A Moment To Reflect

E B - Bram photo cover HIRES CC 06409With the intention of NOT making this post too lengthy, I feel that it would be irresponsible of me to not take a moment to acknowledge this past year and how pivotal it has been for my journey. I have the tendency of constantly focusing on the present moment and my future plans and projects, and so I felt like today, the last day of 2015, would be a great time to look back.

This past year was replete with travels. From England to the USA, from Italy to Greece, with a few trips to Toronto as well. The yoga vacations continued and evolved, bringing some familiar faces back together while introducing new ones into our roaming family of seekers.

My second literary labour of love was born just six weeks ago and is already almost sold out of its first printing, and there are some pretty impressive moments related to A Year In The Light: Daily Spiritual Life Hacks, Intentions & Reminders yet to come. The social media campaign created by the readers, in the same vein as the one begun years ago for The Examined Life, took off and keeps on keeping on, which makes me happier than I can say.

I let go of the morning television spots I have been doing for over two years on Breakfast Television Montreal, as I do with anything that I feel my time with has run its course.

And, of course, the teaching. 2015 has seen more workshops and yoga teacher trainings occur, giving me the honour of being able to facilitate the spiritual journeys of more and more people, an honour I take more seriously than I could ever express. The great news is that I will be on the faculties of two more yoga teacher trainings in 2016 at Energie EnCorps as well as at Jazz Yoga. Adding these to the Luna Yoga, Happy Tree Yoga and M.Power Yoga trainings I am already a faculty member of allows me to reach markets in Town of Mount Royal and the West Island, and I am grateful to be invited to do what I do in these areas. 2015 also saw me join the faculty of the Toronto Yoga Conference and Show, and I am happy to say that I will be back in 2016 for more of the goodness that the event offers.

I can also say that this past year has been instrumental in teaching me about life and death and the role of the seeker to pursue beauty and light, especially in the darkest hours. I feel more spiritually aware and anchored than I have ever been, and I know that this process of unfurling into deeper layers of awareness is occurring even as these words spill out.

With all that said, here’s the bottom line: I sleep at night. I work hard. I continue to learn how tricky it can be to balance work and non-work time, and can say that I have never been happier. I set my intention to be of service to as many people as possible and know that there are dazzlingly brilliant moments lying ahead for us all as long as we understand that the meaning of life is to be here for each other.

I hoped to not write too much for this post. I could go on, trust me. But I’ll wrap it up with gratitude: thank you. To every one of you who reads my words, comes to my classes, lectures, workshops, book launches, retreats and who supports my efforts with an encouraging smile or thought. To those who have created the physical spaces for me to bring my offerings to, to those who have come forward as retailers for my books, to those who believe in me when my own belief in myself wavers slightly. Thank you.

This journey is magnificent in all its blessings, its chaos, its murmurs and its subtleties. And while the words escape me to convey just how grateful I am to be witness to this spiritual pilgrimage/trek/journey that I have only read about and seen in films, trust me when I write that I will communicate every step of the path as it occurs to remind the world of the expansiveness of the possibilities that lie in wait for those of us pursuing light.

Happy 2016 to you all, and I mean that with every fiber of my being. Be well, be happy, be peaceful and be kind. Here’s to the coming year in the light!

My Two Cents

As we creep closer and closer to another calendar year, I’ve been noticing more and more videos, social media and blog posts, webinars and courses on goal-setting as a way to profit from the New Year’s Resolution craze. Personally, I believe that New Year’s resolutions are ineffective and their own form of self-hate, as they typically come about by looking at some aspect of ourselves that we dislike and then vowing to change that aspect by committing to a practice that is not healthy, beneficial or respectful of who we truly are and how we operate in our own lives. I believe that we force ourselves to suffer by trying to tweak that thing that we think is a problem, and from what I’m seeing, there are tons of people ready to not only reinforce that there is something wrong, but that the only way to deal with it is to adhere to some unrealistic regimen.

If you want to take advantage of a new year to create a healthy habit, then work with intention. Set your intention to be loving and kind throughout 2016, especially when you feel pulled into anger or impatience or disregard. Set your intention every day to be loving and kind. Start with yourself and then redirect that lovingkindess outwards with no specific direction. It will land where it is meant to in ways that are unknown and unpredictable. Stop instigating change by using criticism, fear and judgement as catalysts and understand that love takes care of it all. Start there.

The Greatest Terrorist of All

We should know better.

