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Truly Helpful ♥ Spiritual teachings & personal transformation through yoga, music, books & events We are here only to be Truly Helpful Fri, 02 Jun 2017 16:07:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 High Vibe Meals in Hawaii Fri, 02 Jun 2017 15:54:29 +0000 Aloha! I am so blessed to be a part of this experience in Hawaii! As your chef for the training, I am passionate about HIGH VIBRATIONAL foods and how pure nourishment compliments the practice of Yoga. I will be preparing plant-based food for the 2 meals/day that I provide you with. I believe in the importance of DELICIOUSNESS and food made with love. We will be eating lots of tropical fruits and local veggies! We will be utilizing local foods as much as possible, like mangoes, taro, melons, papaya, lychees, and so much more. If you’re new to eating this way, don’t worry! We will have a lot of fun exploring many possibilities and I can even make vegan versions of some of your favorite foods!

I love making comforting stews with ayurvedic spices, fresh veggie burgers, loaded salads, raw desserts, and more! I have 3 years experience as a nutritional chef and caterer and I am excited to share my passion for yummy, healing foods with you. In addition to cooking, you will find me playing music or playing with the little ones… maybe even doing all of it at once! I so look forward to sharing this experience with you and am excited to see how the blessings unfold.

In Lak’esh,
Katrina Lilly
(239) 465-8499

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Viva La Nonresistance! Mon, 29 May 2017 16:29:53 +0000 Our Epic Hawaii Ed-venture, Part 2

“Your mind is no longer wholly untrained. You are quite ready to learn the form of exercise we will use today, but you may find that you will encounter strong resistance. The reason is very simple. While you practice in this way, you leave behind everything that you now believe, and all the thoughts that you have made up. Properly speaking, this is the release from hell. Yet perceived through the ego’s eyes, it is loss of identity and a descent into hell.”
~ A Course in Miracles

I have now facilitated/led about 10 of these 200-hr yoga teacher trainings in Hawaii, most of them on Maui, one on Kaua’i. All of them have been beautiful and epic ed-ventures, though as I mentioned in the last segment, they have not been without their challenges.

You know, the other side of what I was writing about in the last piece is the challenges that arise from a group of people living together in close contact for an extended period of time. Generally what happens is this: The first few days to a week are awesome. Pretty much everyone gets along, everyone’s loving the yoga and the teacher (me, usually : ) and life is all peaches and cream. Grace and gratitude prevails over the face of the earth/retreat and all is well in the Universe. We’re all pinching ourselves (is this really happening?)

And then generally (inevitably?) something happens. It might be just one person who begins to grumble about this or that (often another participant) and before you know it, the energy has shifted in the group. Or, little cliques begin to form. At one retreat, for example, the people who lived on the island hung together, and the ones who were coming from the Mainland and abroad hung together. Another issue that has come up is that the training doesn’t seem to be fulfilling expectations for one or more in the group. Or the yoga practice is bringing a lot of stuff up and it becomes very difficult to be nice and kind. Or there’s an ego power struggle of some kind that develops, etc. etc.

Whatever the cause for the disturbance, and there are many, they all really come back to the same thing, namely that we tend to externalize our inner disturbance and try to make it someone else’s problem. We make a problem where instead we could see an opportunity – a golden opportunity — to look within and see what inside of ourselves is not at peace. To put it differently, what within us is resisting the truth that, as A Course in Miracles puts it, “I could see peace instead of this”? And the question could be phrased this way, too: What within myself is choosing to remain stuck in the muck of my own anger and grievances, and is that truly serving me?

Please look at the following related words and tell me what they all have in common….
grumble groan gripe grudge grievance anger

Have you grasped it, or are you still groping?
Got it now?
Are you sure, tiger?
Great, onward…

Right, yes, all of these words have a “gr” in them, and the “gr” is onomatopoetic, meaning that it’s a sound that we make when we do these things. For example, when we are angry, generally from the pit of our stomach will emanate a “grrrrr!!!” And that feeling might be slight, like you’ve misplaced your keys, or it might be quite massive, like you want to rip someone’s f-ing head off, mothaf-a!.

Now, the question that no one hardly ever asks, but which we really need to talk about, is whether anger and grievances are healthy and helpful. I mean, we’re so used to them being there that we almost take them for granted, we think they’re natural! Like, everyone gets angry, and sometimes it’s simply justified to be upset! You know, righteous indignation and all that.

And I would say that, yes, we all feel anger and we all have grievances, and yet the work that you are invited now to do is to look at how you might be using your anger and grievances as a way of resisting the truth, which is that there really isn’t any problem, until you decide to make one. Or: The only “problem” is that you’re resisting the truth, and you’re resisting your own peace, which IS our natural state.

Let’s look at the word “forgive” for a moment. Notice that it has the word “grief” in it, and it essentially reverses that “gr” so that now we can return to our truly natural state of grace and gratitude once again. It’s all so simple, yet again (as was discussed in the prequel to this piece), few choose to listen, because it’s very diffi-cult! And yet herein lies our freedom!
Forgiveness truly is the key to happiness!

