A Friendly Reminder

Just a quick word to remind us all that the only thing we are not being encouraged to do in life is to take care of each other. We are encouraged to wear a mask, distance ourselves physically while psychologically internalizing the effects of the term “social distancing”, see each other as potentially fatal and stay alive and well. And yet nowhere in all of this have we been encouraged to take care of each other. At no time before all of this were we encouraged to do so.

I believe that giving a shit about each other, listening to each other, caring for each other, agreeing to disagree with each other, supporting each other and simply recognizing that we’re all doing our best to navigate the fuckwittery of being human is the missing link. It’s what would dismantle all of the systems that have had us in competition with each other for so long, and would allow us to actually learn about each other in ways that our bullshit social media posts never convey.

Try taking care of someone once you’ve read these words. Give your time, hold some space, give a shit about someone else’s well-being. What you’ll find is that in doing so, you’ll end up feeling better in your own experience of life. And really consider how this world would be a different place if we were encouraged, conditioned, taught to actually take care of each other.

Lessons On The Path Forward

What’s truly fascinating about this entire experience is that in the efforts to find our way back to “normal”, the Canadian government is shedding light on fault lines that I’ve always been aware of in our society.

We go to school and educate ourselves, ramming information into our brain, spending sleepless nights studying, putting our nervous system through the minefield of exams, only to get a piece of paper that qualifies us to get a job that then requires us to spend inane amounts of time in traffic to get to and from work. We do our best to live up to the career standard of working as much as possible, including waking up earlier than our bodies need, going to work when we are ill and should actually be resting, getting home from work a few hours before we need to get to sleep so we can wake up early the following day to do it all over again.

We look forward to Friday evening.
We look forward to the vacation that, when it arrives, our nervous system recognizes as the perfect time to finally let go of “fight mode”, and the body gets sick and demands the rest it needed all the while.
We look forward to promotion so we can get the ever-elusive pat on the back that allows us to feast on scraps and have a reason to keep the charade going.
We look forward to retirement, when we don’t have to spin why we do all this into a reason we can be at peace with. And hopefully we don’t drop dead of a heart attack soon after.
We save for a rainy day. And hopefully we don’t drop dead of a heart attack soon after.

Four-day work weeks. 10 paid sick days per person annually. There will be more discussion as to how we can have the economy run efficiently while keeping people healthy in the process..and I guarantee you that the economy will suffer, and it’s about fucking time it did. The priority should not be how valuable one nation’s currency is in comparison to any other country’s, in fact our notion of currency itself should be reexamined and redefined. This experience has proven to us that the economy is more fragile than anyone dared to fear, and it’s the last thing we should be putting importance on.

The health of a population comes down to their physical and mental well-being. Period. Full stop. This universal truth, however, has been inversely proportional to what governments, politicians and economists have considered valuable. Invest in your people and you invest in the health of your nation, your company, your family, your community. Why is this so revolutionary?

The future I expect to see:

When you feel ill, you are encouraged to stay home. Finally.

When you want to take a break from work to, as is said in our Québécois French, “penser à autre chose” (think of something else) or “changer les idées” (change the thoughts/ideas), you will have the freedom and time to because you will most likely be working remotely, or your company will recognize the mood-fatigue-stress-immune system correlations. Finally.

When you want or need a day off of work because your body needs to rest and relax, you will get paid for that day. Finally.

And by the way, for those of you who end up working for people and companies who aren’t learning the big lessons from this experience and get grief for prioritizing your health going forward? Find a new job. Ditch the bitch and make the switch. Survival of the fittest will be the greatest judge of a company’s longevity now, and being corporately fit will be directly related to the wellness of the employees. Take the leap you’ve suspected needed to be taken all this time and stop wasting time with people and employers who you’ve been so loyal to for so long, but who couldn’t give the slightest shit about you and your well-being.

It only took a global pandemic. Use it as the wake-up call that it is. Today.

The Anti-Newsletter

I’m not a fan of newsletters. I used MailChimp ages ago and felt like shit every time I sent out the latest info because I knew that most people, like me, resent getting emails they didn’t sign up for and just delete them without engagement.

