my prayer for our global community 

This morning I woke up overwhelmed by sorrow for the atrocities that are currently being committed. Innocents  are being killed around the globe as many of us continue on with our busy schedules. As I read about asymmetric warfare and attacks on innocent civilians in Istanbul, Baghdad, Bangledesh and Saudi Arabia all this past week, among others, I hurt for them. So, this morning I wrote this prayer as a way of empathizing with my global family. I refuse to remain silent on these issues any longer. 

This is my prayer for the Middle East. This is my prayer for the world, for areas plagued by war zones, shattered dreams and merciless killing of the innocent. 

This is my prayer for the so called “Islamic” state, Daesh, that the hearts of its followers would change. That individual agents within the group would see the massacre, see the truth: guerrilla warfare that preys on civilians is cowardly. That asymmetric warfare, and any kind of warfare, will not fight off the west or anyone else for that matter. 

Killing of the innocent, war and the spilling of women, men, and children’s blood only creates and perpetuates debilitating fear. It separates the perpetrators more and more from their own humanity as each of their hands become blood-stained.

It’s easy for individuals to turn on the news, read about mass killings, car bombs and shooters and with one click, the channel has changed and they are onto another reality, forgetting about the pain and suffering of the “other.” 

But, what about the innocents who are LIVING in the war zones? What about the children who are growing up without parents, who are forced to dodge bombs as they walk to primary school? What about the little boys who are trained to shoot bullets and kill? Who is stopping this from happening? What can be done? Generations are being lost before our eyes. 

The answer cannot possibly be violence. Violence and killing will only lead to more civilian deaths. And peace cannot be achieved through such horrific means.

I’m not claiming to know what to do or how to fix this or the deep wounds it has caused. But I am asking everyone to stop being comfortable because your current living situation is. Our brothers and sisters just across a few man-made borders of a few western-made “countries” are oppressed, suffering and being killed. 

Coffee shops, concert halls, street side murders, burned shopping malls. Their blood has forever stained each of our hands as we desensitize ourselves and do nothing, say nothing and sit back clicking through the news channels from our comfortable, safe homes. 

Muslims are being persecuted when they should be being comforted. They are the innocent victims being killed by a group that is disgracing the name of a religion that declares peace and tolerance for all people under one universal God or in the Arabic language, Allah. 

Tears continue to flood in as we look for answers. We call on our creator, who we have each given a different name, and we wait for something to be done. But, where has waiting gotten us in the past? It has only brought us to greater losses and more regret. 

So stop being so comfortable and start praying. Comfort the innocent, comfort the hurting, pray for the victims and their offenders. Pray for peace and never lose hope in a brighter, more peace-filled tomorrow. 

Stay true, live justly and always travel on.

Peace and love. 

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A very real India 

I am currently sitting on some soft floor cushions, nestled in the corner of a local Ayurvedic cafe here in Vill Jounk Swargashram in India.  I have been living in this small village for the last two and a half weeks. This remote area is located at the start of the Himalayan mountain range outside of Rishikesh. I am here participating in a 6 week long, 200-hour yoga certification program.  


Right now every one of my senses is being stimulated. Despite the fact that there is a fan overhead, I feel the heat and humidity of India’s summer climate. The electricity could shut off at any moment and I am well aware of this fact, as it often does. Lights will flicker, fans will turn off and all water will be gone, all in an instant. But, for now I am wholeheartedly enjoying the cool wisp of air that this fan is offering.  

I hear men working outside the cafe with power tools on some medal machinery. I also hear cows walking by, mooing. I look outside the open window and door and I see mango trees, hear birds and I look for monkeys playing around in the trees. 


Like cows, monkeys are everywhere. 


 And, I’ve learned that both the former and the latter, are not always nice, especially when babies are involved. Advice? I’d say don’t make eye contact with a mother cow or monkey if babies are around, because it won’t be a pretty site. 

As I begin to wipe away the beads of sweat that are beginning to form on my forehead, I also have to swat away about five flies. But, that’s nothing. Flies are everywhere here. And, they’re constantly swarming, landing and crawling all over everything. Even from the restaurant, I cannot help but notice the distinct smell of cow manure that lines the streets, of course the smell of manure is mixed with the smell of chai and curry from where I am sitting. Despite all of this, as I sit here I feel the comfort that my humble little cushion offers me in this humble area in our world.

As I walk through the streets here I am no longer shocked by the fact men will be peeing on the side of the road. I no longer attempt to pick up every piece of trash here, as I have seen the endless heaps of trash that seem to fill every gutter and clutter most open spaces. Coca-Cola bottles and cans, the wrappers of processed sweets, old corn cobs rinds and tissues litter every street corner here.

When I walk through the city area of Vill Jounk, I may see a man squatting and burning freshly mulled corn, over a small open flame. I may also see children running about barefoot and asking foreigners for rupees as their mothers attempt to sell bracelets and trinkets. I may also get stopped by a family asking for me to hold their baby as they snap a photo of me and the child. 


The city is filled with Ayurvedic health food shops and with individuals selling fruits, veggies, fried dough and popcorn. If I walk down a long, unshaded path I can easily find my way to Lakshman Jhula, a busy little city with a large suspension bridge, tons of shops, people, smoke, smells and of course cows.


Near the bridge there are various Internet cafes that overlook the Ganges River. It’s beautiful to sip on a smoothie and watch the river rush and the people swimming and jumping around in the water attempting to cool down in this hot weather. 


What I love about India is that it is real. It is rustic, it is dirty, it is not a cookie cutter kind of country. A majority of the people here live simply yet find joy despite their own physical poverty. The children run about picking mangoes, playing tag and sharing sweets with one another. I imagine myself in their place though it is rather different than my privileged western upbringing. 


India is a country where people are raw, authentic and connected to their own humanity. It is more than just trash-filled streets, Delhi belly and seemingly strange sights and smells. It is a beautiful country filled with the second largest population in the world, settling at around 1.2 billion people. It is a country that may at first be off putting for some yet is complex and absolutely incredible.  While I am here I will keep my heart and mind open to these new experiences that I am confronted with on a daily basis.  I hope that being here, where I am learning about the ancient roots of the yogi culture, and experiencing a taste of what life is like in India, will help guide me towards greater openness, a more compassionate mindfulness and help me love people on a deeper level. 


More to come on my experiences in India!  I will soon share a post that will chronicle a day in the life of a yoga student (a.k.a. me) in India. Until then, stay true, live justly and always travel on. Peace and love. 

more photos from Jordan 

After spending four weeks in Jordan, I flew to India, where I will be for the next two months. There will be more to come on my adventures in India. But, for now, here are a few photos from the Dead Sea, Jerash, Petra, Jesus’ baptism site, Aqaba, Wadi Rum and more.

 

Stay true, live justly and always travel on.

Peace and love. 

The beauty of Jordan

While in Jordan, my love for photography was rekindled. I appreciate the fact that photography, if done well, can reveal beauty within seemingly overlooked sights and capture the emotion of a moment. 

Photography has the power to connect the viewer to the humanity of the other and it has the power to capture aspects of the various states of the human condition. 

That being said, here are some of my photos from Jordan.

Stay true, live justly and always travel on.

Peace and love. 


P.S. More photos to come, these were mainly taken in Amman.