Author: Aerin Alexander

The Perfectly Imperfect Daughter

I always felt small around my mother. As a child I experienced her as the commander in chief of the family, in charge of all decisions and the source of everything I needed and wanted.

I remember being six years old, one afternoon polishing the wood floors of the living room of our apartment. I was focused on doing a great job for my mother’s approval. Every single corner of the floor was shinny. I polished under the sofa, dinning area and console table, where the large white vase, that belonged to great grandma was displayed. That was the only ‘valuable’ item in our household of six kids and a dog. The cord of the floor polisher got entangled around one of the legs of the console table without me noticing.  As a proudly walked away towards the hallway thinking I had done a great job, I accidentally pulled the cord, shaking the table. The vase fell on the ground and broke in dozens of pieces.

My mother didn’t get upset as I expected. Instead, she exhaled in resignation and without looking at me, left the room. A feeling of guilt built in me and stayed for decades to come.

I grew up aware of my mother’s long work hours at the house. We didn’t have dishwasher, laundry or dryer machines. We all live under a tight budget. She did the cleaning, shopping and cooking. She sew our clothing and she was a part-time tailor fixing clothing for neighbors, producing the extra pesos we needed to make it through the month.

My mother didn’t have time take me to school or sat down with me to do homework. She missed most of the teacher-parent conferences and my elementary and high school graduations. I was too young to understand and reconciliate the need for her attention and connection, with her demands of raising six kids.

As a teenager, I resented the fact that my mother was busy doing things for someone else and didn’t have time for me. I grew distant: she didn’t know about the sexual abuse I suffered, my frustration with social injustice, my dreams of traveling around the world, my boyfriends.

A few days before my first trip to Los Angeles, where I eventually moved to, we were sitting at the kitchen table: she wanted to talk to me about my trip. My mother had never left the country; she was concerned. I was already in my twenties and an intimate conversation with my mother felt awkward and strange. I didn’t know how to talk to her, so I placed my head on her lap, like small children do, for the mother to caress their hair.

My mother didn’t move. Physical contact was uncomfortable for her and she asked me to sit up straight. There I was again, feeling like the unwanted daughter that didn’t know how to please her mother. A string of similar situations came to my consciousness:

  • I didn’t keep my curly hair short like she asked me; instead I wore my hair long and blond, then, blue, then read and then black.
  • I didn’t want to get married and depend on a man.
  • I didn’t study to be a secretary, school teacher or nurse, the jobs destined to the women in my family. Instead, I studied drama and arts.
  • I joined street protests on human and women’s rights.
  • I didn’t confess my sins to the priests. I didn’t go to church; instead, I joined groups that questioned the existence of God.
  • I didn’t stay at home until the day before I got married like my sister and brothers did. Instead, I got a job and rented my own apartment.

And then, I moved to another country, and for several years we didn’t communicated.

My mother survived all disappointments, hurts and pains. She didn’t give up on our relationship, and neither did I. I healed my feelings of abandonment, my misperception of being unwanted, and grew up.

Years later, after our reunion and healing, we did talk, looking at each other’s eyes. We didn’t become best friends, but, nonetheless, we established a real and deep connection.

Eight years ago, while sitting at the end of her bed at the hospital, I was tenderly massaging her feet. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer and her body was weak. With remorse, I mentioned my mother about my feelings of guilt for breaking the vase. She laughed. I didn’t expect that. She said she hated it, and she was actually glad that it broke. I tried to make a point reminding her how disappointed she was with me all through my teen years. She smiled. She said she was going through her menopause, and her behavior towards me had nothing to do with me. I love you, she said. I love you, I said.

Today, I can understand and reconciliate our differences and love my mother more than ever before. I am grateful, she was the perfectly imperfect mother for me, and I was her perfectly imperfect daughter.

Overcoming Fear of Men

didn’t know fear still had a hold on me until I heard Amanda Nguyen talk. Years ago, I used to wake up in the middle of the night fearing being killed in the hands of a man. I would check under the bed and behinds curtains fearing a man hiding somewhere in the house. I watched behind my back when walking back home from work. I had extra locks on my door; I slept with a light on. Up until now, I didn’t realize the extent of how fear has affected me in the past and how can still have a hold on me today. Here is my unspoken story.

Amanda Nguyen was on the stage sitting next my husband. The moderator of the panel about Conscious Men at the “Lead with Love Summit” in Aspen, Colorado, introduced the talk by asking Amanda about her view on the role of men today after the #Me Too movement. Born in 1991 to Vietnamese refugees, Amanda is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and helped draft the “Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights” that passed unanimously in Congress in 2016.  

She spoke calmly and slowly, her long black hair shining, her face revealing young beautiful skin. I liked her immediately. I had missed her earlier presentation during the conference, where I was invited with my husband to teach a workshop about the mood of the Warrior, the Visionary and the Healer, three of shamanistic archetypes, and how these moods apply to our daily lives. On my first impression, Amanda embodied the leadership awareness, moods and skills I seek in myself and others.

“What would you do if men in your city where subject to curfew after 9:00 pm?

Amanda shared that she had posted that question on Twitter days earlier and the answers were overwhelming:

“I would sleep with my windows open”

“I would go for a jog around my neighborhood”

“I would take a walk on the beach at night”

“I would be able to walk from the bus stop to my home after work”

Unexpectedly, her question cracked something in me,

“I would wear whatever I want without worries”

“I would speak my mind”

“I would tell the truth”

Amanda’s question pierced my heart and stayed with me for several days after I got back home. I tried to distract myself with my work and my son’s school life, but during my writing class, one night, it all came back.

What would I do without the fear of men?

