Author: Aerin Alexander

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?

What My Teacher Carlos Castaneda Taught Me About Death

My friends Tom and Susanne from Hawaii texted me last Saturday:

“For about fifteen minutes we were preparing ourselves to die. And it was real. And we were calm. What a gift. Sorry you were not here to enjoy the fun.”

I smiled and exhaled. I had arrived in Los Angeles a few days before after spending two weeks with them in Hawaii. They were OK. They were not being sarcastic. They are both highly educated therapists who retired and now live on Hawaii’s big island. They are lovely, smart and daring. For them, an encounter with Death, as they experienced when the missile threat alert rang on their phones, was a gift.

Carlos Castaneda told me that death is everywhere: at sunset, at the end of the day, there when a rose petal falls, at the bottom of the page you are reading, at the end of the breath you are taking. Thinking about death catapults us into new reflections, into a deep gratitude for the simple yet powerful act of being alive. It is, according to Castaneda, what gives warriors an edge.

Castaneda’s teachings on death were one of the main reasons I left my job, my boyfriend, my tribe and my life in Buenos Aires and moved to Los Angeles 23 years ago. I read his books when I was a teenager and I had the opportunity to meet him and work with him. His teacher, Don Juan Matus was a Yaqui from Sonora, Mexico and the leader of a lineage of Seers. Don Juan passed on his knowledge to Castaneda, and he passed it on to me.

Throughout the years of my apprenticeship with Castaneda, he talked about death often. He would say death is a reminder to be alert, a reference point to behave with kindness, a push to set priorities, an inspiration for change or to shake off the pettiness of daily concerns.

I often found myself caught up in self-defeating thoughts, worrying about the little details of daily life such as stressing about my school papers, my performance at work and what others would think of me or the extra 15 pounds I couldn’t get rid off. He observed my turmoil and asked me:

“Since the worst that can happen to you is already happening, you are going to die someday, so then how important is really your internal turmoil? Truly, think about it.”

The presence of death and the fact that I didn’t know when and how I would die helped me shake off my self-concerns and bring clarity, determination and a sense of purpose to my actions.

“What do we really have, except life and our own death? The thing to do when you’re impatient, don Juan told me, is to turn to your left and ask advice from your death. An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you, or if you catch a glimpse of it, or if you just have the feeling that it is there watching you.”

Once, during one of my first lunches with Castaneda and his colleagues at a restaurant in Santa Monica, he asked me: “What do you think is worth thinking of?”

“Death,” I said. I was not trying to please him or to get away with an easy answer. I had experienced death as the loss of loved ones, as a final end that had left me with unresolved emptiness and sadness, an anguish hard to unglue. I avoided reflecting or even thinking about death, and yet, there I was, sitting next to Castaneda on my quest to learn more about death.

An array of memories came to my foreground when he turned all his attention towards me, curious to know more about it.

I shared with him a few encounters with death that were still present in my body. The first time I encountered death, I was eight-years-old and I got sick with rheumatic fever. I spent a year bedridden with high fevers. In one instance, I had an “out of the body” experience where I saw myself literally separated from my body, above the bed looking at myself down in bed.

The second experience I had with death was when I was 14. I found dead bodies floating in the La Plata River in Buenos Aires, during the military dictatorship that tortured and murdered thousands of innocent people.

Then, when I was 17 years-old, I was leaving town with my friends to spend the holidays at the beach. Their car was kind of small for six people and I didn’t fit. My mother didn’t let me drive with them and I had to drive with my aunt and my cousin. On the freeway, on the way to the beach, my friends’ car crashed into a truck and all five of them were killed instantly.

A couple years after that incident, I fell on the floor of a disco when dancing drunk and I had a convulsion. My heart literally stopped beating for a few seconds and I cut my head severely.

After that incident, it took me a few years to come back to my body. I slowly shifted my life completely. I started eating healthy, I changed my job, I changed my friends. I started to show interest in healing modalities, in inner growth, and in spirituality. It all led me to meet Castaneda in 1995.

“Death has touched you and you have been giving a second chance” he told me that day at the restaurant. “Our encounter with death is inevitable; it will happen. The question is for you, which is the question for all of us, how will you go to the encounter? How are you going to use your time?”

This is the first article in a series called “What Carlos Castaneda Taught Me About…” I’ll be sharing some of the most valuable things I learned during my apprenticeship with Castaneda that have changed the way I live my life. Stay tuned! And, check out www.energylifesciences.com to learn more about our community.

What I Learned in my Encounter With La Venerable , leader of the Mayan Solar Tradition

Dear Community,

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to teach Being Energy® movements at a special event guided by Nah Kin, la venerable abuela, in Merida Yucatan. Nah Kin, La Venerable, is the leader of the Mayan Solar Tradition and for the last 10 years she has been fully dedicated to downloading the Codes of the Maya New Era. Trained by her own grandmother in the Mayan knowledge and arts, La Venerable is the real thing.  I felt it. It felt like a calling. Meeting her was something that I had been, without knowing it, waiting on for several years: a connection to the knowledge of the Mayan Solar Tradition.

