LA Yoga Magazine Online | Yoga and Ayurveda in Los Angeles
LA YOGA Ayurveda and Health Magazine is a resource for the vibrant Yoga community of Southern California. In print, in the digital edition, online and in our free weekly email newsletter, we publish inspirational stories connecting Yoga, the people who practice, and what it means in our lives in the modern world.
COMMUNITY & CONNECTIONS: CONSCIOUS GOOD STUDIO FILM SERIES LAUNCH
Los Angeles, California: People are inspired and educated by watching films with uplifting and meaningful stories combined with the opportunity to discuss themes with a community. The Conscious Good Studio Series in partnership with Bliss Network and LA YOGA Magazine offers yoga studios curated film programming for monthly special events.
According to Conscious Good Founder Trina Wyatt, “The Conscious Good Studio Series offers a unique community gathering of like-minded people, with exclusive films that were made and curated for the mind-body-spirit audience. During the screening, attendees relax using the props of their local yoga and meditation studio while surrounded by friends and soon-to-be-friends. After watching the film, people are encouraged to share their thoughts, what they’ve learned, and to take inspiration into action in their lives and communities.”
“The core mission for yoga studios and other related businesses includes building community. The Studio Series provides inspiring content that can be programmed into the studio schedule during non-class times, such as weekend evenings. This allows students to gather for a shared experience,” says Bliss Network Editorial Director Felicia Tomasko.
Trina Wyatt says, “I believe that stories – real or imagined – have the power to transform lives. I have practiced yoga for over 20 years and it has changed my life immeasurably for the better. I’m thrilled that the Studio Series can bring these two powerful forces together to help nurture community and make people’s lives better.”
Yoga studios participating in the series benefit from a turn-key community event that generates a new source of revenue.
About Conscious Good: Conscious Good is a media platform whose mission is the elevate the human experience to collectively heal the world one inspiring story at a time. www.consciousgood.com
About Bliss Network: Publisher of LA YOGA Magazine and Find Bliss, the mission of Bliss Network is to build community and share inspiring stories through the editorial cornerstones of food, home, spa, and practice in Los Angeles and beyond. www.blissnetwork.com
Trina Wyatt Founder and CEO
With the growing popularity of the superfood Moringa, a number of innovative companies are offering this dark leafy green. You can find seeds as well as powdered greens to add to smoothies and more.
Former Peace Corps Volunteer Lisa Curtis was introduced to eating Moringa while serving in Niger. With her co-founders Valerie Popelka, Jordan Moncharmont, and Anne Tsuei and a team of entrepreneurs, Kuli Kuli’s successful crowd-funding campaigns include an initiative to plant Moringa trees in Haiti.
Organic Pure Moringa Vegetable Powder
Moringa Greens & Protein Superfood Smoothie Mix (Natural Greens, Vanilla, Dark Chocolate)
Moringa Green Energy Shots (Raspberry, Coconut Lime, Ginger Lemon)
Energizing Herbal Moringa Tea (Original, Lemongrass, Peppermint)
Moringa Energy Bars (Crunchy Almond, Dark Chocolate, Black Cherry)
This hearty hummus is high in proteins from the garbanzo beans and Moringa. The kale is packed with fiber, antioxidants, iron, vitamins K, A, and C, as well as calcium. Kale and Moringa Hummus is quick and easy to make and a great way to incorporate some Moringa in your diet.
Ingredients for Kale and Moringa Hummus
1 TBSP Moringa powder
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (canned can be used)
2 handful kale leaves, blanched (I prefer Lacianto, but any will do)
1 cup cooked peas (preferably fresh and blanched)
Poached garlic cloves, 1-3 depending on personal garlic preferences (instructions below)
1 -2 TBSP tahini
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
1-4 TBSP garlic olive oil
Garbanzo Bean Preparation
If using canned beans, open the can and drain.
When cooking garbanzo beans on the stovetop, soak 1 cup of beans overnight. The next day, place the beans in 6 cups of salted water and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 45-60 minutes or until tender.