I was 5 years-old and I was at home with my family on a humid and hot Sunday afternoon. My parents, older brothers and sister were sitting at the table chatting and savoring Argentinian pastries and tea. The special occasion was our guest: my mother’s second cousin that I had never met before. I can’t recall his name, but I do remember he grabbed me by the waist and, without asking me, sat me on his lap while voicing something like “what a cute little girl.” My apprehension was immediate and I tried to push him away. I wondered if he ever brushed his teeth because he smelled of alcohol. Also without my consent, he placed his hand between my legs. I was wearing shorts; he kept his hand on my private areas. I nervously kept moving trying to get away until my mother made an apologetic comment to her cousin about “what an anxious and restless child I was”. I froze and held my breath. I remember trying to look in her eyes for help. Today, sometimes l feel tightness in my groin muscles because of this incident.

I was 12 years old, and on my way to my girlfriend’s birthday party. The subway station looked empty and quiet on the Sunday afternoon. My father explained to me the station where I needed to change trains, from line D to lane A, the older subway line with wooden seats and doors that didn’t close well. It was my first time riding in the subway by myself and I was alert and paying attention to my environment. I patiently waited for Line A train to arrive; there was no one at the station and I counted out loud every step I took, holding tight to the plastic bag with my friend’s present: a pink top that my mother chose appropriate for a young girl. The ride on line A was about 15 minutes, which I also imagine counting, since I didn’t wear a watch and cell phones didn’t exist. I was carrying a tiny purse that I had crocheted for my doll, with a couple of coins to make a call in case of an emergency, the address of my friend’s house and the subway ticket for my ride back home.

Once in the car, I sat next to the door, holding the rail. There was a couple facing the rear end of the train and a middle-aged man, facing towards the front. The train was really old and shook before coming to a stop, at each station. I kept my eyes fixed on the map above the opposite doors that showed the stations. I had a strange feeling and without wanting to look, out of the corner of my eye the middle aged man was exposing his penis and touching himself. He was looking in my direction and making gestures for me to look at him. I froze in fear and was about to cry when I noticed that the couple stood up and got ready to leave at the next station. Two years before, when I was 10 years old, one winter morning on my way to school a man walking in front of me wearing a long coat suddenly turned around and exposed himself and started walking towards me. I was able to run away from his laughter by crossing the street. But in the train there was nowhere to run. I stood up fearing for my life and ran behind the couple leaving the subway station.

Once in the light of the street, I found myself in an unknown neighborhood. I pulled out the address and looked for a trustworthy woman to ask directions. I have walked perhaps a few miles when I was able to find my friend’s house.

I was 14 years old, when getting back home from school, a man entered behind me by grabbing the main door of the apartment building. He got in the elevator with me. He talked in a creepy tone, and told me he was going to rape me.  He forcefully placed his hands onto my school coat, on my breasts. I pushed him away, and he pushed me back, causing me to hit my head, which shook the old elevator and made it stop. He got out somehow, one floor just below mine. Filled with adrenalin, fear and fury, I banged on the door for my mom to open. I screamed at her to please call the police and help me get ‘este degenerado’. She closed the door, and fearfully explained that she didn’t know what to do. We were living though military dictatorship that violated human rights. She repeated several times that there was nothing she could do. Neither of us spoke of the incident again.

I was 16 years old and I arrived at the Red Cross headquarters in Buenos Aires covering my face with my hands. I asked the front desk for ice. On the bus en route to the headquarters, a man punched me in the face, causing me to fall unconscious. It was Friday afternoon and I was meeting my friend at the Red Cross to register for a workshop on Wilderness Survival, suggested by our 11th grade English teacher. The bus was full and I was standing near the rear and squeezed between other passengers. As had happened before on crowed bus rides, I felt a man’s hands on my private areas. I was sixteen years old and being sexually assaulted was not new to me.

This time, unlike the other times, I actually yelled for help. I don’t know how or when, but the guy violently knocked me down. When I regained consciousness, I found myself sitting on the first row, next to a woman. I was shaking and crying and she was consoling me. The bus driver was apologetic and told me the man had run away and suggested that I go to the police. The bus stopped in front of the Red Cross building and I walked inside seeking support.

The staff at the Red Cross sent me to the director’s office at the end of a long hall, to wait for my friend. Other people were arriving and everyone felt uncomfortable seeing the condition I was in. In my commotion and shock, I was trying to hold it together, and wishing that my friend would arrive soon. Instead, the Red Cross director entered the room.

He was slightly overweight and smelled of alcohol. His hug felt inappropriate rather than consoling. My friend finally arrived and took me home. For 10 long days I carried a large bruise on my face that changed from dark blood, to dark blue to black. No one in school or anywhere I went asked me what had happened, even though their eyes expressed concern and apprehension. At this point, Argentina was transitioning from the military dictatorship to democracy, and everyone was guarded fearful. More than thirty thousand people had been tortured and killed, and as the truth began to surface in local newspapers, tension and stress increased in the environment.

At the Red Cross Wilderness survival camp in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, the director placed his sleeping bag next to mine. All three nights I was there I endured his hands running over my body as I was pretending to be sleeping. I hated it. I wanted to scream and knock the hell out of him.  What could I do? Who would help me? He was the director of the Red Cross, the authority, the protector. Who would believe me? My parents did not know what to do and took no action about the previous incidents. My brothers made fun of me when I tried to share about my incidents in the bus. “You are so dramatic”. “You should walk instead,” or “Well, if you dress with a mini skirt, you are looking for it.” I did not wear a mini skirt in any of the instances. I have not worn a mini skirt in 35 years.

I told my best friend two days after the camp was over. She was horrified and shocked at the beginning, but then she questioned me: “Why did you let him do that? Why didn’t you stop him?” I didn’t know what to say. I doubted myself. It was my fault. What was wrong with me? I may have had a mark, like the scarlet letter. Was I looking for it? Did I feel seen and wanted, something that I couldn’t feel at home? NO. In all those instances, I felt violated, I experienced shame. I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t know I could have a choice. I didn’t have a voice. I felt I was going to be killed if I spoke up, like the political authority had done with thousands of innocents during the dictatorship.

