Focus of the Month: April 2020

Daily Leaps Of Faith. Boundaries and Boundlessness

written by Swan Michelle


Space, or ether, is a container. It is easy to forget it is there, but it has boundaries. Space holds the Universe in place. In a time of responsible and mandatory social distancing, it is important to remember that space is not isolation, nor limitation. It is an activation of listening and an opportunity for greater freedom.

The earth is the largest boundary that we experience, yet it is really mostly made of space, as are humans. This is the space asked of us all at this time. It requires some tactic, daily regulation and interconnected boundary. More than ever, beings are recognizing the importance of being connected to nature, to the outdoors, to their food, health, and concern for others on this earth. We are the trees, the ocean, the fresh air, the animals, the plants, the minerals and all of humanity.

“Let thy medicine be thy food and thy food be thy medicine.” -Socrates

Sickness, a form of separation and the opposite of yoga and a connection to the earth, is a wakeup call. The yogic texts state that if one being is left unconscious, we all are. It couldn’t be more clear now. If one person is sick, we are all

sick to some extent, and it affects the collective whole. Within the element of ether or space, all of the elements, and all things reside. The elements are medicines. One person not well means all of us are not well.

The Universe is a unique and supremely intelligent system held in a specific container of unseen boundaries, of which are malleable, mysterious and unknown, since we don’t have access to the whole picture. It can be easy to forget, while consumed by a narrow lens of fear, that we are held in a Universal order we may not always understand.

“Don’t yearn for the past. Don’t anticipate the future. It is important that you not be so overwhelmed.” -Ram Dass.

Leaping daily into life’s mystery requires more faith than perhaps we have ever experienced together as a collective in this lifetime. I am sure each personal apocalypse you had before has in some way prepared you for this moment. It may have been that each “regular” day did not seem like much of a leap of faith either, being so predictable, but it was. All of this has always been uncertain and impermanent.

How we respond right now to these vivid quantum leaps of change on a daily basis is everything, and comes from taking it one day at a time. Defined steadiness is essential to our collective recovery. Discipline may seem inaccessible if we haven’t already been implementing it, yet we all must, and we can enjoy it! Write a book, build your garden and cook at home. it cannot be just some of us practicing boundaries, thinking we are somehow above playing by the rules of the game we are in now, or it just won’t work.

Having a total lack of boundaries is disrespectful to the lives of others, which is not life affirming at all. Everything we do, think and say affects the collective. It’s not just now that this is so. It just seems more obvious now. Even in the truth of mystery, we are asked to hold it all together. This is the musculature of active faith. We don’t really have the luxury of turning away from this global awakening.

As I began writing this, I was in Bali, the mystical island of sacred sounds, Gods and Hanuman, Sita, and Ram of the Ramayana. Bali itself is a name for Hanuman. There are giant statues of Ram and his bow everywhere, representing both being and protecting ethics as the highest aim and duty.

This 2020, the Leap Year day happened to be on the annual Balinese holiday of “Galungan,” around the time of “Holi” in India. This celebration is about “dharma’s” victory over “adharma.” Dharma means “upholding, ethic, pillar, purpose.” The “a” in front of dharma negates this, meaning there is no ethic, no pillar of support, no concern for others’ well-being and no point or purpose.

The inevitable victory of dharma was represented by bright elaborate decorations of palm husk, crafted with care by the villagers. It provided mindful decoration over the streets like a roof of colorful shelter of the dharma we are all held within.

Staying home for now is your colorful shelter. Make it into a personal temple, yoga studio and culinary haven for the wellbeing of the collective of which you are a part. These devotional boundaries can be your gestures of choosing love over fear.

Our conscience is the direct result of our connection to the consciousness that we’ve built daily over a long period of time. We are going to have to really navigate our internal compass towards the point of all of this. To not do so could be disappointing when others’ wellbeing, safety, feelings or health are at stake.

I’ve found myself saying “I can do whatever I want” quite a bit recently before this virus turned pandemic, yet I meant it from my Higher Self’s view, not a careless one. As a free spirit, I do care, and I do want to be mindful of implementing the personal boundaries necessary to benefit the freedom of us all.