If using the Instapot, place 1 cup of beans (unsoaked) and 3 cups of water in the Instapot and cook for 30 minutes under pressure.
How to Blanch Peas and Kale
Blanching is the process of partially cooking vegetables, which not only starts the cooking process by also draws out chloroform, which enhances green color of foods.
What you need: A large enough pot to immerse vegetables in, another pot or large bowl with ice water (which stops the cooking process), and a slotted spoon or spider strainer (used to remove items from boiling water).
Remove fresh peas from their pods, drop the peas in the boiling salted water for 1 1/2 minutes, strain peas, and place them in the ice water.
Kale can be used raw, but I prefer to blanch it for about 30 seconds which makes it easier to handle and process in the blender.
How To Poach Garlic
Peel 6-8 garlic cloves, place in a small pot or pan and cover with olive oil. Braise garlic (covered) in oven at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes until completely soft, remove, strain out garlic and reserve the oil for blending the garbanzo beans.
Finishing the Recipe
Place kale, peas and garlic cloves in food processor and start blending. Then add the garbanzo beans and start adding garlic oil until smooth. Add the tahini, lemon juice, Moringa powder, and salt to pepper to taste.
Serve the Kale and Moringa Hummus with crackers, pita crisps, bread, and/or fresh vegetables.
Moringa: A Subtropical Tree that Strengthens Personal and Planetary Health
If we were to design the perfect superfood plant, something that is drought-resistant, can replenish the soil, nearly all of the parts of the plants are edible, is full of a wide array of vitamins and minerals, and is even a rich source of plant-based protein, we just might be describing the semi-tropical tree Moringa.
Red Carpet Superfood
These days, Moringa is receiving red carpet exposure and a growing spotlight in health and scientific circles because of its reported medical and nutritional benefits, as well as status as one of the worlds “Superfoods.” From the scientific literature to features in fashion mags, people are asking if Moringa is the next kale. Whether it is the kale for the new millennium or just what we need, this bitter leaf is being used in protein powders, teas, drinks, bars, and supplements from a variety of companies. Keep reading if you want to know more about Moringa. Moringa oleifera belongs to the Moringaceae family and is commonly known as the drumstick, horseradish, and Ben oil tree. It is a fast-growing tree with thick, whitish bark and droopy, fragile branches with long, green, oval-shaped leaflets. Although native to India, it is cultivated extensively in tropical and subtropical areas in Asia, Africa, and South America, and has been used throughout history by the Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians. While Moringa is typically not cultivated in North America, it can be found in Hawaii. Due to its popularity, Moringa is being grown in warmer areas of the US, including Southern California. There are at least a dozen different varieties of the Moringa tree, but the Moringa oleifera is by far the most widely cultivated. It is sometimes referred to as the “miracle tree” because it is capable of growing in depleted or dry soils where many other types of plants or trees cannot survive. As it progresses through its lifecycle, it helps replenish diminished minerals and nutrients, restores fertility to the soil, and even filters water.
All parts of the Moringa are used
Roots, stems, and leaves are the most potent sources of antioxidants, phenolic compounds, amino acids, and macronutrients.
Seeds and flowers are high in protein and fatty acids and are used to supplement proteins in diets.
Seeds and flowers can be steamed, roasted, or boiled and can be used for water purification systems.
Pods (often called “drumsticks”) look similar to a green bean and are used extensively in cooking.
The pressed oil “Ben oil” is used in skin care products, medications, and supplements.
Nutritional Content of Moringa
Moringa has an unusual flavor that is similar to asparagus and horseradish and is used extensively in Indian cooking and medicine. It is a powerhouse of nutrition that includes the amino acids isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine, as well as vitamins A, B, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, D, E, K, and folate. Additionally, Moringa has high levels of calcium, chromium, copper, fluorine, iron, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, selenium, sulphur, and zinc.
