Category Archives: Health

The Difference A Decade Makes

Facebook reminded me today of what I have been thinking about over the last few days. It’s been a decade. 10 years ago I held up my end of the deal that I made with whatever I believed God to be when I asked for a sign that I should leave the security and stability of my then-career. It’s been a decade. Mind-boggling. A decade of firsts. A decade of working harder than I ever thought possible. A decade of experiencing life at a level of beauty and inspiration that I had never known was possible. A decade of pursuing my intention of helping others heal. A decade of traveling around the world with people to offer them transformational experiences that show THEM how life can be experienced at that level of beauty and inspiration. A decade immersed, without trying to sound trite or cliché, in love and emanating that love outwardly in no specific direction. A decade of stepping onto my true path, the one my life had been preparing me for all the while leading up to October 15, 2008. A decade of support. From you all. From my guy. From my family and my extended family. A decade of wisdom and learning and trial by error.

Thank you all. For paying attention. For allowing me to be part of your narratives, in whatever way that has taken place. Thank you for giving me the space, time and opportunity to do what I am alive in this body to do. Ten years, and yet I feel like it’s just the beginning.

Here’s to the next ten. And to all the tens that follow. 🙏🏼❤️

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The Difference A Year Makes

One year ago, to the day, I posted the Top 10 listed above on Facebook. In some ways, I cannot believe that it has been a year since I wrote this, and yet in other ways I absolutely can because of all the conscious changes I have made. A few of the things listed here were written in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but were really bugging me, and it was because of that that I stopped thinking or writing about them and actually let them be the catalysts for positive change.

1) I still keep a keen eye on the price of allergy pills when I’m overseas, but I don’t need them nearly as much as I used to (I’ll explain why at the bottom of this post).

2) I got rid of cable tv and have not regretted it once since I did it.

3) The words “selfie” and “lit” still rub me the wrong way, but the word “excretions” have now taken their place in eliciting visceral, negative responses from me.

4) I no longer feel daily aches and pains, but I did one year ago to the day, and it scared the hell out of me. (I’ll explain why I no longer have them at the bottom of this post).

5) I stand by this one and will until the day this body dies. Grammar matters. (I think I just came up with a future book title).

6) I’ve softened in the last year and am not as judgemental or critical as I was. I find myself feeling much more compassion these days than I used to, but trust me, the judgement is still there, and I actually find it entertaining when it rears its head.

7) I have stopped eating refined sugars and most foods that contain them. (I’ll elaborate at the bottom of this post).

8) I’m fine with emojis now. Language is changing. I get it. (The middle finger and the vomiting emojis have become dear friends to me).

9) I’m paying less attention to my blood pressure. (More on this after #10).

10) My face has changed. Here’s why, and this also ties into #1, 4, 7 & 9.

I have spent years studying spirituality and energy, honing my spiritual intelligence and focusing on what lies beyond the obvious and apparent. In doing so, I seriously neglected this body I live in. Yes, I practiced yoga and meditated, but that was it, and that was all I believed was necessary.

Cut to July 2017. I was looking at myself in the mirror and not liking what was reflected back at me. I felt puffy. I felt like my body was inflamed, which was a word I was reticent to use because it had become trendy in articles posted online, but nonetheless, I felt inflamed. My body was aging. I was experiencing weird aches and pains every day, and each day was a new one that I had never experienced before, which somewhat scared me because I felt like my body was aging in a “this is out of my control” kind of way. I remember telling myself that if I didn’t do anything to help myself feel better, it was only going to continue to go in one direction, and it wasn’t the one I wanted for myself.

I had also become used to getting sick every couple of months. Strep throat here, sinus infection there, slight cold around the changing of the seasons, etc… I had created all kinds of stories around my facility to fall ill. “I’m in contact with so many people every week”, or “it starts with allergies that then triggers the infection”, or “the antibiotics didn’t really kill the infection, which is why it’s happening again”. Allll kinds of stories.

So I decided to face one of my aversions and signed up for a membership to the gym that is, without exaggeration, forty footsteps from the front door of my home. I decided I would start doing some cardio exercises two to three times a week. And I did. I started to feel proud of myself that I was doing it, because I stopped going to the gym in 1999 when I couldn’t deal with the posturing I saw there from others, and I felt like the gym environment was completely artificial and unpleasant. It was because I stopped working out that I started looking for a yoga teacher to see if the asana practice could replace the gym for my physical exercise (so I guess I should be grateful to all those gym posers I saw in the late 90’s). I also started feeling better. So I kept going.