As the privileged few on this planet to have our comforts and freedoms. As the surviving few of our lineages. Regardless of our gender, skin colour or religious background, every single one of us, at some point on the historical spectrum, comes from a lineage of persecution. Every single one of us has been the hated, the exiled, the beaten, the rejected, the refused and the despised. Every single one of us knows what it means to be made to feel inferior and excluded. And yet some amongst us still feel the need to perpetuate the cycle of hate that was unleashed on our relatives and ancestors at some point by their oppressors. Some amongst us would prefer to be the new face of oppression instead of deal with their own fears concerning cultures and religions they know nothing about. Some amongst us would prefer to hoard what they consider “theirs” instead of sharing it. Some would prefer to believe that to deny others an iota of kindness is to ensure that their “theirs” will not get stolen by those they fear.

Every single one of you, but for the grace of whatever you understand God to be, could be fleeing tyranny, walking across countries in pursuit of what we take for granted. But you’re not. You’re warm and fed, reading these words. Which means that you have a responsibility to do something to help your fellow humans. This “Muslim problem”, this “refugee issue” is neither about Muslims or refugees. It is about human beings suffering and operating from the instinctual drive to survive. This is your problem, your issue. It is our problem, our issue.

We are given the opportunity to be kind, benevolent and merciful throughout key moments in our lifetime. See this as a sort of spiritual social experiment to see if we have learned anything over the past couple of thousand years. See if we’re really ready to put our efforts where our big mouths are by not letting history repeat itself. Let’s do history, and ourselves, a favour and get our collective head out of our behind and change the record. Let’s help those coming to our “civilized” countries with our material possessions, our money, our time and our energy to make sure that they can settle and get back to taking care of each other so they can process and grieve for what they have had to lose and endure throughout this horror show we see as happening “over there.”

As I wrote in A Year In The Light, what happens to one of us happens to all of us. So let’s do our damndest to ensure that we all have access to happiness, freedom and well being. The fear that is keeping us from doing so will prove to be the greatest terrorist we suffer in our lifetimes, one of our own doing.

The Disservice of Love

Language, while being the primary mode of communication that allows us to interact with each other, occasionally fails us. With countless adjectives to describe ourselves, each other and the world around us, we have the ability to precisely construct the conveyance of our realities. But when it comes to love, flaws in the potency and effectiveness of language become more obvious the same way well-worn areas of a favourite sweater begin to thin out with time.

When we love a newborn child, there is an element of awe, of wonder, of almost touching the miracle that is the embodied soul in human form. There is also an element of protection, the instinctual need to fend for and defend the defenceless of the species. There is a warmth that is enhanced by all the soft, fuzzy fabrics we ache to swathe newborns in, a warmth that is palpable within seconds of holding an infant close.

When we love our parents or guardians (assuming they have loved and provided for us), there is an element of reliance, of dependence, of knowing the stability of those who will always swoop in and save us when we lose our way. There is also an element of kinship, of tribe, of belonging through bloodline that no friendship or relationship could ever provide. There is safety, and because of it, there is gratitude in its purest, rawest form.

When we love another passionately, there is desire, there is physical attraction that draws us to them like a magnet finding its home surface. There is an animalistic urge to remove any and all barriers: from protective defence mechanisms to layers of clothing, we ache to strip ourselves bare. There is the need to be vulnerable and visible and to connect with them in a way that transcends the physical and allows us to graze the spiritual realm in a heaving mass of unity.

When we love a material possession, there is a need that is met through claiming proprietary rights over an object that pleases us on a sensory level. There is a sense of validation that comes from owning something we admire. We viscerally, and often unconsciously, believe that we become more worthy of admiration when our belongings are desirable in our esteem.

When we love art, there is a poignance that is elicited that wells up and reminds us of the heart-wrenching beauty and fragility that this life is illuminated, and often shattered, by. Moments in time are immortalized for us as we race through our routines leaving trails of energy behind us, but with few memories of where we’ve been or who we were with. We find breathing space and heart triggers when we admire art, and the most beautiful aspect of what we refer to as the ego emerges, blossoming until tears spring from our eyes and our lung capacity seems to grow with every intake of oxygen.

When we love the fallen, the injured, the damaged and the oppressed, we revert back to energetic beings that thrive on cooperation and collaboration. We want to give unconditionally, knowing in the recesses of our memory that to give to those in need is to give to ourselves. We find purpose, meaning and fulfillment when we extend ourselves for the happiness, well-being and freedom of others, which brings us closer to the union we crave in a world of missed connections.

In all these cases, we love. But how can one word apply to so many cases? Why does, “I love you” not even begin to describe the sensations and emotions we embody that remind us what it means to be alive? How is it even possible that the same word we use to describe the most meaningful of human connections gets used and debased and diminished until we are using it to describe how we feel about a meal or TV show or a new pair of shoes?

