In the Jim Henson film masterpiece, The Dark Crystal, the Gelflings were coveted for their life essence. Within each of us is this essence, our spiritual life force, representing our best selves. In the modern world of 24 / 7 access to communication, its corresponding noise — both mental and physical — and omnipresent electromagnetic pollution, how do you quiet the clamoring world to remember who you truly are, and remain connected to your essence?
The answer for me is meditation. That can be as simple as a mindful breath in the midst of a meeting, a quiet morning or evening of reflection on my own at home, a meditative walk in the outdoors with family and friends, or one of the many centering meditation classes at Mystic Journey in Venice, California.
During the past month and a half, while I’ve juggled starting a new job with life and personal responsibilities, I’ve known in my spirit that I need to keep my perspective clear while I navigate in new worlds.
A perfectly timed theme that has come up from many different meditation and mindfulness teachers at Mystic Journey is separating who we are, and what our thoughts are, from the noise that comes in from the rest of the world.
In Be Solomon’s recent Mindful Equilibrium Meditation class, which she teaches on Mondays at 6 p.m., she spoke about this specifically — of how the omnipresence and algorithms of social media interactions and newsfeeds change how our brains function, ultimately making us less mindful and present.
Positive change can happen in any moment of our day, and by evolving any of our daily rituals. As recently as a few months ago, the first thing I would do when I woke up would be to reach for my phone and start scrolling through text messages and seven different email inboxes. I then realized that starting my thoughts so abruptly like that was unnaturally raising my cortisol, which, in its own flow, will naturally rise and peak a few hours after you wake up.
I made a conscientious decision from then on, that from the time that I wake up, I give myself a quiet space to attune to my own thoughts, reflect on whatever dreams I might have had during my sleep, have my protein shake and vitamins, and get myself dressed for the day. Only then, once I am centered in my own essence, do I open my phone to begin sussing the texts and email inboxes. I also stay off of social media until the afternoon unless there is a business need to go in.
Since Mystic Journey opened this summer, I have been attending a wide range of meditation and yoga classes. One that has remained a personal favorite, is Serah D’Laine’s class, Metamorphosis Visualization Meditation, on Saturdays and Sundays at noon. In every way, Serah reminds me of a goddess from Ancient Egypt. Her soothing, clear energy, and the pure space she creates during her guided meditation sessions, using Egyptian geometry to transform Mystic Journey’s Great Hall, is a feeling I strive to keep with me, even as I flow through the busy outer world of city life in Los Angeles.
Serah also openly speaks about separating what is you, what your thoughts are, and who you are, from the electromagnetic pollution throughout the modern world. Perhaps more than anyone I have ever met, Serah keeps her own energy field clear of electromagnetic pollution. She’s incredibly generous about sharing how she accomplishes this on a daily basis. If you have questions, Serah is always present in the lobby of Mystic Journey ahead of her class starting, to be able to speak with people.
For weeks, I’d been intending to try Darren Becket’s class, Qigong With Aromatherapy, on Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m. I finally had a window in my schedule and was excited to try Qigong, a 2,000 year old mindbody technique. Like Serah, Darren keeps a wonderfully pure energy field within and around himself. Being in his presence is instantly calming and peaceful, and it made me smile when, at the beginning of his class, when he invites everyone to put on essential oils from his aromatherapy kit, he handed me a bottle saying to be Present. I put a few drops on my wrists, inhaled, and was.
During his one hour class, Darren led us through 15 gentle, whispering feeling Qigong movements, that felt like dancing in nature. He carefully noted how everyone in the class was doing at all times, giving us guidance to remember our breathwork, and posture, while flowing with the exercises. The joyfulness of the space Darren created made me laugh in the best way, in the carefree way that children do while on a playground, in group exercise, surrounded by friends.
For the guided meditation, Darren also spoke about the practical application of spirituality integrated into the rest of life, including business and work. He also spoke of separating ourselves and who we know ourselves to be, from what others are thinking and doing so that we can remain in a clear space.
I found the synchronicities fascinating: that this theme would come up so many times, within quick succession, from different teachers, exactly at the time that I am being as mindful as possible about it.
My personal spiritual views are universal, and encompass teachings from many global cultures. In Hebrew, there is the phrase, tikkun olam, to repair the world through acts of kindness. It is one of the core principles I have lived by since childhood, and which is universal in its reach across all faiths.
We first repair the world by repairing ourselves. When our own personal cups are running over with abundance, then we can give to others from a whole, joyful and generous space. That is the essence of life.
Leah Lau is Marketing Communications professional, Editor, Photographer, Costume Designer, Intuitive, Yogi and Palm Reader. She is a creative visionary with farreaching professional experience as a Director of Communications and Editor for fields as diverse as Fortune 500 companies, corporate philanthropy, nonprofits, and government. Her life’s work is dedicated to making the world more positive and equitable: For more than 20 years, she has been spearheading community advocacy at the local, national and international levels, with a focus on education, the arts, and health care.
With her lifelong dedication to philanthropic work and the arts, Leah has immersed in her communities locally, nationally, and internationally. She founded the Cambodian Children's Book Project benefiting the ELMA School in Sambour, Cambodia, building up their library collection and global roster of volunteers from 2008 – 2010. She was a Board Member for the UCSF Alliance Health Project from 2005 – 2012, where she also served in leadership roles for Art for AIDS, the largest charity art auction in San Francisco, as the Art Installation Chair, a Juror, a Planning Committee Member, and a contributing artist. Leah was honored to be an Official Photographer for the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015; was a Photographer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America from 2011 – 2016, including for their annual report; and was a Photographer for Daraja Academy, a girls’ school, near Nanyuki, Kenya. In her native San Francisco, Leah had a series of solo photography exhibits from 1998 – 2004, and exhibited her fine art photography in group shows from 2002 – 2012.
Leah has a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature from the University of Chicago. Through coursework at UChicago, UC Berkeley, and UCLA, she minored in Spanish, and also concentrated in Psychology, Art History, Political Science, Gender Studies, and Latin American Studies. She loves to learn new languages and also speaks conversational Italian, French, and Mandarin Chinese. An avid traveler, Leah spent a decade doing a series of solo international expeditions to wilderness at the edges of the earth, exploring all seven continents. She fulfilled a lifelong dream by completing a round-the-world trip in 45 days in 2013.