I went to Paros in September 2017 and stopped the cardio while I was away, then came back home and picked right up where I left off. I then decided to meet with a personal trainer at the gym to see if she could give me insight into some exercises I could pair with the cardio, but arranged to delay the meeting until December, as my schedule was packed until then.

Come December, I met with Julie, a kinesthesiologist and personal trainer at the gym I was going to. We sat, talked, and I was honest with her that I really just wanted some cardio and a couple of light exercises. She asked me how long I wanted to be at the gym for when I came to exercise, and I told her an hour at the most. She put together a program for me, we went through it once together, and then I spent the next month doing it on my own three times a week. That is how I ended 2017 and began 2018. I then made another appointment with her at the end of the first month and she designed another program for me to follow for February. And we kept at it. Every month, a new program. And I quickly fell in love with exercising.

I wasn’t expecting to become that gym guy I found so annoying in 1999, but I did. I fell in love with the exercises, as well as with the time I had at the gym that was almost meditative in its intensity. I have never sweat more in my life, and I have never worked harder, on a physical level, at anything like I have done, and am doing, with my workouts. And I love it.

I have been so hesitant to publicly talk about this, because I really don’t want to be one more person sharing his exercise regimen on social media with a photo of some weights accompanied by a #gymday or #justdoit hashtag. It doesn’t sit well with me, and I didn’t want to launch more of that into the world. However, I have been told by people that I trust that I should talk about it, that I should share this part of my story, because the effects have been dramatic and that they find it inspiring.

When I started working out and feeling better, I stopped eating all foods with refined sugars because I knew that they lowered my immune system. Doing that along with the working out has resulted in my immune system being stronger than ever before in my lifetime. Without wanting to jinx it, I have had two barely-there, light-sniffles colds in the last 10 months. My aches and pains are gone. Totally. I have lost twenty pounds of fat without compromising my lean muscle mass, and because I wasn’t a really overweight guy a year ago, it has changed my body and my face. I am leaner and am seeing the body that I knew was under the excess weight all that time, but which I accepted as being a thing of the past, not available to me in my forties. My posture is better because of the exercises Julie gives me to strengthen certain muscles in my back that need it, and paired with monthly visits to my osteopath Keshia, who gives me more information to bring back to Julie, my body is stronger and more functional. And oh yeah – a few months after I stopped eating refined sugars, I decided to have dessert after a meal and I found that the sugary stuff I had once loved no longer tasted as good as it used to. If it didn’t taste as good, then there was no point in eating it, and I found myself losing my appetite for sugar and shifting over to being more appreciative of the savoury foods. This was a big deal for me, because I have always had a sweet tooth. A serious one.

One thing about this whole journey that has really opened my eyes to how weight-obsessed we are as a culture and as a species is other people’s reactions to my weight loss. I’ve had people ask me if I’m sick. I’ve had people get angry with me after they ask me how I lost the weight and I tell them that I’m working my ass off (literally) on a consistent basis (I have kept the workouts going even when I’m working overseas), and have changed how much sugar I eat. I’ve had people tell me not to lose more weight. I’ve had people tell me that I look fit. I’ve had people tell me that I look healthy, less inflamed. I’ve had people tell me that they can’t believe how good I look. I’ve gotten all of it, and because not much has changed in my head (or my wardrobe) throughout the physical transformation, the reactions have really surprised me. I’ve learned that getting my body into shape has taken weight off my face and my neck, and I look older. I couldn’t give two shits about it. I feel incredible. I feel better than I ever have in my almost 45 years in this body. I am well. I am in better shape, mentally, energetically and physically, then I ever have been, and I am so, so grateful to Julie, Keshia, and Caroline, who has replaced Keshia while she takes maternity leave. With their help I have changed the quality of my life, I have improved the quality of my life. I have spent money on doing it, have been disciplined and put in the hours and energy to do it (which hasn’t been difficult, considering I love going to the gym), and have been relatively quiet about it, because, honestly, I didn’t think it was anyone’s business aside from mine and those in my inner circles. But I suppose if this somehow inspires or educates someone, and motivates them to make a positive change in a similar fashion, then it’s worth sharing.

