Tag Archives: compassion

From Darkness To Light

The only thing, the ONLY thing that we are not encouraged to do by those who have influence and what we loosely refer to as “power”, is take care of each other. With all the resources available to us, with instant, affordable communication options at our fingertips, we are, collectively, more divided than ever.

This moment in time will be looked back on as a dark age because of this one basic fact. The solution? Take care of each other. Be respectful. Honour the humanity in everyone, not just those who have the same skin tone as you, who speak the same language as you, who pray to the same god as you, who believe the same things that you do. Honour everyone. Especially when the buffoons elected to office seem poised to strip already-marginalized communities of whatever rights they have.

Be brave. Be courageous. Be part of the inevitable enlightenment that is coming, the enlightenment that will be the result of us taking care of each other. All of us.

Advertisements

A Pill to Swallow

10827994_10153292025159258_1015895408197009231_oA few months ago I organized a yoga benefit to raise money for Women Aware, a Montreal-based non-profit organization that provides assistance and “long-term support to those living with the dynamics of domestic violence.” At around the same time I became part of the #HeForShe international campaign put together by UNWomen. This campaign is a call that “brings together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity, for the benefit of all,” essentially serving as a call to all men to raise their voices and awareness to fight the inequalities and suffrage women are exposed to simply because they’re women. I got involved with them for the same reason that I organized the fundraiser: I was traumatized at an early age when the concept of rape was explained to me and since then I have felt a visceral alliance with anyone dealing with the fallout of violence against women.

My career started out almost seven years ago as a yoga teacher, but little did I know that in finding my voice to teach I would find my voice to start speaking up for those whose voices have been muted by abuse, inequality and sheer terrorism. By now, most of you know that I’m not a mild-mannered, meek teacher. I have an opinion, especially when it comes to injustice, and I’m not afraid to voice that opinion, especially when I come across intolerance of any kind. I have been told that I can be aggressive in my expression, that I’m not adopting the right “yoga” attitude of non-judgement and compassion. Hear me now, because I won’t ever be repeating myself: I understand that every single one of us has the potential, if influenced by certain variables, to do or be anything or anyone, and I use the “There but for the grace of God go I” expression daily. I also feel tremendous compassion and empathy for those who have perpetuated the cycles of chaos and violence that they have found themselves a part of. With that said, I also believe that we have to stop tip-toeing around in this moment of political correctness so that we can expose the root causes of how we’ve arrived at this moment in time with such a heavy cloud of ignorance, darkness and intolerance weighing us down. And so sometimes I’m going to communicate in ways that you may not want to hear your yoga teacher or spiritual guide communicating in. To those I may be offending, please accept my apologies now and understand that all my actions in my career and on my path of dharma stem from the desire for peace, compassion, unity and spiritual understanding. Also understand that this is the way I’m doing it. My way. If it doesn’t resonate with you, there are hundreds of thousands of other teachers for you out there, and I encourage you to seek them out.

10413309_10153081125548426_3971799968709502221_n I, as I progress in my studies and work with helping others heal from their emotional and physical wounds, am constantly helping women heal from sexual assaults. This is an epidemic, take my word for it. And it’s unacceptable. It keeps coming up, over and over again, in the work that I’m doing. The pain and trauma that is being afflicted on women in the name of power, of control, of taking what someone else thinks they’re entitled to, is reprehensible. And I will continue to raise awareness with MY voice to make sure that we don’t get complacent or ever think that violence in any form is a necessary evil that we have to learn to live with. Bullshit. I’m calling bullshit, and I will continue to call it with every person I encounter who has been hurt at the hand of someone else. I will write (as I did with this blog post months ago for International Women’s Day), I will speak, I will teach and I will continue to learn so I know what I’m talking about and fighting peacefully in the name of.

Understand this: violence against women is not going to be tolerated. I will make sure that women’s voices get heard, even if it means me raising mine to amplify theirs. This path I’m on with yoga means nothing if all I’m doing is instructing people to fold forwards or balance on their tip-toes. My path is one of awakening, for myself and others, so that we can address what needs to be addressed without fear of rubbing people the wrong way. Sometimes we need a little shaking to wake up and see clearly what we have been allowing to occur right on our doorsteps.

