Tag Archives: energy

All The Single Ladies (and Fellas)

I’d like to speak to my single friends out there.

I know single life. Despite being in a long-term relationship, I remember all too well what being single was like. People shocked at why I was single, trying to fix me up with who they considered like-minded suitors, and occasionally eyeing me up with a look that insinuated that perhaps there was something about me that they didn’t know about that was at the root of my “single” status, a built-in personality quirk, a relationship-assassin, if you will.

By the way, the fact that the term “single” even exists is just one example of the fuck-wittery that keeps us isolated and apart from each other. We are all single, even when we’re coupled. We are born single. We die single. We spend time with others, in some cases intensely and in close quarters. But don’t fool yourself. We are always one person alone with our thoughts, hopes, fears, battles and dreams.

I remember when I was single for longer than I wanted to or expected to be, I started to become my own enemy: that person who eyed me up suspiciously with that look that suggested that I might be my own worst relationship saboteur. I started to consider that I might actually be unworthy of coupling, that there actually might be something unloveable and intolerable about myself that was causing my single-ness. And I strongly suspect that some of you out there might be nursing similar suspicions about yourself.

Let me offer you this: there’s nothing wrong with you. There’s everything right about you. You are not your body. That means that your self-esteem shouldn’t be based on your bust size or the size of your penis, that your hair colour or height are actually irrelevant. Yes, we live in a moment where the Kardashians are celebrated, when the vacuous and the vapid have captured the collective attention. Don’t get caught up in the tsunami of stupid. Be better than that, because you are.

The truth? You are energy. That energy keeps you as a living human being in a body that allows you to move forward into the world with purpose and intention. It provides you with the ability to alleviate suffering, beginning with your own. It allows you to recognize that same energy in everything in existence. That energy is everything you need it to be: peaceful, capable of loving, capable of being compassionate, allowing you to handle whatever life throws at you and continue to move forward. The more you buy into the literal interpretation of life and the appearance of things, the longer you’ll suffer by thinking you’re worthless and harming your body to make it look the way you think it should to finally be appreciated. All to not be single.

The illusion that we’re presented with is that regardless of being single or coupled, we are separate from each other and everything in existence, and that simply isn’t true. We all exist. We’re all here. Together. Shouldn’t that speak louder than anything else? And yet we continue to assist in the construction of the walls that keep us isolated and alone, refusing to see past the illusion of otherness.

Celebrate your singularity. Fuck labels. Being in a relationship may give off the illusion of acceptability (and conformity), but it doesn’t mean anything. It just means that how you were on your own is now shared with someone else, potentially magnified and reflected back to you. Yes, relationships have the potential to bring us to a higher stratosphere, closer to light and further from bleakness. But they also have the potential to knock us to our knees struggling to breathe. How we are with ourselves is how we’ll be with others. It’s really that basic.

So…if you’re single and struggling, stop. Look past your inherited sense of isolation and ask yourself what you’re supposed to learn from this precious time you have to yourself. Do your work. Find stillness and happiness alone. Get your hands dirty and bring your shadows into the light. It’s only then that you’ll be able to sustain a relationship worthy of your expectations. Respect yourself and start to grasp just how miraculous you are as an energetic being in the most perfect packaging you ever could have hoped for. Work from there. And don’t ever settle for a physical body whose energy isn’t the one that will elevate yours. It’s a waste of time, and time is not renewable.

Just wanted to get that out there for all of you who can’t handle the questions, stares, insinuations and awkward wedding interactions. Hope it landed with some of you.

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Guises of the Guru

As a yoga teacher, I have often been perceived as having attained an ongoing state of enlightenment, one that has brought me out of this human body and ego and that sets the example of where all yogis aspire to be. Let me take an opportunity to shatter that perception 🙂 I am as much of a work in progress as anyone…I consider myself to be a student who teaches, someone who is always seeking and learning, with the aim to pass on that which I find pertinent and relevant to living a conscious, productive, inspiring life. As part of my learning curve, I find myself being taught lessons and being offered insight from all over the information spectrum…from people I know, and those I don’t, from animals and humans alike, and from the whispers of intuition I find myself hearing every now and again.