Ayurvedic Energetics of Moringa
Ayurveda analyzes foods, spices, herbs, and beverages by their energetics. Moringa contains the pungent and bitter tastes, is heating in nature, and has a pungent aftertaste-effect on the body. Furthermore, it is considered to be light, dry, piercing and firm, balances the Vata and Kapha doshas and can possibly increase Pitta dosha. The precise medical benefits are continually being studied and published, but Ayurvedic medicine has been using Moringa since 2000BC. Moringa’s biomedical actions include its effects as a digestive, carminative, laxative, adaptogen, immune modulator, alterative, bronchodilator, cardiotonic, emollient, analgesic, and anthelmintic. This plant also acts as an anti-allergen, anti-arthritic, anti-cholesterolaemic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-tumor, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.
How Much Moringa to Use for Medicine
The maximum recommended dosage of Moringa powder for a 150 pound person would be approximately 18 grams per day (8 teaspoons). It is recommended to start by taking 1-2 teaspoon per day for 3-5 days, monitor its effects, and then slowly increase the dosage over a couple of weeks if required.
When Not to Take Moringa
Some of the contraindications of using Moringa include gastritis or sensitive stomach disorders, and during pregnancy, menstruation, and while lactating. Moringa is high in potassium, calcium, and iron and should be avoided if someone has kidney disease, is on dialysis, or is on a restricted diet prescribed by a doctor.
Until recently it was not easy to find fresh Moringa locally in Los Angeles, but it is becoming more common.
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DEVA – the new album from Deva Premal — is a calling – beyond the chattering mind, the heaviness of the heart and the numerous distractions of life, into a place of refuge and conscious relaxation. Alternately soothing, uplifting, and inviting, Deva’s voice ushers us into deeper states of meditation, serving as a portal to inner peace. Learn more at: devapremalmiten.com/deva-album
Hugger Mugger Batik Mat Bag $34.95. Free your hands and slip this unique and colorful mat carrier over your shoulder! The Batik Mat Bags feature a full-length zipper, an adjustable shoulder strap, a roomy zippered outer pocket, and a small internal zippered pocket. This favorite yogi gift is functional, beautiful, and economical. Learn more at: HuggerMugger.com
May 17-24, 2019, Early Bird by Dec 12, 2018. Join us for seven days immersing in the sacred land that birthed Reiki in Kyoto, Japan – home of over 1,000 temples. A journey that will leave a lasting imprint on a cellular, soullular level. Learn more at: sacredventures.com
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Dr. Segal’s Energy Socks are designed to support your legs after your yoga practice. These compression socks improve circulation and relieve tired, achy legs, allowing you to continue your day feeling relaxed and energized. The wide-top band keeps the socks from pinching, chafing or rolling down, ensuring consistent compression. Try yours at: drsegals.com
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“Every patch of soil is an opportunity to grow food,” says Community Healing Gardens Co-Founder Nicole Landers. In the greater Los Angeles area, where the 365-day-a-year growing season means that there are abundant opportunities for everyone to be an urban gardener, Nicole is member of a pioneering group of women transforming the modern cityscape.
There are a number of good reasons to grow your own or to participate in community gardening efforts. You have an intimate relationship with the soil and can even contribute to soil remediation. You know where the seeds are coming from (and can even join groups like the Seed Library of Los Angeles) and can go even better than organic by controlling what is sprayed on the plants.
Community Healing Gardens
Urban gardening is a great way to bring communities together. Just ask Nicole Landers of Community Healing Gardens (CHG). The nonprofit started with garden boxes in the city spaces along the streets of Venice, where she resides. The raised beds offer opportunities for growing food that are open to the community that wanted — or more importantly needed — these opportunities. Now three years after founding the organization, there are 66 boxes sprinkled throughout Venice accompanied by after school programs developed to teach kids about gardening.