To support Women Aware, please visit their website that is hyperlinked above.

 

 

25153f_83cd4e4697ce48038b1d73d9f99c7a52.png_srz_p_525_188_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_png_srz

Intention

i don’t have time to pay attention to critics.
i don’t have time for judgement.
i don’t have time to look at all the photos of beautiful bodies in intricate yoga poses.
i don’t have time to get caught up in gossip.
i don’t have time for blaming.
i don’t have time for finger-pointing and name calling.
i don’t have time to try to convince people to pay attention.
i don’t have time for hypocritical speech and false “friends.”
i don’t have time for justification of bad behaviour.
i don’t have time to make sense of any person or organization who believes that anyone is better or more deserving than anyone else.
i don’t have time to get caught up in your bullshit competition game.

i make time for education.
i make time for community.
i make time for compassion.
i make time for the awakening we’re approaching from this long slumber of unconsciousness.
i make time for self-study.
i make time to speak for those whose voices are silent.
i make time for collaboration.
i make time for the advancement of collective freedom.
i make time for helping others move forward on their journey of illumination, understanding and spiritual development.
i make time for embodying love and doing my best to let it emanate with no specific direction.
i make time for the creation of space within which both you and I can do the work that matters.

How is your i spending its time?

A Prayer To Awakening

There’s an unspeakable amount of turmoil in the world these days, and as the turmoil mounts so does the free-floating anxiety that emanates outward from it. From rogue terrorists to institutionalized ones, from cyber censorship to blatant corruption, from abuse scandals rocking yoga communities to the mind-numbingly relentless stream of aggression and fury directed towards women…I could go on, but I won’t.

I believe that turmoil in our environments is the direct projection of our inner turmoil. I believe that we find ourselves surrounded by the energy that we usually find contained in our thoughts, and because they’re contained in our thoughts and those thought patterns of rumination are so familiar, we don’t find anything shocking or toxic about them. Until we see them manifest outside of us. And then we pass judgement, criticize, blame and preach the moral highground, when, in fact, all that we’re finding fault with is simply a reflection of what occurs in our human minds on a non-stop basis.

None of us are untarnished. We all get pissed off, we all fall prey to envy, we all covet and we all resent. Every single one of us. We get tired, annoyed, irritated and rude. Every single one of us. There are aspects to each of us that aren’t social media friendly, that would never make it into a status update or into dinner party chitchat. And because our inclination is to relegate those aspects to the hidden recesses of our minds and to unconditionally accept that it’s ok to have a dark passenger that stays in shadow, we deny ourselves complete integration of all that makes up our human identity.

The expression, “You have to learn to love yourself before you can love someone else” has always been somewhat of an enigma to me until I realized experientially what it meant. To love yourself is to accept and respect yourself. All aspects of yourself. To do so is to finally, and completely, find unconditional love for yourself. From there we can love another. Unconditionally. And from there we can show up in the world as love embodied. To express kindness and compassion regardless of who we encounter. To have a smile at the ready for whomever we cross paths with. To honour the energy that animates these human bodies and express its essence of peace and compassion. To literally be love.

All the turmoil we are seeing points to this: we are drifting further and further away from love as a collective. When we move further away from the nature of who we are, we invite in mental anguish which eventually manifests as physical disease in the body. Our collective and individual bodies are riddled with dis-ease because we’ve forgotten to love. In the moments where judgement wedges its foot in the door, we’re meant to remember to love. In the moments where we feel the need to seek revenge, we’re meant to remember to love. In the moments where we feel isolated and alone, we’re meant to remember to love. It’s only by remembering to love that we will heal this fragmented moment where we’re desperate for connection and riddled with fear. We have to love.

And so do it. Love. Without a specific destination for it and without conditions on it. Accept and respect all the magnificent aspects of what makes you YOU, and love. As 2014 grinds to a halt and we move through the energetic shift of another calendar year, set your intention to love. Make your future better than your past so that we can make our future better than our past. With love. Above all else. It will save us. And it will save you.

