True Warriorship

Over the past few weeks I have acted on, with intention, my disdain for the outgoing so-called president (my autocorrect tried to capitalize the P in president when I intentionally made it lower case for a reason) through the posting of memes and some thoughts written out to share. In doing so, I knew that I was leaving the safety of the wellness community’s ability to hide behind spiritual teachings that convince us that judgement is a bad thing and that we should be as impartial as a tree in the face of a storm. And as much as I know that approach to be helpful in certain situations, I also know that the oft-(un)well-ness community is also often guilty of spiritual bypass, the ability to hide behind teachings and so-called wisdom in order to avoid getting involved, using one’s voice in the name of justice, freedom, equality and fairness.

I will now use his name intentionally for the first time in four years instead of referring to him as he-who-shall-not-be-named. Donald Trump is, as far as I am concerned, an evil person. And if that judgement makes you uncomfortable, I invite you to unfollow me and forget our paths ever crossed. My concern in life is for the suffering of us all, especially those who exist in the shadows, those whose choices or whose accidents of birth and life set them on a course of adversity and resistance, all because of factors that they did not choose. One’s skin colour, language spoken, birth gender, faith, belief system, demographic information and path towards happiness and freedom should not dictate the facility with which they achieve said happiness and freedom. And yet, within the flawed construct human beings have created to exist together, those factors do. And needless suffering is the result of that.

My intention in life and my career is to alleviate suffering for those navigating murky, soul-crushing moments. It would only make sense, then, that anyone who makes that journey even harder for those already fighting for an iota of comfort and acceptance is going to fall into disfavor with me. Donald Trump had the opportunity to contribute to the healing and happiness of not only those whose journeys are already difficult, but to the healing of a nation and of a world being swept away in a torrent of intolerance. He chose, instead, to fan the flames of hate and division. To separate babies from their parents, parents from their babies. To ignore science when millions of Americans were falling ill with a deadly virus. To strip away the basic human rights that our loved ones need to remain safe and protected when humanity’s ugly head rears itself again and we fall into a spiritual moment of concealment, an even darker age of ignorance. Donald Trump did everything to reinforce the Hindu teaching that demons do, indeed, walk among us. And so when I post a meme that I find hysterical showing that little, traumatized man, a man for whom I can actually find an iota of compassion, because no one turns into the devil without being hurt by the devil itself, understand that I am celebrating the shift in awareness and awakeness in a populace that allowed this person to do so much harm for so long.

In the name of the women we love, our transgender brother and sisters, our LGBTQ+ community, our brothers and sisters whose skin color traverses the spectrum, our fellow human beings who pray to Gods we know too little about and whose mother tongues sound fabulously foreign to us, I celebrate this new era in the hope that the government-elect delivers on their promises to focus on freedom, inclusion, diversity and equality. I also understand that a troubling number of Americans did not vote for freedom and equality for all, and many of those people fall into the subcultures I’ve referred to. We are at a pivotal juncture in history, and you better believe that I will voice an objection when I see society’s most vulnerable put at even greater risk by those whose influence and so-called power could drastically improve life for us all.

As for the wellness community, do us all a favour and don’t use yoga or meditation or scriptures to avoid being part of the solution. It hurts the community, and is the farthest thing from what these teachings are meant to do. Find something else to hide behind.

All this to say that if my partiality has made you uncomfortable, I totally understand why. With that said, know that I will always champion those who navigate the path of light, truth, equality, happiness and freedom for ALL. Not just for one pocket of humanity, but for all humanity. I will pass judgement when evil is being unleashed and which contributes to intolerance.

We are on this journey of being human TOGETHER. Any other approach or attitude is, as far as I’m concerned, harmful. So let’s remember that we’re on the same team, regardless of the details we’ve been taught divide us. And do whatever we can, as efficiently and respectfully as possible, to heal those divisions.

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.

🙏🏼❤️

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