Tag Archives: England

Re-Repairing My Cabin


Let me set the scene for you: I’m lying back on a zero-gravity garden lounger on the stone terrace that separates the Old Rectory from the sprawling green lawn that rolls away from the house for some fifty meters. The lawn sprawls away into the overhang of the wall of trees that softly shades the spearmint green of the grass into a dwindling palette of shaded greys and muted blacks. The irony of the vibrant morphing into the gloomy isn’t lost on me knowing that on the other side of the fence that borders the immense lawn and gardens is the Litcham church cemetery.

I’m back in England. It’s been a year and a half since I’ve been here, the place and people I have been coming back to annually for the last twenty years. It’s rare to have people in one’s life who have consistently and uninterruptedly been present, in all respects of the word, for almost thirty years. I am beyond grateful to be privy to that rare blessing, and have been coming back to England to spend time with her, her husband and their two boys (one of whom is my godson), all of whom I consider to be my extended family. 


I’m here in July, which is somewhat of an anomaly considering I usually make my jaunts over in the dead of the January winter. That period of the year is usually down-time for me career-wise, but after five years of exposing myself to the cold damp that introduced me to the James Herbert-esque weather condition known as freezing fog, I decided to explore the warmer clime of early July.

I’m surrounded by wild lavender shrubs, serenaded by cooing doves and pigeons and, in the distance, the low-rumbling swishing of passing cars. The sun is out, warming the legs of my jeans as bumblebees, drunk from the pollen of the lavender, dive bomb past my head. I’m relaxing, which might sound typical given the nature of my work, but the last 7 months have been anything but relaxing. Since January 2016 I have succeeded in promoting my latest book, A Year In The Light, and have done more teaching in classes, workshops, teacher trainings and conferences than ever before. I have also over-scheduled myself, running myself relatively ragged until two months of antibiotics were required to help me regain the balance in my health and life that I had lost in the pursuit of helping others. You know that expression, “The carpenter’s cabin is the one most crooked?” I’m repairing my cabin. Again.

And so I am here, with no intention of working or committing to anything other than relaxing for the next two weeks. And yet, with the seemingly easiest of tasks before me, I find myself once again applying everything I have learned and taught. A daunting task now that it is just me and my thoughts, no distractions or commitments. 


My mind is entrepreneurial by nature. I am my own boss, and am passionately dedicated to my career of guiding others down their paths, helping to facilitate their journey. I am constantly thinking. About the next project, students and clients, scheduling, the administrative side to my business, and countless other facets of my career. And that’s just the stuff related to my work that keeps my mind whirling. Add to that courses and continuing education, my relationship, friendships, family, my dog, life, etc… It’s a lot for one brain to process, and I know that I’m not alone, that we all download and store copious amounts of data that either stays stored, gets extrapolated for some purpose or another or pops up in the randomest of moments to remind us of the connectivity and non-randomness of life. And I’m having trouble unplugging my thoughts from the “doing” outlet they are normally plugged into so I can replug them into the “being” outlet where there’s no need to plan the next project or consider how to keep my marketing fresh and compelling.

I woke up last night at 3am, still on Montreal time, but slowly acclimating to the UK time zone. After a few minutes of realizing my thoughts were wandering into aspects of my life that would keep me awake, I did what I always do and refocused on body sensing, the art of noticing sensations in different parts of my body. This exercise of focusing the mind usually lulls me into sleep within minutes. It took longer last night, and I was aware of the extra effort it took to drift back off into sleep.


Today I keep noticing the pull towards doing; filming something for my YouTube channel, starting the new online course I’m enrolled in, working to put together next year’s yoga retreats. With the intention of not working, I instead pulled out a novel from my friends’ bookshelves and started reading, only to observe my thoughts wandering away on a path of their own. 

It will take a few days for me to successfully unplug and replug. The process is, quite simply, fascinating, regardless of how much time I’ve spent in my life practicing the art of concentration. It’s an art that demands one always remain a beginner, and I, once again, find myself at the starting line.

This is the closest to work I’ll be doing for the next couple of weeks, and an essential step in my detaching, as writing usually allows me to process and then let go. If your email goes unanswered, trust I’ll get to it once I’m back home. My absence is intentional, and sorely needed for my sanity and the sustainability of my work. 

