We are all intelligent enough to realize that we are not in control of 99.9 percent of what goes on around us. Our hearts beat, our food digests, and our cells divide – all without any intervention of our own. Likewise, the planets stay in orbit, and the entire rest of the universe unfolds on its own. We are not controlling any of this, yet it has been unfolding in perfect harmony for billions of years. If the forces of creation can create and maintain the entire universe every moment, are not the moments unfolding in front of me part of this same universal perfection?
Michael Singer

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Carl Sagan

One Saturday morning last fall after my deepest fear of abandonment was played out in this school we call life, I woke up at 6:15 AM, looked at my clock and realized that if I got out of bed and got in my car right here right now – do not stop to brush your hair; your pig tails will do. Do not stop to put on fresh clothes; the yoga pants you have on are just fine. No coffee. No toast. If I pick up my keys, get in the car and drive the 204 miles to NYC, I could make it to the Dharma Yoga Center in time.

Some visits are like that. When you are so sad that you forget you are a bright shining being, you go to the Dharma Center to remember, to get polished up. You go to bathe in the powerful light of Dharma’s unconditional love. And it is in those times of greatest need that Dharma speaks to you so directly like every word is meant just for you.

The first thing Dharma-ji said when I walked in at exactly 10 AM and placed my mat right in front of him smack dab in the center of the room is that “the first cause of pain and suffering is attachment, attachment to those you love. That does not mean you can not take pleasure with the ones you love, just don’t be too attached.”

It’s hard not get caught up in other people’s drama, especially when they are close to you or you are in partnership with them and you start to confuse what is theirs with your own stuff. You think you see so clearly what steps they need to take in order to get out from under whatever is holding them down and pushing up against you. And even if you are right, sometimes you just need to step back, let it go and understand that it’s not yours. You can’t control the outcome, no matter how much you might want too, not even a little bit. Sometimes you need to decide it’s more important to be happy than to be right.

Everyone has their own karma and their own drama that they must deal with in their own way in their own time. Ram Dass calls it our curriculum. Every experience, every relationship is for our own learning and growth. And we are all in different stages of learning and growing.

You have to remember that there are forces greater than you at work here and when you try to influence an outcome or get involved when it’s not really your business or your own work to do, then you are holding on to the way you want things to be, not the way they really are. And that, my friend, is attachment.

Attachment triggers a whole host of doubts, fears, and frustrations. At some point when it gets to be too much, when you wake up after crying for three days straight, you decide no more, no more pain and suffering. At that moment you just let go. I’ve had enough. It’s just not worth it. And in the letting go, the complete surrender to what is, a great space is created, a space so vast so beyond comprehending, a space like an endless sigh of relief, of complete acceptance, of love.


All the buried seeds
crack open in the dark
the instant they surrender
to a process they can’t see
Mark Nepo

Always remember that Nature refuses to be rushed. She can only be made to evolve and that takes time, so take heart.
Sri Dharma Mittra

Once upon a time when I was a regular Facebook user, a new mommy posted something like “does your 4.5 month old bring you to your knees” and I replied “yes, and your 1 year old, and your 18 month old, and your 3 year old, and your 7 year old, and your 13 year old and so on and so on.”

Yes, our children bring us to our knees. They bring us to our knees because we want the very best for them. You feel it more when they get older. When they aren’t living up to our expectations or they make bad choices, we get scared because we know life is going to be that much harder for them.

In those moments when I collapse from fear and my heart is raw and there is no crying left in me, I look deeply into my sweet 18 year old’s eyes. A great stillness overtakes me, the stillness that feels like God. In that moment, I know without a doubt that my child is going to be okay.

Our children can be our greatest teachers. Over the years I have radically altered my vision of what success looks like. Through a lot of heartache and worry, I have learned some essential questions to guide my thinking. Does my child know he is loved? Is he kind? Is he curious? Is he connected?

Parenting is like one big exercise of acceptance and trust and letting go. We have to meet our children where they are and understand that they were born into this world with their own karma and their own work to do. We can love them like crazy and try to support them and encourage them as much as we can, but in the end we can’t control them. We have to accept them for who they are and not who we want them to be, trust in the divine process of their own unfolding, and let them go.


No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
#5, The AA Promises

The acceptance of our wounds is not only the beginning, but the journey itself.
Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God

I attended my first AA meeting this weekend. I am not an alcoholic, but I know a little bit about how the alcoholic brain works, how it wakes up angry and hung-over, how it hides the shame of warm white wine in a coffee cup, how it can have everything that matters in the world and still hate itself.

But Saturday night was not about wallowing in anger and self-pity. Saturday night was about embracing even the ugliest of times with laughter and self-acceptance in the company of others who have been there done that. Saturday night was a beautiful celebration of one of my dear Dharma sister’s nine years of sobriety.

There in the meeting room of a church basement just a stone’s throw from the Capitol building, my fearless friend told us how she walked into the same room nine years ago on the verge of suicide. Day-by-day, step-by-step, she gave up alcohol and did the hard work on herself, surrendering to a higher power and making right her relationships to food and men.