Last week, for those of you who weren’t already saturated with the exposure, U2 spent a few days here in Montreal to give 2 shows to 160,000 people, and while in town, they stayed at the St James Hotel, which is a few blocks away from Centre Luna Yoga, where I spend most of my working and practicing hours. I was coming to work on my scooter and stopped at the red light right on the corner of the hotel, where about 100 people were staked out, waiting to catch a glimpse of the band members, and the anticipation was palpable. The mood seemed edgy, like people were ready to pounce when finally they would be afforded the luxury of seeing the band for a few seconds. As I drove by, my first thought was, “Don’t these people have something to do? Don’t they have a job, or somewhere they’re supposed to be?’ It was a moment of real bewilderment for me, and absolute judgement. I was 100% judging the people staked out there, while being completely incapable of understanding why they would waste their time like that to catch a brief glimpse of people they didn’t know and probably never would. I wondered what they could possibly be getting out of the experience, aside from a sore lower back and sun stroke. Then I got to the studio and shared the experience…and I got schooled.

My fellow Luna Yoga teacher (and certified Jivamukti instructor) Dawn Bailey was already at the studio when I arrived and after I sat down, I shared with her what I had just driven by, and expressed my astonishment at why those people would be hanging around like that, which led into a rant about our irrational fascination as a society with celebrity. I ended my comments by asking, “Why would someone choose to just waste their day like that?”, and Dawn replied. And I found myself speechless. Dawn answered my question by saying that as much as she understood my point of view, she could honestly say that if she knew that Jivamukti creators Sharon Gannon and David Life were staying at a local hotel, she would probably hang out waiting to see them as they walked in or out on their meanderings. She told me that the opportunity to be privy to their aura, to the energy they exude, would be worth every second of hanging around waiting to see them. And in that second, having heard her words, I understood. I understood that the people I look up to and with whom I’d love to spend time, those whose energies I find attractive and inspiring, are my U2. I don’t think that I would ever find myself waiting patiently to see one of my idols walk by me, because I have something inside me that drives me to want to meet them on a more professional level, where I’m not just a gushing fan showering them with praise. Nonetheless, I understood Dawn’s remarks, and it showed me something. It showed me that I’m still very quick to judge. It showed me that my gurus may not be shared by others, and vice versa, but that doesn’t devalue these people’s abilities to remove darkness in the lives of their followers. It showed me that those who have accomplished incredible things and who inspire the world with their magnificent energies are able to infuse that energy into other by simply being in close proximity. That is makes a difference to those ready to receive it. Most of all, the experience showed me that I’m still learning, and I hope I never stop.

Thank you for being a teacher for me, Dawn 🙂

Universally Speaking

Living my life in Yoga has brought me many things including an overall sense of peace coupled with the desire to know and be able to pass on all insightful information, but one of the greatest things I’ve found myself enriched by is the need and ability to process and deconstruct said information and be able to contest what I find questionable. My first couple of hours in teacher training in 2009 found me ready to abandon my plans as a teacher simply because some of what I was hearing from those leading the course conflicted greatly with what I then felt strongly about. I brought my concerns to friends, who reminded me that regardless of my eagerness to start a new chapter of my life and wanting to absorb as much information as possible, I always had the right to take what information I deemed relevant and leave that which I felt didn’t serve me. It was with that ambitious reserve that I threw myself back into my training with abandon and into my career to date.

There is a lot of information to process from the Yogic teachings, all of which can discombobulate the most grounded of people. Filtering through and processing it all may indeed prove to be exhausting, but allowing yourself to challenge what you consider true is always enlightening and more often than not, illuminating. One aspect of Yoga continues to this day to challenge my beliefs, and I believe that it poses some of the same questions for others as it does me. The Yogic scriptures and teachings bring everything back to one thing: union. The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root word yuj, which means to unite or to yolk. We refer most often to the union of the mind, body and breath…the aim of which is to return or reunite with the source of all life, which is most often referred to as God in the teachings. This poses somewhat of a problem for me.

I am not a religious person. At all. I was raised in a Jewish environment, being brought to synagogue for all the High Holidays throughout my youth until I absolutely refused to continue participating in what I felt was a ridiculous farce to mask superficiality and ego in the shroud of tradition. My experience with synagogue was being surrounded by men and women dressing up to the nines boasting about their possessions and accomplishments, all the while gossiping about each other and then “humbly” returning to their seats to mumble through the prayers. I played the game myself, bringing my own reading material to hide behind the prayer-book so that I wouldn’t go out of my mind with boredom listening to what I felt was an incredibly archaic system of demonstrating one’s faith. I have since heard similar experiences being recounted my friends from other faiths, which reinforced my aversion to religion. All of that combined with the knowledge that mostly all religions across the spectrum are exclusive, telling us that we are the chosen people, that others are somehow “less than” we are, completed my break from organized religion. Yoga teaches that we are all connected, that there are no levels of worth and that the ego is our greatest enemy, something I have believed from the time that I first learned to think for myself.