“Desperation and the belief in helplessness destroys one’s courage. There is no greater enemy than despair. The Ramayana

Without an accountable commitment to our health and an internal value system from which to navigate our conscience from, the results will be harmful (himsa). The ego often lowers our standards as it can’t see the big picture.

“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.” –Brene Brown

Developing our worth and sense of self is a vital part to our id structural model of the psyche’s evolution. The ego loves to be individual, and it can also be sneaky, having little consideration to how one’s choices affect others. This is an opportunity to see that we are a collective and this is a collaboration.

If we use this event productively, this can be an opportunity to experience Oneness, even at a temporary distance, on a scale we might not have yet. The understanding of “them” and “us” is indeed disappearing.

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Abraham Lincoln

The greatest of all sicknesses is the sickness of “I ,me , mine.” Never underestimate the power of “us, we, our.” When “I” turns to “we,” illness turns to wellness.

I do believe we are looking for environments and beings we can trust. A psychotherapist, doctor, lawyer or yoga teacher all must live in boundary to integrate freedom. Without it, their roles could be confusing or dangerous. We want our doctors healthy, our psychotherapists mentally stable, lawyers to live by the law and our yoga teachers ethical. It exemplifies they are living their practice. Health, client confidentiality, refraining from sexual advances, and being clear are crucial in those cases. You are also a community member of the planet. For now, as much as we will miss you, build your church and your yoga studio in your home.

If we think we believe something is happening and it ends up being something else entirely, its foundation is adharma. It’s like playing soccer while hockey is taking place. It’s shaky and confusing. It’s not really all that enjoyable for the players and someone more than likely is going to get hurt.

“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.” -Brene Brown

Ram Dass spoke about dharma and the Ramayana often. He noted there is a difference between binding, which comes from the ego, represented by Ravana, who did whatever he wanted, and boundaries, which leads to boundlessness, represented in the love of Sita and Ram. The devotional leaps of Hanuman, who had a desire to be honorable and noble, represent us disciplining our character back to loving awareness.

Like building a bridge one stone at a time as in the Ramayana, or ritualistic art in a small Balinese village, each act affects the whole. Social distancing and businesses shutting down for now, all heartbreaking, are also our gestures of our labor of love and our uncomfortable leaps of faith in upholding the dharma. A pandemic is a global collaboration, as will be its dismantling as stewards and co-creators.

Update yourself each day, and then put the news away. When we say “no” to something and mean it, we have said “yes” to many other things, often initially unknown, yet backed by a spacious power. Leaping into the unknown requires faith, which comes from discipline, courage and strength. This type of faith is far from careless, timid or gullible. It’s fierce.

It is all clearly unknown right now. It always has been, yet, like space, there is certainty within it. Even the structure of the earth as our platform from which to launch and gravity too is an unspoken boundary that provides life affirming safety. When the Universe says yes, or no, it means it.

Swami Sivananda states that we must “adapt, adjust and accommodate.”

In the Ramayana, it is dharma, also known as purpose, which brings the humans and animals back together again in the Ramayana to build a bridge to co-exist. The pandemic is building a bridge. Rich, poor, marginalized or privileged, we are in this together.

We often feel like victims to our experiences when space is not held well and is violated. Tactics and strategy were applied by Hanuman’s army. We are Hanuman’s army.

Upholding dharma is not black or white. Life is fluid. At this time, the rules are changing daily. Listen to your Higher Self and your role of civic duty. What is the “right” thing to do, as a noble community member, even when there is hype that could lower your hope. It is when things get difficult that your boundaries and ethics will get tested.

Take aim as to what truly matters. Have you noticed that some things just don’t matter to you at all anymore? Settle for nothing less. For the sake of us all, aim high, keep faith.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We still stand with you, and together, we take daily leaps of faith.
Jai Hanuman! Swan Michelle

For more reference to ideas to boost your immune system through Ayurveda, please read my article Collective Health and Social Sickness


Teacher Tools

Hanuman is related to the greatest of all leaps of total faith as he jumped to Shri Lanka to save Sita, the life force of the Universe.

Hanuman is exemplified often in the West as playful. Remember too the Balinese version of Hanuman. He is a fierce protector, exemplifying strength and tactic as the ruler of an intelligent army.

This month, offer variations and all of the creative modifications for  Hanumanasana, Anjanayasana and low lunges in the middle of the room, with blocks, bolsters or the wall.