And so, I will conclude with the title of this piece:
Viva La Nonresistance!

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The Fine Art of Holding Space Sat, 27 May 2017 14:53:22 +0000 Our Epic Hawaii Ed-venture, Part 1

“All are called, but few choose to listen.” ~ A Course in Miracles


What if I told you that there is a way to feel better about yourself and everything that is actually quite simple, but that it will require a little bit of a commitment on your part for it to manifest?

Would you be willing to take the necessary steps, to fulfill the requisite conditions, to listen to the wisdom of how this might be accomplished?

Of course you would. Or, at least, you would be willing in theory. Because we all want to be happy, to live with a free and open heart, to enjoy peace inside and with everyone. Yes?

And there is a simple method to attain this, yet the process isn’t always so easy. And therein lies the rub, meaning this is where most jump ship – when the going gets rough.

And this is completely “natural” because we’re all in the same boat and we all have issues with faith, trust, surrender, etc. This is why complete awakening is a rare occurrence in this world, let alone the experience of true love, peace and joy. But even a little more peace and awareness is better than none at all.

I bring all of this up because as a yoga teacher and spiritual guide I have been wrestling with certain issues all of these years I have been teaching, and particularly when captaining yoga teacher trainings like the voyage we are about to embark on in Hawaii.

And the main issue has really been that I have not always effectively communicated the infinite value of our course work together, nor have I seemed to have instilled complete trust in me as a guide. Indeed, I have at times wavered and waffled when it comes to some of the teachings and not held my ground, which has translated into not optimally holding the container. This has led at times to chaos, confusion and frustration.

You might ask why I would even bring all of this up as it doesn’t really reflect well on me?

Well, I bring it up as a way of saying that, yes, what I have to share is invaluable, and I hope to nip any potential issues in the bud by writing this and asking for your help, with the suggestion that your helping me is only of help to yourself.

First, I ask that you trust me. Meaning that you trust the wisdom of how to live free and happy that I am committed to allowing to flow through me to you. I am here only to be truly helpful, as our motto (from A Course in Miracles) says. This means that really my only function or purpose for being with you on this journey is to help you to experience the awakening that I have experienced, because that experience will make all the difference. (Please keep in mind that this is not a cult, though it might be diffi-cult and a new self-cult-ure that we are cult-ivating together.)

Second, and obviously connected to trust, is I ask you really deeply listen to what I have to share, letting go of any and all preconceptions or past learning you might have. They may have been of help in the past, yet this is a new moment. And if they had brought you lasting peace, you probably wouldn’t be seeking right now (if you are, I don’t want to assume; yet if you are honest, you are probably not truly at peace).

And Third, I request that you make our course and training your very top priority, and stay committed to doing the work that is presented to you, even if it is not always fun. And isn’t it true that it’s generally the things that we don’t want to do that are the very ones that would be good for us to do? To take a very simple example: If you don’t like doing Chair Pose, your resistance is the very thing to look at, because it is symptomatic of other things that you are resisting in your life. There’s a zen saying that you should meditate for 20 minutes a day; unless you don’t like meditating, then you should meditate for an hour!

Truly, for Spirit, everything and anything is possible, so if you are resisting anything, you have chosen to accept lack and limitation, and that acceptance is indeed limiting you!

Again, this work is not always easy – in fact, it’s pretty fucking hard, the hardest thing you will ever do – yet it is the most rewarding work, and so I commend it to you and again ask for your help in making my job that much easier!

So to conclude this little segment, the quote at the top “all are called, but few choose to listen,” means that few choose to listen because true listening requires letting go of separation and selfish self-interest, and we are all deeply invested in that. That is why being in a group together and doing this work is such a gift, because we can all really support each other, and in doing so, we can each make that much more progress on our journeys home.

I hope this all was “truly helpful” to you, and if it wasn’t, just let it go. Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) for listening & I am really listening forward to our time together!!!

3~’ Shanti : ) Allowah

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Notes on “The Prodigal Son” Thu, 13 Apr 2017 07:33:57 +0000 My dad, Fred Lowenschuss, died in the very early morning of April 11, 2017. The following is a eulogy that I wrote but did not read at dad’s funeral on April 12th (I chose to speak more extemporaneously). The eulogy is based around a passage from A Course in Miracles that speaks of the “prodigal son,” which I used in the song “Come Home,” the last track of the Heart ‘n’ Hands album. I didn’t realize when the song was coming through this past year that it was for my dad, and my somewhat estranged relationship with him, though the song is also for and about all of us. It speaks of the “simplicity of salvation” – how simple it is to accept that “nothing…can change eternal Love,” which is what God is and what we are and will always be. As always, thank you for listening!

“Listen to the story of the prodigal son and learn what God’s treasure is, and yours…”

I’m taking a certain angle in this eulogy of dad because I think it’s not only personally very meaningful, but also universally applicable to children and parents and how children often become estranged from parents, for one reason or another.