This morning I considered sending out a one-off newsletter. I wanted one go-to reference for people to know when and how they can find what I’m putting out into the zeitgeist, and because people have been asking me how they can arrange for birthday/bachelorette/private classes. I decided that I still don’t want to do the newsletter thing. So instead of going that route, I’m putting this post up here now. Consider it your Bram Levinson newsletter 🙂

Weekly Yoga Classes via Luna Yoga
Thursday, 18h-19h30
Saturday, 11h-12h30

Weekly Yoga Nidra Meditation Classes
Friday, 17h30-18h10
Sunday, 17h30-18h10

Private Yoga and/or Meditation Classes
(special events or weekly)
Via Zoom, Skype, Messenger, FaceTime or WhatsApp by appointment

Private Group Yoga and/or Meditation Classes (special events or weekly)
Via Zoom, Skype, Messenger, FaceTime or WhatsApp by appointment

Private Mindset Coaching
Via Zoom, Skype, Messenger, FaceTime or WhatsApp by appointment or through CrossFit Westmount

Yoga, Meditation & Reaffirmation Workshop with Luna Yoga – Sunday, June 14 14h-16h
Register here: http://www.lunayoga.ca/events/yoga-meditation-and-reaffirmation-with-bram-levinson

…and don’t forget The Examined Life with Bram Levinson Podcast being updated constantly 🙂

Feel free to reach out for any further details or requests!

Forced Perspective

This is an old meme made about five or six years ago that I stumbled upon this morning, and its relevance speaks volumes in this current situation. There’s a quote from Sadhguru that always puts things into perspective for me, “If your stomach is empty, there’s only one issue – food. But once the stomach becomes full, you have a hundred issues going on.”

We have always had abundance. We have never known scarcity or having to do anything other than what we were privileged to do. And in those times, we had hundreds of issues. The “shoulds” were sometimes crippling. I should making more money. I should be taller. I should be prettier. My hair, my clothes, my house, my body, my intelligence, etc… We have obsessed over what we were not and let that overshadow the miracles of what we are.

In times like this we are FORCED into perspective. We have one issue now, to circle back to Sadhguru: food. Survival. Live through this. And so, consider that there was never really anything wrong. Consider that you were perfect, as you were, as you are, as you will be.

Stop treating yourself the way you don’t want to be treated. Recognize the blessings. And recognize how fortunate you have always been to be worrying about the stupid shit.

Peace to us all! 🙏🏼

Storyteller – One Night Only Live At The Rialto

I am thrilled to announce that almost three years to the day,  and for the second time in my career, I will be returning to the stage at the legendary Rialto Theatre in Montreal’s Mile End to present my new show, Storyteller. In equal parts comedy, tragedy, inspiration, and soul-baring tales, Storyteller offers hard-earned insight into the journey of life and the perspective necessary to make sense of it all, with words and images spanning the better part of the last century.  Don’t miss this special evening at the beautiful Rialto, it’ll be a night to remember.

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/storyteller-one-night-only-with-bram-levinson-tickets-97630847493

Recognize.

A year ago to the week I was trying to get over the flu that was going around the city like wildfire. I could not remember being that sick ever. I found myself curled up on the sofa amazed at how much energy it took to get through one breath, honestly. It was an exercise in witnessing how much illness was present, as well as a reminder to be grateful for the knowledge that I would recover. I recognized that I was healthy, fit and would bounce back from the depth of how sick I was in the moment, and I also recognized that many people suffering illnesses and ailments do so chronically. I may have been fetal and trying to just breathe, but I was fully aware of how fortunate I was.

One year later I can be out in this extreme -30 degree cold and breathe. I can inhale without it hurting. I can be outside without having four layers of fabric covering my nostrils and mouth to take the biting sting out of the cold air before it fills up my lungs. I am so aware of my health, especially when I circle back to last year’s flu, and I am really, really grateful.

I went to the gym this morning and had an incredible workout. I saw a client for a mentoring session. I went to the osteopath for my monthly session and experienced her brilliance as she brought my body closer back to default settings. I saw friends and gave them a yoga class. I came home and made a delicious dinner that was healthy and warming on this frigid evening.

I am so grateful for the life I have. The life I have, in part, made happen with the decisions I have made for myself and the aspects of it that I had nothing to do with, that I didn’t earn but that ended up facilitating the degree of comfort and contentment I experience. I am aware of the privileges I have been afforded, and I am aware of how hard I have fought for the life that only I could have provided for myself.

All this to say that I’m grateful. To be healthy. To be warm. To be comfortable. To be fed. There are many who are not, and I truly believe that we are all potentially closer to the possibility of illness, homelessness, discomfort and hunger than we are to the riches and wealth that we believe our creature comforts will lead to, the ones we take for granted so unknowingly.

