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Keepers of the Earth Yoga Teacher Training 2024

Since we just finished the Keepers of the Earth YTT yesterday, I figured it would be a good time to reflect and share insights, inspirations and reflections from the 25 days of this year's co-hort. It's nice to get to these things while they are fresh, while the Shakti is still "warm", before moving on with life.

I'm sitting in my favorite writing spot in my house; i's still early -- 6:25 AM. I hear the birds chirping and singing their morning songs. The cool mountain air has me wearing cozy clothes as I drink hot tea. I am thinking about how, just a couple days ago, we -- 11 of us -- were gathered in the yoga shala (fondly dubbed "Yoga Wasi") preparing for our daily morning sadhana. Each morning, from 6:30 to about 9:00 AM the Teacher Trainees and I would get together to do our practices. Two and a half hours is a long time for a practice and typically the opportunity to do such a lengthy routine is only available to those on retreat, or those who've structured their entire life to revolve around sadhana, or both. I was amazed at the level of focus, presence and devotion in this group so I didn't feel length of time so much. As a facilitator, I am just tuning in and riding the wave of energy that is created by the sangha. And this year we really rode that wave. Hopefully in this essay I can capture some of the essence and juiciness that this year's training invoked in myself and others, and I will share a few words here to transmit the experience...

The first thought I have is this: how profound and powerful it is to gather as a group with a common intention. When trust is built and group coherence arises, which does take some time and skillful execution, the possibilities are endless. I recall my own teacher once saying to me something along the lines of: "when the group is determined and everybody is 'in', anything is possible". KotE 2024 really clarified this for me. I'm always, always amazed at the power of sangha and collective strength that arises when people share that common ground and bring their own determination, devotion, and juice to the container.

This brings me back to my original vision of KotE, which came to me through a Dhuni in July 2022. I had been receiving sprinklings of messages and inspirations from Spirit about a Teacher Training immersion for a couple years but nothing had solidified yet. Even though I'd supported or assisted in about a dozen YTTs, have been leading international group yoga retreats since 2020, and ran my own little yoga operation and community in Arizona from 2017, it took me awhile to receive the green lights from Creator to get the ball rollin'. And since it got rollin', it has been picking up speed and becoming an avalanche of Spirit and energy. At this point I'm just along for the ride and what a joyous, humbling, deep, and aligned ride it has been!

The vision was straightforward -- to bring people together, friends, who feel inspired to study and immerse themselves in the Sacred Wisdom of the ancient traditions of Yoga, Tantra and the Natural Laws governing our existence. Ordinary humans in pursuit of the extra-ordinary and a better way of life. Of course it is a little pretentious of me to pretend that I know all about the so-called "Natural Laws" and "Sacred Wisdom", as we are talking about generations-long studies into the spiritual sciences of life, but after walking this path sincerely for the past 10 years, I've fortunately picked up a few things along the way. Not to mention the incredible teachers who have graced me with their guidance -- Guru Om!

But what happens when the container is made for the "study" to occur is nothing short of a miracle. Held accountable by our instinctual drive for evolution of the Soul, and held accountable by the teachings of our ancients, ancestors & our own intuitive knowing of our highest potential, we end up collectively creating a field of deepening, of self-discovery, of possibility. The results speak for themselves. By the end of this year's training I just kept saying -- "wow". Wow. Look at what's possible. Look at what's possible.

I've been inspired to no end.

And I sit here and think about it. Reflecting. Contemplating. What can be said about this experience?

Well, for one, I guess I can start by speaking for myself. When I first started out on the yoga path I had no idea what I was in for. I just somehow knew that there something "deep" to discover by diving head first into the yogic ways. Once I started peeling back the layers of the onion of my own ego and persona and began to feel the true depth of my soul and actualized potential, I couldn't get enough. This made me wildly passionate. At first it was for my own sadhana and self-actualization process, but eventually the cup overfloweth and I couldn't help but want to share the treasures I was finding with others.

When I first started leading groups through transformational experience, I knew very little, if anything, about the process of creating what I call "Sacred Space". I didn't really understand the mechanics of the ritual container, but I knew (or intuited) that the group process could enhance an individual's possibility. I went through my own series of "initiatory processes" that revealed to me the nature of Sacred Space and the transformational journey of the soul, and once the opaqueness of transformation became more and more solid for me, I began to really study it more closely. I wanted to understand a few things:

  1. What IS possible for the human being? Why is this important to look at? What makes pursuing self-realization more attractive than the habitual living of life?