With all that said, I do believe in a higher power from which we all derive and from where the essence that we all possess resides. I understand that it is this power and essence that is referred to in the Yogic teachings, but I still have a problem with that word which has been appropriated to many of the world’s greatest organized religions…that word God. It is with this aversion that I find myself passing on my teachings carefully and with full awareness of my words. Yoga is often mistaken for a religion by those who have dipped a toe or two in the teachings, and who have subsequently ran away from the unbelievable possibilities that yoga can bring us. I firmly believe that before the word God is brought into a class, a workshop, an article or a teacher training, it needs to be redefined and clarified as having nothing to do with religion.

I believe that despite there being many common teachings throughout Yoga and religion (restrictions as to lying, stealing, coveting, etc…), I have found that Yoga endorses laws of the Universe, those that apply to all, as opposed to those that apply to some which are proselytized through religious laws. The notion that Karma guides us all, that everything you do has a consequence, that your words and deeds carry immeasurable weight…this all falls under universal law. Yoga encourages love and gratitude…for oneself, for all others, and for everything around us. It allows us to be as spiritual as we want to be with absolutely no association of fear or guilt attached, and allows us to become more than we ever thought possible as opposed to feeling suppressed and repressed. Again, this is what I believe based on my life experience, and I would never insinuate that those who are finding light and love through religion are misguided. Whatever works, as far as I’m concerned.

For those of you who find yourselves sharing a yoga class with me, please keep all this in mind when I relay the Yogic teachings. Understand that the word god can be replaced with light, or love, or energy, or a million other all-encompassing beauty-laden words. Understand that if it separates us, it can’t be good. Understand that we are one. We always have been and we always have been. These are the teachings that we’re born with under the guise of intuition and that get smothered by conditioning and conformity. Allow yourselves to tap back into the source of all things…back into light, back into love…back into God.

Would vs do

I came across a link to a video today through Rhetta, (a friend of mine with whom I spent last year in teacher training), a video of a brain scientist, Jill Bolte Taylor, giving a lecture recounting her experience of having a stroke, and analyzing the gradual deterioration of her motor skills and perception throughout the ordeal. The words that come out of this woman’s mouth, the insight and inspiration that she conveys about humanity, and the decisions we make about who we want to be and what we see in our immediate surroundings that we classify as our reality are all life changing. The fact that a neuroanatomist can explain enlightenment and connecting to energy, channelling energy, in such succinct terms is refreshing and reassuring. I’m including the transcript of her lecture as well as a link to the video…enjoy it, and pay particular attention to her closing paragraph…Enjoy it 🙂

Stroke Of Insight – Jill Bolte Taylor – TRANSCRIPT

I grew up to study the brain because I have a brother who has been diagnosed with a brain disorder, schizophrenia. And as a sister and as a scientist, I wanted to understand, why is it that I can take my dreams, I can connect them to my reality, and I can make my dreams come true — what is it about my brother’s brain and his schizophrenia that he cannot connect his dreams to a common, shared reality, so they instead become delusions?

So I dedicated my career to research into the severe mental illnesses. And I moved from my home state of Indiana to Boston where I was working in the lab of Dr. Francine Benes, in the Harvard Department of Psychiatry. And in the lab, we were asking the question, What are the biological differences between the brains of individuals who would be diagnosed as normal control, as compared to the brains of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective, or bipolar disorder?

So we were essentially mapping the microcircuitry of the brain, which cells are communicating with which cells, with which chemicals, and then with what quantities of those chemicals. So there was a lot of meaning in my life because I was performing this kind of research during the day. But then in the evenings and on the weekends I traveled as an advocate for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

But on the morning of December 10 1996 I woke up to discover that I had a brain disorder of my own. A blood vessel exploded in the left half of my brain. And in the course of four hours I watched my brain completely deteriorate in its ability to process all information. On the morning of the hemorrhage I could not walk, talk, read, write or recall any of my life. I essentially became an infant in a woman’s body.

If you’ve ever seen a human brain, it’s obvious that the two hemispheres are completely separate from one another. And I have brought for you a real human brain. [Thanks.] So, this is a real human brain. This is the front of the brain, the back of the brain with a spinal cord hanging down, and this is how it would be positioned inside of my head. And when you look at the brain, it’s obvious that the two cerebral cortices are completely separate from one another. For those of you who understand computers, our right hemisphere functions like a parallel processor. While our left hemisphere functions like a serial processor. The two hemispheres do communicate with one another through the corpus collosum, which is made up of some 300 million axonal fibers. But other than that, the two hemispheres are completely separate. Because they process information differently, each hemisphere thinks about different things, they care about different things, and dare I say, they have very different personalities. [Excuse me. Thank you. It’s been a joy.]