If you have muchness in your life tonight, be aware of it, and be grateful. We lose this gratitude for the basics and for the simple things when we take it all for granted, when we expect everything to fall into place, when we feel entitled to abundance. We are not entitled to any of it. We are blessed if we have it, and we work to maintain it and add to it if possible.

Know what you have and be grateful. I am.

The Lesson of Less

A few days home after getting back from the Yoga & Meditation City Break in Rome, and a few insights have landed hard. Ten years ago I set a goal to hold three trips per year. I did that in 2019 and what I discovered is that the idea of it was wonderful, the reality incredibly demanding and depleting. I loved giving these trips, don’t get me wrong, because with every trip I plan and execute, I aim to give people memories they will always look back on lovingly, and the feedback I get has shown me that that aim has been realized. But when I give these trips, I am “on”, 24/7, and hold myself accountable for every aspect of the trip and everyone’s experience while on it. This may be unrealistic, holding myself accountable to an unfair standard, but my work ethic is what it is.

That goal in 2009 of having three trips a year needed to be realized for me to learn that it was not sustainable, and so going forward I will be holding two trips a year as I have been doing up to 2019.

The next Yoga & Meditation Vacation will be the annual trip to Paros in Greece, September 5-15. MANY of you have told me that you intend to attend, and as of today, January 11, 7 out of 10 rooms are taken, which leaves 3 rooms available. Priority will go to those who make their $500 non-refundable deposit either through the link at https://bramlevinson.com/retreats/ or via Interac e-transfer to my email address.

My passion to share the blessings and insights that only travel can bring has not dimmed, trust me. If anything, I know better how to harness what needs to be harnessed for it to take shape and be made manifest in its most perfect iteration. Going easier on myself, not pushing myself to do or be more than is necessary, is one of the greatest lessons I have learned in recent years. The work speaks for itself, and hopefully, so does my example.

🙏🏼❤️

Η Σοφία (The Wisdom) Sutras

In a previous episode of The Examined Life with Bram Levinson Podcast I read out a list of musings I had written down and compiled years ago, musings that I felt were helpful to keep in mind when navigating life. For lack of a better title, I quickly (and flippantly) names the list the Brama Sutras, not really expecting it to ever find its way to the general public. That obviously happened when I decided to read it for an episode of the podcast, and since I did, many of you have asked for the list written out, so voilà!

I have retitled the list Η Σοφία Sutras, as Η Σοφία (The Sofia) translates to “The Wisdom” from Greek to English, and it was in Greece where I felt compelled to share that piece of writing. The word “Sutra” means “thread” in Sanskrit, and so these are the threads of wisdom that, when woven together, can form a fabric of wisdom to keep in mind when navigating life.

Here they are, exactly as they were read for the podcast. Enjoy!

Η Σοφία (The Wisdom) Sutras

1) These words are your call to presence, to attention, to this moment.

2) Transformation is the only constant. Everything will change, from the greatest blessings bestowed upon us to the darkest moments we will survive. If it arises within your awareness, it is already in a state of transformation.

3a) This moment is more important than the ones that preceded it and the ones that will follow it, in this moment. This is true for each moment, as with each passing second, a new moment is.

3b) The present moment is your priority. What came before and what come after must be secondary to the present moment, in all moments.

4) Concentration on the present moment is a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is the practice of working with our thoughts. It is the ability to hone one’s attention in one specific direction, onto one thing specifically, for longer and longer periods of time. It is also the ability to be present enough to notice when the thoughts are focused on something and then redirecting the thoughts to something else.

5) Mindfulness is the art of awakening. Accessing this art requires paying attention. By paying attention, we begin to tune into a different frequency, and the more often we get into the habit of tuning into that different frequency the more we work at changing our experience of life.

6) This experience of life will be wholly and entirely dependent on our perspective and our ability to reframe a situation so that perspective is changeable and fluid.

7) Our unique understanding of “reality” is almost entirely based on our perspective, which informs the understanding we have of our environment and scenarios, of everything that arises within our awareness.

8a) Conflict may arise when one person disregards another’s understanding of “reality” in favour of his or her own, and then attempts to impose it.

8b) Harmony may arise when one person acknowledges and validates another’s understanding of “reality” while allowing it to coexist with his or her own, with no need to suppress the other’s in order to validate his or her own.

9a) Self-conflict may arise when one person adheres to his or her understanding of “reality” instead of welcoming alternate perspectives.

