Shriyoga Blog

I Am

Posted on January 1st, 2011

I am excited for 2011 in a way I haven’t experienced since I was 9, 10… possibly 12 years old.  Doubtful 12, as life had already become very complicated by then, with murky despair whispering her first hellos to me.  Every New Year moving forward was a desperate promise to be better, brighter, more “together”; strictly resolute to never miss a step, an opportunity… and never, ever make a mistake.

It has taken me decades to realize that Life mostly happens on Life’s terms.

In fact, I can pinpoint exactly when it began to shift: early in 2006 I was on a week long retreat in Joshua Tree with Sally Kempton and a diverse group of people committed to meditating and studying together in a year-long course called The Transformative Journey.

It was a heavy start to that January with my then beloved partner slipping slowly down a steep slope towards a relapse after years of recovery from drug addiction.  My “mind” was telling me that I could control, prevent and fix it.  There was no awareness of my identity being anything other than the thoughts in my head. As far as I was concerned, I was stuck with whatever I was thinking.  There was no possibility, no choice other than to continually think, plan and obsessively strategize.  Anything that passed through the lens of my mind was absolutely real and true.  What was playing out “inside” was something akin to a David Fincher film.  What came with those dark thoughts was agonizing emotion.

One pitch black, cold desert morning, as Sally ushered us to a deeper plane of meditation, I began to free fall inside of myself. It was simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating.  When I seemed to land, there was nothing there.  Emptiness. Presence.  I searched for thought, and nothing arose.  I heard Sally’s voice far, far away guiding us to silently call within “Ham Sa”.

I Am.

Blissfully, it didn’t matter what I was, how I was or why I was.  I just was… no place, no time, no thought.

Later that morning I asked Sally with outright embarrassment: “You mean I don’t actually have to think what I’ve been thinking all my life?”

“No.” she simply answered with a gentle, slightly amused smile on her luminous face.

“I can think whatever I want?  Create some other story.  Something beautiful?”


I was stunned.

Absolutely stunned.

Coming soon: Parts 2 + 3: Five years later… A dedicated love affair with mantra; and my “thoughts” on Sally’s new book: Meditation For The Love Of It


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