In my own case, I and my brothers had one of the happiest childhoods imaginable, and because this is dad’s eulogy, I will speak mainly about what he did for us, though my mom and her mother (grandma), as well as some very loving and fun baby sitters, played an equally important role.

As the eldest of us four sons, Laurance, has said, our father’s life was dedicated to his family, and he really did everything for us. Not only did we grow up in a beautiful home in one of the most well-to-do and cozy neighborhoods in ‘70s suburban Philadelphia, but we were afforded every opportunity for a magical fairytale upbringing, due in large part to dad’s efforts.

The things that stand out most are all the great trips we took together (including Atlantic City almost every weekend), and also all of the sports we played together as a family – basketball, tennis, baseball, football, etc – and the college and professional games we attended.  So many countless times dad came home and rounded us all up to go out to play baseball in the park, or tennis, or what have you. And when we went out in the Cadillac with the top down and playing the radio, we were in kiddie heaven.

There’s so many details I could add of how dad cared for us and took care of us, but I’ll just say that at that point we really didn’t know how good we had it. Or at least I didn’t, though I feel it’s generally true that, as that old Joni Mitchell song goes, “don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone?” It’s hard to step outside of what you know and have experienced when you’ve never experienced anything different (in our case, deprivation of any kind).

My personal experience was of a great disillusionment that occurred when, basically at the tail end of our childhoods, our parents separated, and in a rather ugly and tragic way. It was like the fairytale was over, and I know I speak for all of us when I say that the trauma incurred for all of us, but especially the children, was perhaps no different than what happens to soldiers in a war zone. And the PTSD was there for years, and possibly still lingers on, though I can also say that it’s but a shadow of what it was, if it is really there at all now – it really feels like we’ve all finally moved on.

But before I go into all that a little, I want to mention one little thing that is very telling: There were a few times when I gave dad cards on a special occasion or made something for him at school and I could tell how much they meant to him. He kept them and cherished them. And because I was the youngest of all, I think he took special care to make sure I was treated well by my brothers, instituting special rules that applied only to me (like that I could get a ball hit “on the roll”). He also early on started calling me “Pal-sy” – a play on “Al the Pal,” which he also called me – and which he called me for years.

“This son of a loving father left his home and thought he squandered everything for nothing of any value whatsoever, although he did not know its worthlessness at the time…”

But, to make a long somewhat tortured story short, after mom and dad separated, I really became estranged from dad. The truth is that on some level I was quite intimidated and even scared by dad growing up, and this was now just accentuated exponentially by what was happening. I would even go so far as to hide under the covers when he called over to mom’s new house, and I realize now that it was due in large part to the feeling that I had run away from him and made him into an unloving father. The truth was that nothing had really changed, it was just that I no longer could see things as I had, and I felt guilty about my whole role in it all.

As I got older, I rebelled even more – against both my parents. I actually consciously tried to be unlike them. The height of this was travelling abroad after college to physically distance myself from them and the rest of the family. I really wanted nothing to do with any of it. I felt, and correctly, that the children were being unfairly blamed for “abandoning” either one or the other parent, when it was much more the case that we were being asked to choose sides and finding ourselves caught in the middle of an epic war that was unfolding before all of our unbelieving eyes.

During that period I wrote a series of letters to Dad, essentially accusing him of not being a good father for this and that reason, and asking him to change, asking him to make peace with our mother, etc.  As the saying goes, the pen is mightier than the sword, and I didn’t realize at that time how much Dad was affected by what I wrote, just as he had been so positively affected by those early birthday and Father’s Day messages I wrote for him. In fact, he kept all of my letters and would without fail read them to me sometimes in later years to prove how I had hurt him. At the same time, I really felt judged by him, not fully seen or appreciated for my unique interests and journey, so it was really difficult to in turn see him and appreciate him for the beautiful soul that he truly is and will always be. It was a vicious cycle that actually all of us get caught in when we judge the other, rather than accepting them.

One thing that made it especially difficult: Dad for many years was not an outwardly sensitive or emotive person, he just didn’t express his inward feelings all that much, and sometimes put down such expressions from others. I recall one time I told him that I loved him and he called me on it, saying that no one really loves another, there is no one who is truly altruistic, we all have ulterior motives.

Well, needless to say, his saying that made it really difficult for me to tell him that I loved him later, though actually I’m sure he would have really welcomed that. And the truth is that he did express his love in his actions and care for us. I don’t know how many times he told me that he would always take care of me. He also told me on at least several occasions that children never know how much their parents truly love them. Sometimes I had a hard time accepting or believing that, but now I simply know that he loved me the best he could (just as we are all doing the best we know how).

“He was ashamed to return to his Father because he thought he had hurt him, yet when he returned, the Father welcomed him with joy, because only the son himself was his Father’s treasure. He wanted nothing else.”

