8 limbs (1)

Self-discipline and Spiritual observances are the main focus for the second limb – Niyama. Regular temple or church service attendance, prayers before meals, personal meditation practices, habitual contemplative walks alone are fine examples of practicing niyama.

Just as in the Yama, there are five niyamas:

Saucha: Cleanliness

When I think about cleanliness, I think about the Japanese Concept of 5S. 5S is a workplace standard but it can be utilized in our homes, in our minds, and in our heart spirits. The 5S system is defined as:

Seiri or Sort – Put things in order (Remove what is not needed and keep what is needed) Let that sink in a bit. When we put things in order in our homes and work places, we are able to do the same in our psyche.

Seiton or Straighten – Proper arrangement (Place things in such a way that they can be easily reached whenever they are needed) Bring the most important items to the front.

Seiso or Shine – Clean (Keep things clean and polished; no trash or dirt in the workplace) Take out the trash in the physical and in the mental.  I love this piece from The Way of The Peaceful Warrior:

Seiketsu or Standardize – Purity (Maintain cleanliness after cleaning – perpetual cleaning) Because the laundry is never completely done, we keep doing what works to maintain cleanliness. Dusting, wiping, sweeping, etc.

Shitsuke or Sustain – Commitment (A typical teaching and attitude toward any undertaking to inspire pride and adherence to standards) It takes commitment to keep our homes, our minds and our heart spirits clean daily. [1]

Samtosa: Contentment

This word is so simple yet so unattainable for many. I know I struggle with it. Though, not as much as I did when I was younger and when I was using. But how does one find contentment? The Mayo Clinic has a good piece on this subject and here are a few simple suggestions they make:

Devoting time to family and friends – I had to pause writing here to schedule a painting class for son and I  because I have had it in the back of my mind to do so. The weeks fly by and we realize we have not had any quality time with our family members. Make it a priority.

Appreciating what you have  – Wabi-Sabi is another Japanese concept I have come to love and appreciate. For in seeing the beauty in worn  items that we own, we are not so quick to go out and spend money to replace them. We can have a full appreciation in a tattered pair of curtains shuffling in the breeze on a peaceful Sunday afternoon. We can relish in the history of the journey a piece of wood traveled to become that now old secretary’s desk.

As a young man in Japan, I learned the great philosophy of Wabi-Sabi: rustic simplicity, quietness, and understated elegance combined with the patina of beauty and serenity that comes with age. Wisdom is to be found in natural simplicity; beauty in that which is flawed. May you find them, too, my good friend, here in these words” – Wabi-Sabi The Bushido Poems of a Samurai Warrior of The Spirit.

Maintaining an optimistic outlook – Difficult while we are in the midst of another race to the Presidential nomination. I myself, being one of the most optimistic people I know, have found myself shaking my head in disbelief of the crazy outcomes of our current debates. But I also know that this too shall pass. Sometimes the future looks scary. But whoever said things are always going to be rainbows and butterflies? When times are tough, we hold on to the  knowledge that  good things are on the way. And they really are.

Feeling a sense of purpose – If we have no sense of purpose, then what are we doing here? Sometimes that purpose is leading a community. Sometimes it is playing chess. Nothing we do is without purpose. We just have to take the time to identify it and then we can feel that motivation to move in our purpose.

Living in the moment – How many memes do we see and stories do we hear about living in the moment? Sometimes, in the morning, my mind is saying “I am brushing my teeth”, to remind myself that I am in the moment. There are moments when one can walk barefoot in the grass, with closed eyes and feel the coolness of the air, smell the blossoming jasmine, hear the birds chirping and taste the sweetness of fresh berries growing in the garden. This is a moment. Live it. [2]

Drishti MoveEast

Tapas: Heat; Spiritual Austerities – Tapas is doing something you do not want to do or not doing something you want to do. It should have a positive effect on one’s life and the lives of others.

Tapas should be simple with success being attainable,  yet it should also be difficult and challenging enough to engage the will.

Understanding tapas best is to think of it as consistent perseverance toward your goals: getting on the yoga mat every day, sitting in meditation daily—or forgiving your loved one for the umpteenth time.

Peter asked Jesus how many times should he forgive his brother. Peter thought maybe seven times might be a fair limit. But Jesus said “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).

Tapas is a more subtle, more constant practice, concerned with the quality of life and relationships and not so much on focusing on gritting your teeth through another few seconds in a difficult asana.