I arrived to Cancun in the early afternoon on Monday and took a bus for 4 hours, arriving  in Merida just before midnight. I was delighted to share this trip with Ariadna, my chaperone who joined me in the adventure. The next day we were both ready early and arrived at “Casa Del Sol” with enthusiasm and purpose.

La Maestra Loly received us with warmth affection and La Venerable Nah Kin made us feel at home. The event was focused on women, to recall the divine feminine essence byNah Kin connecting to our wombs and to the energy of the Sun, as a source of energy and as a source of consciousness. Oh what a delight!

There were many guided visualizations and meditations involving the image of the Golden Egg as a source of creation and the image of the Golden dragon as a source of connection with the divine. We prayed to the Virgin of Guadalupe in her day, with candles and burning copal. We sang songs guided by La Maestra Chantal, daughter of Nah Kin. Nah Kin

The praying invoking Kinich Ahau the God Sun, the chanting, the spraying of a special balsam to clean my aura, the wearing of a yellow band on my forehead, and a red sash on my waist, all created an atmosphere of heightened awareness and purpose. I felt so connected to the knowledge and the rituals, as if I had been always there. It was my home, it was my people.  I felt so thankful.

La Venerable shared so much interesting information and knowledge, including  updating the ideas and beliefs our culture holds about menopause and its not-so-cool symptoms. La Venerable taught us all that this period is the moment where women become the butterfly that can really fly: it is a period for rebirth, for auto-generation. It is the precious moment to be free and to follow the inner calling for growth and for evolution.  La Venerable also talked about the Mayan Calendar and how December 21, 2012 marked the end of a longer period and the beginning of a new one and that 52 years after, by 2064 there is going to be a period of rebirth for humanity.

Nah KinLa Venerable shared an incredible amount of information. But, the most important for me was how she did it: with authenticity, honesty, vulnerability and deep love. Nah Kin

It was a true delight to guide all participants through sequences of energy passes including the Gathering Energy form and The Plumed Serpent: Kukulcan.  I am grateful for having lived through this unique experience.

All in all, I realized that much of what La Venerable teaches and what we teach in Being Energy® overlaps! Now, we are closely connected to her and all of the wonderful people that work with her.  We are looking forward to creating an event together soon!

Dreaming Forward,

Aerin

Welcome 2018! How to Prepare for New Year’s Eve

“The world is unfathomable. And so are we. And so is every being that exists in this world” ~ Carlos Castaneda

What a powerful moment this is: we are crossing to a new year cycle filled with gratitude and awe for our lives. What lessons did you experience in 2017? What triumphs? What failures?

We have been recapitulating and reflecting upon our 2017 experiences and we just had a wonderful FREE ONLINE CELEBRATION last Saturday. Click here to watch the video if you missed it!  Read more here.

how to prepare for new yearsAlso, we are sending you below the NEW YEAR’s RITUAL our teacher Carlos Castaneda taught us many years ago. It is a ceremony that starts during the last days of December, and finishes when the clock strikes midnight on January 1st. Castaneda would tell us that, at midnight, the light of the Spirit or Universe comes and “watches us”—a force descends upon us, and this is a very powerful moment to be present and aware—to feel it and become acquainted with it.

Practicing this ritual without failure for the last 22 years has brought 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 planetarian phenomena. We hope that the benefits ripple out through your life, your relationships, your community and the world.

The steps are these:how to prepare for new years eve

1. Clear out the old before the New Year.  From December 27 onwards and even throughout the day on December 31, clear up some 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; clean your windows and water your plants—all with a feeling of openness and readiness. The aim is to clean your home physically and energetically. There are four essential ways to do this:

Throw things away that are not needed or that are not bringing you joy

Give things away to charity, with the intention of benefit others while freeing you of any energetic bondings to the objects

Pay your bills, including utilities, credit cards, etc. Do you best to cross to the New Cycle without pending debts

Dust off, wipe and wash your home, or at least a selected part of it, such as your kitchen, your bedroom and desk area

Rearrange things; change the placement of furniture, artwork and/or other objects to revitalize the energy flow of your space(s)

2. On December 31, before midnight, attend to your desk or writing space. Organize books and papers, and clear space so that you can comfortably sit to write a list of Intentions, projects and dreams you want to manifest in 2018.

3. Next, take a pen or pencil and piece of paper, and get ready to make a list.

  • Mentally review what dreams and projects you were able to accomplish in 2017. What things stood out? What new relationships have you established? What came to a close? What new things have you learned, or insights have you gained with respect to your:
    1. Healthhow to prepare for new years eve
    2. Emotions
    3. Thoughts
    4. Your work or job
    5. Family and community
    6. Larger global community of planet Earth
  • Now list all of these on a piece of paper labeled 2017. The idea is to review and distill what 2017 brought to you, and write it down so that you can be consciously aware of these experiences going into the New Year. Notice as you write if new insights or ideas come to you.

4. Take a second piece of paper to start a new list. Name the list 2018, and write down what you want to accomplish or see unfold in this New Year. It might help to think of the categories of:

how to prepare for new years evePersonal development: What new things do I want to learn, what do I want to accept about myself, what do I want to heal in myself at the physical, mental, emotional and energetic levels?

