LA Paris LA
It was an 11,000-mile journey that took a lifetime.
I’m a seeker. Always have been. My resolve to seek Meaning and Truth was crystal clear from a very young age, although deciding how Meaning and Truth would show up through my work in the world was anything but clear. For four decades, my life had been a painful study in trial, error, and scattershot careers. I’d been a CPA, a standup comic, a massage therapist, a soap opera actor. Then there was that seedy gay bar I managed in downtown Manhattan in the early ‘90’s.
Like a Pollack painting, my life’s canvas was vast and messy at first glance but was also guided by an intelligent intuition. Such was the paradox of my restless spirit:
An outer reality screaming “Aimless Dilettante” and an inner reality whispering “Resolute Seeker.”
Edging towards 40, I migrated from NYC to Los Angeles to mend a broken heart, win an Oscar, and upgrade my status from “seeker” to “finder.” I’ve long believed that the future comes to live in LA. As a futurist and an evolution junkie, my future and I were ready.
Soon after arrival, I took my first yoga class. It shines as a seminal moment in my life because while my spirituality ran deep, it was also shapeless and inarticulate. Its restlessness was born of homelessness. There, on my rented yoga mat in Santa Monica, spirit found expression and a home. Yoga became the fertile landing pad where the seeds of my spirit could take root, find potency, and thrive. I was all in.
For the next decade, I dove passionately and with a voracious appetite into all-things-yoga. I took full advantage of a city where some of the best teachers in the world were at my fingertips for only $18 a shot.
It was better than an Oscar. Here, in L.A., I became a teacher. Here, in L.A., I became the man I was meant to be in the world.
If L.A. is where the future comes to live, France is where Tradition nobly resides.
My restless spirit was rearing its familiar head in response to complacency.
I turned to my Bucket List where “Move to Paris” held an exalted slot.
Approaching 50, I wondered if uprooting so dramatically was a foolhardy midlife crisis decision or if my inner compass was clearing its voice and making itself heard.
I listened. I waited. I packed my bags. I spent the next five years on the Left Bank.
Paris has a heft and a gravitas that is in direct contrast to easy-breezy Los Angeles. Her beauty is intoxicating and seductive, but it was not love at first sight.
I languished for the first few years, weary from the dense bureaucracy and what I perceived as a casual negativity that permeated most aspects of life.
We had to earn each other’s love, and what ultimately transpired was one of the most profoundly fiery and exhilarating love affairs of my life.
She taught me exactly what I needed to learn: patience and perseverance.
I taught her of hope, possibility, and the value of holding simultaneous space for both tradition and evolution.
We tamed each other. We learned to love each other.
When it was time to bid each other adieu, nearly 100 students assembled, and we collectively cried in gratitude for mutual lessons learned.
And because crossing any item off a bucket list is a monumental achievement.
And so my evolutionary trajectory brings me full circle to L.A.
In 2006, I was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition that required immediate surgery. It was during that dark hour that I was introduced to Dr. Parla Jayagopal, an Ayurveda doctor who lovingly bathed me in oil, recited mantra, and ignited my passion for this most sacred healing modality. Over the years, Dr. Jay-ji has repeatedly extended an invitation to formally study Ayurveda with him. I don’t take such invitations lightly. The time is now, and this appointment with destiny must be honored.
The practitioner program begins in a few weeks, and I am giddy as a schoolboy as I sharpen my pencils.
With these pencils I will learn an ancient tradition.
With these pencils I continue to reconcile and refine Swadharma and Dharma.
Just weeks ago I was unpacking my boxes in my new home here in L.A. and found a CD recording of a session with a psychic I had visited just days prior to moving to Paris. I was eager to assess the accuracy of her predictions, so I listened.
I remember her peeling off the first tarot card.
“I see people from different countries sitting around you. Are you planning a trip?”
“Yes,” I replied. “I’m moving to Paris next week.”
“I’m not exactly sure,” I said.
“You know, when you have an unexplained impulse to move far away, it means the love of your life is calling for you.”
Ah, well, she got it half right, I mused. A husband never materialized in Paris.
And then something occurred to me.
She never specified that the “love of my life” was a person.
What if the “love of my life” that was beckoning from afar was not a person after all but, quite literally, The Love of My LIFE?
What if the love of my life is the tender voice of my restless spirit, ever nudging my seeker soul to co-create with evolution?
I listen. I wait. I grab a brush and add another stroke to my beautiful, messy, canvas.
The Gershwin Brothers were ahead of their time when they wrote this iconic song. They may or may not have been hip to the rhythm of nature, but they were certainly hip to the rhythm of music. The two rhythms are not dissimilar.