The Heart’s Memory

I’ve recently found myself getting involved in some pretty thought-provoking discussions with friends about the state of the world. From politics to religion, from daily dramas to life and death, it seems like there is a common undercurrent of negativity that we are being fed, and given the right company and circumstances, it erupts forth and instigates a healthy dose of communication and debate.

The subjects that seem to get the conversation close to a boiling point always seem to be the same: the apparent (and seemingly inescapable) descent into the realm of complete bigotry, misogyny, homophobia and general insanity from the American Republican candidates…the utter ineptitude of the Canadian population (excluding the province of Quebec) that somehow allowed the egomaniacal lunacy of Stephen Harper to not only be elected, but to be rewarded with a majority government…the mounting tension between Iran and Israel and the countries that support each of them on their way to some sort of conflict…the state of the European economy…the state of the global economy…what separates those who are immensely wealthy from those who seemingly run after the dangling carrot of economic security. This is but a cross-section of a typical evening’s list of topics, and from the point of view of those I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with, these topics are enough to get us all sitting on the edge of our seats in anticipation of the next topic to be thrown into the arena. Throughout all the face time we’ve shared, it’s a true sense of disbelief that we end up walking away with…disbelief that we, as a race of beings, have become so polarized from logic and compassion that we now find ourselves feeling helpless as the age of stupidity drags us even further away from advancement and evolution.

In a yoga workshop last weekend with Dechen Thurman, he talked briefly about how we used to value intelligence, and how we sometimes valued it enough to elect those blessed with it to positions of leadership. He followed up on that by saying that instead of electing people based on their intelligence, we now elect people based on how they make us feel. Rarely have I been exposed to such a succinct summation of where we find ourselves as humans, and with that in mind, in keeping with connecting to how we feel, I’d like to propose the solution to dealing with a propaganda-based, media-driven world of negativity: gratitude.

In the yogic teachings, we learn yogaś-citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ , that Yoga or  state of Union, is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. This cessation insinuates that we hone in on one thing as opposed to allowing the mind and our awareness to be ricocheted around like a pinball, and it’s through this honing that we gradually become aware of the veil of illusion we live behind. This veil keeps us ignorant of our true nature as beings of love and compassion, stemming from the source of all that exists. As long as we allow ourselves to stay behind the veil, we validate the daily dramas that we tend to obsess over and appoint them as a source of importance to be revered and fed. These dramas are simply a trick, something to keep us distracted, focused on the obvious when our nature is to seek out the fleeting nature of the essence hidden behind the obvious. From my point of view, the media outlets reporting on the topics that keep us all flabbergasted at the state of the world are simply feeding us fluctuations….of the collective mind. We are being thrown curve balls at every minute, and instead of trying to catch them all, we should instead focus on that which renders the distractions insignificant. We need to find gratitude. We need to take note of every seemingly innocuous detail of our lives to see where we can find blessings, and then emanate gratitude for them.

You want to know mine? Here goes: I’m grateful for this body that allows me to practice yoga and tap into the essence of the people and events around me. I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for my friends. I’m grateful for the people who support and love me and who allow me to support and love them back. I’m grateful to live in a country where I can have in-depth discussions with people without having to watch what I say for fear of being imprisoned for expressing myself. I’m grateful to be able to sleep at night. I’m grateful to the people who live their truths and inspire me daily to do the same. I’m grateful that my words reach people and occasionally make a difference in their lives. I’m grateful to be able to travel. I’m grateful to be able to meld my passions with my career. I’m grateful for the roof over my head, the clothes on my back, and the knowledge that no matter where my path takes me, I’m taken care of. It’s through gratitude that we tap into the heart’s memory, and in one fell swoop, we draw the veil of illusion aside and can see the permanence that informs every single one of us.

We have a responsibility to each other to never take anything at face value, to seek out the truth behind the distractions. The portal to that process is gratitude. Feel it in every moment possible, and see how it changes you. Tap into your heart’s memory.