Making a change this significant in my life motivated my to make others. I got rid of my cable tv subscription. I don’t weigh myself unless I’m at the doctor’s office for my annual checkup or at the gym getting the updated statistics on where my body is at. I don’t need the allergy pills as much, and am happy to report that I shopped at record stores when I was in Paris last week 🙂

DM me if you’d like to get in touch with Julie or Caroline (I’ll let Keisha have her full maternity leave before unleashing new clients her way). I hope the events of the last year somehow affect you in a positive way, and feel free to share your thoughts on it all with me by commenting on this post or through a private message.

Lucky 13

I am in Paros once again, giving the annual yoga vacation that, as of this year, has morphed into the now-annual yoga and meditation vacation. Once again I feel my soul land here. Once again I find myself at home, this time with a very rudimentary grasp of the basics of the Greek language. Once again the group that has assembled is beyond beautiful, as a micro community as well on an individual basis. Once again our senses are oversaturated by the air, water, sun and sand that feel like nowhere else…by the food that never tastes as good elsewhere in the world…by the smells of oregano, salty air, cooking food and sun-soaked skin…by the sounds of the wind propelled by the Anemoi, the crash of the waves, the fizzle of salty water bubbling when one’s head goes under the water in the sea…by the spectrum of blues that beg us to reconsider the color wheel and the soft pink that illuminates the horizon as Eos opens the gates of heaven for Helios to begin the process of streaking the sun through the sky.

This trip is the 13th I have given, marked today, the 13th of September, and reinforced by the endless signs, graffiti tags and digital readouts of “13” that are all over the island. The fifth journey to Paros, the thirteenth overall. It’s a milestone. One borne of luck, good choices and hard work, and which was described to me today by someone here with us as, “the trip of my lifetime.”

Here’s to the years and years to come, replete with more lovely people filled with shared intention, traveling across the world to experience these events that can barely be described, but leave us speechless once living them. And thank you, to every one of you who has been a part of our jaunts, is here in Greece now, and will be with us on future travels.

Start Your Next Chapter Now Weekend Workshop Aug 11-12

For the vast majority of my career, I have worked on projects and endeavors on my own because I a) felt that what I wanted to convey was deeply personal and had to be expressed as my own unique expression, and b) needed to feel a deep connection with whoever I collaborated with, because without it, I would lose connection to the inspiration that motivated me to share my offerings. I can count on one hand the people I have collaborated with over the past nine years, and it has been a while since the last time. I’m happy to announce that it will happen again in a few months, and I’m beyond thrilled to be working with one of my closest, most inspiring friends, Christelle Franca.

I have known Christelle for almost 15 years, and in that time I have seen her incarnations as sound artist, DJ, healer, Masters student, and so many more that words would only diminish. She has worked in Lebanon teaching students how to express, contextualize, externalize and shift the energies of trauma from living with/in war on a day-to-day basis. She has grown into a woman who shares my belief that there is no greater purpose for any of us than to accompany others through their suffering, through their moments of stuckness. And so it only makes sense that I would team up with my true soul-sister for a weekend workshop of transformation, movement, contemplation, discussion, creation and actualization.

Start Your Next Chapter is a co-creation that Christelle and I have worked on to facilitate whatever changes you may be aching to incorporate but feel too paralyzed to initiate, while also being an opportunity to be exposed to tools that can alleviate the suffering of dealing with changes occurring that are not self-imposed or chosen. Bringing psychotherapeutic tools together with movement, meditation, energy work, writing, discussion and deep contemplation, this weekend is truly going to be the most brilliantly beautiful opportunity to get the ball of change rolling with certainty and clarity. Christelle referred to us both, months ago, as “les gardiens du passage” (the guardians of transition, of change), and this weekend workshop will be exactly that for all in attendance.

This event will take place at Equilibrium Yoga (4812 blvd St-Laurent, suite #101) over the Aug 11-12 weekend, 9h-16h30 both days with a one-hour break for lunch. Space will be limited to 22 people so that we can properly give appropriate time and attention to everyone, and registration is now open, all payment types accepted. See you there!

