About Lauryn Elan Z

She howls: barefoot, draped in vintage cloth. She climbs mountains, lives fashion and listen’s indie rock. Her heart is heavy – passion is thick, eyes are green. She practices yoga and enjoys ginger tea. She talks too fast. She is a culture critic. She is me: Lauryn Elan Z: a friendly stranger whom dances, limbs flailing free. I love this Great romance oh life!, absolutely.

Master of Goodbyes

Saying goodbye to summer is never easy for a sun-loving-Canadian. It is mid-October now and I haven’t posted a blog entry since July because summer has been so rich and full! The good news: I have been lucky enough to be laughing with family and friends and dancing to live music in the sun. The bad news: my yoga practice has suffered.

In fact, my yoga has suffered so much my big hearted yogi pals had to give me an intervention! I won’t go into the details of the intervention; though I know you reality TV fans are dying to hear more. All I will say is there was good wine and no tears.

Anyways, now is the time I have to make some important decisions to help me stay balanced this autumn. How will I re-regulate the practice of yoga in my everyday life? Fall is a time of changing winds – it is so easy not to feel grounded. “Autumn is referred to as a Vata (air) season, which means the presence of air and space is more noticeable in and around us.” (YOGANONYMOUS)  It is really easy to lose ground. As a naturally more Vata person, I must be especially aware of this change and work hard to stay balanced.

Here is an easy to read article about things you can do to stay balanced this autumn.

For me my work is going to be finding solid ground to re-root my life in what i love.

 

Don’t!

Give your life away

 

When you lose your mind

Your body decays

 

I sit still upon the earth

Hips open chest awake

 

Breathe the sweet taste of goodbyes

 

The impermanence

The loveliness of emptiness

 

The (un)attachment

The desire to desire no more

 

To navigate

The mind’s eye

 

The energetic field

The hearts beat

 

To sail smooth

The breath’s waves

 

Is

to be a master of goodbyes

 

 

Farewell Summer!
I welcome your wind autumn.

Love All Ways,

xo Lauryn Elan Z

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F.E.A.R.

No moment of joy includes a moment of analyzation.

How do I stay present and filled with bliss of the living?

I need to let go of stories that I grip that keep me contracted

False

Evidence

Appearing

Real

The only difference between happiness and depression is where I direct my consciousness.

I suffer because I think I am not enough.

I direct my awareness out: craving.

I identify happiness with things.

But happiness comes from within.

 

You are a surging mass of bliss consciousness.

You are enough.

 

…just thinking…

 

Blessings,

xo Lauryn Elan Z

 

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Leaving the battle behind

A written experience with Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 3.24

“Focusing with perfect discipline on friendliness, compassion, delight, and equanimity, one is imbued with their energies.” – Sutra 3.24

There is nothing quite as powerful as the focused will. Concentration on characteristics one hopes to see in one’s Self (or doesn’t hope to see) can indeed bring these characteristics into being. If we are able to focus with steady flow on beautiful qualities such as friendliness, compassion, delight and equanimity we can feel the space between what is – and what is focused on – fade. That is, the deeper and more disciplined our practice of focusing becomes, the closer we come to embodying our focus.

One can see this in the practice of setting intentions. Mentally we plant a seed; physically we embody the intention. We are what we invest our energies in. The mind has the potential to manifest nearly anything, and the body and the mind are one in nature (individualized only superficially). What the mind manifests the body expresses.

It is also important to note the use of friendliness in most translations of this sutra. When we approach ourselves (or our goals) in a softer, friendlier manner we are more likely to attain our goals. Harsh approaches make for harsh responses.

Sutra 3.24 uses the word Samyana to describe a deep focus that combines the skills of concentration (Dharana) and meditation (Dhyana) where we become one with the object of focus (Samadhi). In other words, Samyana is holding the mind on a particular object with an unbroken flow where the object loses all forms and true meaning remains.

If a yogi harnesses the power of Samyana, it opens up the possibility of merging with objects and/or characteristics of focus. That is, “When a [wo]man can direct his mind to any particular object and fix it there, and then keep it there for a long time, separating the object from the internal part, this is Samyama…The form of the thing has vanished, and only its meaning remains in the mind” (Vivekananda).

In my experience, when you open your heart, focus your mind and commit, the universe responds. Thought waves and energy patterns create habits, which build your character. The obstacles to reaching a higher state/divine self are often nothing but our own impatience, disbelief, insecurity and fear. With Samyana on friendliness, we can relieve the struggle. We can approach our higher nature with a flower not a thorn.