Anyway, while books could be written about all of this, in brief here’s what I’m getting at here, and please forgive my use of the “f-word,” you know: Forgiveness. I’ll never forget driving in the car with Laurance and Dad one day when Laurance played me that great Don Henley song, Heart of the Matter, and saying to me that, as the song says, it’s all about forgiveness. Yes, indeed, yet the only problem is that even though we all know that, we consistently seem to fail to demonstrate that in our thoughts, words and actions. We hold on to unforgiveness in our minds and hearts and it really doesn’t do us or anyone else any good.  As a friend, Caio, who also just recently died would say, “You know all of this, I’m just reminding you.”  Yes, we all know what the right thing is – we all know that forgiveness is the key to health and happiness — we just fail to implement it. I know that Dad always Knew and that he always loved me and loved all of us. But I held on to my grievances, which he felt and took to heart and which made it hard for him to let go of his grievances, too. Yet by the end, I really did feel that we had been able to give that to each other, so I do feel at peace and I know that he is at peace, too.

And just as an additional note of interest: Towards the end of his life, dad started to regularly say two things: “You can make yourself happy, or you can make yourself sad” (which do you want?). And: “Would you rather be right, or happy?” Both sentiments are principles in A Course in Miracles, especially the latter, which is more or less a direct quote. In other words, I really feel that Dad really got it — I really felt that he was able to truly forgive me and appreciate me for who I am, just as I was able to do the same for him.

Dad, welcome home.
You are always with us, and we with you.
Love is eternal, and we are all there with you,
always & forever.

SHALOM, Dear Friend



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Musical Celebration of A Course in Miracles Fri, 07 Apr 2017 15:24:02 +0000 With the release of the Heart ‘N’ Hands album, Allowah brings a new feel to a classic genre

Lush with addicting vocal melodies, classic rock style, and a positive attitude, the record boasts the aesthetic of folk pop anthems. Though the songs are diverse from one another, there is a glue that holds it all together much like a concept album would. Most importantly, the record never loses sight of the emotional platform great songs are built from.

The first single, “So Long” is an upbeat, feel good classic rock song complete with an upswing rhythm, refreshing vocal harmonies, and rolling Americana style. The track seems to breathe and build as it plays on.

“It’s a play on words with any number of levels of meaning. Clearly it’s a quaint and kind of funny way of saying “goodbye,” and we play on that in the song, as it kind of fades out with us singing “so long” (plus it’s at the tail end of the CD). On another level, it’s a lover’s way of saying, “Hey babe, where you been all my life? I’ve waited for you for so long.” It could also be read as a play on “getting the band back together,” which became part of pop culture from the Blues Brothers movie. On a deeper level, it’s taking those romantic sentiments to mystic-cosmic proportions.” explains songwriter Alan Lowenschuss of his single.

Although the single does speak volumes for the album, to get a real understanding of where Allowah is coming from, it should be heard in its entirety.

“Well, like A Course in Miracles itself, the album is really a “One Note Johnny” type of deal – it expresses the same one damn thing over and over again in 13 different songs. In other words, it’s a concept album and it really is all of one piece. It’s about peace, how to find peace and keep it. How to live in this world yet not be of it, how to not suffer, or at least, not suffer so much, and help others do the same.. Listening to it is a kind of spiritual practice and a therapy, as it reminds you of eternal truths. This is my first time working in a state-of-the-art studio (The Vibe, in Fort Myers, Florida) with an amazingly talented engineer (Charlie Lukes) and producer-arranger (Julian Sunby). It was a collaborative effort and is certainly not what I would have (or could have) come up with on my own. That said, we really kept it all very simple – guitar, vocals, harmonica, bass, drums – we used nothing synthesized, no samples, no loops. Not that I have anything against those elements, mind you, and will no doubt get on that bandwagon in a future offering…” says Allowah of his album and songwriting process.

Although trumpet was his first instrument, Alan Lowenschuss picked up a guitar at the age of only 11 and began writing songs at 19. Being very self-critical and a bit shy, the songwriter never released his material or collaborated in any bands. Until that is, when he came to start working with a spiritual document called “A Course in Miracles”. Working with it helped him work through his self-judgment and limiting beliefs and enabled him to grow as a person and musician. It’s also how he came to meet songwriter Grace Ballenger who ended up working with Allowah on vocal harmonies and more throughout the songs. After a friend offered to put up the money to record an album, the songs finally came to fruition. The Heart ‘N’ Hands release is a perfect example of where Allowah is musically.

The Heart ‘N’ Hands album is now available for streaming and download on most major digital outlets and the songwriter is planning on playing various ACIM venues, Unity Churches, spiritual music festivals, along with working on new material with songwriter Katrina Lilly.

Allowah on BandCamp

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On Preparing Mentally for Your Yoga Teacher Training Sat, 03 Dec 2016 04:12:36 +0000 Yogi Berra quote“Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.”

Starting with this funny quote from former Yankee’s catcher and clown Yogi Berra because it’s quite pertinent to the yoga process. AND I now have this policy of starting everything I do with a joke of some sort. I partly got this from something I learned when I was studying the Talmud in Jerusalem—it was about how this one rabbi always began his talks with a joke. And more recently, I’ve been very influenced by A Course in Miracles, which says that this whole mess began because someone forgot to laugh. Clearly jokes are great icebreakers—for you if no one else—so I commend this to you!