The unspoken became unspeakable

As a teenager I coped by increasingly hurting myself. I was in pain and suffering and I couldn’t find the way out. I scratched my legs and arms with my nails until they bled. I took drugs. I tried to kill myself. But it did not work. I was seeking an explanation, trying to understand my life experiences. I wanted to hear someone validating me, that I was not crazy; someone to tell me that sexual abuse was wrong. Something in me kept looking, removing heavy curtains and trying to let the light shine in. I got a job and paid for therapy. I went beyond my familiar cirlce and became friends with artists, musicians, and even with philosophers and intellectuals.

I started to face fear by reading spiritual texts about human nature, by engaging in the healing arts and taking classes, listening to other people’s stories. In one workshop, I met my teacher, Carlos Castaneda who supported and further inspired my healing process by offering me a new definition of the world, a new description of myself.

What would I do without the fear of speaking up?

Today I know I was a child and I was innocent, as all children are. I know my parents did the best they could with the awareness and tools available to them at the time and I hold no resentments. I know I am not the only woman who has endured fear and abuse. I know men suffered from abuse too. I have learned to say NO, to place boundaries, to care and love myself, and to build healthy intimate relationships. Today I have a family, I protect and honor my body, and teach others to do the same.

And, I’ m still working in accepting what I judged as unacceptable: life experiences of violence and abuse, of any kind. I am realizing that even tough to endure, experiences of pain offered me an opportunity to experience my resilience, my strength, my power. I am walking through my fears though much smaller, still there, and will continue until:

I can sleep with my windows open

Take walks under the stars at night without fear

Tell the truth of who I am without experiencing shame (I Just did it!)

Hurray 2019! Release, Forgive and Set Up Intentions while Welcoming the New Year

“Intent is what sends shamans through a wall, to space, to Infinity”~ Carlos Castaneda

Dear friend: A New Time has arrived. We are living in a new era of interconnection, worldwide, where information is shared instantly across the globe, where we must stand together to protect our planet, where we need new collective agreements of energy renewal and creative ways of getting along. We feel lucky to witness a new consciousness in a large number of people that are working for the betterment of all. A new Spiritual awakening is piercing through all beings, no longer in the hands of a few privileged teachers.

This new movement of daring is saying YES to nature, to women in power, to integration of cultures, to community, to shifting from fear and domination to Love. It is saying NO to the selfish in power that keeps trying to divide people. It is too late for the old ways of right and left extremes, for the pyramidal structures of power. Our time today is the time of shared, interdependent intent.

We are now aware that we are not our thoughts or feelings. We know now that we can question our thoughts and question what are we consuming. We can make choices for healthier eating and healthier being, something that was unavailable to the world at large before. We know that we feel better after practicing movements, after a yoga class, after gardening. We have in our hands a new description for ourselves, and the power to make decisions that can change our perception of ourselves completely.

So, ride on your power my friend, on your beauty and on vision. BE YOU and stop trying to be someone else. YOU is what the world needs now: vulnerable, honest and aware.

As you welcome the new light of the New Year, and follow the steps below, dance to the glory of your journey, with its ups and downs, and know without any doubts, that you have been loved, that you are loved right now, and that YOU ARE LOVE.

May your light radiate out to your friends, your families, your community, and to the whole world.

We appreciate you and we are with you,

Aerin, Axel and Miles Alexander-Reid

CARLOS CASTANEDA’S NEW YEAR’S RITUAL

Here is the ceremony that our teacher Carlos Castaneda taught us:

It starts during the last days of December, and finishes after the clock strikes midnight on January 1st. Castaneda would tell us that, at midnight, the light of Spirit or the Universe comes and “watches us”—a force descends upon us, forged by the combined intent of the planet over millennia, and this is a very powerful moment to be present and aware—to feel and become acquainted with.

We have been practicing this ritual without failure for the last 23 years and it has brought us, and countless practitioners around the world, a sense of direction, purpose and inspiration to unfold our goals and intentions for the New Year, as well as a sense of connection with the cycles of nature and the entire planet.

We hope that the benefits ripple out through your life, your relationships, your community and the world.

The steps are these:

  1. Clear out the old before the New Year. Renew from the inside out. From December 28 onwards, and even throughout the day of December 31, clear up space in your home. Remove clutter, donate clothing that you aren’t using anymore, clean out and organize cabinets and drawers, and vacuum your floors; water your plants—all with a feeling of openness and readiness. The aim is to clean your home, physically and also energetically, to clean your psyche from negative thoughts and feelings accumulated during the year so that you can be receptive for the New to come in.
  • Throw things away that are not needed any longer or that are not bringing you joy
  • Write down all negative thoughts in a piece of paper, writing in a flow and without reading back what you wrote. When you feel you have put all out, burn the piece of paper and wash you hands.
  • Practice affirmations out loud, of appreciations for your life, for you belongings, for your friends and family
  1. On December 31, before midnight, attend to your desk or personal space. Organize your books and papers, and clear space so that you can comfortably sit to write a list of Intentions, affirmations, dreams and projects you want to manifest or co-create in 2019. Sit in Silence and call onto the light of Spirit, to clear your mind and body and to connect deeply with yourself.
  1. Next, take a pen or pencil and piece of paper, and get ready to LISTEN TO YOUR HEART
  • Recapitulate the most salient experiences that happened in your life during the year, and appreciate what you learnt in 2018. What challenges did you experience? What was the outcome? What new friends did you make? What new things did you learn, for example, a new recipe, a new skill, a new language? And what would you like to learn in 2019? You may choose to divide your year in basic areas, such as family, work, health, relationships and personal development:
  • How was your health in 2018 and what would you like to intent for 2019?
  • What about your work? What experiences did you have? What new projects you have in mind for 2019?
  • And in your family and relationships? What new relationships have you established? What came to a close? What needs to be healed?
  • What about your legacy? Write a paragraph describing what you would like your legacy for 2019 to be.
  • And about the larger community of planet earth, what dreams for a better world would you like to intend?

Listen to your heart, and follow with your pen the wisdom of your heart.