Your work? Notice your thoughts, in any and all moments. Notice how you unplug and replug, from one outlet to another. For myself, I’ll refocus my gaze onto the bee-populated lavender and the music of Turin Brakes drifting out from the front door of the house.

Peace to us all.

Repairing My Cabin

I’m still in England, staying with my extended family as I always do when I travel here. Over the past 15 years, these trips have always provided me with a real break from my daily life and responsibilities, and along with that have come some of the greatest moments of clarity and epiphany. Last night something happened that I’m still trying to process, and I wanted to share it with you.

I, obviously, am a huge believer in what yoga brings to our lives. The physical, emotional, intuitive, energetic…the benefits are innumerable, and they affect all aspects of my own life. I didn’t start teaching yoga with the intention of filling up my coffers or becoming wealthy, in fact, I’m very aware of what it takes to simply get the bills paid in this field of work. I also have never felt the inclination to run through training course after training course, and to be honest, I found my yoga teacher training to be possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. My reason for teaching stemmed from my passion for my own personal yoga practice. What I deemed über-personal and enlightening for myself ended up being what I felt compelled to share with the world. Nonetheless, with the growing demand to teach and speak and bring my message to people, I have noticed how easy it can become to let my personal practice fall by the wayside as my schedule gets busier and busier. The expression “The carpenter’s cabin is always the one in need of repairs” has rung true many a time in my career, and so when I came over to the UK this time, I vowed to come back to my home practice.

After only a few days of coming back to it, I did the typical things we do when bringing ourselves back to a pattern or practice that we have once known but have let fall away: I analyzed how a regular yoga practice affected me – my mood, my physical state, everything. I saw how much better I was feeling, physically, emotionally and mentally. All these things I felt in control of – I had made the decision to prioritize my practice, and these were the benefits I experienced as a result of that decision. And then last night I had a dream.

I was in India. Ok. Let’s stop here for a moment. India has never had a massive allure to me. I consider myself sensitive to suffering and sadness and having seen images and knowing the degree of poverty and suffering that exists in India, I’ve definitely felt an aversion to all that (dysentery has also always been a fear, if I’m being honest). Back to the dream now. I’m in India, at the top of a flight of stairs that borders a river. I’m in need of some kind of help (I can’t remember what was wrong), and before me is a sadhu (Indian sage) with long, dark hair and a beard, in orange robes. He gives me something (I can’t remember what, but it wasn’t a tangible, material object), and a sense of peace and gratitude washes over me. I started thanking him in earnest, my palms together in front of my forehead as I bow to him, thanking him over and over. He then walks a few steps away from me to the mouth of a long horn-like wooden instrument and blows into it, releasing a deep rumbling drone from the opening on the other side of it. I then turn, walk down the stairs to where I thought the sidewalk or road would be, but all is flooded, so I immerse myself in the water and start swimming, hyper-conscious of not letting the water into my mouth for fear of ingesting bacteria. I swim to the side where there are people lined up in single file, and as I join the line, a boy standing in front of me turns around and takes from me what I had attributed as being the blessing from the sadhu. I felt no panic or fear, in fact I realized that I could survive without what I had been given. And then I woke up.

I have read countless tales of people being visited by visions of sages in their dreams (A Search In Secret India and The Journey Home among others), and have always thought it fascinating. I never in my wildest fantasies ever thought I would have a dream like the one I did last night, and am so curious to see if this sage will manifest again somehow in my life. I feel steeped in spirituality today, guided by an energy that I have no control over, an energy that I somehow know will continue to bring me closer to true spiritual light the less I try to manipulate it. I feel so alive and wanted to share this experience with you…

I also wanted to ask if this has occurred to any of you before? Have you been visited in dreams or other states of (un/sub/super) consciousness by someone or something that you felt was guiding you? Let me know, and I will continue to share this ongoing experience as it unfolds to me…

UK Musings

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It’s 5 am. I’m buried under the blankets in bed trying to build all the warmth possible in this cold room. It’s a wall of blackness outside, a wall that engulfs the rolling lawn behind the house. The lawn ends in a line of a variety of trees stripped of their foliage, all but the massive conifer that is being pummeled by the roaring wind that started whipping around minutes ago. The dividing line of trees separates the property line from the church graveyard behind it. Lichen-strewn headstones teetering in a state of angular, fragile suspension serve as the funnel system for the wind, building the gales into a low howl. I’m home again. Back in England. My being is literally alive with the vibration of all that is, and that vibration is stronger than ever. This is union. This is home. This is Om.