Svadhyaya: Study of the Sacred Scriptures and of One’s Self – There are many Sacred Scriptures from The Holy Bible, The Koran, The Bhagavad Gita, etc. Some go to books like Calvin and Hobbs for their moral learning. Whatever it is, consistent study will only bring out wonderful results in our lives.


Photo by Aaron Burden

Isvara pranidhana: Surrender to God – My favorite! I will never forget the day I waved the white flag and surrendered my addictions to my God. I thought I would be beat down for the rest of my life. As it turned out, he moment I surrendered, I felt a huge weight lift off of my shoulders.

I always considered surrender as a form of losing. But I learned in my life, I must surrender to win. I have been winning at life ever since! Not in the way I once thought, not in competition with others but in competition with my former self. All I have to do is be better than I was and I am a winner. You can be a winner too, just surrender!

Wow! I am learning so much about applying The 8 Limbs to my life and I hope you are also! Another week down, another movement toward The Elysian Life! Stay Blissful My Friends – E


Electric Waves

We met up with my cousins at Ventura beach on a gorgeous summer day in 1984. The waves were perfect and we spent the whole afternoon body surfing. I didn’t even come out of the water to eat. No other sense could compete with the sound of the ocean singing its love song to me. Or the touch of the water enveloping me in its arms like a lover wanting to hold onto me forever, then liberating me as I am carried out to the sand rim on a powerful wave boasting of its strength.

Later that evening, after a nice shower and a meal, I lie on the living room floor. I reach over and grab the Super-Kool from my brother in-law’s hand and smoke its sweet minty goodness. Smokey Robinson’s Quiet Storm is playing. Closing my eyes, I relive every moment in the waves. But now, they are electric and soothing as they move my body forward and back. This is the sweetest moment and I never want it to end.

A few weeks later, my girlfriends Tina and Letty stopped by and asked me if I wanted to slam some coke. I had never used drugs intravenously but had nothing better to do at the time. “Okay”. 

I told my sister we were going to the park, which was the truth, that’s where we would meet our connection. Three guys, we knew joined us, I found out they were paying for it. It had started to get dark and I really didn’t know who else was there because all I could see were their dark silhouettes against the backdrop of the sun setting over the rolling foothills.

After the purchase was complete, It was time to get down! Then I noticed something, “Are we all using the same needle?”, I asked. “Yeah, we only have one.”, replied Letty. “Umm, nevermind. I will sit this one out.”, I said. They asked me if I was sure. Hell yes, I was. Didn’t any of them watch the news or read the paper? AIDS was the latest killer among IV users. Maybe I am too intelligent for the drug life. Well at least on that night I was.

The following week I am awakened by my sister shaking me. “Did you fucking slam coke with Letty and Tina?!”, she shouts. “No, I did not.”, I reply. “Tell me the damn truth!”, she says. “I am telling you the truth! I was going to but they were using the same needle and I just can’t do that.”

“Good.”, she says, “They all have Hepatitis”. A wonderful example of God doing for me what I could not do for myself.

Within 5 years, both Letty and Tina would be dead. Tina met up with some guys that had some heroin. She had just met them along the roadside. They gave her an overdose, raped her and dumped her body in a field. Tina was identified by her dental records and jewelry. Letty was getting high and wanted to go body surfing. She got pulled under by the tide and drowned. I think I would have rather gone out the way Letty did. Something about those Ventura waves…

Why not me? I know I did not get hepatitis because I made the choice to not use that day. But there were several other days and nights I coulda-shoulda-woulda been killed if only…

Yet I am here today, alive. My friends are dead. Who am I to question God’s will? Just as I had to accept the fact that I am an addict/alcoholic, I also had to accept that I was alive and they were not.

What I do know is that as long as I am above ground, I am willing to be in His service and make myself useful to all His creation. It is a gift, an honor, and a responsibility. This too I accept…blissfully.

What is your purpose in life? Have you accepted it wholeheartedly? I hope so. The spiritual life is both powerful and liberating…just like those electric waves.

Stay Blissful My Friends – E


Utilizing Your Confidence Muscle

Galatians 5:22-23 says:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

In July of 2015, I was one of many fortunate people in the audience listening to Bonnie St. John, our Keynote Speaker share her exciting life. Bonnie St. John is the first African-American to win medals in Winter Paralympic competition as a ski racer. Her story was powerful and I felt a connection to it as we had some similar family dynamics growing up.

I had purchased her book “Live Your Joy”, had it signed by Bonnie and then placed it on my nightstand. The thing about my relationship with books is that I have to put them on a schedule. That is just how many books I have in my home. I try to read no more than two a month. So I would longingly look at Bonnie beautifully smiling at me from the cover of her publication, knowing I would get to it…soon.