So let’s take the first part of the Yogi Berra quote: “Baseball is ninety percent mental…” and let’s just change one little word: “Yoga is ninety percent mental…” Yep, it sure is, let’s drop our preconceptions about what yoga is. It’s not just stretching, hopefully we’re clear on this by now! There’s a psycho-spiritual dimension of yoga that is unmistakable. In fact, it is actually the case that it is the very foundation of yoga, and the physical part is secondary and came later. Actually, we could even further and say that ultimately it’s all mental, if you understand the Mind in a more cosmic sense, but we’ll get to that later (maybe much later)!

Now, that said, Yogi Berra’s quote goes on: “…and the other half is physical.” It’s funny because his numbers don’t add up, and we’re not sure if he’s trying to say that baseball is mainly a mental game, or is it half mental, half physical? I think he really did mean to say it’s ninety percent mental, and 10% physical, and on this he’s in good company. I believe it was Thomas Alva Edison who said, “Genius is ninety percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration.”  Or was it Tesla ; ) And there is this saying I really love: “Showing up is ninety percent of the battle.” Sometimes I add to this, Yogi (Berra)-like: “And the other half is putting in the work!”

So let’s just take the idea that yoga is primarily a mental discipline. What does this mean? It means many things, but for our purposes right here, let’s just say it means that it is a process of getting more and more in touch with your mind. Perhaps you’ve heard the idea that who we are is much more than just the physical. The image that is often given is that of an iceberg, the majority of which is submerged below the surface of the ocean. That’s like what we’re talking about. Most of us are not fully in touch with our minds yet, because we have not been introduced to a discipline like yoga that points you in that direction. Yoga is in fact primarily about mental training. A Course in Miracles says of itself at one point: “This is a course in mind training.”

If you were only to get one thing out of this training, it would be this: You have a body, but you are not your body. You are not your mind either, except in the greater sense of Mind that is dreaming up this physical experience. I don’t mean to be dogmatic about this, just to present this as an open possibility for us to explore together. At the very least, and something which I feel we can all agree upon, is the idea of “ego.”

The ego manifests itself in the ongoing mental chatter that, when we tune into it, is constantly running and running interference with our “peace of mind.” It’s the proverbial “monkey mind” that never ceases, and comes in all of the negative self-talk with which we are so familiar that we think our thoughts are who we are. To this yoga says, no, who you are is beyond the “ego-mind,” all of these thoughts. And the process of yoga is the process of consciously dissolving this ego-mind to reveal our true Self, just as the sun is revealed when the clouds obscuring it are removed.

But let’s get down to the basic question and bottom line here: How do I mentally prepare for yoga teacher training? First, by relaxing — you’ll do great, and you have nothing to worry about! If you are stressing out, you are missing the point, and there really is nothing to stress out about anyway. Connected to that, the other thing I would say is to repeat that quote again about how showing up is 90% of the battle. Yes, all you really need to do is get out of bed, in your clothes, out the door and to class, that’s all! The rest will take care of itself. Just come and be present, and all else will follow. Finally, be prepared to “empty your cup” and leave your past learning and judgments at the door.  Be open to new possibilities and don’t let fear get in the way of thinking differently and trying new things. In this regard, we might say that the only “mental” that yoga is decidedly not is “judgmental.”

Lao Tzu quoteTwo final potent quotes, the first from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  And one from my teacher, Sri Karunamayi, the Mother of Compassion, who gave the answer to Lao Tzu with these words: “If you come one step toward me, I will come a thousand steps toward you.”

So like your shoes, leave that ego at the door and begin taking the baby steps on the thousand mile journey back home.  And… welcome home!

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Dharma Mittra: My Guru, My Self Tue, 29 Nov 2016 17:12:07 +0000 I first saw Dharma’s famous poster at an ashram in Connecticut where I went to receive shaktipat initiation from a teacher from North India named Anandi Ma. I was just getting into yoga and also Hatha Yoga at that time and the poster just awed me. Like many people, I didn’t think the guy doing the poses was a living person, and probably wondered if he was even real or just an artistic rendering.

Dharma Mittra 908 asanas posterYou are my guru
You are my self
You are a reflection in my heart
I see you and only you
You are me and I am you
So Hum Ham sah

~ From Dharma’s song “Hum Sa”

Fast forward maybe 2 years, 1998. I was commuting from my little apartment in Narberth, Pa to NYC to attend grad school at NYU. I had started a PhD in Religious Studies at U of Penn the year before and had decided to transfer to NYU to work specifically in the field of Kabbalah with a man named Dr. Elliot Wolfson. This took me into NYC 2 days a week. How I found out that the guy on the poster was Dharma and that he was teaching in NYC is an interesting story…

The year before I had actually been to Dharma’s studio on 23rd with two very amazing teachers of the Bhakti path, Shree Maa, and Swami Satyananda Saraswati. They were touring around the US in an RV offering evenings of satsang and kirtan. I had been invited to join them to play guitar in their band, and to also assist the building up and breaking down process. While at the studio for the event, I kept hoping that Dharma would show up, but he didn’t. At this point, I thought of Dharma as this godlike yogi and was so excited to finally meet him.