Start Your Next Chapter Weekend Workshop

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Barcelona Musings

I was awake last night at 2am with some residual jet lag on my first night here in Barcelona for the Yoga City Break, and as I typically do, I got to reflecting on how really, truly grateful I am to be able to do what I do for work. I shouldn’t even call it work, but it does fall into the “career” category, so it’s the most succinct word I have for the time being.

I began my yoga vacations in 2011. Since then some of you have joined me in Santorini, Mljet (Croatia), Istanbul, Paros (the fifth trip there takes place September 8-18 later this year), Berlin, Bali, Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, Prague, and now some of you are on a plane on your way to join me here. It’s kind of overwhelming to look back at everywhere we’ve journeyed to, and I find myself feeling emotional about being able to instigate these trips around the world.

My intention in working on the planning and execution of these voyages is manifold. I want to bring people to beautiful places in the world so they can experience those moments that thrill and fulfill in only the ways that travel can offer. I want to instigate the shifting of perspective for others so that they can see newness and remember what that is like. I want to remind you all what life can be like when you take a risk and go do something for yourselves, even in the presence of all the responsibility you’ve signed up for in your lives. I want to offer a group travel structure that those who are too intimidated by traveling solo can find comfort in. I want to remind us all what it’s like to live life fuller and bigger and more awesome than we’re typically encouraged to do.

This may sound wholly benevolent of me, but trust me when I say that there is a need in me that is fulfilled by making all of this happen, and trust me when I say that it can be incredibly demanding, grueling, time-consuming and emotionally draining. My purpose in life is to make the experience of life better, more positive and enjoyable for others, and when I succeed in accomplishing that, I am fed on a soul-level. It galvanizes me to use my resources, time, energy, and accidents of life to the best of my ability to make these trips happen, and run as smoothly as they possibly can given all the free agents that exist in whatever environment we find ourselves in.

I realize that the path to roll these vacations out is more unobstructed for me because of my gender and skin colour. I understand how my privilege plays a role in being able to do this, and I try, to the best of my ability, to use it responsibly and inclusively. I also am aware of how, with one tiny change in this narrative I find myself living, all of this could never have been, and how it could also change.

I don’t take any of this for granted. As I type these words overlooking the rooftops of Barcelona, I count my blessings and pat myself on the back for my role in showing up efficiently and responsibly to have contributed to this moment occurring. I don’t expect people to sign up for these trips, and when they do, and when they sell out, trust me once more when I say that I am grateful. Grateful that hard graft and divine grace continue to work synergistically so that I can continue to make my soul hum by offering you all the opportunity to do the same.

For those of you on your way here, I’m waiting to see you with a massive hug and a week ahead of living life awake and to its fullest. For those of you who have joined me on past trips, I hope that you still have the fondest of memories of our time together. For those of you who will be joining me on future trips, get ready for some beautiful moments of community and connection.

Sending peace and sunshine from Barcelona.

Bxx

When Your Accidents Of Life…

…result in having a face or body that our current culture deems beautiful, be humble.
…result in being far more talented than the rest of your peers, be humble.
…result in being born into a family with material abundance, be humble.
…result in having the privilege of not having to worry about being yourself in the world without facing resistance, be humble.
…result in anything that could be misconstrued as being better or luckier than anyone else, be humble.

The body, gender, family, culture, demographics, geographical location, skin colour, sexual orientation and time in history that you were born into, seen through the lens of some faiths and belief systems, are completely random, “accidents of life”, to quote Joseph Campbell. You can take absolutely no credit for any of it, and none of it is a valid measure of your worth. More importantly, stop judging other people based on their accidents of life. Be humble and consider that we have all been duped into believing that this literal, human experience is the sum total of the journey we find ourselves on. “Don’t be small-minded”, we read in the Ashtavakra Gita. “The universe exists within you”. Don’t be duped by illusion, by the appearances your limited senses can interpret. The packaging is simply the container for what you should really get to know, which is the spark of energy that is, truly, who and what we are. Seek that out in others and you will not only get to know who they really are, but you will be making connections that transcend what divides and separates us.

We’re Still Here – One Night Only with Bram Levinson Now Available On Youtube!

I am so pleased to announce that We’re Still Here – One Night Only with Bram Levinson, filmed last November in Montreal, is now available on Youtube! It was an evening of sharing wisdom, insight, inspiration, personal stories and serious laughter, and I’m so happy to make it available for everyone to enjoy!