As I sat and listened to the stories of two other incredibly accomplished women who hit rock bottom (their jokes punctuated by references to meth, maggots, and shit buckets), it occurred to me that their life’s work and path to recovery is essentially a spiritual awakening and therefore not so different than my own. We are all on the same journey. Different curriculum (as Ram Dass calls it), different reference points, but same journey.

It is only through our enormous pain and suffering, when we sink into the abyss, that we realize we are powerless without God’s grace. Our trauma then becomes a vehicle for our own transformation and an inspiration to others who are beginning to awaken.

The whole time I was at AA I felt like I was at the Dharma Yoga Center. Everyone was so friendly and open. No judgments, no one trying to fix you. Just acceptance and support. We are all in this together kind of thing.

At the end of the meeting we all held hands in a big circle and recited the serenity prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Amen and Hallelujah!


We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly embracing one another.

When you are doing things together, you are inside the collective mind, and share psychic knowledge with each other. That is how you become one.
Sri Dharma Mittra

It’s been a pretty rough summer. All of my core issues rising up to the surface against the backdrop of my soulmate’s aging mother and his and his siblings’ efforts to find her the long-term care she needs against her wishes. Watching my loved ones rip open old wounds and play out their childhood traumas was not easy. There was no sage smudge stick large enough to clear the air. Some days, all I could do was curl up in a ball, clutch my mala beads, repeat the mantra for world peace “Om Namo Narayanaya” and draw on the collective light and unconditional love of my DC Dharma sisters. And this last one is no small thing.

One of the great benefits of going deeper into your spiritual practice is the powerful community of truth seekers, the spiritual family, the “satsang” that embraces you. A few months ago, one of my DC Dharma sisters created a text message group. In the group are women in their 30s and 40s, women who are single and divorced, new mothers and mothers with teenagers.

We share everything, little things and big life events. It is a rolling judgment-free zone, a radiant bubble of support that surrounds you wherever you go. My experience informs my sisters’ experience. My sisters’ experience informs my own. There is grace, lots of grace. We are mirrors of light to each other in our ups and downs on our journey to self-realization.

When we practice in the same room together it is a beautiful, transformative experience. It is like being in the presence of the guru. You feel you are the portion of God that dwells in the right side of your heart in the center of your chest. You feel you are your sisters. You are love. You are light. You are one with the universe.

Yesterday at the Lovelight Festival Dharma-ji said “Don’t worry when your mommy dies. You will be with her again. Be happy for her that she gets a new body.” He was speaking to all of us, but he was speaking directly to one of my DC Dharma sisters, whose mother passed away last night. We are all chanting the Mantra for Purification through our tears and holding our dear sister and her family in our hearts praying for her mother’s safe passage.

My dear sweet sister, so full of grace and strength and love, this post is dedicated to you.


If you feel like not doing exercise today, do meditation. If you feel like not meditating today, do pranayama. Or just sing for the Lord. There are so many kinds of yoga; bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, kundalini yoga. Do little, very little, but every day. That is better than spending three hours one day and then spending three or four days without doing anything. So just do two minutes, but every day. Then you will succeed.
Sri Dharma Mittra

Since I have poured myself back into my work, I have been too busy to teach, and too scared to do the last 30 days of the Dharma personal practice for my 500-hour certification. I need my two cups of fresh ground, French-pressed coffee in the morning followed by a steady stream of green tea to get me through the day. Salt, onions, and garlic are my friends. Daily meditation is a really important practice, but for the life of me I can’t figure out how to incorporate it into my new schedule.

This struggle is not new to me. It took me over 15 years of wanting to start a home practice before I actually did anything about it. And when I started my home practice three years ago, I didn’t do it every day. I tried to, but life just always seemed to get in the way. And that’s okay. Part of the practice is learning that there are many ways to practice yoga.

Yoga is not just about what you do on your mat. It’s about everything you do to come back to it. It’s in the remembering. It’s the waking up first thing in the morning and thanking God that you are alive. It’s the singing a few lines of Sita Ram while doing the dishes. It’s saying the purification mantra over and over again in your head while sitting on the metro or bus or in a crowded room. It’s the mantra japa of your mala beads while standing in line at the grocery store.

These interstitial moments count. They are bigger than the sum of their parts and they add up to a lot. In this busy householder world most of us live in, you have to get creative with your time. I listen to Dharma’s Om Mantra in the car on my way to work while doing my pranayama and bija mantras. I keep the Yoga Sutras open on a bookstand in my bedroom so that every time I walk by I can read a line or two. I carry The Bhagavad Gita in my purse. I fill my Facebook feed with Ram Dass, Swami Sivananda, and everything Dharma so that even in my recreation I am remembering.

Gradually your practice builds. When I first started my home practice, sometimes sitting in butterfly pose or doing a forward bend was all I could manage. Now it is a rare day that I don’t do my asana practice. I usually throw my mat down while dinner is cooking on the stove. The kids might be going nuts around me or I might have to get up and stir something in a pot, but this is my practice for now. And that’s okay, mama. I can do my asana practice in 10 minutes or 110 minutes. It doesn’t matter how long your practice is, or what’s going on around you. What matters is that you do it, just a little every day and be kind to yourself. It will all happen in its own time when you are ready.