  2. What actually takes place in the transformational process? What are the mechanics of it? What changes? How does it happen? Why do we intuitively seek to transform ourselves? and finally...

  3. How on Earth are we supposed to change the world through Consciousness alone?

When I was real into self-help and self-development material back in 2010, 2011, and my time in the corporate world, I had heard things like "change your thoughts, change your life." Or "consciousness affects your Reality." I had even studied the fascinating theories of Quantum Physics where scientists were "proving" that the state of matter would change through our observation. But none of this had become truly practical until I started diving deep into the yogic tradition, and learning about energy, Kundalini, the anatomy of the subtle body, and the pathways of prana within us. I quickly realized and experienced the power of these ancient technologies and the purpose behind them. We weren't just trying to feel good in our bodies, become flexible, reduce stress or whatever other benefits have been associated with yoga practices. We were literally trying to perform the greatest of all tasks for any human being -- upgrade our consciousness to a point where the world can indeed be changed for the better. Doing this would require a close examination of the mechanics of consciousness and energetic pathways in the body, but also the cosmic principles governing of all this. And thus through the gradual study, realization and embodiment of these principles, the teachings of the sages and mystics became more and more clear: that if we want to restore Order to the Chaos of life, to bring Spirit into form through us, we had to take these ideas seriously. These weren't just some fluffly New Age "spiritual" concepts. Our lives literally depended on how well we, as a human species, could understand and apply the sacred wisdom of our ancestors. Not only our own lives, but the lives of our friends, families, loved ones, and future generations. The entire cosmos rests on the consciousness of the individual who awakens. A pretty sobering thought indeed, and oftentimes when we are presented with this Truth, which somehow we know intuitively, the responsibility is so overwhelming that we'd rather turn a blind eye to it and carry on our lives with our eyes mostly closed, giving the idea of transforming consciousness little more than lip service as we march forward and do our best to "do good and be good".

Yet as we make our best attempts to "do good and be good", sometimes even our most valiant efforts fall short. We look out and see a world that is just a f***d up and we continue the game of being a victim. We worry. We fret. We wish others would "get it". And we continue to perpetuate the age-old struggle between light and dark. Of course, light always prevails, and finds it way into our world when we need it most, but those who take this path seriously do everything they can to bring the light through. And that is exactly what we do, and did, with KotE.

It's not just a "yoga vacation". Far from it. We present the deep truths expounded by the sages and masters and we practice them as if they actually matter. Not simply paying lip service to the idea that "All is One", we engage in methods and technologies that reveal this Universal Truth. And as the Truth gets revealed, the individual changes. The personality changes. The ego becomes purified. As I heard recently, the spiritual path isn't necessarily about becoming a "better person", rather, it is about using all of our faculties to discern, at the deepest level possible, what is ACTUALLY true, and pursuing that above all else. Ironically as we pursue Truth, we end up becoming a better person. But its a bottom up approach, or perhaps an "inner-to-outer" approach as opposed to just adopting more "spiritual" attitudes, acquiring more dogma, identities or labels, and pretending that just because we "know" the information we are good. Most of us, unless we are completely self-realized, are not good, and that's where our work is. Identifying where our humanness and our egos are getting in the way of the true light of the One from shining through. This takes a critical level of discernment and a tremendous amount of courage to even look in the first place and be honest with ourselves. Many people would rather not do this -- it can be too painful to even look. But when the container is well-set, and the principles and teachings and presented so that everything is out in the open, we can start to chip away at the incredibly deceptive and illusory mechanisms of the ego to get to the pure light of the Soul and Spirit within. This takes serious work and its definitely not all rainbows and butterflies, except for sometimes a double rainbow before an Ayahuasca ceremonies ;)