The mountains of Bavaria are stunning and provide a perfect backdrop against which to write my inaugural blog on rhythm. Where better to feel the cycles of nature than wrapped in the arms of Mother Nature’s sattva? With unobstructed ease, far from the pulse of the big city, I can feel her rhythm.
It’s effortless. It’s a relief.
Let’s consider this axiom: Nature throbs with stunning intelligence.
From the Big Bang billions of years ago—that moment when Nothing became Something—this seminal pulse has trickled outwardly in infinite waves of polarity since the beginning of Time: sunrise/sunset, the four seasons, the ebb and flow of the tides, the contractions of a mother in labor, our first and last breath, a heartbeat, a cell.
Every aspect of life mirrors the initial pulse of Consciousness’ move towards Manifestation. Nature pulses, and Ayurveda, a system of healing that has its roots in ancient India, reminds us of the importance of living in accordance with that pulse. We have our individual doshas (constitutions). Certain times of the day have a dosha. Every season has a dosha, and even the stages of our lives have doshas. Rhythms upon rhythms, cycles within cycles, nature’s ever-spiraling elegance and logic never cease to amaze.
Lately, I’ve been diving deeper into Ayurveda with a focus on Dinacharya—basing our daily routines around the cycles of nature. Dinacharya takes advantage of the shifting qualities in each time of day, season, and environment to determine the best activity to engage in and when to engage in it. It teaches us how to plug our individual lives into the bigger flow.
I’m interested in rhythm because I know, from experience, the pitfalls of arrhythmic living. I’ve been an urban dweller for most of my life. New York – Los Angeles – Paris. Cities dance to the beat of a different drummer, making it difficult to heed the call of Nature. I’ve worked too late, eaten too late, over-slept, and allowed myself to be seduced by the over-stimulating temptations of Bright Lights Big City.
A day in my life in L.A. a few years ago looked something like this:
- I weave through traffic with a sandwich in one hand, steering wheel in the other, iPhone attached to my ear – and then wonder why my digestion is off.
- I meditate daily but then crawl into bed with my computer and answer stressful emails seconds before I shut my eyes – and then complain about poor sleep.
- I do a strenuous yoga practice at 7:00 pm (“It’s the only time I could fit it in!”) and then wonder why I feel depleted the next day.
Sure I was feeling OK, but I wanted to feel Great. I thought I was doing all the right things, but when I reflect on those days, I see that, in spite of my extensive yoga education, I was completely missing the simplest connection between Cause and Effect.
Cut back to that sandwich-scarfing car ride in L.A. The sandwich from WholeFoods wasn’t the problem (it was, after all, an organic, veggie sandwich on gluten-free bread), but HOW, WHEN, and even WHY I was eating it were clearly problematic. I was out of synch, committing crimes against nature at every right turn, left turn, and U-turn.
At that time I’d never heard of Dinacharya, so my self-prescribed remedy for better health didn’t include realigning my daily lifestyle routines but rather to simply pile on more hatha yoga . . . and then blame The Yoga for not working.
About a year ago, I began making some serious changes in my daily rituals. They were simple on paper but not easy to implement: 10 habits that would transform my perception of what “wellness” looked like. Early to bed/early to rise, a light dinner ending by 6:30pm, and a new hygiene regimen that challenged my westernized addiction to triple-milled soap.
Adopting these new habits was akin to taking a sledgehammer to concrete because my previous routines were so deeply encrusted in the fibers of my being by culture and family that even the slightest shift turned my world upside down. Basically, I had to unlearn how I’d lived the previous five decades of my life and become clear about what patterns I was willing to sacrifice in order to stand in better health. It’s still a struggle but becoming less so over time because the cycle of cause and effect is finally sinking in.
We’re living in a 24/7 techno-driven world, and we have unplugged from The Flow. I see the repercussions in many of my students in the form of chronic anxiety, depleted energy, poor sleep, autoimmune diseases, and a host of other maladies.
Our ancestors got it right. They instinctively knew how to attune with nature—rising with the sun, powering down at sunset, eating their biggest meal during the day when the sun was burning as brightly as their very own digestive fire. Their inner eco-systems were calibrated with their outer eco-systems. My vision for students, friends, family, and myself is to recover that innate logic, to reunite with what always was but has since been forgotten, to guide students on a path to better health, and, ultimately, to create a support structure so we can make meaningful changes and evolve our collective wellbeing.
It’s so basic and yet so revolutionary: an aligned routine, practiced daily, is stronger medicine than anything out there.
I see now how the universe is perpetually opening her arms and inviting me to step into the Flow, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore that embrace. Because within her arms, within that Flow, lies an Empowered Life.
Who could ask for anything more?
Looking to upgrade your life through Ayurveda’s daily routine?
Please visit my Evolutionary Habits page.