Nicole learned about urban gardening at UCLA where she studied under the Sustainable Certificate Program. Her interest sprouted as a kid, when she learned to grow tomatoes, herbs, basil, oregano, chives, onions, and spinach. Her father had a plot of land at a community garden space along the Westside Highway in NYC. She’s brought this passion to her present-day home community to address areas of food insecurity and food deserts throughout the southland. For example, CHG has partnered with the nonprofit St Joseph’s Center to use product harvested by CHG in the culinary program of the Center’s work experience kitchen, where they feed upwards of 100 homeless and transitioning men and women a day.
In Watts, CHG has stepped in to build an innovative relationship with the community’s only public middle school. They’ve cultivated the earth in one acre of land to grow food with their school farm and orchard program. CHG is teaching kids about the importance of growing their own food, showing how fun it is, and then giving that food back to the community. Anyone can participate through harvesting the food or joining in on community planting days. People can also adopt a box or a tree and learn about the beauty and necessity of urban gardening. “The one thing that binds us all is food. We all need nourishment and the food we put in our body fuels us.”
Urban Gardening Q & A with Nicole Landers
What does gardening mean to you?
Nicole Landers: Farming means strengthening community through urban gardening. We can build connection, community, and jobs, and shift the consciousness on planetary and human health by growing food locally, especially in urban areas in need. Our soil can save us.
What is your favorite thing to grow?
NL: My favorite season is spring into summer and growing tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, herbs, kale, and arugula.
LA Urban Farms
LA Urban Farms
If you’ve always wanted a garden, but don’t have the space, a vertical garden may be for you. LA Urban Farms has created state-of-the art, patented, vertical technology that allows you to farm in an urban setting using 90% less land and 90% less water.
Wendy Coleman is the founder of LA Urban Farms with partners Jennifer Crane and Melanie Dorsey. These three women share a passion for farming and helping others grow their own healthy food. Wendy found her work passion with the help of her daughter who was majoring in sustainability and environmental awareness.
Wendy came across vertical gardens growing right in the middle of a parking lot in front of a café. She inquired about buying one for her daughter Jess’s birthday. One vertical garden turned into three in the family’s backyard. “We had never had our own edible garden before; we even had fake plants in our house.” Wendy and her family couldn’t believe that in only 21 days they had the most delicious leafy greens and herbs for their smoothies, salads, and grilled vegetables.
Shortly after that harvest, they collaborated with the developer of the vertical garden technology, Tim Blank. Tim worked for 12 years as the chief horticulturist and greenhouse manager at Walt Disney World’s attraction The Land at Epcot Center. There, they grew hundreds of different food crops from all over the world in many different hydroponic and aeroponic systems. Wendy felt that her team’s enthusiasm combined with Tim’s expertise was a recipe for success. Thus, LA Urban Farms sprouted.
They created their first aeroponic farm on the rooftop of the old Google building in Santa Monica. It was the first of its kind on a commercial office building in LA. Now, almost five years later, their urban gardens are found in backyards, greenhouses, and with top chefs at restaurants, resorts, universities, and businesses throughout LA and beyond. They’ve even installed a garden at LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home.
Urban Gardening Q & A with LA Urban Farms
What does farming mean to you?
Melanie Dorsey: Farming is about making a personal connection to your food while also connecting to people who are passionate about growing their own food. My hope is that more people connect to how their food is grown and become inspired to make healthier choices for themselves and the environment.
What is your favorite thing to grow?
MD: My favorite thing to grow is cucumbers. I have three daughters and my six-year-old Ellie adores pickles! She loves to grow her own cucumbers and educate everyone she meets about how to grow your own food. I enjoy teaching in my girls’ schools and seeing the joy on the children’s faces when they eat food that they’ve grown. They feel so proud. Another favorite is edible flowers. My girls love putting them in ice cubes for their lemonade stand, and also making soap with them.
Chef Helene Henderson of Malibu Farms
Malibu Farms Restaurant
If you just want to enjoy the bounty from area farms, try the incredible farm-to-table meals in a magical setting at Malibu Farms Restaurant on the Malibu Pier. Chef Helene Henderson started with cooking classes and farm dinners out of her home and backyard. Now, her backyard is on the Malibu Pier and includes a casual counter service café at the end of the pier and a full service restaurant and bar at the beginning of the pier. She also has locations in Orange County, Hawaii, and Florida.