  1. Around 11:30 p.m. (it’s almost midnight!)Sit in silence with your hands in your heart and appreciate your life. You can put your attention on items from your 2019 Intentions—those things that you want to experience in the next year. Sit with it as long as you like, making sure by the time the clock strikes midnight it finds you engaged in some practical aspect of your intentions (researching something, preparing some initial plans, etc) and that you feel connected with them, with your personal life path, and with the Universe.

At midnight, during the first minutes of the New Year, let the wave of your dreams bathe over you with a sentiment of peace, love and gratitude.

Deepening into the Heart

Last week, Miles and I taught a workshop about Lead Your Legacy at the wonderful Lead with Love Summit, at the stunning Aspen, in Rocky Mountains of Colorado. We were open-hearted welcomed and experienced deep connections of love with everyone, including participants, presenters, organizers, the trees and mountains surrounding us. The last time we taught a class in Aspen, was in 2005, at the Aspen Ideas Festival!.

This was a powerful opportunity to recapitulate who we were then, what we used to offer to others, and who we are now.

Energy_Life_Sciences_Aspen_Blog_2

The very first difference I perceived was an ability to be more comfortable on my own skin, with my skills, my light and also, with my shortcomings. In large group events with celebrities I used to feel threatened and out of place, not knowing how and what to say and where to hide. What was present in me instead was calmness and connectedness, and my focus was on listening to others. I felt inspired by Gina Murdock, the founder and co-director of Lead with Love, who on and off stage, shows up as she is. (And felt inspired by other women and would write down about that on my future blog.)

More than 100 people signed up for our workshop! It was about awaking the Warrior state and connecting inwardly with the Healer and the Visionary within, all three shamanistic archetypes present in our collective consciousness.

Another difference I experienced was the immense joy and gratitude Miles and I felt from the very beginning.

Participants, all new to Being Energy®, were radiantly following the sequences of movements, engaged counting out loud, and renewing their body-mind-spirits. A large number asked us for a video to practice at home. You can see the sequence here below.. Also, you can read the powerpoint presentation of the workshop clicking here.

The Summit was a blast of almost five days of workshops, panels, talks, body awareness classes, social events, activism and more. There were over 400 participants and more than 50 presenters in the areas of conscious business, body awareness and social peace, including John Mackey, the co-founder of Whole Foods, Lynne Twist, co-founder of the Pachamama Alliance, Dr. Rudy Tanzi, author, researcher, professor of neurology at Harvard, Rod Stryker founder of Parayoga, and Kevin Courtney, yoga and meditation teacher.

It was satisfying to hang out with true like-minded individuals and organizations who are actively engaged doing GOOD for the world and introduce Being Energy® and see how aligned it is with the wave of change and transformation taking place in the world.

In a personal level as a family, we took time to roll through to the Aspen Institute hills and mediate on top of rocks. Kids were freely playing around, practicing yoga with others kids, and soaking in the Loving!

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Lastly, after six days of sunny warm weather, we woke up with a silent snow: a gift of spirit!. And, just for sheer inspiration and beauty, we want to share with you some images and the feel of those mountains and the inner silence that they bring to our soul.

What I Learned From my Father About Love

what I learned from my father about love

I was recently in Los Angeles, taking a class on self-development and the topic of abuse of power came out. A tall man on his seventies, stood up and expressed:

All women I know have been sexually molested.’ Immediately I had the image of my spiritual teacher, Carlos Castaneda, saying the same phrase to me more than 20 years ago.

Holding the mic on his right hand, this man continued:

And I want to tell to all women here that I am not one of the abusers, and that there are many men like me respect, honor and appreciate women,his voice broke and tears rolled down his wrinkled face with kindness. I noticed freckles on the back of his hand. He didn’t have children of his own: he was helping his wife raise her granddaughters.

‘I condemn the abuse; it is wrong’ he concluded. A moving applause from the large group followed. He reminded me of my father.

Seven years ago, I was having dinner with my dad the night after my mother’s funeral. We were at a small restaurant, in Buenos Aires, near the corner of his apartment building. My dad wasn’t that hungry, but I insisted. He looked pale and breathless and I knew some food would help bring some light back to his being. I wanted to spend time alone with him, away from the rest of the family grieving; to take a break from being surrounded by my mother’s belongings.

The wooden booth where we sat down felt uncomfortable under my skinny buttocks. I had lost weight since my mother had been hospitalized.

My dad ordered a milanesa with French fries, a typical Argentinean dish; I was frantically searching for a vegan option. The waiter, willingly, offered me a ‘off-menu’ dish with quinoa and squash. I consented. The glasses the waiter brought us were dirty, and the table was poorly cleaned. It was momentarily comforting to notice the petty little things of daily life, in the midst of a stressful, intense experience.

what I learned from my father about love

Deep in my heart, I knew everything I had learned from Castaneda, all of the years of meditation and practice were to prepare me for that moment: embracing the death of my mother opened-heartedly, feeling the great loss without denying it or dramatizing it,  experiencing my father’s pain, and allowing it to be.

Two months earlier my mom was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. She was hospitalized for three weeks, had a surgery to remove water from her lungs, and was given large doses of corticoids to force breathing. She went back home, where she died a few days later.  

All the time, my father stood next to her sleeping in rough public hospital chairs, going home only when my mother requested it. He did not complain. He was kind towards the doctors and nurses. I witnessed him sitting in silence by her side for hours, holding her hands, looking down searching for an explanation or praying.

My mother was the strongest one, the commander in chief that called the shots. She  made trusted decisions. She told my dad what to do, which bills to pay, which birthday parties to go to. She had a hand in everything and a tough personality.

My father had been a marine in his youth, with a caring, noble, honest, soul. He was tall, dark-complexioned and handsome. He was an introvert. He never raised his voice to us his children. He suffered a heart attack and stopped smoking. But then, when I was a teen, he was laid off from his job. He became depressed and withdrew.

