I’m lying in a pitch black room finding myself awake when I expected to already be asleep. The window to my right is recessed slightly and between the drawn shade covering it and the wall that frames it is the faintest strip of night that has wedged itself in. That strip is everything to me right now because it reminds me that there are degrees of darkness, that nothing is ever black or white and that when I veer off into the darker reaches of my mind and get too caught up in identifying with those reaches, there is always a lighter hue to point my mind towards.
On the cusp of the new calendar year, we ask that we be guided to clarity as often as possible, so that we can see events, people and circumstances for what they are and not what we think they should be.
We ask for presence of mind so that we can remember to love, as often and as fiercely as possible, so that we can know and express ourselves to be energy born of love and incomprehensible wisdom.
We expect that “bad” things will happen, and ask that we remember to love in these dark hours while also remembering that they are simply hours, not eons.
We ask for the presence of mind to think for ourselves, to not succumb to the banality of evil, to expectation, to division, to the tsunami of stupid that continues to wash over humanity and keep people greedy, silent, ignorant, afraid, asleep and blind to truth.
In the knowledge that not everything will go according to the plans we imagine for ourselves and the world we live in, we ask for the certainty of knowing that we will always end up where we are meant to be, regardless of whether we would have chosen it for ourselves.
We set an intention to invoke truth and authenticity into every possible moment so that we can show up in the world with our own individual voice and expression, in full knowledge that the world is waiting and starving for it.
We go forward into this new year with the knowledge that beneath the realm of appearance and separateness there is an undeniable current of unity that connect us all. We pray for the well-being and safety of everything and everyone in the knowledge that what happens to one of us happens to all of us.
We ask that we be blessed with the presence of others who reflect back to us truth, empathy, inspiration and cohesion and we set the intention of emanating all of these things for the reflection to occur.
We offer our existences up as offerings so that we may be used as channels to bring light into a world of encroaching darkness, healing to those suffering and connection through cooperation and collaboration to those muted by loneliness and isolation.
We move forward into this coming year as bearers of light and ask for the strength to see that light and allow it to refocus and re-centre ourselves as an example for others, especially when we are faced with our own battles.
Let this year be the one that changes everything. Let love obliterate everything else. May all of us be blessed with happiness, health, compassion, peace and understanding.
In recent asana and iRest® Yoga Nidra classes I have been very focused on the role that our core beliefs play in the paths our lives travel down and how we show up in our own lives and the world around us. In my quest to awaken students to their greatest potential through the examination of sensation and emotion en route to acknowledging what they believe to be true about themselves, I have been emphasizing how what we believe to be true will become true in each of our own lives, as truth is subjective. What we believe will become, as I wrote in The Examined Life. Our beliefs inform and set the level of our self-esteem, and if you really think about it, we do everything at the level of our self-esteem. We hang out with people who treat us at the level of our self-esteem, we marry at that same level, and we eat and sleep (if and when we’re doing it) at that same level as well. As my teacher Seane Corn mentioned to us in the vinyasa training I took with 60 other students a few weeks ago, “How you are with anything is how you are with everything.”
I was up late last night reading The Anatomy of the Spirit, a book penned by medical intuitive author, teacher and doctor Caroline Myss, and one concept stayed with me after I put the book down and started to fall asleep. As she states in the chapter The Second Chakra, “…our internal conflict between faith and fear is often buried underneath the survival issues that dominate our thoughts: Can I earn a living? Can I find a partner? Can I take care of myself?”
In the mentoring I do with clients and students, in the individual iRest® Yoga Nidra Dyad sessions I do and in the counseling I offer to friends and family members when they need someone to help keep them propped up and motivated, I have found myself coming to the same realization over and over again: people are either paralyzingly terrified that things will inevitably go awry and they will suffer, or they believe that everything will always work out, regardless of the ups and downs along the way. Both my father and I share the core belief that things will always be ok, and that belief has served us well, and continues to do so. When I work with imagery in individual session with clients, that imagery, in 9 out of 10 cases, always comes down to the same thing: there is a mass of light and a mass of dark, literally an entity of dark blackness and one of illuminated whiteness. Those that are truly suffering believe that the darkness is stronger than the light. The rest believe that the light is stronger. What you believe will become. We are either living under the weight of heavy darkness threatening our ease and well-bring, or we are channeling light. We are either reacting to every possible threat and marker that has the potential to reinforce our fears or we are keeping our gaze lifted, hurtling over small bumps in the road instead of stopping and quaking in fear at each individual potential obstacle.
