belly that I still get when gender related issues are being brought up. I said that men have the same rights to express their feelings and to share them instead of packing them up under a bicep curl or drinking them out on a six-pack of beer while screaming at the Superbowl.  The sentence rolled out of my tongue quick and sharp, as if it had been rehearsed in my head for years. I was about to continue on the unfairness of gender differences but I stood put. I caught myself overreacting. I had momentarily stopped being an adult and a young part of me was raging. I was back in my childhood. 

I grew up in a household with five men. Throughout the years, I witnessed them stuffing up the ‘nice feelings’ that made them real, such as vulnerability, kindness or caring. Instead, they were allowed to express only one of them: anger.  In particular, one of my brothers was verbally and physically abusive. His target? Women. Since I was 3 or 4 years-old , I would listen to his complaints and sarcastic comments: “Women cannot drive, women cannot run a company, women only clean and cook, that is the only thing they are good for, etc.” He seemed to enjoy my defensive outbursts when I was expressing a different view, but it only fueled his ranting. As I grew older, the ranting got physical. He would pull my hair, plug my nose, push me and threaten to punch me. It was hard to make him stop or find places to escape from him and hide. At the beginning, crying would make him eventually stop but as the years went by, to be effective I needed to become more dramatic, pulling my own hair out and hitting my face, for him to stop. During those moments he would tell me: “There you go, I always knew you were crazy.” 

Like most of us, much of my identity was built around these early childhood experiences. I got sick when I was nine and realized that illness could also be a wall, a protector, to keep my captor away from me. I remember laying down on my parents’ bed with high fever and experiencing the boundaries of the bed as safe fences. It was a cozy shelter, where I could play in my imagination and travel far. To keep myself safe, I didn’t eat much, so I would heal slower. It took me thirty years of reflection and inner work to realize how much of my personality had been built around the miss-interpretation that I can only be safe if I am sick, or if I somehow hurt myself by denying food and pleasure. 

Carlos Castaneda’s teachings were the turning point that set me on the journey to freedom. When I first met him I was in a self-created prison of amnesia, about who I was, consumed by my poor self-defense mechanisms and a lack of self-esteem. He asked me: “What have they done to you, Chola?”

I was almost offended by his question. “No one did anything to me. I am fine,” I defiantly answered. I remembered clearly his sweet smile back to me, filled with compassion. I didn’t trust him, he was a man, like my captor.  However, I felt he was talking to the real me under the layers, the part of me seeking to be free. 

I became one of his several direct students, and even though it was a clear student-teacher relationship, inside I experienced him as my grandfather.  My grandfathers on both sides of my family died when I was young and I never had a relationship with them. Castaneda urged me and supported me to study; no one in my family had done that before. He would call me and check in with me and help me with my homework, sometimes dictating my papers over the phone. He also urged me to observe how I held steadfastly to my self-image, to my low self-esteem and to my conditioning because of fear. I feared being labeled as the betrayer, one who abandoned her family. I trembled at the possibility of letting go of my identity of a doormat; it was all I had. But the pain of holding onto it was greater than the fear of change. 

Freedom is always, at your fingertips”, Castaneda told me, “do you dare to jump?”

His training under his tutelage was rigorous. We daily, for hours, practiced exercises similar to martial arts. I started eating full meals four times a day, no sugars, no salt, no caffeine or stimulants. I needed to cook my meals at home, except when we went out to eat with him. I changed my name and started speaking a new language, and for the first time in my life, I felt strong and confident and gained weight! I became an A student, something I thought  impossible to achieve before, and today, I hold two Master degrees. I fell in love with knowledge. And most importantly, I hooked onto what seers’ called the bird of freedom.

Today, I continue holding the same discipline of healthy eating, exercising and engaging my brain in deep thinking and I intend to do so until my last breath. I keep putting down my fences by questioning and dissolving limiting beliefs. I accepted that my value as a being has nothing to do with my gender, physical strength, money or weight, that not all men are like my brother, and that no one is out there trying to hurt me anymore. I have been taking responsibility for the fact that the only person that can really hurt me is myself.  I faced the scary path of commitment to long term relationships and to a deep love for two men: my husband and my son. 

Freedom today for me is the acceptance of who I am including my shortcomings, my raspy and sometimes loud voice. Freedom is no longer about breaking through boundaries outside of me. It is about breaking through the split inside of me, between my conditioning and my heart. Freedom is bridging and integrating the inner split and fighting to be authentic, a journey that continues to become.

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Stories of Power Tools and Tips

To Seek Freedom is the Only Driving Force I know

One of the main premises of the Warrior’s Way that I learned from Carlos Castaneda was Freedom. He defined Freedom as the possibility to perceive not only the world taken for granted but also to experience everything else that is humanly possible to accomplish.

When Miles and I met Castaneda twenty-five years ago, we wanted to be free. But we didn’t really know what we wanted to be free from. The quest for Freedom to perceive and experience without limitations took us on a long journey of inner discoveries and life changes. We asked ourselves, what is freedom? How does it look like in daily life? The answers are complex, multifaceted and ever evolving.