“Still can’t believe she was in that box” he said looking into my eyes for the first time. The box with my mother’s ashes looked like a cardboard shoebox. There was an option to pay more money for a wooden box, but my brothers declined.

The memorial service took place the day before, at the church where my parents got married, and all of us, baptized. The charming basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe was a second home to my parents, where they offered marriage counselingl as part of their community service. We walked the two-blocks distance to the church carrying the box with her ashes on a paper bag. The priest placed the box on the altar.

I was sitting next to my dad, on the wooden church benches, when he held my hand and whispered close in my ears “can you believe that mommy is in that box”? He was eighty-years old but his voice felt so young, and innocent.

“No dad, she is not really there,” I managed to say.

At the end of the service we all followed the priest outdoors to a garden area with flowers. The priest signaled my father to hold the ashes, but he passed them onto me. I opened the box and spread the ashes on a community pit, joining the ashes of other members and priests. When the service ended, I noticed a large line of people coming to greet us, to tell us our mother had been their mentor, and that they were sorry for our loss. I realized the impact of my mother’s work in her community.

what I learned from my father about love

“This was not supposed to happen in this order, this is wrong;” in the restaurant my father was resisting the inevitable. Instead of joining in despair, or judging him, something within me decided to listen to him. “Listen to others as if your life depends on it” Castaneda used to tell me.  I did listen and gave space to my father to say anything he wanted to say, unconditionally.

The food finally arrived and mine tasted too salty. My dad’s looked better. I stole some of his French fries.  

“Your mother was the only one for me. Nunca hubo otra.” he said surprised by, almost in awe of his own words. “She was the only woman in my life.”

My dad did support my mother even when in disagreement. He praised her, thanked her for her work at home and with us, brought red roses, her favorite flowers, celebrated the time they had together. But I didn’t know how deep their love was.

Would my father make it without my mother? I thought while listening to him falling apart in tears. A part of me wanted to console him, to tell him he was going to be ok. Another part of me wanted to place my head in his shoulder, to be consoled by him, for him to tell me he was going to live long.

I did none. I kept eye contact, listening to his recounts of how he met my mother; how they used to talk through the radio while he was travelling around the world; how they decided to get married; how he gave up having a university degree to become the bread-winner and raise six children.

Twelve months later, in the same month my father died. I drove directly from the airport to the funeral house. His body was cold, but he looked still fresh and alive. He died in the morning peacefully, sitting on the sofa of his home, after finishing his tea. I kissed his forehead and held his hands. I was able to love him the way he loved.

what I learned from my. father about love

Sharing Our Transformational Experience In England With You!

We came back from our retreat Lead Your Legacy, in Worcester, filled with new awareness and in love with the Walled Gardens! Surrounded by trees and ancient landscape, this unique setting offered us opportunities for deep healing and growth. We planted seeds in the form of intentions and specific actions to continued developing our legacies.

We started our first day with a tour of the Walled Gardens and spent time learning about the history of the place.

Karen and Chris, our hosts, shared their journey of initially purchasing the land as a personal project for healing and for their home. They shared about how Spirit talked to them and guided them towards what became a service project – restoring historic land and opening it up to the public as a shared place to learn about history, lineage and legacy, and to enjoy and feel connected to the earth and to the community.

During the sessions, we taught special sequences of energy passes for Intent. We also revitalized our bodies by taking morning and evening walks throughout the huge Estate landscape (see the short video!), practicing the passes, breathing, and restoring our bodies and minds.

We enjoyed healthy, daily homemade meals together on site, which included fruits and vegetables from the historical Garden. We gave a presentation on Food and Energy and participants said they were inspired to see a new their relationship to food.

The workshop sessions included deep recapitulation processes to acknowledge, accept and build our own legacies. We heard deeply felt stories. Karen shared a powerful talk about her own process of healing through the rebuilding of the gardens. Her story moved everyone to tears.

Other participants, like Oggi from Bulgaria and Gabriel from Switzerland, told us how they were experiencing themselves anew, connecting to their child within and integrating themselves emotionally and energetically.

At the end of the event, Gabriel was giddy and kept saying, with shining eyes and a wide smile, “This is an incredible thing that is happening, I can’t believe how good I am feeling!” All in all, the unique, historical feel of the place and its beauty provided a perfect environment for a deep reconnecting to ourselves and to our legacies.

We had a wonderful moment on Sunday as we taught our Path with Heart Class Live from the Gardens and connected with our community online. It was uplifting to see all the participants bringing forward their energy and enthusiasm. We got to witness their personal transformations as they shared their stories and feelings online.

One lesson we all took back home is that being in the spirit of service revitalizes our purpose and direction, slows down aging, and improves our physiology and our psychology. The spirit of service helps us sustain the assemblage point in our hearts, something we dive deep into in our Path with Heart classes.

We came back home energized, spiritually connected and filled with joy, love and gratitude for our community and for the learning and growing processes we shared together!

Getting involved with our community is an amazing decision that can launch you into your legacy and into a deeper relationship with your self.

If you haven’t already signed up, register for our Online Women’s Classes starting this weekend. It’s a great opportunity to connect with a community of incredible women working together to be their best selves. Watch my invitation video below!

Register for the Online Women’s Classes

With endless love,

Aerin Alexander and Dr. Miles Reid

What Carlos Castaneda Taught Me About Women’s Power

Did you know in the U.S. someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds, and 90 percent of adult victims of rape are female? A recent survey of 550 experts on women’s issues concluded that India is the most dangerous country for women, and #10, the United States.

I remember talking to my teacher, Carlos Castaneda, about the role and position of women in the world. Castaneda, an anthropologist, writer, and the heir of a lineage of shamans from Mexico, opened my eyes to this issue when I met him in 1995. The first time he mentioned it, we were at his garden, pruning a lemon tree.

“Do you know that one in five women are being assaulted daily? Not only in Argentina where you come from, but worldwide?” he asked me.

“No, I never heard that statistics.” I mumbled nervously.