Helene loves the simplicity of both gardening and cooking. The heart of her business is to serve simple, healthy, homestyle cooked meals without becoming too fussy. Where she grew up in the northern part of Sweden, Helene was always gardening. The family had their own potato community garden plots and strawberry pots on their city balcony. When she moved to Hollywood, Helene would manage to find space for a small garden, and even raised backyard chickens. Helene says, “Gardening is easy and gardening is hard. Some seasons are a breeze and others are a struggle. There really isn’t any right or wrong. Hopefully most times, you reap what you sow, and eat what you grow.”
Urban Gardening Q & A with Chef Helene Henderson
What does farming mean to you?
Chef Helene Henderson: Farming means everything. Farming even on the smallest scale, means the ability to feed yourself and others. Food does not come from the market. If we can forage food, and if we can grow food, we can grow.
What’s your favorite thing to grow?
HH: My favorite thing to grow is arugula, because snails don’t eat it, rabbits don’t eat it, coyotes don’t eat it; so it is all for me to eat with a squirt of good olive oil, a sprinkle of coarse salt and a squeeze of lemon.
Growing Your Own
As Chef Helene Henderson says, food does not come from the market. Food comes from the soil, even if it’s in a pot on a windowsill or balcony. Urban gardening can lead the way for families to eat better. Planting some seeds wherever you can find a small plot to call your own or sharing a space with your community are good places to start.
And there are many ways you can become more involved in urban gardening. Sponsor a Community Healing Gardens box. Volunteer or participate in a harvest. Exchange seeds. Take a gardening class. Look into building your own raised beds. Call LA Urban Farms. Or find ways to support local farmers and gardeners who are innovating organic and local farming. Join these women and be part of the next wave planting the seeds of change in backyards and communities.
Suzy’s path began in Oklahoma’s Arbuckle Mountains. She reflects joyfully of her family’s farm, “I can remember harvesting potatoes and eating peaches off the trees!” The actress and model’s career took her to New York City and Los Angeles, where she was captured by cameras and lit up screens. The natural beauty recalls the ease and accessibility of eating organic in major metropolitan areas, but admits it didn’t pull full focus until entering motherhood. “It hit home when I had my first child, and really started thinking about everything that was not only going into his sweet little body, but everything that surrounded him. I was looking at everything, laundry detergent, cleaners, everything.”
Hundreds of reusable diapers, and several years later Suzy was on the set of Titanic. She spoke at length about environmental issues with the film’s director, James Cameron. She recalls, “One of the first things that we did when we realized that we were going to spend the rest of our liiiives together was, buy a ranch and put in solar.” The duo each brought a child to the relationship, and then had three together. Suzy Cameron recalls watching the eldest struggle in various school systems and thought, “My God, I can’t live through the tears and the tummy aches, and all of that again.”
Creating the Ideal School
She and her sister Rebecca Amis spoke of what an ideal school system would look like, and they came to “Inspiring and Preparing Young People to Live Consciously with Themselves, One Another, and the Planet.” A few months later a private school down the road closed. “Muse magic,” they giggled, a term they would come to utter often when the universe aligned for them and the greater good of the planet. Together, Suzy, Rebecca, and a group of like-mindeds opened the nonprofit Muse School in Calabasas.
“We started with 11 kids in this one room school house, and now we have 225 on two campuses.” The school is run on solar power, and boasts more than 150 raised bed gardens. “If you brought a single use cup onto the grounds, a kid is probably going to walk up to you and say, ‘That doesn’t belong here.’” For nearly 13 years the cafeteria served some of the cleanest, high-quality foods on the planet, including grass-fed beef and organic chicken. “I thought I was feeding everyone at Muse so beautifully….but what really kind of gutted me more than anything was when Jim and I watched Forks Over Knives. It blew our mind, it was such a… [she sighs]. We felt gut punched, we felt blindsided, we felt like we had been lied to our whole lives about what was healthy for our bodies, and what we got advertised to.”