Our right hemisphere is all about this present moment. It’s all about right here right now. Our right hemisphere, it thinks in pictures and it learns kinesthetically through the movement of our bodies. Information in the form of energy streams in simultaneously through all of our sensory systems. And then it explodes into this enormous collage of what this present moment looks like. What this present moment smells like and tastes like, what it feels like and what it sounds like. I am an energy being connected to the energy all around me through the consciousness of my right hemisphere. We are energy beings connected to one another through the consciousness of our right hemispheres as one human family. And right here, right now, all we are brothers and sisters on this planet, here to make the world a better place. And in this moment we are perfect. We are whole. And we are beautiful.

My left hemisphere is a very different place. Our left hemisphere thinks linearly and methodically. Our left hemisphere is all about the past, and it’s all about the future. Our left hemisphere is designed to take that enormous collage of the present moment. And start picking details and more details and more details about those details. It then categorizes and organizes all that information. Associates it with everything in the past we’ve ever learned and projects into the future all of our possibilities. And our left hemisphere thinks in language. It’s that ongoing brain chatter that connects me and my internal world to my external world. It’s that little voice that says to me, “Hey, you gotta remember to pick up bananas on your way home, and eat ’em in the morning.” It’s that calculating intelligence that reminds me when I have to do my laundry. But perhaps most important, it’s that little voice that says to me, “I am. I am.” And as soon as my left hemisphere says to me “I am,” I become separate. I become a single solid individual separate from the energy flow around me and separate from you.

And this was the portion of my brain that I lost on the morning of my stroke.

On the morning of the stroke, I woke up to a pounding pain behind my left eye. And it was the kind of pain, caustic pain, that you get when you bite into ice cream. And it just gripped me and then it released me. Then it just gripped me and then released me. And it was very unusual for me to experience any kind of pain, so I thought OK, I’ll just start my normal routine. So I got up and I jumped onto my cardio glider, which is a full-body exercise machine. And I’m jamming away on this thing, and I’m realizing that my hands looked like primitive claws grasping onto the bar. I thought “that’s very peculiar” and I looked down at my body and I thought, “whoa, I’m a weird-looking thing.” And it was as though my consciousness had shifted away from my normal perception of reality, where I’m the person on the machine having the experience, to some esoteric space where I’m witnessing myself having this experience.

And it was all every peculiar and my headache was just getting worse, so I get off the machine, and I’m walking across my living room floor, and I realize that everything inside of my body has slowed way down. And every step is very rigid and very deliberate. There’s no fluidity to my pace, and there’s this constriction in my area of perceptions so I’m just focused on internal systems. And I’m standing in my bathroom getting ready to step into the shower and I could actually hear the dialog inside of my body. I heard a little voice saying, “OK, you muscles, you gotta contract, you muscles you relax.”

And I lost my balance and I’m propped up against the wall. And I look down at my arm and I realize that I can no longer define the boundaries of my body. I can’t define where I begin and where I end. Because the atoms and the molecules of my arm blended with the atoms and molecules of the wall. And all I could detect was this energy. Energy. And I’m asking myself, “What is wrong with me, what is going on?” And in that moment, my brain chatter, my left hemisphere brain chatter went totally silent. Just like someone took a remote control and pushed the mute button and — total silence.

And at first I was shocked to find myself inside of a silent mind. But then I was immediately captivated by the magnificence of energy around me. And because I could no longer identify the boundaries of my body, I felt enormous and expansive. I felt at one with all the energy that was, and it was beautiful there.

Then all of a sudden my left hemisphere comes back online and it says to me, “Hey! we got a problem, we got a problem, we gotta get some help.” So it’s like, OK, OK, I got a problem, but then I immediately drifted right back out into the consciousness, and I affectionately referred to this space as La La Land. But it was beautiful there. Imagine what it would be like to be totally disconnected from your brain chatter that connects you to the external world. So here I am in this space and any stress related to my, to my job, it was gone. And I felt lighter in my body. And imagine all of the relationships in the external world and the many stressors related to any of those, they were gone. I felt a sense of peacefulness. And imagine what it would feel like to lose 37 years of emotional baggage! I felt euphoria. Euphoria was beautiful — and then my left hemisphere comes online and it says “Hey! you’ve got to pay attention, we’ve got to get help,” and I’m thinking, “I got to get help, I gotta focus.” So I get out of the shower and I mechanically dress and I’m walking around my apartment, and I’m thinking, “I gotta get to work, I gotta get to work, can I drive? can I drive?”