I was raised in a family where serving and educating men was emphasized. While my older brothers became engineers and doctors, my sister and I didn’t finish any studies after high school. I was a C, and D student. I focused my attention on becoming “nice’ and ‘cute’ as the roles for thinkers and doers were already taken by men.

I did want to become someone, to feel worthy and strong, to have a job, to have a voice and a say in my family and in the world. However, the baggage of judgments and unfulfilled desires always dragged me down and I couldn’t finish any of my projects that I started. From committing to a regular exercise program or diet, to taking a class, or a job, I would drop out half way.

I wondered if what I heard from my brothers and uncles about women, was true after all.

Women cannot drive well

Women cannot conduct business, are way too emotional

Women are not reliable to lead society

Women shouldn’t dress in mini skirts if they want to be safe

Educating women is a waste of money

Under the lemon tree, I shared these thoughts with him with a tinge of anger. Castaneda inspired me through his humor to not take my conditioning and past experiences so seriously. He said I could overcome and free myself from interpreations and create a new future for myself, dreaming bigger.

He taught me to:

  • To question and slow down my thoughts
  • To balance my emotions with a stimulant-free healthy diet
  • To get physically stronger by sustaining a daily practice
  • To educate myself, so I will have the energy and endurance to pursue my dreams.

“The best way to change the world out there is to start by changing yourself,” was his mode. “Use your shortcomings as routes to power” he kept telling me and gave me specific techniques for empowerment and inspiration:

To recapitulate, to remember and release all unwanted judgments and limiting interpretations and identifications about myself and put into action new ones:

  1. Shortcoming FROM: “I cannot study physics, it is impossible my brain doesn’t get it” TO conquering when I got an A in my physics class in college.
  2.  FROM “I never finish or graduate from school” TO: conquering by getting TWO masters degrees with high honors

To Practice daily physical exercises to heal childhood diseases and get stronger:

    1. FROM “No way I will be able to sustain these practice daily” TO: “Yes! I am doing it! The exercises are simple and easy to to incorporate in my busy life.”
    2. FROM being a poor breather with a family history of lung and heart disease TO experiencing healthy strong lungs and heart

To have a Romance with Knowledge, to be engage in critical thinking and philosophy:  

    1. FROM not reading the newspaper ever TO reading news and differentiating FACTS from OPINIONS
    2. FROM being emotionally attached to ideas TO OBSERVING and then perceiving

Twenty-three years have passed and I can say that this work has changed me completely. I have become what I wanted to be, and I feel empowered and strong.

I believe in giving women the opportunity to get educated at high levels, to be physically strong, and to assume positions of power in society and politics in order to create a more balanced world.

The survey I mentioned above concludes that “the US joint third with Syria for the risks women face in terms of sexual violence, including rape, sexual harassment, coercion into sex and a lack of access to justice in rape cases.” Thanks to the #MeToo movement we now evidence something we knew always.

 

What Carlos Castaneda Taught Me About Time

Time it is like a thought, or a wish.

Time is measured by the intensity of the moment you are living.

Time suspends when experiencing inner silence.

Time is a form of attention.

Time is not measured by the clock.

Time bends when you pay attention.

It is 5 to 12, I am running out of Time!

I am living in no Time.

I am facing the oncoming Time.

what Carlos Castaneda taught me about time

These are some of the phrases I heard Carlos Castaneda expressed from the moment I met him. He expressed his concerns about time; he re-defined his relationship with time, and he challenged the idea of time, daily.

Castaneda llegó a tiempo a cada cita; no le gustaba que otras personas lo esperaran. Y no esperaba a nadie. El tiempo, cómo manejarlo, cómo estirarlo, cómo experimentar el tiempo no lineal fue una parte intrínseca de mi formación con él.

De una manera calmada y sobria, él hablaba sobre su propia muerte como si fuera algo inminente que sucedería en cuestión de días o minutos. Y, sin embargo, se comportaba como si tuviese todo el tiempo del mundo.

He was never in a rush or hurry, relaxed at ease, enjoying his meals, there was no hurry in his mood, even when under the pressure of his books presentations or the pressure of delivering a talk in a conference to hundreds of people. He took his time to walk to the stage to deliver his thoughts, with his hands on his pockets and an open expression of ease and cool. He took his time to feel the audience laughter at his jokes and remarks, to answer questions, to engage eye to eye as if truly connecting with people.

Every day of my training with him was filled with the intensity of learning to stop unconscious habits and new ways of behaving, of being. My days felt long, as if stretched out by the intention to arrive to “enlightment” as soon as I could, before he died.

In the early mornings I went to school to learn English, then I worked at his company, then I engaged in physical training at his studio for another 3 or 4 hours, for the rest of the evening. But my routines were not regulated by time, or my time was not regulated by routines, or by the handles of my watch, as it was while living in Argentina. During my apprenticeship I had no routines, since Castaneda would change schedules often and I learned to flow with the daily events, as if facing the oncoming time.

Because I was in a new country, learning a new language, eating unfamiliar foods, and living with people I barely knew, I felt as if suspended in time.

I gave myself permission to ‘disappear’ for a while from the ‘real world,’ like some writers do to write a novel, or some people do after retiring to grow spiritually, and I relinquished my time to follow a different time.

I experienced suspension of time during the long hours of practicing sequences of movements, like martial arts, and long hours of sitting in silence. After overcoming my initial resistance, both physically with my muscles trembling and being out of breath, and mentally with self-defeating thoughts “I can’t do this’, ‘this is way too long,’ ‘I want to go home, sleep, eat tacos, etc”, I experienced states of extasis.

what Carlos Castaneda taught me about time

A rush of well being and vitality would flow through my body renewing the joy of my joints moving in unison, the happiness of my lungs fully expanding, the fresh blood oxygenated running through all the blood vessels and cells in my body, removing waste, detoxifying, revitalizing my right to belong here, in this planet at this time.

After long periods of exercises practiced in slow motion, I could experience the tasteful sweetness of calm, and the assurance that I was loved.

Later I started to experience those states when pruning the tress and working in the garden. Or when having lunch with friends, or even at the movies. Or when awakening into the morning, aware of the uniqueness of the day, gratefully aware, sitting at the edge of my bed, closed eyes, taking in the first inhalations of the day, feeling my heart beating, my skin soft and warm, some birds singing at the distance, the honk of the neighbors car, the newspaper throw of the street, the smell of toast, the children laughter passing by on the way to school, the splash of water my husband in the shower, my son at the piano playing Ode to Joy.

The experience of awaken vitality keeps flowing through me as if my teacher had create a vortex through which all experiences are one and Time is just a small part of the constant flow of life that keeps happening in and out of me.

 

What Castaneda Taught me
About the Warrior’s Way

 

While at Todai-ji, the temple in the city of Nara, I was mesmerized looking at the largest Buddha ever built in bronze, when the concept of the “Warrior’s Way” jolted my memory.

The Warrior’s Way was the framework Carlos Castaneda used to describe living life with impeccability and purpose. It consists of a series of premises and behaviors to have direction in one’s life, like experiencing meaningful relationships and acting with clear intentions.

Meaning, purpose, and direction were what my life was lacking when I met Castaneda. It was 1995, and I had decided to move from Argentina to the US to study this way of being, which became an integral part of my life.

The premises in the Warrior’s Way include the impeccable use of one’s attention for enhancing one’s life, and specific behaviors to live life with vitality and daring, such as regular exercises, practices for enhancing the ability to focus and redirecting one’s thoughts, cultivating inner silence, using food to develop one’s perception and health, working with intention, and sharpening the physical body as the perceiver.

The memory of my first years under Castaneda’s rigorous physical training flowed through my body as I was watching the Buddha.

I had arrived in Tokyo three days prior with my ten-year-old son, to join a couple of friends and a guide to do a ‘mystical’ journey visiting large temples in the main cities of Japan. We took a train from Kyoto to Nara to visit the Great Buddha Hall, which is the largest wooden structure in the world built to protect this Buddha.

I felt dizzy from the jetlag and the long hours we spent on trains from Tokyo to Mount Fuji to Kyoto. Nonetheless a feeling of wonder was growing in me. The trains were crowded and sometimes we waited in long lines. Eventually, they moved faster, holding a mood of respect and acknowledgment for the other.

All transportation showed up on time, and, unlike many cities with large volumes of tourism, no trash was visible anywhere. The streets of Kyoto were ‘dressed’ by the cherry blossom trees blooming, smelling sweet, like the first taste of ice cream. They exuded a pinkish-white color that looked like kindness. Japan, in my first impression, radiated life, purpose, and a mood of reverence that nurtured my soul. It resonated in me as the mood of a warrior.

After feeding the deer that roamed the grounds of Todai-ji, which are regarded as messengers of the gods, we passed the first gate of the temple. As I had done in the previous temples, I washed my hands and mouth from the wheel of the dragon.

A large pit with burning incense was the next step. I held the fire in the white candle and I placed it at the feet of the Buddha in gratitude for our Path with Heart community. The sunlight was entering the temple and I inhaled it through my mouth, as Shanti, my guide and a Mayan leader, taught me.

Each step towards the Buddha served to quiet my thoughts and moved my attention to a growing sentiment of vulnerability and amazement. As if every moment in my life had been built for me to arrive to Todai-ji and experience the majesty of the warrior. The words of Castaneda kept rushing fresh into my mind:

“A warrior must cultivate the feeling that he has everything needed for the extravagant journey that is his life. What counts for a warrior is being alive. Life in itself is sufficient, self-explanatory and complete. Therefore, one may say without being presumptuous that the experience of experiences is being alive.”

– Carlos Castaneda

I was alive, and aware. My son asked me if Buddha had been also a child, and what happened to him to become a Buddha. What did he do? he wondered. I an attempted to say something coherent to his age and level of understanding. He may have noticed my struggle because he interrupted my thinking and said: “I think I got it. Buddha just kept meditating.”

We walked behind the Buddha and found a line of people “trying to pass through” a hole of the same size of the nostrils of the Buddha. People believe that if one got through the Buddha’s nostrils, one was blessed with his breath. (See video)

We left the temple filled with reverence and gratefulness.

Castaneda used to tell me about his experiences with Kowayashi, a Japanese mentor he had, before meeting don Juan Matus, his spiritual teacher. He said that Kowayashi was the first one that taught him about a specific aspect of the Warrior’s way: Living with simplicity. Castaneda was a master at that. Except for a chair, a couch and a TV, his house had no furniture, no paintings on the pale walls, no mirrors, no decorations.

There were large, clear spaces to practice movements and silence. In his closet, which I once peeked in, he had 2 pairs of jeans, a few t-shirts and 2 tailored suits. All of his cabinets had just a few items. There was breathable space everywhere through out the house, filled with purpose and silence.

My hostel room in Kyoto had two futons that we rolled during the day to set a small table on the tatami for snack and breakfast. The absence of objects and material belongings is what made the space hold a particular calm and peace. It was a reminder of living the beauty of simplicity and the purpose of strength knowing that “the experience of experiences is being alive.”

One action I took when I got back to Los Angeles was to let go of extra material belongings. I am in this process now, creating spaces for silence to flow through.

It’s Not JUST What You Eat: What Carlos Castaneda taught me about FOOD

By the time I met Carlos Castaneda he was very disciplined with food. He emphasized that food had a direct impact in our emotions and our thought processing. It influenced our perceptual capabilities.

“Es muy simple señorita,” he used to tell me in Spanish, “si comes mal, te sientes mal y ves todo mal.” In other words, if you eat crap, you feel like crap, and perceive the world like crap.