Castaneda wrote:

“To seek freedom is the only driving force I know. Freedom to fly off into that infinity out there. Freedom to dissolve; to lift off; to be like the flame of a candle, which, in spite of being up against the light of a billion stars, remains intact, because it never pretended to be more than what it is: a mere candle.”

As an example, let’s reflect about freedom in the context of gender identity. Our gender identity is given to us at birth, according to our external anatomy. From day one onwards we are conditioned and molded according to the parameters assigned by our socialization to that gender identity: who we can be, how to behave, our thoughts, feelings, ability to express ourselves, how to dress, what jobs to have, how to love. Each one of us was and is affected by the social conditioning to a different degree perhaps, but the conditioning is pervasive.

From a very young age I was taught to help my mother with household chores that included making my brother’s beds while they played outside. I wanted to play soccer outside too, but it was not proper for a girl to get her shoes dirty and bruise her legs. At the family dinner I also wanted to express my thoughts as the boys did, but I was shushed away. I was conditioned to believe that men were more important and that when men talk, women listen to them attentively, and not the other way around.

It is that type conditioning that interferes with our freedom, though circumstances may be different for each individual.

For instance, a woman might be conditioned to work hard to reach a high profile career, while in fact having a deep hidden desire to be a mom and a housewife. In many cultures, women with no career path are given very little value. And in other cultures, women without a husband are given little value.

A man can embark on a quest of being a successful high-profile lawyer, while his true desire is to be an artist or a musician. He was conditioned to believe that art won’t bring success. At times our social conditioning is so strong that we don’t know to ask ourselves the questions that let us pursue our true interests and passions, while allowing us to strive for fulfilment of our true potential and live a life of content and joy.

Rarely we have the internal space to question, Who am I? What do I want? What am I here for? To ask without feeling the rush to please our environment’s demands or what it had imposed on us. Have you discovered your true self yet? Have you asked what it desires, what are it’s passions and dreams? Or, as Carlos Castaneda would ask: “Are you on a path that has heart?.” Are you working on freeing yourself from the entanglement of expectations of others and the ideas of what is proper and acceptable? 

Let’s acknowledge, in the context of our gender identity, that men and women’s biology is different. We have the SAME VALUE, and should have the SAME RIGHTS to be ourselves, the same opportunities to study, to have careers, to fulfill our dreams as individuals, beyond gender. To be treated with fairness and respect by our society. However, our brains work differently and often our desires and ways for fulfillment are different.

Choosing to follow what is really deep hidden inside of us, our heart desire is a process of discovery and courage. It is the journey of the hero, the warrior that wants to break through the domination of the conditioning and the rules implanted in our brains, to break through the dormant auto-pilot of habits and repetitions, and be alive, be authentic and loyal to our souls’ purpose.

Freedom is to choose to be your unique YOU, even if people around disapprove of your choices; it is about going for your dreams, in spite of the obstacles. It means to embrace who you truly are, not hide it, fake it or be embarrassed by it. Freedom has a price: you will need to take responsibility for the choices you make, keep focus and sustain your purpose without giving up.

Yes, it is hard at times in our lives to change course and pursue our true desires, but it’s a worthwhile task. We invite you to consider these three open questions:

  • Did you ever knowingly change the course of your life because you listened to your true self?
  • What obstacles did you encounter along the way?
  • Did this journey enrich your life?

Please share your story if you can. Thank you!

Yours,

Aerin

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Community Tools and Tips

2020: We are Present to the Challenge!

Aloha Friends!

Miles, Axel and I spent the last week of 2019 at home, slowing down, wrapping up the year, paying bills and recycling clothing and belongings. We have been downsizing. Not only at the material level. Most importantly, downsizing emotional drama and unnecessary negativity. We cooked every meal, we slept lots. We cocooned in the warmth of our tribe and grounded ourselves in joyful calm awareness: to experience real life and to gather silence.

We don’t know about you, but for us, 2020 is bringing a tremendous sense of momentum for the evolution of our human future, our human resources and the planet’s physical viability to sustain us.

A question that swirls around our consciousness, for Miles and I today is, How are we showing up to the challenge of the upcoming time? What we are seeing in the horizon right now is not just this year, but the whole decade that begins, a time of definitions for our species and the Earth, of decisions that will shape the rest of the century and beyond.

For a moment like this, our teacher Carlos Castaneda imprinted in us the idea of readiness, that is, a particular state of being characterized by a full disposition to embrace what comes, a state of engagement, alertness, fluidity and lightness. It almost feels like all of our training with him was to prepare us to embody the principles of readiness for this precise juncture in time, today.

Here is an image that Miles dreamt, describing the energy of this moment:

“We are all standing on a plateau, side by side—Aerin, Axel and I, all our close friends, colleagues, BE teachers, and practitioners, holding hands, with all the lineage of seers supporting us from behind but with everyone looking steady ahead, in readiness. A vast landscape lies in front open ended, yet unwritten, and we take a step forward with our choice, towards our destiny.”