That didn’t happen until the next fall when I was taking the train to NYU. I can’t tell you how excited I was to meet Dharma and how nervously excited I was when I finally did. And I was just so in love with his teaching style.

Generally class consisted of Dharma coming in and loudly blowing his nose, then sitting at the harmonium and playing a couple of opening chants, usually either Jai Ganesha or Om Namah Shivaya. Next came breathwork, and then a challenging asana session. All topped off by the most delightful shavasana ever, with a little meditation after. Finally, at the end, we all sat in a circle and chanted together. All along the way, Dharma would assist us with his words of support and often humor. It was always just enough talking for me, never too much, I loved the silences, something that I felt was missing from many yoga classes I had attended.

Other things I loved about Dharma’s teaching… Dharma would often say things like (and I paraphrase):

“Surrender to God. With each pose say “take me, take me.”
“Get angry.” (I don’t recall him ever using the now famous expression “angry determination.”)
About Shoulder Stand: “Some yogis hold only this pose for 24 minutes a day.”
And any number of other endearing “Dharma-isms” and jokes that made his classes that much more special.

I also loved how Dharma assisted people, and how he would often have everyone holding poses interminably while he gave someone the assist of a lifetime. We could of course have come out of the pose at any time, but many were like me and took it as a challenge. Not to say that I didn’t sigh a sigh of relief when Dharma would finally say, “Break the pose,” but I also did love the challenge. And it was partly those long holds that I feel helped to make for such a delightful shavasana at the end of class.

I was always amazed at how Dharma taught what seemed to me to be pretty advanced stuff to even people who were just coming for the first time to take his classes. I thought to myself that only a master can do this and get away with it. Not that Dharma probably hasn’t taken flak for it, I’m sure he has. And I will say that once Dharma did over-assist me in a deep backbend and I got injured. The truth is, though, I asked for it and it taught me a lesson in patience, wanting too much too soon and not really listening to my body.

So I attended Dharma’s classes for about 3 years, though in reality I only attended maybe 20 classes in that whole time period. I could be off a bit on that, I didn’t keep records of it all. One thing that I did do toward the end of this period was to invite Dharma to Narberth (a suburb of Philly) to offer a weekend training there. And I was amazed that he actually did! I forget now if he stayed at my place or with someone else, but I do remember we were at this little studio in Narberth and we had a full house. Everyone really appreciated Dharma, but that goes without saying. One other memory I have of that weekend is eating dinner with Dharma. What struck me was that not only did he not eat a lot, but he also ate his food very delicately and deliberately. It likewise inspired me to do the same.

Not sure when this was exactly, but one time towards the end of this whole period I came to the studio after an extended period away and after performing one particularly advanced pose in class (don’t remember what it was), Dharma said to me (again, I paraphrase), “You’re ready to open your own studio.” However serious Dharma really was, I took that as a confirmation, though it would be years before I would actually start my own school…

The year was now 2001. I was planning on staying in Philly and commuting to NYC for classes, but then 9/11 happened. I stopped going to NYC and then my mother convinced me to move down to Naples, FL, where she had an apartment and was living permanently. I ended up going to Naples at the end of 2002, right after I attended a 200-Hr Yoga Teacher Training with Yogi Hari in Miromar, FL. Dharma wasn’t offering trainings at that time, otherwise I might have taken his. Over the next 15 years, I was to see Dharma just maybe 2-3 times, all at various yoga conferences and festivals. All the same, I always told everyone that Dharma was my favorite yoga teacher, and even when I began offering my own Yoga Teacher Trainings in 2006, I would still speak highly of Dharma and tell everyone about him. On some occasions, I would even show the students his videos and have his poster on display.

Given all of this, perhaps a re-connection with Dharma was inevitable. I had met my guru (or at least one of them—I seemed to have several that I met all around the same time) and I wanted to honor that. I just never seemed to make enough money to afford any other trainings, and that was partly because I really wasn’t making a solid living teaching yoga in Florida and I really didn’t feel called to do much else.

Finally, this year a friend loaned me the money to take Dharma’s training (this was after another friend and student set up a Plum Fund to help raise money for me to do the training—it didn’t even come close to the goal). My sense of it all was that I was finally ready to re-connect, that somehow I had gotten my act together enough to merit to be there.

My general sense and overall feeling about the training was immense gratitude and respect for the Dharma Yoga staff, and of course Eva and Dharma, for putting together such a wonderful offering for us. I was very very impressed by all of the mentors, and really felt just a kindred, familial bond with everyone, my fellow students included. I really feel you can get a sense of the caliber of the teacher by how his students are, and the Dharma community demonstrated to me (as if I needed it!) just how effective Dharma’s method and presence is. Everything was very well-run and organized, and I love how Adam especially did his best to help us not feel stress about anything.