There should be more than one word for love. But there really isn’t. Words will never be able to describe the sensation of the energy of love in all its forms, triggers and destinations. The best we can do is live the word, in all its definitions. Embody it. Breathe it. Ooze it and live it.

The best we can do is live love. To do anything else is a life wasted.

When Words Fail…

I am home after spending the past twenty-four hours promoting the launch of my new book A Year In The Light: Daily Spiritual Life Hacks, Intentions & Reminders. I am flabbergasted and humbled by this whole experience. The reaction has been nothing less than extraordinary. It is often said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but I believe that to give one’s time is the most sincere form of flattery, and hundreds of you did just that to support me and the launch of this work. Thank you for showing up, literally. Thank you for showering me with beautifully kind words and appreciation of what I devote my life to. To those of you who gave me the spaces to promote the book and give the readings and the signings, I will never be able to fully communicate my gratitude. And to the crew at Indigo Bookstore in downtown Montreal, know that you have been instrumental in creating a moment for me where I felt legitimized as an author by encouraging me to do the book signing today.

Thank you. Without you all, I’m nothing. Everything I do in my career and my spiritual life is an offering, and you all made it abundantly clear that you are all there to receive that offering. I couldn’t do it without you. I hope these words convey a fraction of what I’m feeling. CTzr9EbW4AAR6yv (2)Thank you.

If You Remember One Thing…

The reason some get a thrill out of extreme sports is the same reason why some love exercising or binge-watching television or spending money or drinking alcohol or practicing yoga or getting a massage or ingesting drugs or hanging out with friends or meditating or eating or listening to music or having sex or doing whatever it is that brings them contentment. The elation they feel is the result of releasing the contractions or tensions they have absorbed in the body through the pairing of their thoughts with the events they encounter in their lives. We seek relief and release so that we can let the tensions that have landed in the body as contractions dissolve. This allows our musculature to de-contract, to relax, thereby permitting our breathing to deepen and our mind to stop obsessing over all the details typically keep us busily distracted. These outlets let us breathe deeper than we typically do, which brings about the sensations of ease and peace. When discussing the topic of smoking cigarettes with students recently, a few students who had been smokers told me that they loved their cigarette breaks so much because it was in these breaks that they had the opportunity to intentionally take deep breaths as they inhaled and exhaled. They loved smoking because they breathed deeply.

There will be tension relievers that will be productive and those that will be harmful. There will be those that will carry us safely to a place of well being and others that will have repercussions that would be better anticipated than faced. Remember this: that which brings you release which allows you to breathe deeper does not have to be what instigates your relaxing. You can instigate your relaxing. You can intentionally remember to breathe deeply when tension overwhelms, when situations spin out of control and when your fears and insecurities start to distort your understanding of what really is. If you remember one thing, let it be that breathing deeply when things go any way but the way you hoped will save your life. It will keep you in reaction, perspective and clarity. Simply by breathing deeply.

Give it a try. You will see what I’m talking about sooner than you think.

Falling Free

IMG_6787I’ve been back from Greece for almost two weeks and one moment stands out in my memory more than others. All the students had left the island and Stephane and I were lying down in the sand dunes on a beach after spending the morning editing my upcoming book. We spent hours there soaking up the heat, going to cool off in the crystal blue waters of the Aegean sea and then coming back to our towels to simply laze around. It had been years since I had lounged around like that and it was wonderful. Once the sun started to descend and the lighting became more of a soft glow on the sand and the sea, we packed up our stuff and started walking back to our car. I was almost overcome by the feeling of fullness, of completeness, of being so, so grateful to be alive to experience this feeling of being alive. I told Stephane how lucky we were, and he replied by saying how we may be lucky to have bodies that are healthy and functional and to live in a part of the world where democracy and freedom reign, but that the rest of it was up to us. He reminded me that all the decisions I make in my life, the ones I make for how I will create space for my students at home and abroad as well as the ones I make that are in keeping with how I want my life to be, have nothing to do with luck. They have to do with intention, hard work, perseverance and a stubbornness to never settle for anything less than exactly what I envision.

I believe that everyone should be living the life they dream of. I believe that every one of us should be making decisions that bring us to a place where we are so grateful to be alive and to experience the wonder and the greatness that is available to those of us who are lucky enough to have food, shelter, health and freedom. Everything I do in my career is intended to facilitate the journey towards living those moments for all of you who read my words, hear me lecture, take my classes & workshops and follow me around the world for our yoga vacations.

Pursue your joy. At every opportunity. Live those moments that leave you vibrating with vitality, gratitude and wonder. A life not lived in joy is a life that will potentially end in bitterness, resentment and regret. That is not how we are meant to live. Pursue your joy and don’t settle for anything less.

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