Choice is one of the very few true options we have been given, Castaneda used to tell us. In many cases, we cannot choose our lives experiences, but we can choose what to think about them and how to interpret them. We can choose our stance, the lenses by which we will interpret what is in front of us, the meaning that we give to things and the attitude in which we show up. The world as it is coming to us in this New Year and decade is filled with uncertainty and increasing speed. We are being pulled toward the negative news, and a fear mode. As warriors, we can be aware of all of it, and choose to hold our grounds.

What Miles and I propose is: Let’s make a bet for the human spirit, choose to give it all, our very best and then some. Sustain states of readiness and open heart, hold hand by hand and support one another, dream one another to experience ourselves truly.

Warm regards and hugs to you, and to the entire Being Energy community and beyond, to all beings who choose to be aware and present to the challenge of this upcoming time.

Ready and Aware with you,
Aerin and Miles

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Stories of Power Tools and Tips

What My Teacher Carlos Castaneda Taught Me About Death

My friends Tom and Susanne from Hawaii texted me last Saturday:

“For about fifteen minutes we were preparing ourselves to die. And it was real. And we were calm. What a gift. Sorry you were not here to enjoy the fun.”

I smiled and exhaled. I had arrived in Los Angeles a few days before after spending two weeks with them in Hawaii. They were OK. They were not being sarcastic. They are both highly educated therapists who retired and now live on Hawaii’s big island. They are lovely, smart and daring. For them, an encounter with Death, as they experienced when the missile threat alert rang on their phones, was a gift.

Carlos Castaneda told me that death is everywhere: at sunset, at the end of the day, there when a rose petal falls, at the bottom of the page you are reading, at the end of the breath you are taking. Thinking about death catapults us into new reflections, into a deep gratitude for the simple yet powerful act of being alive. It is, according to Castaneda, what gives warriors an edge.

Castaneda’s teachings on death were one of the main reasons I left my job, my boyfriend, my tribe and my life in Buenos Aires and moved to Los Angeles 23 years ago. I read his books when I was a teenager and I had the opportunity to meet him and work with him. His teacher, Don Juan Matus was a Yaqui from Sonora, Mexico and the leader of a lineage of Seers. Don Juan passed on his knowledge to Castaneda, and he passed it on to me.

Throughout the years of my apprenticeship with Castaneda, he talked about death often. He would say death is a reminder to be alert, a reference point to behave with kindness, a push to set priorities, an inspiration for change or to shake off the pettiness of daily concerns.

I often found myself caught up in self-defeating thoughts, worrying about the little details of daily life such as stressing about my school papers, my performance at work and what others would think of me or the extra 15 pounds I couldn’t get rid off. He observed my turmoil and asked me:

“Since the worst that can happen to you is already happening, you are going to die someday, so then how important is really your internal turmoil? Truly, think about it.”

The presence of death and the fact that I didn’t know when and how I would die helped me shake off my self-concerns and bring clarity, determination and a sense of purpose to my actions.

“What do we really have, except life and our own death? The thing to do when you’re impatient, don Juan told me, is to turn to your left and ask advice from your death. An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you, or if you catch a glimpse of it, or if you just have the feeling that it is there watching you.”

Once, during one of my first lunches with Castaneda and his colleagues at a restaurant in Santa Monica, he asked me: “What do you think is worth thinking of?”

“Death,” I said. I was not trying to please him or to get away with an easy answer. I had experienced death as the loss of loved ones, as a final end that had left me with unresolved emptiness and sadness, an anguish hard to unglue. I avoided reflecting or even thinking about death, and yet, there I was, sitting next to Castaneda on my quest to learn more about death.

An array of memories came to my foreground when he turned all his attention towards me, curious to know more about it.

I shared with him a few encounters with death that were still present in my body. The first time I encountered death, I was eight-years-old and I got sick with rheumatic fever. I spent a year bedridden with high fevers. In one instance, I had an “out of the body” experience where I saw myself literally separated from my body, above the bed looking at myself down in bed.

The second experience I had with death was when I was 14. I found dead bodies floating in the La Plata River in Buenos Aires, during the military dictatorship that tortured and murdered thousands of innocent people.

Then, when I was 17 years-old, I was leaving town with my friends to spend the holidays at the beach. Their car was kind of small for six people and I didn’t fit. My mother didn’t let me drive with them and I had to drive with my aunt and my cousin. On the freeway, on the way to the beach, my friends’ car crashed into a truck and all five of them were killed instantly.

A couple years after that incident, I fell on the floor of a disco when dancing drunk and I had a convulsion. My heart literally stopped beating for a few seconds and I cut my head severely.

After that incident, it took me a few years to come back to my body. I slowly shifted my life completely. I started eating healthy, I changed my job, I changed my friends. I started to show interest in healing modalities, in inner growth, and in spirituality. It all led me to meet Castaneda in 1995.

“Death has touched you and you have been giving a second chance” he told me that day at the restaurant. “Our encounter with death is inevitable; it will happen. The question is for you, which is the question for all of us, how will you go to the encounter? How are you going to use your time?”