Family and friends: What relationships do I want to commit to, what relationships do I need to let go of, what relationships do I need to heal?

Work: Am I loving what I do? What can I change in 2018 to thrive?

Health: How do I plan to take better care of myself in 2018, what specific actions will I take to restore my energy?

My legacy and contribution to the larger world: What ONE action can I do to help others in need.

5. Take a pause. You’ve cleared space, reviewed the year that’s passing and set forth dreams and goals for the year ahead. Now that you have your lists, take a little break to attend to any responsibilities or other commitments. You may want to add music to the atmosphere or dance for a while.how to prepare for new years eve

6. At around 11:30 p.m., return to your writing space (it’s almost midnight!) Sit in silence for a moment and put your attention on the things on your 2018 list—those things that you want to see unfold in the New Year. You may even want to write an outline of what you would like to do, or draw a picture of yourself getting the job of your dreams, etc. Sit with it as long as you like, making sure you feel connected with it all, with your personal life path, and with the Universe by the time the clock strikes midnight.

7. At midnight, on this first moment of the New Year, let the wave of your dreams wash over you.

how to prepare for new years eve

As we set our collective intentions, we hold best wishes for you all—for your joy and growth; for your freedom; for your daring, for your creation of new, inspiring projects; and for your kindness to all those around you. We celebrate together your becoming!

May our light and love radiate out to our friends, families, communities, and to the whole world.

Aerin and Miles

 

Why I Think About My Legacy Every Day

“Every bit of knowledge that becomes power has death as its central force. Death lends the ultimate touch, and whatever is touched by death indeed becomes power.” – Carlos Castaneda

Almost no one likes to talk about death. A least no one in my family growing up did. And yet, death was happening.

Every week I went with my mother to the cemetery to bring flowers to my godfather who passed away when I was two. Then, we brought flowers to my little sister who didn’t make it out of the womb alive when I was eight years old. Then, more death came. To my grandmother, then my boyfriend, then my brother, then my own mother, then my father. I had been to dozens of funerals. Death has been hunting me, guiding me somehow, encouraging me to set priorities, to put aside my stubborn old ideas and embrace new ones. My own death is something I think about often.

One of the reasons I was hooked by Carlos Castaneda’s work on the teachings of the Seers of Ancient Mexico was because he talked about death, almost daily. He wrote about death in his books and saw death as the ultimate enemy, and the ultimate liberation. A force impossible to overcome and even comprehend, and yet, a warrior could offer it a big fight.

One of the ways Death inspires us, as Castaneda did, is by making us think about leaving a legacy behind for others to overcome fears and connect with who they really are, “a being of energy.”

With Castaneda, I learned gratitude and to live each moment as my last. Before going on stage the first day of a workshop, he would say to me, “Go and give your very best, because you don’t know if this is your last day. Live it as if it was.”

When I think this way, that today, this week, or this month can be the last of my life, I instantly feel grateful and realize how precious each and every moment is. How powerful each and every thought I think is. How there’s no better time to start living intentionally and crafting my legacy, than now.

In an intellectual way, I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life while learning from Carlos Castaneda. Consistently, he would ask me, “What do you want to do with your life?” I had no idea. He would ask me, “What imprint do you want to leave behind. What imprint do you want to leave every day?

At that time, I understood what he was saying on an intellectual level. But, the birth of my child took my understanding to a whole new level, a physical level, a tangible level. My baby was right there in front of me. I started thinking, who do I want to be for this person? What kind of mother? What kind of principles, what kind of beliefs, what kind of world do I want to leave behind for him and the next generation? 

That was 10 years ago. Now, I think about my legacy each and every day. I actively make choices that align with the message of my life. Because the way I show up to my life on a daily basis, the way I relate to others, THAT is my legacy. I leave an imprint wherever I go.

Besides my child, another important area of my legacy are the Path witH heart Online classes I created with my husband, Dr. Reid. We started teaching these online classes for self-inquiry and discovery in early 2010.  Now, we are about to launch our 25th Series!

A wonderful community of leaders, artists, homemakers, teachers, and professionals from over 26 countries, get together every Sunday to practice sequences of movements and breaths. We guide them through a series of exercises to hone our attention, to be present and to stay loyal to our commitment to grow in all areas of our lives.

Path with Heart, Lead Your Legacy, begins December 3rd. The focus of this cycle is to creatively find ways to take the reigns of our lives and be the drivers of our destiny. Leading your legacy means getting out of the victim mindset and taking charge. It’s about transitioning from the mentality that says, “There’s nothing I can do about this,” to “Yes, I can do something about this, I can co-create my life.” Leading your legacy means living intentionally with a thriving purpose that fulfills your life, and ignites every action and step you take with love and vitality!

The series lasts for 12 weeks, with classes every Sunday from December 3rd to February 25th. The setup for the program is truly unique, allowing you to learn in a live online class format while connecting with our global community of students.

The classes address your whole being, and not just on Sundays! You receive encouraging daily and weekly emails to support you in between classes. You can also participate in small witnessing groups to build relationships with others outside of class.

It’s not too late to register for our  Path With Heart series! Start your journey today!