As we go through our process, we end up healing from all of the cultural, ancestral and karmic wounds of our past. These wounds obscure and prevent the light of the One from shining through. They are protective mechanisms of the ego that have calcified the personality and created false masks and pretensions about who we think we are. The natural energetic patterns have become obstructed and our bodies and our breaths reveal the blockages to us. The inherent joy of Spirit becomes less accessible and worry, stress, doubt and fear become regular parts of our reality. Our generativity and our creativity suffer as we trade real authenticity for the cheap copies of patterns learned, behaviors acquired, and beliefs inherited. We don't ever pause to question and look at ourselves but simply carry on with the inertia of life. Because looking, actually looking, is hard and it requires energy. The Shakti needed for real transformation to occur is not easily sourced. Even though its all around us all of the time, unless and until we plug ourselves into Her eternal current using practical methods, such as those found in Yoga and Tantra, we lack the essential ingredient for success in the transformative process -- Shakti. The life-giver. The Mother. The One who births entire Universes. And for something new to emerge, for change to occur, She is needed.

And when She finally comes, it is entirely likely that we get scared. To feel Her Power, Her Radiance, our ego has no chance. It grips tightly to notions of stability as the current of Kundalini rips through the psyche and begins to take apart all that is not Truth. Those who have been successful in their transformative process will understand what I mean. We get to a point where we don't have a choice. We did, after all, call upon Her. Well, when She arrives, like Durga riding the freakin lion, the ego is terrified. Understandably. There's no stability for ego as it stands before Her roaring tidal wave. If we are lucky, and we have done our practices well, we can actually surrender at this stage of the journey. We can let her river pour through us, and we begin to open ourselves to the Fire and Light. If and when this happens, the Fire will transform us from the inside out. Any petty notions of "my, me, mine" are ripped away, sometimes quite abruptly or abrasively, and we are left naked before the all-seeing Eye of God. This is where we encounter Truth. That mysterious, all-pervasive principle of life that everyone seems to be arguing about all of the time. So funny. Capital T Truth -- the only thing that matters, and yet the most easily hidden, while remaining right there in plain sight.

The Infinite Present moment, where the Shakti dwells in Her ever-illuminating Radiance, entangled eternally with Shiva. It's not wonder we get scared when we actually penetrate the nucleus of the Moment -- there is no "person" left to perceive It, just the shimmering perfect awareness of "What Is". The person tries to grab onto it, to tell stories about it, to develop some sort of teaching or explanation to help others find it. But it remains elusive, even though its right there in front of us. Our organism, after all, has evolved to perceive through the senses, and the senses feed our mind and ego with very convincing data about the "reality" that is "out there". We believe what we see, and this informs our actions, thoughts and behaviors ... never actually questioning what really IS Truth?!

Well, once you get a taste for "It", there's no going back...

The mirage of life starts to fall away and the ego loses a bit of its grip on Reality. At first this is incredibly destabilizing, which is why we need the ritual containers of a transformative group experience to hold us in this. If it's done well, and we plug into the "juice" sufficiently, we get a dose of Reality that is big enough to generate fundamental changes at the core of our being. Because now we really know -- we don't pretend, we have experienced. The Yoga has become alive in us, as the tiny little being we are has finally entered into a real, authentic communion with the Great Mystery.

As we make our way back to "Earth", where our personality needs to come back online and decisions about what to do with our life return to us, our ego has matured a bit. It has seen and it cannot unsee. What is actually important is now less lip service and more a true walking of the path.

The amazing thing is that, as we walk, others appear beside us. They have the same question: "is there something more?" And we get together, we study, we practice, and we turn our gaze inward to investigate the True Source of it All.

Keepers of the Earth was created for this. To bring people together who actually care, and want to walk on The Eternal Path, the path of truth-seekers, the path of the lovers of life and love, the path of the Heart. A path forged by people just like you and I since time immemorial.

Consciousness descends to Earth through each of us. The Light is trying to emerge into the world. The One Song of life, although seemingly silent, is bursting the seams of our heart and forcing us to become evermore authentic and to allow the Voice of God to come through.

At some point in this process we find ourselves singing and dancing... because, what else is there to do once you've tasted the sweet nectar of the One? Once you have laughed with God at the baffling simple complexity of it all. Who are you to share it with? Why would you want to share it?

Because there are others, just like you, waiting to laugh, sing, and dance too.

There are others, just like you, waiting to wake up and re-member.

And the Song continues... can you hear it?


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