The practice of yoga is a mirror in which we see ourselves each day on the mat (and hopefully, eventually, off the mat). We offer ourselves a space to connect with feeling. “Through Samyana the mind simply manifests what is latent inside of it” (Bryant).  We can harness the power of Samyana – focused meditation, deep connection, Oneness – and use this as a way to manifest our True Nature.

Many translations of sutra 3.24 choose to highlight not the qualities of friendliness, compassion etc… but use an object – an elephant – as the point of focus to merge with. In this case the sutra is saying: if one focuses on the energies/strengths of an elephant one can embody the strength of an elephant. This is especially interesting when considering what the elephant symbolizes in traditional mythologies. The elephant was the ride of choice for royalty and for battle. The elephant is a brave, strong, but nimble character. Elephants are said to be able to crush pounds with their trunks but also delicately pick a flower. Elephants are massive animals, but they carry themselves with the grace of ballerinas – their anatomy is so that they walk on their tip toes! Plus, we cannot forget about the elephant deity Ganesh: the remover of obstacles. So what does this all mean? We can use the character of an elephant, like other characteristics of higher Self to focus on (until form dissolves) to close the distance between ourselves and our True nature.

This inspired me to write a poem:

 

Leaving the battle behind

The sun dim lit

Their foot set pace

Six tusks strong

With the weight of grace

Tip toe pounds of Grey

Mountains profound

Frame the Way

Yoked to attention

Intuition and stride

Each step

Sacred

A moment in time

Shiva and Shakti dance

As Indra sways

On the back of an Elephant

In the clouds

On The Way

A wink from The Universe

Paints all Elephants White

From ashes Of Ancestors

And the blessing Of Insight

 

Happy Journeys,

xo Lauryn Elan Z

To Be (Or Not To Be) Your Destiny

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Often, I feel overwhelmed and confused when making decisions. Being born into a life of opportunity, I want to give back. I feel I need to do so many things in my life! I must be successful in so many roles. I get excited by these ideas, and then so easily lost. I start to distrust my instinct. I see too many directions and don’t know which to choose in the NOW. This may be a quintessential Generation Y, first-world problem.

A (not so) easy solution to this confusion is to focus and ask – who do I want to be?

I want to be honest and relaxed. I want to be a leader – strong and relatable. I want to be an amazing daughter, sister, friend and partner. I want to be a creative producer, worldly contributor and storyteller. I want to teach and learn, and never stop teaching or learning. I want to travel and meet strangers and laugh with all sorts of people in all sorts of places.

Then when I think about where I am, at 25, I realize: I am all/most of these things. I may not be all these things all the time. However, I am one of these things all of the time and all of these things some of the time! So, why don’t I trust myself and my decisions? Why don’t I trust the universe is unfolding as it should? Why don’t I trust me? There is always room to be better, which is what makes life so inviting. But under all my self-doubt and fear, I am the person I want to be… I am becoming my own destiny!

TRUTH OR DARE?! I dare you to ask yourself the truth about who you want to be. See if you can trust yourself to let go and be(come) that person. See if you can love yourself enough to be(come) your dreams. Try to stop looking outside yourself for what you need. Claim yourself, your life, as your destiny! Sometimes it takes two steps back to move one step forward. But the more I trust myself, the more I become myself.

I Decide

To be

My destiny

Click HERE for a kinetic art video that will help you believe the universe is unfolding as it should (courtesy of my magician uncle). ‘Tis a beautiful Dance of Destiny.

 

Love and Trust in the Flow,

xo Lauryn Elan Z

 

Happy Holy Dayze

Gift giving is on everyone’s mind. A corporate driven, consumption-based holiday season is in full swing. But beyond the re-branding of Starbucks holiday cups and the repetitive holiday music flooding malls – what feeds the holiday season? The easy answer for me is that the holidays are fueled by retailers pushing gift ideas and pressuring humans to become consumers.

However, before this post continues in that direction, I want to take a step back and say: Hey! It feels good to give. So think again, what feeds the holiday season? Well, a lot of it really is the joy of making others happy. The pleasure of giving can be more fulfilling than receiving.

We live in a society filled with obsessive compulsive consumption disorder (OCCD – yes, I just made this up). Living in a First World, capitalist society there exists an interesting paradox: the emphasis on being independent and individual through consumption. All year long we are focusing on what we want, who we are and what are our priorities. This leaves our ego fired with Self. We feed our ego with ideas of Self, and we feed our Self with “stuff” (hence OCCD). We are stuffed!! It feels really good to empty.  It feels really good to give.

I recently read an interview with Manju Jois, son of Sri K Pattabhi Jois, Ashatanga Yoga Guru. Manju Jois, coming from India, was noting the large number of yoga teachers in the west. He said, “Everybody wants to be a teacher,” for Manju Jois this is not a good thing. Yet, in another light we can see Westerners are feeling a need to practice yoga to empty and let go. Many practitioners then want to share the teachings in order to feel fulfilled – in order to give the beautiful gift they’ve been given.

Capitalist society trains us to consume; but after being fed so much, we need to offer up our hearts, our coping mechanisms, our breath, our Self.

Often I hear people say the best thing they ever did was have a child or get married. We like to care for others. We take pleasure in watching loved ones enjoy life. We are (mostly) made up of love, and so much of love is generosity of spirit. Holidays are corporate driven – but they are fueled with our love for giving.

This holiday season, I won’t be gifting. I will be re-gifting. Re-packing bags of my kindly used “stuff” and giving it to friends, colleagues and family. This offering of my “stuff” will lighten my Self and seeing others smile will feel really good! Enjoy your holidays, whatever you celebrate, however you celebrate it!

Love is bound with Anxiety.
Undone with Generosity!

 

Peace and Seasonal Blessings,

Lauryn Elan Z xox

 

Collective Independence

“Independent Togetherness” is a saying my friends and I use to describe our relationships at music festivals. We must be self-sufficient: know what we need to survive the harsh conditions (heat, dehydration, mass crowding, intoxication etc…). That way we can contribute to our community: reach out to neighbors (offer duct tape or a drink) and help everyone sway along with the good vibes.

It is easier to be successful in the collective when we take care of ourselves individually. That way we are fit to help everyone enjoy the journey. It is Our Journey independently, together.

Activities that may seem indulgent or selfish indeed produce happier, more productive members of society. Things like yoga practice nourish our inner self to help us contribute better in the environment off the mat. It can take just one happy human to stop a chain of aggravated ones. Like Pay It Forward: one good deed by one person can lead to a chain of good deeds.

Airline stewards instruct passengers: “secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.” How valuable it is to take care of yourself before you can help others. Once you can breathe you can do anything! (Or at least try).

Selfishness has gotten a bad rap. It can be seen as free-market-competitive-capitalist-jerk-business. People such as Ayn Rand who created the Objectivism movement may bring up many negative connotations. However, the idea that moral purpose is to pursue rational self-interest – that is: personal happiness – is not so flawed! DISCLAIMER: I do not believe in laissez-faire capitalism. Yet, I do believe an individual must live out their personal vision until it is complete in the form of physical contribution (sculpture, poem, song, movement). Then others are welcome to react with their own forms of free expression.

In my last post I spoke about leaving a legacy – what better way to fill your aims than to create.

“It is only in his work that an artist can find reality and satisfaction, for the actual world is less intense than the world of his invention and consequently his life, without recourse to violent disorder, does not seem very substantial. The right condition for his is that in which his work is not only convenient but unavoidable.
Then what is good? The obsessive interest in human affairs, plus a certain amount of compassion and moral conviction, that first made the experience of living something that must be translated into pigment or music or bodily movement or poetry or prose or anything that’s dynamic and expressive—that’s what’s good for you if you’re at all serious in your aims. William Saroyan wrote a great play on this theme, that purity of heart is the one success worth having. That time is short and it doesn’t return again. It is slipping away while I write this and while you read it, and the monosyllable of the clock is Loss, Loss, Loss, unless you devote your heart to its opposition.”  –Tennessee Williams

Find what makes you feel good and share it with the world. Nourish yourself and glow with energy, oh bliss! Make yourself useful with true loving-purpose, drive and generosity of spirit – anything is possible.

 

To reach a serious aim
Without a serious face
Is a serious goal!

How many good Humans
Will (for) it (to) take
to breathe free and safe

Come You:
Blooming! Womyn!
Wear your toes on your teeth

*growling*

Live as nutrients in our soil,
Offer all your cells, your fate

What to feed a tree that stops giving?
Who to punish now Earth starts quaking?
Honey, let’s get a tan and start baking!

Hell no.

Fill your pain with creating.

 

Love, Desire and The Way,

Lauryn Elan Z

The fear of being ordinary.

Have you ever felt a fear of being ordinary?

What does it mean to be extraordinary? To leave a legacy? To be to prettiest, smartest or richest person in the room? Does this narcissism make us better people, or like Mena Suvari in American Beauty, does it make us more pathetic?

We all have a fear of death without legacy. This fear is lessened when we have children, mature and grow our roots. However, long before families, grocery bills and routines, the fear of being ordinary thrives in the heart of anyone old enough to have braces.

