Category Archives: Life

An invitation into the darkness: the value of rumination and notes on finding your own inner guru.


The darkness of winter: time to turn inwards.

The northern hemisphere is swaddled in darkness, as it is each winter. Today is the longest night of the year; the shortest day. The sun will rise late and quickly dash off, leaving us behind to contemplate the cold, wind, and dreariness of night. Despite the prominence of electric lights and bright screens, and cheery holiday tinsel lining the streets, it's still dark by early afternoon.

It makes me tired, it makes it harder to work. I struggle to keep going in the afternoon, wanting instead to curl up and hibernate. For many of us, we forget that this is the darkest day of the year. We'll notice it only through our increased desire for caffeine, a twinge of melancholy, or a lack of motivation. As Clark Strand writes in Bring On the Dark, "few of us will turn off the lights long enough to notice" the winter solstice happening right around us.

"There’s no getting away from the light. There are fluorescent lights and halogen lights, stadium lights, streetlights, stoplights, headlights and billboard lights. There are night lights to stand sentinel in hallways, and the lit screens of cellphones to feed our addiction to information, even in the middle of the night. No wonder we have trouble sleeping. The lights are always on." — Why We Need The Winter Solstice 

These dark days are a gift: it's an opportunity to turn inwards, to reflect, and to ponder.

Darkness invites contemplation, reflection, and inner reflection. Dwelling in it can also, for me, bring up deeper sadness and sorrows. It comes in waves, for me, the periods of stillness and rest, of quiet and solitude. Sometimes my mind dips into periods of darkness; I know that I'm deep in restoration and rebuilding. Patterns emerge; ideas begin to form. My other senses sharpen as I rely less on my eyesight.

We're called to go into the darkness. To find our own inner guru.

When you dim one sense, you brighten the other senses, adding clarity, range, and acuity to your abilities. The ability to feel a range of emotions increases your emotional depth. The upside of darkness, however, is that it is a beautiful time for rumination and reflection.

In yoga, inviting the darkness in is an invitation to find your own inner wisdom, your own inner guru. In studying with Sara Neufeld recently, I learned more about how darkness is an invitation to find your own inner wisdom.

The word "Guru" comes from two words, gu (darkness) and ru (light). From a seat of heaviness or darkness, we go through experiences that bring us to light. One who has experienced both darkness and light has accumulated wisdom. In the yogic tradition, we all are our own gurus — capable of finding our own inner wisdom when we go inwards and close our eyes to contemplate our being.

"The night was the natural corrective to that most persistent of all illusions: that human progress is the reason for the world." — Clark Strand

Sometimes, finding lightness requires going through the dark. We go not around, but through. The earth spins into darkness every year, so should our souls.

Have you ever lost your temper?

This is an excerpt of an essay from my twelve-essay short series on Grace and Gratitude. Each day, I send a story with a nugget, an idea, and a practice — everything from losing your temper, to finding small happiness, to practicing meditation. The program is here; or just enjoy the essay below as aContinue Reading

The man at the grocery store.

The man in the grocery store is in love with me. I can tell by the way that his eyes watch me, and the way he smiles at me from behind the counter. I pull my basket up around the edge of the aisle, glancing briefly at the pop tart magazines. Mmm… chocolate. I grabContinue Reading

Want to learn yoga in 5 minutes a day?

I was sitting at dinner with my friends Amber and Farhad recently, and the conversation turned to yoga, drawing, and art. I mentioned an idea I had, to make small “yoga grams” on my Instagram with a posture or two that people could learn and try in just a few minutes a day. If you knowContinue Reading

When you fall down, break your routine, or stop writing: notes on re-starting.

The rhythm breaks. The routine falters. You write, so diligently, and then a week slips by. Getting back into the structure of things — writing — is even more challenging when traveling, moving, changing. I can make a million excuses; writing and making time for writing is and always seems so hard. It’s easier when I’mContinue Reading

What is grace and why does it hurt so much? (what I learned about emotional resilience through a 10-day detox retreat in Ubud, Bali).

“The truth is that most of life will unfold in accordance with forces far outside your control, regardless of what your mind says about it.” — Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul On the black sands of the Java Sea. The waves crashed over my limbs as sobs heaved in and out of my chest. IContinue Reading

Why is moving so hard? The struggle to lighten up, give up, and let go.

“Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” — William Morris. Everything changes. I just emptied an apartment full of furniture, things, stories, and stuff. I carried couches, desks, and pieces of furniture up and down (and up and down) many flights of stairs across hillyContinue Reading

a love story.

I was making a book; he was a book designer. We talked on the phone — me, in San Francisco, him in Brooklyn. We chatted for nearly an hour before I convinced him to let me hire him as a consultant for a project. I paid the standard rate, typical deliverables — and yet I wantedContinue Reading

Are you living? Because sometimes, I can forget.

“It’s not that we’re afraid of death—we’re only afraid of death because we want to make sure we’ve lived enough.” —Chris Guillebeau, @AliveinBerlin Remains of the Berlin Wall (left), and Templehofer Feld, an abandoned airport (photographs by Alex). Three and a half years ago, I booked a plane ticket to Portland, Oregon. I went by myself—all alone,Continue Reading

When you’re tired, worn out, beleaguered, scared, underfed, miserable, alone: a reminder. #dosomething

I don’t care who you pretend you are. I don’t care so much who you pretend you are when you’re well fed, well dressed, well slept, put together, prepared, And so called ready… When the polish is fresh and the face newly painted, airbrushed layers covering freckles, pock-marked skin with storied layers hidden; the script lockedContinue Reading