What I love most about Dharma now, and what to me is a sign of true mastery, is his sense of humor. He is able to make fun of everything, including himself, sometimes to the point of making himself look foolish. But clearly he’s not and so this is a teaching for all of us—don’t take it all so seriously. You could say that Dharma has transcended being a yogi to being a guru (and even beyond that) now, which means that he can afford to take everything lightly. For so many years he was on a very strict yogic regimen, and I’m sure he still is, but now he does it just to set an example, he’s clearly beyond it all, even though sometimes he plays like he’s not.

It’s interesting to me how my own path has played itself out. I clearly started out in this lifetime as a very driven, disciplined person. At some point, though, I recognized that the discipline was keeping me too rigid, too serious and self-righteous. I needed to get over myself, or at least the “yogi” identity to which I had attached myself. And so I went “south,” both literally—down to Florida from Philly—and figuratively. Yes, little by little I found my way to the “other” side, the Left-Handed path, which I had formerly vowed never to explore, but to which I ultimately succumbed. And I don’t mean in a bad way—it was all good. And in fact, with 20/20 vision I can see how it was inevitable…

“A Poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematized disorganization of all the senses. All forms of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he exhausts within himself all poisons and preserves their quintessence’s. Unspeakable torment, where he will need the greatest faith, a superhuman strength, where he becomes among all men the great invalid, the great criminal, the great accursed—and the Supreme Scientist!”
~ Arthur Rimbaud, French poet

Besides my parents, I see now that my first real guru in this lifetime was Jim Morrison. From the time I was 11, I was just totally fascinated with this guy, along with a host of other rock stars, but Morrison in particular. Like many of us, Jim has been a kind of torch-bearer of the Left-Handed tantric ethos, which is to fully give oneself over to exploration of the dark side in order to know the light. “If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise,” said William Blake, who also famously said: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it truly is—infinite.” (The Doors took their name from this quote.) Morrison clearly took these ideas quite seriously as he was seeking understanding and a way beyond fear. This led him to do and say (and sing) many outrageous things, things which ultimately made him appear to be a Cosmic Clown, a buffoon at which many still laugh at—he’s the man you love to hate. But to know him is to love him (as with all of us), and those who really tuned in to the guy are laughing with him, not at him.

Another figure like this for me is Adam Sandler. His humor is just completely over-the-top outrageous, and I’ve noted that he’s another love-him-or-hate-him figure. But his ability to laugh at himself and everything is a sign to me that he’s close to the Cosmic Joke.

So as I was saying, I guess I ultimately needed to go on a tangent and explore the shadow side of things, because the truth is I was scared of it. As I’ve noted elsewhere, the thing that seemed to help me the most in this regard was plant medicine. It’s seemingly completely off the beaten path, taboo as most traditional forms of yoga are concerned, and yet, for the one intent on liberation, it might just be the thing. It seems to have been for me.

At the end of the day, the yogic/Vedic dictum of “paths are many, truth is one” is the guiding light. Because ultimately it doesn’t matter how you get there, it’s getting there that matters. “Whatever gets you through the night is alright,” John Lennon sang. So even though Dharma no doubt would never outwardly approve of my path, I know he knows and it doesn’t matter to him one bit.

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Heart ‘n’ Hands Album Coming Soon! Thu, 13 Oct 2016 05:33:52 +0000 We are very pleased to announce the release of my first CD offering, “Heart ‘n’ Hands,” which is a musical tribute and celebration of A Course in Miracles. This has been quite the labor of love! For those of you who have passed “The Course,” those who are still passing through, or even those who might just have a passing interest in the Course, we feel that you will find our musical offering to be more than passable! Indeed, we believe that if you just give these songs a listen or 3, they will quite possibly grow on you and you will come to love them as much as we do.

There are no fewer than 13 songs on the CD, each based on one of the central passages or teachings of the Course. For example, the title track of the CD, “Heart ‘n’ Hands” is based on the famous lines from the Course’s introduction:

“Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists,
herein lies the peace of God.”

The song then goes on to quote a later passage in which Jesus tells us: “And I place the peace of God in your heart and in your hands to hold and share.” One meaning of this line is just the essential Course teaching that we hasten our own return to Spirit by sharing the gifts of Spirit with our brethren, and that sharing may take whatever form it needs to (such as the CD we have co-created), but that the underlying content will always be the same: God is but love and so are we, nothing can change eternal love, so come home already!

In fact, the final song on the CD is called “Come Home,” and it is based upon a message that the Course drives home in so many different ways—the message being that we are all infinitely worthy and no longer need to be ashamed or worried that God will punish us, the “prodigal son”; rather God (or Infinite Love) just is and in our heart of hearts we are all still there in that One Love in which everyone is included in perfect harmony and unity. As the Course says: “Not one note in heaven’s song was missed.” We just need to be still and listen for the “forgotten song” that is still somewhere down deep within all of us… in the silent space between the words and the notes and music. By the way, “The Forgotten Song” is another one of those remarkable Course passages that we set to music for this CD.

So whether you have been a longtime student of the Course, or if you are just getting into it, this CD is for you. Just like the Course, it’s for all of us. It’s a love song that we all wrote to ourselves (to ourSelf) to remind ourself that it’s time to get on back home to reside once more in our true nature, and to sing the eternal song of the Universe that is still playing in our hearts, if we would but listen.