And here I am! Loving every word of it. I have just finished the chapter “Confidence…Joy’s Main Muscle”, and I remember Bonnie sharing this story at the conference. It is so brilliant, I just have to share!

The story begins with basically nothing going as planned for Bonnie.  Though her hair was in curlers and she was in her gym clothes, she was bound and determined to keep the promise she had made to her young daughter to visit the aquarium.

The excerpts below continue with the story though I am skipping a few paragraphs to include just these few gems:

“There I was, strolling into the aquarium with curlers in my hair, a bright blue mechanical leg, and a two-year-old in tow. Bless her heart, Darcy didn’t think for a moment there was anything odd about the image her good ol’ mom was presenting. There were others, though, not quite so oblivious. I was awash in a sea of eye-rolling glances, sotto voce mutterings, and even some rude pointing and laughing from the younger less-inhibited patrons.

Years of experience in being stared at in this way kicked in for me. I met their gazes… and simply smiled. It takes a special kind of backbone to do that – to have everyone look at you as though you are strange or crazy (or  both!) and to look back with complete confidence….

How is it that it can feel so good to do something so difficult?It was actually exhilarating for me to test myself in this way. I wouldn’t want to do it every day, but I realized that it felt like I was exercising a muscle – a confidence muscle. It was a familiar feeling because I had to do it as a child…

To me, utilizing the confidence muscle is crucial for living joy from the inside out.”


WOW! I want that! Don’t you want that? How many times have I gone to the grocery store with my head down because I looked like “a scrub”? I cannot count the number on my two hands.

It is one thing to express confidence when we are all put together in our best get-up. But to do this when we are feeling not so glamorous, as a matter of fact, maybe in sweats and a stained t-shirt! I had never imagined this.

Mind you, I come from a strong line of vain people. We were not seen outside the home without makeup and hair fully intact. In this reading, Bonnie not only tells us we don’t have to, but she challenges us to exercise our confidence muscle when we are out knowing we don’t look our best. Then to look people in the eye and smile.

What I hadn’t realized these past few months, is I have been exercising and utilizing my confidence muscle. Somehow, this lesson she shared with us back in July stuck with me. When the hubby and I went on vacation, we chose to camp on the beach. Even when we left camp and went site-seeing, I wore no makeup and my hair in a bandana. I packed very little clothes to wear and none of them were fancy!

Of course, this would be the vacation that we would bump into Daniel Baldwin, who also has a gorgeous smile of his own! Did I worry about how I looked? No, I just looked Daniel straight in the eye and flashed a smile right back at him as he walked on by, trying to keep up with his pretty little daughters!

Picking up this book has been worth the wait. I wish to Live My Joy and I wish the same for all of you. Stay Blissful My Friends – E



Are we Ready for a Poetic Crossing?

Living Elysian

move east Photo Source:

The concept of the Poetic Crossing is quite fascinating. I don’t necessarily have a desire to write such poetry (though I won’t rule that out completely).  I am rather intrigued by the philosophical background which touches my inner spirit. To get to my spiritual interpretation, I feel the need to explain what a poetic crossing.

I came upon the term “poetic crossing in a small piece of an interview I was reading one day and though my interpretation differs slightly with that of the interviewer, we were close enough.

The most current description I found was from an article posted in the Georgia Review in the fall of 1976 [1].  It is a fairly dry, yet profound reading and after much time spent interpreting the author’s representation and leaning on my eldest son’s assistance, I found the interpretation that worked best for me.

My Interpretation:

A written…

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Domestic Violence/I Know


I found this worn out tattered paper with a poem I had written many years ago. It was during a particularly difficult time in my life. I was sitting with a group of women who were staying at a domestic violence safe house. Their stories were heartbreaking and powerful. I felt a great bond with each woman there. We lifted each other up and decided to write.

Back then, I had a strong desire to give back, or pay it forward to women who have experienced domestic abuse. Two of my kids were still under 18 and I spent the next few years raising them. I am now an empty nester.

Not believing in coincidences…I was recently contacted by Alternatives to  Violence, a local organization in Northern Colorado. The director asked if they could use my poem on their website or Facebook page. Of course, I said, “Yes”.  Further into our discussion, I expressed the desire to volunteer for ATV. She welcomed this and I submitted my application yesterday.

DV is something I have known my whole life.  Thinking about this a lot the past few days. I penned another poem:

I knew a woman for a little while.