9b) Self-harmony may arise when one person welcomes alternate perspectives that reveal the relativity of “reality.”

10a) The experience of life will be greatly influenced by the honesty and transparency with which we assess whether we naturally gravitate to conflict or harmony.

10b) We have a choice as to whether our time is spent in conflict or in harmony.

11) The human brain, untethered and undisciplined, leans towards the negative aspects of our understanding of events.

12) We ruminate over the fear we have of the negative outweighing the positive in our understanding of events, which takes us out of the present moment and propels us into the abstract, into what is not.

13) Mindfulness is the discipline that allows us to focus on the opposite of the negative, the opposite of what scares us, the opposite of conflict.

14) Mindfulness practices are most useful in moments of turmoil, of chaos, of emotional triggering.

15a) One key mindfulness practice is setting an intention to prioritize harmony over conflict, negative over positive. This is Attention to Intention.

15b) Intention must be prioritized over reaction in moments of turmoil, of chaos, of emotional triggering.

15c) Intention is a commitment.

15d) Intention sets the direction that we commit to move in, the path we commit to follow, the behaviours we agree to override those that only serve to contribute to our suffering.

15e) Time spent without intention is time spent at the mercy of the meanderings of the mind.

15f) Time spent with intention is time spent closer to the energies of that which we wish to be in alignment with throughout this lifetime.

16) Setting an intention effectively and efficiently requires acceptance of what is.

17) Acceptance is the precursor for change.

18) One cannot efficiently move in the most meaningful direction without acceptance of what is and of what life has brought to our table.

19) Acceptance may involves grieving for what was once hoped for, but what was never meant to be.

20) The mind that practices meaningfulness is the mind that seeks to see beyond the literal, beyond the obvious, beyond the appearance of any given moment, person or object.

21) The practice of meaningfulness contributes to our ability to reframe our situation so that our perspective of it is altered. It aids in seeing past the seemingly random so that we find connections where, on a superficial level, none would appear to exist.

22) To find connections where previously none were apparent is to find meaning in the innocuous, to find a deeper understanding that possibly informs events and our relationship to them.

23) The practice of meaningfulness is the practice of finding meaning that serves us to align with the intentions we set for the time and events which await us.

24) Initial stages of practicing meaningfulness include asking certain questions in pursuit of a deeper meaning, questions like, “What am I meant to learn from this?”, “What else is occurring right now in this moment that I may be distracted from due to my mind’s negative bias?”, and “How can my experience of this challenge or moment serve to connect me to others instead of leaving me feeling isolated and alone?” Our perspective is everything. The way we see the world is the way we experience it. It really is that simple.

25) Reframing a situation aids in shifting perspective.

26) Shifting perspective helps us move from the limits of our own personal history and experiences.

27) Shifting perspective helps us move away from the default egocentricity we feed when we stay stuck in our own self-interests and self-awareness.

28) Shifting perspective helps us move from the I and the me to the us and the we.

29) Shifting perspective helps us find the freedom to choose a different interpretation and understanding.

30) Shifting perspective may lead us to growth and transformation.

31) Shifting perspective may facilitate turning the negative into positive.

32) Shifting perspective contributes to practicing meaningfulness.

33) We must never forget the kindness bestowed upon us by another.

34) We must immediately forget the wrongdoing or hurt bestowed upon us by another.

35) The practice of gratitude is the practice of considering the blessings we are surrounded by.

36) The practice of gratitude is the practice of considering how fragile and temporal our blessings may be.

37) The practice of gratitude is the practice of considering how, in this moment, suffering could be considerably heightened, and appreciating that it is not.

38) The loss of gratitude is a key factor in the destruction of the affiliations and partnerships we have.

39) The practice of compassion involves the consideration that all beings operate in the midst of hardship.

40) The practice of compassion involves prayer and action for the end of all suffering, for ourselves and for others.

41) The practice of fearing less involves repointing the mind from the potential of the negative to manifest to the potential of the positive to manifest.

42) Communication is the foundation for the healthiest and most positive of affiliations and relationships.

43) Your story is worth telling.

44) Your story is worth observing.

45) Observing the narrative of your life without personalization will bring clarity.

46) Observing the emotions, sensations and thoughts elicited from observing your narrative will bring clarity.

47) Observing the emotions, sensations and thoughts that arise within you in any and all circumstances, contexts and environments will bring clarity.

48) You are the power of observation.

49) You are not what you observe.

50) There is just this, and it is perfect as it is

%d bloggers like this: