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“Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you’re crazy and you’re blasphemous, and they’ll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing). However if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, ‘My goodness, I’ve just discovered that I’m God,’ they’ll laugh and say, ‘Oh, congratulations, at last you found out.’” ~ Alan Watts
They said I was crazy.
I admit, I was a maniac. I spent a relatively short spurt of time in the nuthouse. There are things I remember and large swaths of time when I blacked out.
Sixteen and a half years later, I’m still reckoning with that episode of my life. Fireworks! All the colors and lights. Tripping on brain chemistry. A psychotic break.
Long story short: fell briefly in love with a fundamentalist Christian whilst simultaneously discovering Buddhism, the breakup, the heartbreak, my life shifting from dreamland in California back to resentment at home in Texas, textbook manic symptoms culminated in 10 days at the Austin State Hospital, two blocks from my yoga studio. (Dharma.) Tranquilizers. The funny farm.
I was committed, and a week and a half later, I was released. A month after that, I turned 25.
I’ve lived what feels like many different lifetimes since then. The frustrated communications specialist in a boring office. The overwhelmed alternatively certified bilingual third-grade teacher. Fresh-faced ex-pat in Guatemala City working at a posh private school. Retreat coordinator. Blogger. Yoga teacher. Mother, partner, writer, editor, translator. Interpreter of Mayan fire ceremonies. A 41-year-old woman who lives in the woods and off the grid but on the internet.
In the course of my always-intriguing, if not necessarily illustrious, career, one of my jobs is to post on Instagram for my friends who run the annual Texas Yoga Retreat each fall. Here are the wisest, most sane-making, soulful quotes I’ve come across in this endeavor.
1. Realize oneness
“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that its center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” ~ Black Elk, heyoka of the Oglala Lakota people
Plant medicine helps people realize this oneness of which Black Elk so eloquently speaks. So does meditation.
2. Go pro
“So often activism is based on what we are against, what we don’t like, what we don’t want. And yet we manifest what we focus on. And so we are manifesting yet ever more of what we don’t want, what we don’t like, what we want to change. So for me, activism is about a spiritual practice as a way of life. And I realized I didn’t climb the tree because I was angry at the corporations and the government; I climbed the tree because when I fell in love with the redwoods, I fell in love with the world. So it is my feeling of ‘connection’ that drives me, instead of my anger and feelings of being disconnected.” ~ Julia Butterfly Hill
Instead of being anti-war, be pro-peace. Instead of being anti-corporate capitalism, be pro-local-business and sustainability. Instead of anti-hate, be pro-love.
3. Love thy self
“Self-love means that I have a relationship with myself built on trust and loyalty. I trust myself to have my own back, so my allegiance is to the voice within.” ~ Glennon Doyle
If you’ve ever experienced self-hate, as I think many humans have, you know the importance of self-love. It’s actually an inner revolution. Instead of nagging, denigrating, obsessing, criticizing, and in any way hating, you love yourself. You trust yourself, you speak kindly to yourself, and ultimately become your own best friend.
Self-love—once you realize/remember that self is other and oneness reigns supreme—is simply love.
4. You’re a star
“We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” ~ Carl Sagan
This pith quote reminds us to zoom out. We are little beings in a big universe, and we are an expression of the cosmos itself, individually and collectively. In other words, “We are an impossibility in an impossible universe,” according to Ray Bradbury.
5. Many paths, one truth
“There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.” ~ Hindu proverb
6. God is everywhere
“Are you looking for me?
I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
you will not find me in the stupas,
not in Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues,
nor in cathedrals:
not in masses,
not in legs winding around your own neck,
nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me,
you will see me instantly—
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.”
I just love the poetic beauty of this message. I always felt that God was not in the cathedral any more than in the forest, lake, or field, and this quote eloquently affirms that notion.
7. Choose bliss
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh
It’s easy to fill our lives with busyness, discontent, complaints, and drama. But isn’t it so much more gloriously productive to be present, joyful, and happy? Not to say “good vibes only,” but rather, awareness, acceptance, and choosing joy as often as possible.
8. Love change
“All that you touch
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
God is Change.”
~ Octavia E. Butler
The awesome power of this string of 21 words leaves me speechless.
Thank you, wise teachers!