Connecting the Dots of Environmental Issues
Suzy attended monthly meetings of a large NGO whose board she sat on. She learned, and lectured groups about deforestation, biodiversity laws, ocean certifications, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and more. One day she doodled a flower. On each petal was a severe environmental issue and in the middle, the center that joined them all was animal agriculture; the raising of animals purely for consumption. Appalled Suzy says, “You can connect the dots with every environmental issue we have out there back to animal agriculture and how devastating it is. It’s the second largest cause of greenhouse gases and climate change in front of all transformation combined, every car, every bus, every airplane, everything. Well, the first whammy was watching Forks Over Knives and the second whammy was learning about the devastations of animal agriculture on our environment.”
The Camerons, who have become known in the worlds of art, entertainment, philanthropy, and community as change-makers and consciousness-shifters, researched animal agriculture and its effects on climate change. Suzy reflects, “I would have this pit in my stomach every single morning, knowing that, yes, I have the ability to go and start an environmental school, yes I have the ability to start an eco-dress design contest, but I knew deep down inside no matter how hard I worked or how hard I tried, I wasn’t even scratching the surface. Yet, I would wake up every morning thinking, ‘What else can I do?’ ”
Making Positive Choices
The couple had cut meat from their diet, and a few months later were reflecting on their choices. She says, “Jim doesn’t use the word hope, he’s a real doomsday kind of guy. If you look at his movies, you know Terminator, Avatar, Titanic, The Abyss, he doesn’t use the word. He even has a T-shirt that says, ‘Hope is not a strategy.’
We were walking on the beach and we had already been plant-based for about two months and he said, ‘You know, for the first time in my life I actually had hope.’ I almost fell in the surf! I was like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ It was that moment that I thought, this is it, this is that silver bullet. This is the thing that is good for your health, it’s good for the animals, it’s good for your waistline, it’s great for your sex life [she laughs], you know all of these things.”
One Meal A Day
Suzy brought the idea to the Muse School, where they began to offer plant-based meals. The team joked instead of “OMG” it’s “OMD” One-Meal-Day sans meat / animal agriculture. Now, she’s bringing it to the world via her book, O.M.D. released on October 23 by Simon & Schuster.
Suzy exclaims, “One person changing one of their meals, one time a day for a year saves almost 200,000 gallons of water, the equivalent in carbon of driving from Los Angeles to New York. So you can absolutely make a difference. I have found my mission in life! Because I know the more people I can inspire to be plant-based or even just eat one plant-based meal a day, the more it will help move the needle on climate change. It will help make the world a better place for our children. You know the first nation’s people say that what we do today impacts the next seven generations and I believe that.”
The Kara Love Project is a heartfelt example of how our heartbreak and grief can become catalysts for deepening our service in the world. Sometimes how we can cope with and even transform sorrow can be found in community, particularly if we’ve been cultivating throughout life. For Lily and Dave Dulan, this is part of the story of the creation of the Kara Love Project.
This story began in Venice 13 years ago when Lily and Dave Dulan turned their home into a local temple. Their living room became a space for yoga and devotional music where kirtan wallahs, teachers, and artists like Joey Lugassy, Mark Whitwell, and Spring Groove shared their gifts. The couple brought people together to teach, commune, and chant the names of the Divine.
Lily and Dave moved out of their small home in Venice to begin a family through a challenging series of fertility treatments. Lily was hospitalized for two months during her pregnancy due to complications. Their community came to support. There were even kirtan sessions played bedside in the hospital.
In a long-awaited moment, Lily and Dave welcomed their baby Kara Meyer Dulan on May 22, 2009, while surrounded by their community. Kara passed of SIDS on July 29, 2009, only two months after she entered the world. It was devastating. The same people who surrounded them in Venice were there, singing, speaking, and grieving alongside them at home.