I met Castaneda in 1995 in Los Angeles, at one of his events where he taught sequences of movements to revitalize the mind and body. I had read all of Castaneda’s books in Argentina in my young teen years. His bestseller books from the 70’s described the possibility of mysterious, unfathomable parallel worlds laying beneath the ordinary, repetitive and boring mundane world of everyday life. He described how he gained purpose in his life and found meaning even in daily affairs. He had found a new description for himself, and, he said, and it was available to all.

I was imbued with a longing for gaining, meaning and direction at the time. I wanted to learn to live like a warrior: effectively and with daring. I wanted to experience strength, confidence, and above all, to know that my life had meaning and purpose, that I mattered. Meeting him was like meeting a mystic, a legend like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, or the Pope.

At his event, he walked to the stage wearing dark jeans and a yellowish polo style shirt. He was short and, as I heard someone saying behind me, he was in his early 70’s. However, the fluidity and precision in his movements and the lack of wrinkles in his face made him look much younger. He stood up and looked around at the large group of more than 300 people.

“I would like to invite you all to suspend judgment he said with a large smile. “Don Juan Matus, my mentor, told me new ideas and concepts about the world that were hard for me to grasp, because they contradicted what I knew as a Western man. So I warn you, that the practices that you will experience in this class will challenge your perceptions and the ideas of who you are and of the world around you.”

‘For example”, he continued, “if you come from Argentina, and you had a capuchino this morning, it would be harder for you to remain calm and focused. Caffeine accelerates mental activity and digestion in your intestines. And you may need to run to the bathroom as I speak and miss the lecture,” he said mocking and gesturing as if holding the need to pee. Everyone laughed, including me.

A second later I realized he may be talking about me, even though there were a group of 25 Argentinians. I had had a capucchino in the morning, and a croissant, the typical traditional Argentinian breakfast. And I was holding from going to the bathroom! In the break before his lecture, there had been a large waiting line in the women’s restroom and I had opted for what was familiar for me, holding. Constipation was one of the issues I had as a child, since my basic diet consisted of meat and dairy, with low fiber and green intake. My diet made it challenging for me to digest and eliminate.

“Stimulants, including sugar and salt, weaken your energy systems and for that I urge you all to avoid them, while taking this class. Imperative for those of you suffering from hypoglycemia,” he added. And, again I felt he was talking to me. Low blood sugar was my default state that made my moods swing and my thoughts foggy. I was also used to living on a low-budget, so food was not something that important; if I ate once a day, that was enough.

Castaneda continued walking on the stage with his hands on his pockets as if he was dancing, with ease and largesse, making jokes and joining the laughter with all. For moments he embodied the joy and warmth of a child, and for moments he seemed detached and reflective. All in all, he made us feel like he was one of us, making remarks and jokes, even about himself.

“When I met Don Juan I was chubby and stubborn. I was an intellectual, I did not exercise and I smoked like a pipe. I was a true addict. Don Juan had to trick me to stop,” Castaneda continued. Uncomfortable, I changed the crossing of my legs and straightened my back. Sitting on the floor was hard for me. I was in my early twenties but my back hurt often. I was also a ‘social’ smoker” and I crunched thinking about quitting smoking, yet another thing on my list that I needed to change.

“One afternoon,” Castaneda continued, “Don Juan took me on a long walk to the desert. I needed to buy cigarettes and a new notebook and was walking toward my van with my keys in hand, when he announced he knew a short cut into town. I hesitated but then I agreed. After having a big lunch, it was a good idea to take a walk. As we walked, Don Juan was teaching me about the life in the desert and I didn’t realize that hours had passed until nighttime was upon us. Don Juan told me he was lost and that we needed to spend the night in the desert. We were lucky that he had brought in his backpack some dry meat, covers and water.

I was upset at myself for accepting his invitation, but I didn’t have any other choice. I had no idea where I was and besides, the information Don Juan was sharing with me was invaluable and I enjoyed his company immensely. I couldn’t sleep well that night neither the following nights. We spent the next two-days walking lost and by the fourth day I knew he had tricked me. We finally reached the road, and I realized we had been walking in circles. In town, I was so hungry that I forgot about the cigarettes. And I quit smoking,” he opened his arms to the sides in a triumphal smile.

“I used to carry the cigarette pack on my left pocket” he continued, “and Don Juan suggested to remove all pockets from my shirts to erase the habit of reaching for them. Still, once in a while” –he said bringing his right hand to the left side of his chest, — “I automatically reach for my pockets,” he said laughing with humbleness as admitting the things he couldn’t change.

“But of the things that we can change, are the “auto-pilot” interpretations we made about food,” he explained.

He further said that food was energy, and as such, was meant to not only sustain our body’s energy systems, our health and vitality, but also food was directly related to our states of consciousness, how we experience and feel about ourselves and the world around us.

“When you cut down the stimulants you can sustain mental focus and alertness.” He was now standing still, looking directly to each person in the group, “the real work starts. The question is, What is eating you? What is it inside you that stops you from reclaiming your vitality, your daring, uh? What is it that makes you forget that you are a being that is going to die? Who is eating you?”

I felt so moved and inspired to change my habits and to find out what, inside, was stopping me from feeling vital and strong. After he finished his lecture, he taught movements that resembled martial arts. He said the movements would return the energy back to where it belongs, to the internal organs in the body that he called centers of life and vitality.

After the workshop, I was invited to the lecture he offered to Spanish speakers, and from there to the first, of many lunches with him. I changed my return flight and stayed in Los Angeles with a group of friends. I practiced the movements, the meditations and all what he suggested, and I became part of his inner circle. I learned to use food as energy. I learned to eat food with CHI, energy, to sustain mental alertness and balance my moods. I healed my hypoglycemia and swinging moods. And, most importantly, I learned to OBSERVE thoughts and emotions and not identify myself with them.

In the last year of his life, Castaneda shifted his diet to a plant based one. And that inspired me to shift my diet also to a more plant based one, which supports detoxification at all levels, including addictions. I have been teaching what I learned from him in my classes, and what I have learned from my experience of more than 22 years practicing movements for vitality and increased awareness. But now my question is towards you, my dear reader, what is eating you?