She had the most beautiful smile.

Her smile could almost distract you from her blackened eye.

I just could not understand why.

Who would want to hurt such a beautiful creature?

Is this what marriage is, would this be my future?

Everyone is so quick to judge,

Without knowing why a woman does what she does.

No one gave her a hand up or kind offer.

Instead, they chose to gossip about her.

I can still hear those unkind voices.

Whispering ugly tales about her poor choices.

Surely this last beating was her fault.

Of course, she deserved this recent assault.

But I saw her kindness and admired her strength.

To help a friend, she would go any length.

Though I only knew her for a little while.

She taught me rather well how to smile.

I look forward to continuing in my journey of lovingly encouraging all in their quest for inner peace while endeavoring to supportively empower spiritual living. I hope to pass on to others, that which was passed on to me by some pretty incredible women.

If you or someone you know are in an abusive relationship, there are wonderful resources out there to help you get out. Just reach out your hand and ask for help.

Stay Blissful My Friends – E


Mission & Vision Statements


“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”  – Viktor E. Frankl

As the year 2016 is in its infancy, I have felt compelled to address what I stand for, what is my mission. This led me to make the following statements:

My Mission  

To lovingly encourage all in their quest for inner peace and a strong quality of life while endeavoring to supportively empower spiritual living.

My Vision

A global community of creative, informed, and engaged beings living in a diverse, healthy, and beautiful world.

My Core Values and Beliefs 

My work will…

  • Be real, be authentic and true to my personal values.
  • Provide meaningful context for spiritual and lifestyle issues to be discussed, deepened, and resolved.
  • Be created in a spiritually relevant, sound, and personally satisfying manner.
  • Stay mindful of the globally spiritual community in which we all live.

And I strive to…

  • Practice what I write
  • Keep my work fluid and responsive to change
  • Teach what I know to others
  • Grow responsibly

Unsplash Dingzeyu Li Focus

Source: Photo by Dingzeyu Li

2016 – The Year of Focus

When I write, I tend to go all over the map. This is because writing excites me and I have a lot to say. This creates a lack of focus. My personal objective this year to remain focused.

  • Home Life – to be focused on keeping order in my home and its surrounding community.
  • Marriage  – to remain focused on communication and paying attention to the little things.
  • Relationships – to be focused on enhancing and improving my relationships to others.
  • Career – to continue focus on education and improving my knowledge to better serve my customers.
  • Dietary – to remain focused on reducing sugar and increasing realistically healthy and clean eating.
  • Physical  – to focus on stress reduction and my yoga/fitness course.
  • Spiritual – to continue to focus on spiritual growth through prayer, meditation and kindness to all God’s creation.

Writing a Personal Mission Statement

Have  you ever written a Mission or Purpose Statement? In Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, he details how to compile one. Below are a few suggestions I have come up with:

  • Keep it simple, clear and brief, keeping to 3 -5 sentences long.

  • What do you want to focus on and who do you want to become as a person (character) in this phase of your life? Touch on actions, behaviors, habits and qualities that would have a clearly significant positive impact over the next one to three year of your life.

  • Say what you do want to do or become rather than what you do not, using positive alternatives to negative statements. Keep it positive.

  • Include items that appeal to your personal values and consider important enough for further development.

  •  Your mission statement should guide you in your day-to-day actions and decisions and  be a part of your everyday life.

  • Your mission statement is well balanced and does not conflict with or contradict your personal values.

  • Include an emotional payoff in your mission statement infusing it with passion, which will make far more compelling, inspiring and energizing.

Now  put it into action! And Stay Blissful My Friends – E


Mikhail PAvstuk
Source: Photo by Mikhail Pavstyuk



He Knows My Very Being

Lying in my bed, reading a book.
A naked soul.
My vulnerability exposed.
Into my room walks the One who wrote the book.
The Author who sees all things I have hidden.
Behind the makeup and Spanx.
Every impurity, wrinkle and fat roll.
In the wake of all the false smiles.
He sees my tears, my fears and my frustrations.
He offers to cover me if it will make me feel better.
I decline, as I am now ready to accept all that I am.
Just as He has received me with his unconditional love.
Into His arms I allow myself rest.
I am prepared to let Him love me the way He always has.
Though I pushed Him away in the past, fearing such intimacy.
Being the gentleman that He is, He stayed quietly by my side.
So as not to add to my distress.
He whispers to me that I am a queen, a warrior of the heart.
I am love, I am spirit. I am bliss.