From Grief to Philanthropy
After much growth and healing, Lily and Dave adopted two baby girls, Marcelle and Sally, who are thriving. Lily felt called to honor Kara’s brief life and her philanthropic nature gave birth to the Kara Love Project.
The mission of the Kara Love Project is to promote conscious giving and positive action for underserved and marginalized individuals and communities worldwide. The Dulan’s Westside backyard has become a venue to support this mission through gathering community.
Kara Love Project Collaborations
In 2017, the Kara Love Project’s first annual backyard benefit supported the Unatti Foundation, an organization with which the Kara Love Project has an ongoing relationship. Unatti is dedicated to raising funds to provide food, shelter, and education for orphaned and underprivileged children living at the Unatti Group Home in Bhaktapur, Nepal.
Kara Love also collaborates with Venice Arts, a program that provides free classes in the arts to local youth. This cause is one of the first to inspire the Kara Love Project. The Dulans have been sending children to Venice Arts Camp each summer since Kara passed away.
In October 2018, the Kara Love Project raised funds and awareness for the Congo Peace School. Lily connected with Harriet Zaretsky and Steve Henry, who also lost a child suddenly. Harriet and Steve founded The Dillon Henry Foundation whose mission is similar to the Kara Love Project. They wish to create a worldwide community of individuals who show compassion and are compelled to take personal responsibility to change the world for the better. The Dillon Henry Foundation connected Lily to their passion for the Congo Peace School. A school with a curriculum based on peace and nonviolence.
Kara Love Project Backyard Music Events
Lily and her team, including Kelly Mickel and numerous volunteers, orchestrated an evening of bringing together artists, musicians, and community to support these interconnected missions. Musicians C.C. White, Joey Lugassy and band along with headliner Macy Gray filled the backyard with music. Supporters feasted, bid on a silent auction of art, and had their tarot cards read by Nadine Kljner.
Lily Dulan and Kelly Mickel
Attendees were moved by the video showcasing the Congo Peace School students. Then people bid on the live auction led by beloved bhakti teacher Shiva Baum. Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith, Rabbi Neil Comess Daniels, basketball icon and mental health activist Metta World Peace, Micheline Berry, Dearbhla Kelley, Dave Stringer, and Denise Kaufman were just a few of the 300 change-makers in attendance supporting Kara Love.
Breaking Down the Walls
Lily spoke about taking down the walls that we build around our hearts. “If we can’t look each other in the eye and give a hug instead of a handshake in my backyard then what are we here for? We need to break down the walls and help one another to make the world a better place!”
In addition to her work as a community leader, Lily touches others through her work as an MFT psychotherapist, writer, and Heart of Yoga teacher. Her personal mission is to help people release the fears that separates us. As a hostess she embodies her beliefs.
She hosted an evening filled with love, generosity and community during which Macy Gray led us in singing, “Everything’s gonna be alright” into the night air for the whole neighborhood to hear.
Macy Gray Sharing the Love at the Kara Love Project Backyard Benefit
Here’s to the ripple effects that are created through the inspiration that lead us all to smile at a stranger—and do whatever we can to experience our own sorrow while also deepening our service in the world.
“Oh my God, it is such a relief to just sit down for a minute.”
“F**K, there are a million thoughts flying everywhere.”
“All I can think about is all the unfinished stuff on my to-do list.”
“This can’t be right. All I can feel is the pressure to do more.”
“My mind is like fifty televisions playing simultaneously.”
“My nerves hurt. They are just buzzing with fatigue.”
“Ouch, I am soooo tired.” Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
“What time is it?”
“I just felt the muscles in my throat relax – guess I was holding something there.”
“My heart is racing. It’s like I’m nervous to feel what’s in store.”
“That conversation was weird this morning. Why did I respond like that? I could have just said no.”
“Owww . . . it is so uncomfortable to sit here and face my feelings. I think I will just stop meditating right now and check my email.”
“I don’t want to get up. God, I haven’t been this relaxed in days.”