Pushing Through

Empty yourself and let the universe fill you.
Yogi tea fortune

Considering, also, your own dharma, you should not waiver; for to a warrior nothing is better than a righteous war.
The Bhagavad Gita 2.31

Between a work trip to Brooklyn and a flight to Memphis I was able to take Dharma’s Maha Shakti class last Saturday morning. I am always so happy to be in the presence of Dharma. Usually, it is a shot in the arm, a fix, an “oh this is why I’m doing what I’m doing” tears streaming down my face in Savasana.

This time I walked in to The Dharma Center fully charged, my heart bursting, stuffed with bliss.

Why? Because for the first time in a long time life is not such a struggle. This too will change I know, but for now I feel like I am following my dharma (with a lower-case “d”), my God-given path, my duty, my work, the reason why I am here on earth at this moment in this body with this mind.

For the last few years I have been following my heart, pouring everything I have into my relationship with my soulmate and my relationship with God, trusting somehow that I would be able to pay my rent and put food on the table, while my dharma somehow emerges.

And even though these two relationships are fully aligned and I wake up every morning filled with gratitude, another part of me felt like I had to figure my own dharma out – like there was a process I could manage. I could make a vision board or read a book or take one of those Mind Body Green 10-step courses on manifesting the life you want.

But what I discovered along the way is that it’s not so easy and clear cut as all that. The spiritual path can be messy and ugly and heavy. In order to open yourself up to do the things you are meant to do, you have to face your stuff head on, all of your triggers, your fears, your issues.

In other words, you have to push through it all even when there is no end in sight. In the words of MLK Jr. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” You have to keep pushing.

Gradually things start to feel lighter, and you trust more and more that what you are supposed to do will become clear. It did for me anyhow. Three months ago it became clear to me that I had a responsibility to share the spiritual knowledge that has been given to me.

I let go of all the excuses (I travel too much, I don’t know how to adjust, I’m not a teacher, I’m still a student). I opened up my house to my neighbors and teach when I am in town. And guess what? We love it. It is a beautiful way to share my practice and all of Dharma’s teachings.

The only problem is that it doesn’t pay the rent. And now I know that’s okay. When I finally surrendered to the notion that I don’t have to earn a living being a yoga instructor, that I can earn a living doing something else, the universe called. It gave me my old job back, the job that I love, the job that is not really a job because it is in my heart like yoga like Dharma like you like me like love like light. So hum.

Yoga Begins

Atha yoganushasanam
Now the practice of yoga begins.
Yoga Sutra 1.1

Yoga begins when you hit a wall in your life and you just can’t go on the way you’ve been going. When you know in your heart that something is missing. Yoga begins when you stop cold turkey all of the bad habits that have been keeping you down, clouding your mind. Yoga begins when you make the practice of yoga your number one priority because you are not happy and yoga is the only thing that makes you happy.

I took my first yoga class 27 years ago and have practiced regularly off and on in various styles ever since. But my practice did not really take off until I walked into a Dharma yoga class in March 2011. Dharma yoga is the yoga of Sri Dharma Mittra, a realized living master who has been teaching classical hatha raja yoga in New York City for over 50 years. That first class was like coming home. I was immediately drawn to the spiritual dimension, the call to close your eyes and look at the space between your eyebrows, the invitation to be receptive to the grace of God, the idea that a little part of God dwells in the right chamber of your heart. The mantras, the mudras, the color breathing, the 350,000 nadis, the pranayama, the Kirtan, I loved all of it.

Another two years pass. It’s January 2013. My desire for liberation becomes so strong that I quit drinking and smoking. I brush my teeth at night. I write in a journal every morning and I create a yoga playlist so that I can practice yoga at home. I meet my soulmate. I quit my job.

I saw Dharma Mittra for the first time when he came to DC in the spring of 2014. So many of my questions were answered even though I didn’t ask them out loud. When I left the Convention Center that day, my senses of perception were on fire, greens were more green, music sounded better. Something strange was happening to me.

It happened again in September 2014 when I stopped in New York on my way to Maine to take a psychic development class with Dharma. After I left the Center I put on my usual road trip play list, but my ears did not want to hear rock. They opted for classical music instead, wanting to tune into the frequency of the fall New England beauty around me.

That’s when the real integration of my spring intensive Yoga District teacher training began. I started incorporating the wild psychic development techniques into my daily pranayama/meditation practice and things just start moving. I put the little black Life of a Yogi (LOAY) post card on the table where I journal and work as a constant reminder that this is what I want. On top of my studies of the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras I found myself Googling a Dharma video or interview a day. I have questions, lots of questions. And then Dharma pops up on my social media at just the right time to answer something I’m reflecting on.

Fast forward to January 2016. I am now a dedicated student of Dharma Mittra and will graduate inshallah from the 500-hour LOAY teacher training at the Dharma Yoga Center in May 2016. I am also a 47 year-old single mom of three kids. Now Yoga Begins is my blog about my spiritual journey. I share it with you in the hope that it might help you on your own path.