I will just end with a paraphrase of a line from one of the songs on the CD:

“We enlist you
to be silent
and come listen
to y/our heart.”

Come listen together with us & thank you for joining the band!

Only love,

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Deeply Discounted Inaugural Rates for 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training Wed, 12 Oct 2016 20:33:21 +0000 Dear Friends,

Most yoga studios charge $3,500 or more for teacher training; no lodging, food, or books are included. Our prices are as follows:

  • Private room $3,795
  • Shared room $2,995
  • Sofa-bed in house $2,795
  • Tent camping $1,995

These are introductory prices. We will have to charge significantly higher prices the next time we offer this retreat. For these rock bottom prices, we include:

  • Lodging at a beautiful retreat center where we can have most classes outdoors on a large deck overlooking a peaceful stream during the beautiful December weather in SW Florida. Amenities include a solar heated swimming pool, labyrinth, medicine wheel, peace garden, and use of a canoe on the stream.
  • Immersion into a revitalized life of physical, emotional and spiritual wellness that the day classes cannot replicate. Evening activities include a fire ceremony, Kirtan (yoga chanting), spiritual documentaries and other group activities.
  • Three delicious, healthy vegetarian meals per day, prepared by Chef Mark. Most food will be organic and local when available.
  • A digital and hard copy of Yoga Quest, a comprehensive training manual authored and compiled by Allowah.
  • Spending precious time with Allowah, a world-class yoga master, an evolved being who radiates love and kindness. Like so many other students, you will be transformed by Allowah, not just from his deep teachings but by who he is.
  • Love, laughter, personal growth and fun!

Although the retreat runs 20 days from December 9-29, attendance on December 24 and 25th will not be required for teacher certification but will include optional excursions and other fun activities.

Save even more if you want to join us for this transformational experience without being certified to teach! We are offering a 20% discount if you sign up without RYT certification, simply use coupon code NORYT.

We have limited availability and expect this retreat to sell out well before the start date. You will never find a better opportunity to step into a new life of peace, health and happiness. Reserve your space now while still available by registering on the event page.

Namaste and Blessings!
Jai Segal, Co-Founder and CEO

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What Makes Allowah’s Yoga and Wellness Retreats Different from the Others Tue, 06 Sep 2016 16:27:30 +0000 The teachings in Allowah’s courses go beyond just yoga. It’s about how to embody yoga—becoming yoga, not just doing it.  We learn how to do that in every area of life, and with everyone we meet. Yoga means union or oneness, especially oneness with God. So many spiritual paths may be seen as forms of yoga. Yoga can be made very superficial—just another workout, a form of exercise for looking and feeling better—because we’re afraid of going deeper. But yoga is way beyond fear and takes you out of your comfort zone.

True awakening is rare. Allowah put his own healing first in his life, learning the way to be free. He dedicated himself to yoga, and only yoga, for years, even learning Sanskrit. It is difficult to cross the razors edge because we all seek to avoid facing our fears. Allowah has been willing to walk the road less traveled, not worried about the opinions of others. He has been willing to let go of fear and open to love, and not always follow the rules. He is able to find a balance between structure and intuitive flow. Allowah’s classes are deep because he has had these experiences and realizations. Allowah never calls himself a Guru—but others have seen him as one and believe that’s what he is here to do.

Allowah awakens his students to things not normally available to them in the outside world. He has touched the awakened sate and has seen beyond the veil, carrying that into everything he does in his life. He goes deeper than most yoga teachers in the West, because he teaches the Mystic path—the path that all great mystics have walked, whether Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, etc. He has had experiences that most people have not had in their life and has been gifted with grace. Allowah never holds back, he does not treat his yoga classes as a business. When he teaches, he wants to give everyone everything, not save it for the next course. He wants his students to be at his level.

Benefits of Allowah’s Retreats

  • Feel better, healthier, happier, and more joyful
  • Have less pain and suffering
  • Smile and laugh more
  • Sing, dance, and connect with your innate creativity
  • Be liberated: free from self-judgment, fear, lack, and limitations
  • Learn the way to unconditional self-love
  • Release fear, worry, anxiety, and depression
  • Unlearn your conditioning—learn to question everything
  • Learn to lighten up
  • Unblock the blocked places within yourself
  • Become part of a beautiful community, a tribe of friends for life

Follow your heart, your bliss, and live the life you want to live—it’s never too late to be the person you always knew you could be! Join us for the next retreat and experience all this for yourself. We would be honored to hold the space for your transformation. View upcoming events and feel free to contact us with any questions. We are only here to be Truly Helpful!

Allowah is offering yoga at its deepest root level—the original teachings of the way back to God, where God is Oneness, Love, and Beyond All Fear. Fear comes from separation, so we have to go beyond separation to know who we truly are. And when we do that, our spiritual path becomes the most important thing in our life and everything else begins to flow. We then learn how to be the most effective at whatever we do in our life from this spiritual process taught in Allowah’s training

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