Standing Hanumanasana at the wall to handstand and switch legs.

L-Shape handstand with 1 leg off wall = Adho Mukha Vrksasana in Hanumanasana

A great apex is Eka Pada Vashistasana to Hanumanasana back to Eka Pada Vashistasan

Introduce the reciprocal play required in the balance of space in the body and what space feels like with firm boundaries when in alignment, active discipline and inner strength. Props can also support a felt sense of boundaries as well.

Rams bow arm mudra standing, in low or high lunge or seated in Vajrasana

Kundalini exercise: Arms spread wide open and straight, held 2-5 minutes, spacious like the sky

Meditation: clearly the most direct access to self-reference our ethics, codes and meanings to life of all others, yet. Encourage the students to dial into themselves and what matters to them every class and every morning.

Note on the Global Virus;

If you mention this, do so in a clear, pro-active and positive way. Many students may be currently worried. Empower them to keep clear boundaries, be it they watch less news, or drink fresh alkaline immune boosting juices, or meditate, each day, to remain positive and healthy, without being naive to the reality.

Shraddha; Faith

Tanmatras: 5 Sensory organs of perception

Space: Akasha

Privtthi: Earth

Dharma; Code of ethics

Leap Year


I suggest reading The Ramayana, especially discussing how the bridge was built. Truly, this focus is a Bhakti focus, as Bhakti does speak about discernment, duty and disciple quite a bit!

Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown

Rising Strong by Brene Brown


Shri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram

I am Loving Awareness

Hanuman Chalisa


“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.” Brene Brown “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Know the rules well so you can break them effectively.” HH The Dalai Lama

“The heart is like a mirror. When we dust it off, we are able to see ourselves. The dust is all our stuff – guilt, anger – this stuff is reflected back to us. Practice removes the dust from the mirror of our hearts.”   Krishna Das

“Letting go does not mean pushing away or negating thoughts or feelings that come to us – but instead being with the feeling. We start to feel that we are no longer victims of the stuff that happens to us. There is something we can do about it… if we just take a look at it.” Krishna Das

“I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion and where it is not, that is where my work lies.” Ram Dass

“The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can’t be organized or regulated. It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path. Listen to your own truth.”  Ram Dass

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” Brene Brown

“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.” Brene Brown

Valmiki declared, “Holy One, I wonder if any man born into the world was blessed with all the virtues by your Father in heaven.Tell me what the virtues are, and I will tell you the man who has them.” The Ramayana

“One who is haughty, who does not know whether what he does is right or wrong and who has taken to the wrong path is to be disciplined even if he is guru, parent or an elder in age or learning.” Chapter 2 Ramayana

“Desperation and the belief in helplessness destroys ones courage.  There is no greater enemy than despair. Chapter 2 The Ramayana

Notes from a personal lecture in Maui that Ram Dass shared with us are: 

  1. Pity/Sympathy: When boundaries have been so severely and indecently broken, we later create giant walls, not bridges, between ourselves and others as though the one we pity, even if it be ourselves, were separate in some way.
  2. Empathy: Empathy, not sympathy, is a one on one experience of boundlessness that comes from having personal ethic, tactic, and scrutiny in boundary as part of a genuine desire to be boundless, similar to how Hanuman was with Sita. It’s a true leap of faith to be able to reach into the heart and body of another, yet that leap’s capacity took daily discipline, strength and devotion, along with some strategizing.
  3. Compassion/Karuna/Seva: This is a very advanced step. It includes all beings, like the army of Hanuman helping Lord Ram in the Ramayana. Compassion has a sense of Universal dharma, commitment, value and deep concern for all others, not just certain ones, like our families or ego groups. The power of it comes from loving awareness. It is Universal.

Playlists for Swan River Flow Class:

Space is the Place by Sun Ra

Hanuman Chalisa Nina Rao

Ram’s Prema Hara by Krishna Das

OM Namo Gurudev Neem Karoli Baba by Krishna Das

I am Loving Awareness by Swan Michelle and the Swans

Got To Be True To Myself by Ziggy Marley

Jump By Van Halen


“We are nature. Nature is Love.” Ram Dass
“Love everything that you are aware of.” Ram Dass

Jai Hanuman!


April 2020