The survival issues that are referred to in The Anatomy of the Spirit are at the heart of every single one of our core beliefs. If our foundation is one of faith, believing on a heart, soul and gut level that there are forces greater than us at work and that every single thing that happens to and around us in this life is intentionally being brought to us as a messenger to learn from or to teach to others, then there is light. We live in it and it keeps us going, especially in moments of darkness that have the potential to bring us to our knees. If our foundation is one of fear, living our daily lives looking over our shoulders with apprehension as to what might not go according to plan and take away whatever happiness we have, then we are literally living hell on earth, constantly getting beaten down by the fear that we are not capable enough and don’t have what it takes to survive in the world today. It’s the difference between feeling self-worth and feeling worthless. It’s the difference between being able to handle whatever life brings to our doorstep with discriminative wisdom and faith that we will land on our feet, closer to light, even if the moment itself feels dark, versus walking around with the shadow fear of not being good or capable enough and believing that we’re cursed and constantly being threatened by that curse.
What do you believe, at the core of your being? Do you believe that everything happens as it should to bring us closer to discovering who and what we are? Do you believe that we are meant to learn, and in some instances, teach from the moments that we come face to face with, that also have the potential to stop us dead in our tracks? Or do you believe that life is just a series of events that are meant to be suffered through, and only the strongest of the strong emerge? Is everything random and some of us get more of the dark than we should have to deal with, or will every moment bring us where we need to go, even if it’s not where we would have chosen to?
On a fundamental level, do you have more faith than fear, or vice versa? And how is that answer dictating every single second of your life?
I spent a ridiculous amount of money last weekend on a duvet cover. Over the past year, my partner and I have been sprucing up our bedroom, and the final touch was the bed-cover, and so after months of fruitless searches, I came across what I was looking for. The price initially threw me off, but I quickly caved, entered my PIN at the register, and then walked away with my purchase intent on forgetting that the financial transaction ever happened.
I got home, put the new cover on the bed, and voilà, the bedroom overhaul was complete, picture perfect. I spent minutes just admiring the overall aesthetic of the room, standing back from the bed and steeping in the feeling of happiness that I got from seeing the project complete.
Cut to that evening: my partner is getting ready to get into bed, and I instruct him to wash his feet. To keep that white cover pristinely white, I instructed him to wash his feet. As God is my witness, I, in that moment, became my mother.
When I was younger and lived with my parents, my mother would spend months redecorating rooms in our house, and I would always wait anxiously for the big reveal. The day would arrive when the last detail would be completed, at which point I would be coiled up, waiting to spring off onto the new furniture, anxiously waiting to languish in the newness of it all. My spring was always thwarted when my mother would look at me and pretty much tell me that the only way I was getting onto the new furniture was over her dead body. These rooms weren’t meant for lounging! How silly of me to assume that they would be 😉
The appearance of things can be harmful. The appearance of things is what separates us, what promotes disconnection and solitude. The roaring undercurrent of humanity and the collective experience of being is what unites us. You may never have thought about it, but how many different ways are we encouraged to focus on that which separates us from each other, and, ultimately, from the essence of our being?
Social media is all about appearances. I can guarantee that if I trawled through every single Facebook profile I could find, I’d discover an entire population of people who are living the most incredible experiences on a daily basis. Unlimited funds, endless possibilities, and the widest array of the finest things in life are on display in any given profile. The illusion of everything we’ve been led to believe brings happiness is carefully constructed and then tirelessly maintained as those around us keep their profiles sleek and polished. What doesn’t get Instagrammed, Tweeted, or posted, however, is where the real deal resides, the stuff that we should be sharing but prefer not to for fear that we’d be creating our own sense separation. We have a deep-rooted fear of standing out for the “wrong” reasons. I got the new iPhone? Amazing…post it immediately. That trip around the world is just around the corner? Perfect…get it up there for all to see. I’m being plagued by feelings of inferiority and insecurity? Um, hang on…..press [ignore].
I’ve said this countless times, but at the risk of sounding repetitive, here goes: what is commonly accepted as being good or worthy is only good or worthy because it’s commonly accepted. Just because everyone thinks one way or does something according to one method doesn’t make it right. It just makes it popular. Each one of us has the responsibility to reach out to the rest of the world from that place that typically holds us back from being fully authentic, and put our realities out there. Forget the gloss and the sheen, it’s time for the dirt and the grit, because that’s the truth about how we’re living, and trust me – we are all living the same experiences. I mentor and teach a lot of people, and I can tell you with certainty that everyone has the same fundamental fears, hopes, needs, and dreams. The faces of these may differ, but what lies beneath is always the same: the desire to live authentically, without having to keep up appearances, and the hope that good will always triumph over evil.
I believe that good always (and eventually) triumphs over evil, even when, in the moment, the opposite scenario seems true. This is a core belief that I hold to be true. Many others don’t share that belief, simply because the isolation of a life based on appearances has left them disillusioned and separate. We have the choice as to how we live this life we’ve been blessed with. If we want a life rich with hope and perspective, where light always infiltrates darkness, then we have to understand that connection to each other is essential. Connection will only occur when we shift our focus from how things look to how things are, and then discuss it.
So there you are: start discussing. Start sharing what you’d never dream of sharing. Others are starving for a dose of humanity, for the opportunity to be privy to a moment of truth instead of a moment of superficiality. The floor is yours – discuss!