And in that moment my right arm went totally paralyzed by my side. And I realized, “Oh my gosh! I’m having a stroke! I’m having a stroke!” And the next thing my brain says to me is, “Wow! This is so cool. This is so cool. How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out?”

And then it crosses my mind: “But I’m a very busy woman. I don’t have time for a stroke!” So I’m like, “OK, I can’t stop the stroke from happening so I’ll do this for a week or two, and then I’ll get back to my routine, OK.”

So I gotta call help, I gotta call work. I couldn’t remember the number at work, so I remembered, in my office I had a business card with my number on it. So I go in my business room, I pull out a 3-inch stack of business cards. And I’m looking at the card on top, and even though I could see clearly in my mind’s eye what my business card looked like, I couldn’t tell if this was my card or not, because all I could see were pixels. And the pixels of the words blended with the pixels of the background and the pixels of the symbols, and I just couldn’t tell. And I would wait for what I call a wave of clarity. And in that moment, I would be able to reattach to normal reality and I could tell, that’s not the card, that’s not the card, that’s not the card. It took me 45 minutes to get one inch down inside of that stack of cards.

In the meantime, for 45 minutes the hemorrhage is getting bigger in my left hemisphere. I do not understand numbers, I do not understand the telephone, but it’s the only plan I have. So I take the phone pad and I put it right here, I’d take the business card, I’d put it right here, and I’m matching the shape of the squiggles on the card to the shape of the squiggles on the phone pad. But then I would drift back out into La La Land, and not remember when I come back if I’d already dialed those numbers.

So I had to wield my paralyzed arm like a stump, and cover the numbers as I went along and pushed them, so that as I would come back to normal reality I’d be able to tell, yes, I’ve already dialed that number. Eventually the whole number gets dialed, and I’m listening to the phone, and my colleague picks up the phone and he says to me, “Whoo woo wooo woo woo.” [laughter] And I think to myself, “Oh my gosh, he sounds like a golden retriever!” And so I say to him, clear in my mind I say to him. “This is Jill! I need help!” And what comes out of my voice is, “Whoo woo wooo woo woo.” I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, I sound like a golden retriever.” So I couldn’t know, I didn’t know that I couldn’t speak or understand language until I tried.

So he recognizes that I need help, and he gets me help. And a little while later, I am riding in an ambulance from one hospital across Boston to Mass General Hospital. And I curl up into a little fetal ball. And just like a balloon with the last bit of air just, just right out of the balloon I felt my energy lift and I felt my spirit surrender. And in that moment I knew that I was no longer the choreographer of my life. And either the doctors rescue my body and give me a second chance at life or this was perhaps my moment of transition.

When I awoke later that afternoon I was shocked to discover that I was still alive. When I felt my spirit surrender, I said goodbye to my life, and my mind is now suspended between two very opposite planes of reality. Stimulation coming in through my sensory systems felt like pure pain. Light burned my brain like wildfire and sounds were so loud and chaotic that I could not pick a voice out from the background noise and I just wanted to escape. Because I could not identify the position of my body in space, I felt enormous and expensive, like a genie just liberated from her bottle. And my spirit soared free like a great whale gliding through the sea of silent euphoria. Harmonic. I remember thinking there’s no way I would ever be able to squeeze the enormousness of myself back inside this tiny little body.

But I realized “But I’m still alive! I’m still alive and I have found Nirvana. And if I have found Nirvana and I’m still alive, then everyone who is alive can find Nirvana.” I picture a world filled with beautiful, peaceful, compassionate, loving people who knew that they could come to this space at any time. And that they could purposely choose to step to the right of their left hemispheres and find this peace. And then I realized what a tremendous gift this experience could be, what a stroke of insight this could be to how we live our lives. And it motivated my to recover.

Two and a half weeks after the hemorrhage, the surgeons went in and they removed a blood clot the size of a golf ball that was pushing on my language centers. Here I am with my mama, who’s a true angel in my life. It took me eight years to completely recover.

So who are we? We are the life force power of the universe, with manual dexterity and two cognitive minds. And we have the power to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world. Right here right now, I can step into the consciousness of my right hemisphere where we are — I am — the life force power of the universe, and the life force power of the 50 trillion beautiful molecular geniuses that make up my form. At one with all that is. Or I can choose to step into the consciousness of my left hemisphere. where I become a single individual, a solid, separate from the flow, separate from you. I am Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, intellectual, neuroanatomist. These are the “we” inside of me.

Which would you choose? Which do you choose? And when? I believe that the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world and the more peaceful our planet will be. And I thought that was an idea worth spreading.

Video located here: http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html