I just got my first full-time 1-year contract at the Discovery Channel. This is a huge deal for me: a really cool gig, with great people and I learn new things everyday! But for the first time in my freelancing career my contract spans beyond “months” into the “year” measurement – gulp. How will I sustain my serendipitous travels and poetic lifestyle? How can I work for a huge corporation and still pride myself on bohemia (the fantasy in my head)?

The fear of being ordinary is tied to our internal storytelling tendencies (the fantasy in my head). We are constantly telling stories of who we should be, the life we should lead, the grand parties, travels, friends or fluffy pets with stupid pet accessories (not cool!). Always looking to fulfill these grand roles of living “happily ever after” or “to the max” or “with no regrets” may sound like awesome fairytale endings, but can be so contrived.

What role should you play?
Ram Das said: Be a soul, not a role.

In Sanskrit the terms chitta (mind-field/psyche) and vritti (waves) are used to describe the fluctuations of our mind. These thought patterns divide perceived subject from perceived objects – they create our ego, and fragment us into stories. We place ourselves in/around stories by judging where we (subject) stand among outside objects – are we losing, are we winning, are we too late? This self-judgment is called vikalpa. The Sanskrit term vikalpa can help explain the unenlightened mind: the struggle of self (ego/story) and reality (or perceived reality) leads to attachment of desires that mess up True perspective. That is, THINGS AS THEY ARE (simply as they are = nothing really, just things made of stuff given meanings projected by us).

I could go on about things made of stuff given meanings projected by us… but I won’t.

This year I will give myself time to take time. I will awake myself from romantic tales of myself. I will practice living in the moment, seeing things as they are (as they are, nothing really). I will embrace my passion, but not get lost in my ego and tales of my growth or self-worth. I will let my mind wave and fluctuate without judgment! I will tell stories for entertainment, but laugh with reality.

Sunday is the start of the Jewish New Year. So, how appropriate for me to accept my
1-year of stable work (both professionally and personally acceptance takes practice). So here I drink in a breath to 1-year of finding magnificent in the mundane. 1-year without running away to chase a good story (unless the job calls for it).

A great yoga teacher of mine sent me an email this week. It was signed, “there is no finish line. Enjoy the journey.”

Bless You all as Summer Turns to Fall. Dance with the science of contraction and expansion. That universal dance will always be extraordinary!

 

Love in the Flow,

Lauryn Elan Z   : )

 

 

 

Who are we?

“Who are we?

We are the lifeforce power of the universe

With manual dexterity and two cognitive minds

And we have the power to choose moment-by-moment

Who and how we want to be in the World

Right here right now

I can step into the consciousness of my right hemisphere

Where we are – I am – the lifeforce power of the universe

I am the lifeforce power of the 50 trillion beautiful molecular genuses that make up my form at one with all that is

Or I can choose to step into the consciousness of my left hemisphere

Where I become a single individual, a solid

Separate from the flow, separate from you

… these are the We inside of me, which would you choose? Which do you choose and when?

…the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemispheres the more peace we will project into the world and the more peaceful our planet will be.”

 

As much as I struggle to wear many hats, dance a thousand dances and still Be one with the Flow – I am not (especially) mad. I am one woman with two cognitive minds – just as you are.

How to balance and spread peace not irritability? Connect to the right hemisphere of your brain. Your right side is your inner-child, care-free, lalaland-lover. Hear more on the subject from a professional, and check out this powerful Ted Talks – by Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor. She can teach and reach Nirvana : )

OK, I must add…. I practice Oneness, but I never fear to sing for the ten women stirring inside of me. Allowing yourself to share feelings of contradiction (with a journal or a friend) allows you to find a place of lighthearted middle-ground. Your right brain and your left brain may always be conflicting, but it is no reason to tear yourself up. Until we find a place of harmony and peace, please SING ALONG: Ten Women between you and me

Balance and Blessings,

Lauryn Elan Z xox

U-Guru

This week has been really HEAVY (especially since I didn’t work Monday) – a lot has happened in four days. Both in work and play I feel ready to turn to the next page. When feeling “stuck” I itch to travel. Though, I just did a three week American road trip and flew to Montreal last weekend for Osheaga music festival, already I am checking out flight deals to Miami!

Waiting in court this morning (yes, I pleaded guilty on a traffic offence and they dropped my charges by more than half!), I found myself using another form of escapism – I was reading romantic poetry. Like any curious homosapien, I look to words of those who inspire me for refuge – Rumi, Hafiz, Shiva Rea, Kerouac, Ram Das, and My Mom (of course, I could go on). One thing all these brilliant leaders keep reflecting back at me is to stop looking outside myself for answers.