The Impulse toward Action Continues in Meditation
In the real world, these are the kind of things you hear if you listen to people who have busy, active lives as well a thriving meditation practice. When people grab a few minutes to meditate, the impulse toward action continues. There is an alternation of restfulness and restlessness. Accomplishment-oriented thoughts cycle in a rhythm with restful sensations, as the brain clears its mental desk and the body settles into relaxation.
There is often a review of the to-do list and the items that have been done or are awaiting completion, with a few seconds of relief and satisfaction here and there. If you can tolerate the intensity of all this, you’ll emerge refreshed in twenty minutes, relaxed and ready to go. Meditation is a bath in the life force.
The Movement of Prana in Meditation
In yoga terminology, there are some great clues to all this. Prana (prana) is “the breath of life, vitality, vigor, power.” And prana flows and pulsates. This is the nature of life, which is continually healing itself, renewing its vitality, and making the body ready to engage in action. Yoga texts talk about this dynamic, ever-changing brilliance of prana as composed of five rhythms: prana, apana, samana, udana, and vyana. Think of each word as having a spectrum of the following energies.
Prana – propulsion and momentum. Apana – the vital force flowing downward and outward, elimination. Samana – assimilation, absorption, consolidation. Udana – upward movement, speech, expression. Vyana – expansiveness, diffusion, free circulation everywhere.
Notice that there is no hint here that you are supposed to calm down, make your mind blank, or suppress the dynamic dance of prana. Rather, when we meditate, we are invited to experience the genius of prana as it dynamically flows through our entire being on all levels and rejuvenates and restores us. In meditation, prana may continually change its energetic tone from propulsion and momentum to elimination, to assimilation and absorption, to expression and expansiveness. These changes often happen by surprise and are almost shocking in how powerful they are.
Pulsations of Prana in Meditation
The first pulsation is action and rest. So we find ourselves alternately feeling active and feeling restful. Everyone likes feeling totally restful and relaxed in meditation. But many find it a challenge to sit there buzzing with excitement – even though this is an equally essential phase of meditation. The next pulsation has to do with what happens when we rest. Our bodies heal up and retune themselves.
So we fluctuate between pleasant restfulness and the painful sensations and emotions that have to do with healing. This tends to happen every few seconds and then every few minutes, over and over. When meditators develop bad habits, the bad habits may often take hold here in the transitions between resting to healing, and resting to feeling excited and active.
Meditation is Pure Improvisation
Meditation is pure improvisation, with the five pranas bouncing off each other. The five pranas are combining, transforming into each other, and activating your instinct to survive and thrive. If you want to have a good time in your meditation, and have your practice be healthy, cultivate the attitude of delighting in each phase of prana as it appears. Savor the delight of the breath of life flowing through you, be grateful for each wave, each pulsation, each changing experience. Life is a genius at maintaining itself.
When we meditate in a way that is in tune with our own prana flow, we feel how our power is flowing and where it is stuck. The stuck sensations are uncomfortable. And if we gently attend to them, they usually figure out how to reestablish a healthy flow. Meditation allows everything to get unstuck and circulate.
By the same token, if you meditate in a way that is not suitable for you, you may find it frustrating and depressing. Monks, for example, take vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience. So their meditation practice needs to help them suppress the flow of sexual desire and kill their ego. If you are not a monk, and practice in the style of a monk, you may just end up lonely and broke.
Meditate in a Way that Supports your Purpose
The great challenge of meditation is to discern what your type is, and then meditate in a way that supports your purpose of living. For example, if you have a love life, or want to have a love life, cherish every impulse of passion as it arises in meditation, wherever it sparks in your body. If you feel a tingle of lust, or an urge to express emotion, or a creative urge to jump up and rearrange the furniture, love those impulses in themselves. Stay there in meditation, savoring the impulses, for however long you intended to meditate, ten minutes or thirty minutes or whatever.
Think of meditation as an invitation to the dance. The internal dance of the five pranas. Take inspiration from prana, apana, samana, udana, vyana, as the basic rhythm pattern of the dance of life.