Rumi says, “O pure people who wander the world, amazed at the idols you see, what are you searching for out there, if you look within, you yourself are it”. 

This makes someone as self-indulgent as myself grin with pride. But also makes me think…
-a human being can pick up only 1 billionth of all there is to percept in a space at one time
-we are therefore, in a way, choosing what we perceive
-we are recycling our perceptions of “what is” by constantly projecting inner feelings outward  
-we suffer because feeling/awareness itself is based in cravings (food, lovers, money), things we identify as leading to “happiness” or “satisfaction”
-you don’t need to read Descartes to know your perceptions can deceive you
-feeling and perceptions lay inside of us, but they trigger us to react and create our external reality

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s truly physical. But, when you feel suffering inside of you and you look outside of yourself for answers, you are playing into the notion that you are incomplete. The fixation we have with “outside things” is an epidemic in our society. When we let outside things trigger our inner self we suffer – and vice versa. Yet “suffering” is only a feeling, or a spirit, which is passing through the vessel of our Self.

One word: TRUST.
Trust that you are your best teacher. You know yourself better than anyone else. If only we looked inside ourselves as much as we fixated on other people or things – we would feel much more whole and complete.
YOU ARE YOUR GURU.
And as always, here is a poem from Me-Guru-to-U-Guru:

As breath pours
Nectar of Life
Down the spine
Awaken vertebrae
Touch is Kind
Children born
With loving eyes
Pulse is Truth
We are all Divine
As Divine a flea
As Divine my Guru-
OM-
That, which, is She
That, which, I am
That!

Namaste,

Lauryn Elan Z xox

lauryn in apartment

 

Going through a transition?

“I am just going through a transition.”

Do you notice yourself using this phrase?  Do you notice others using this phrase in conversation?

“I am just going through a transition” is a modern excuse for not feeling present/ knowing exactly what one wants. The thing is, you are and will always be going through a transition. The only constant in the world is change.

I recently had the opportunity to study Tantric philosophy and meditation with Christopher Tompkins. Tompkins discussed many heavy philosophical ideas. What hit me most was not his enlightening discussions on spirituality, materialism or ancient India, but his simple notes on modern-day dilemmas. For example: more people die on Monday morning of heart attacks than any other time – and this statistic is drastic across nations. What does this mean? That many people rather physically collapse than face another work week? The stress we induce on ourselves breaks us not just mentally or emotionally, but physically.

The routine of a society with capitalist values and structure leads us to think we must continue on a cycle of stress and consumption (work.earn.buy.work). Life is made up of cycles. Some cycles are natural (seasons, plant growth, moons etc..), while others are constructed by societies. When we stray from our natural cycles—that is our natural rhythm—our whole Self is compromised. We are constantly struggling to keep up with ourselves, our society and our peers. We don’t feel present, because these forced routines detach us from our bodies. Our society emphasizes the importance of brain intelligence, but what about heart intelligence? As soon as the rhythm of my heart gets ahead or behind the rhythm of my mind – I lose ground. Even worse, what if you don’t even sense the rhythm of your heart, your breath or your pulse? This is physical detachment. The detachment of ourselves from ourselves leads to confusion of purpose and lack of presence.

So, when will this transition end so you can finally land on your feet again? Never.  But there are coping mechanisms. Meditation, pranayama (breath) and yoga are practices I identify with. Scan your body and note – but do not judge all the feelings – let go/breathe into points of stress. When you are sitting in traffic and make your automatic right turn at the gas station on your drive to work, take a deep breath, follow your breath around that turn. Feel the tires roll over the Earth (magical right!? ; )). At your desk note your posture, release your jaw, keep your heart open (physically and metaphorically!). I know these practices may seem silly and small – but overtime they become your habits and your habits become your character! I don’t know about you, but every Sunday night before a work week I can feel my nervous system kick in and if I don’t tap into my breath and ground myself physically, I will react, physically.

This is more than just flakey yogi chatter – this is physics! Breathe and Savour. Hey, you know what else helps me center myself? POETRY…

This means the world to me!

The vibrations we release
The world comes to be
The vibrations we receive
It’s physics, its physical

Your bass notes
Your voice notes
The vibrations you put out
Your symphony
It is conducted

– c o n d u c t i n g –

 You
        The Conductor
It is physics 

Off the high hat – Ghana’s highlife
Off the highway – he holds a sign
It says “smile”
I change my face around
It’s physical 

We get in fistfights
It bleeds
Give into motion
Sweat beads

The vibrations you receive
The life you’ll live
Its physics
Get physical

: )

Peace and Love in the Flow,

Lauryn Elan Z  xo