UK Musings

I’m alone. Approaching the end of my latest 2-week voyage over to see my England-based extended family, I find myself in the rarest of situations: Helene has taken the kids out, Kerry is off at a football game…and I’m alone in the house…the always kinetic center of it all, the flurry of activity that starts around 7am and doesn’t stop until the children go to sleep slightly more than 12 hours later. Reuniting with complete stillness after 11 days (obviously excluding those sweet hours of repose I take full advantage of), tapping back into that serenity and groundedness, literally feels like coming home…in a place I consider my home away from home. All of which reinforces my belief that home is wherever you want it to be, at any given moment. Right now, I’m home.

I’ve been practicing yoga here steadily, locking myself in the big lounge, laying down my travel mat amidst the antique-style furniture and directly facing the massive fireplace. Taking a full hour as often as I can to disconnect from everything around me, and re-connect my mind to my breath and my body. I took a couple of days to trek down to London, where I met up with Tara, who joined us on our Mexico retreat in March of this year and who has since become a close friend. Together we caught up, ate in great restaurants, basked for 2 hours in the lovely energy that resides at the Jivamukti Center, and generally just had a laugh. After a couple of days with her, I made the journey back up to lovely Norfolk, and I fell right back into the frantic state of play surrounding the kids, all set amidst the relaxed rhythm of the gorgeous countryside.

After having been in this country countless times, I find myself surprised at how I never tire of it. The panoramic, rolling hills, the foliage in full bloom, the intermittent, dismally chilled and rainy days, the seemingly endless selection of country pubs offering some of the best food I could be treated to, and, most of all, the company of my family out here…Regardless of what I end up doing while I’m here, I can be certain from the outset that I will have the time of my life, that my roots will sink a little deeper into this UK soil, and that I will be able to bring a smattering of all the energies I encountered during my stay back to my life in Montreal to share with those with whom I share my Canadian existence, students and family members alike.

I always come back from these visits feeling a massive sense of gratitude, and incredibly inspired to continue on my yogic path, digging into my soul a little deeper, and hopefully inspiring others in their journeys by sharing my observations and findings. I have a few more days left to bask in the light that I find here among all the people I meet and spend time with…rest assured that I’m aware of every moment, taking mental snapshots (as well as digital ones) that will be filed away in the annals of my mind that will eventually be referred back to so I can tap back into this energy whenever I fancy. The greatest thing about life is that those annals are great enough to accomodate the ever-growing inventory of snapshots, the moments that life does not stop offering up, the pieces of muchness that we all are exposed to, but that which some of us pass by unaware of the significance that often exists in that periphery. So as I wind down my time here, let me offer this up to you: keep your head up, your heart open, and look around you for those moments that are being offered up to you. Let them imprint themselves, and hold onto them as you continue on your journey. File them away, and take note of how they start to grow in numbers, those numbers signifying the richness in your lives. You don’t have to travel overseas to find them, but you have to be open to notice them…Sending you all much love (and even more light) from England 🙂

UK Musings

IMG_9351The church bells, clanging through the viscous blackness of the chilled night, their peals travelling through the mossy graveyard and over the rolling back lawn of the Walpole’s house, have just announced the start of a new 24-hour cycle, and, coincidentally, the end of my 36th birthday. I’ve been here in Norfolk visiting my extended family for over a week now, with another few days ahead of me before I return home to the plummeting sub-zero temperatures of another prematurely frosty Montreal autumn. As I get ready to go to sleep at the end of this latest birthday, I find myself more than ever aware of the irrationality and fleetingness of time, and how intently I find myself holding onto the moments and events that are taking place around me. Doing so also serves to offer up a different slant on the life that exists for me here in England, one that lies waiting patiently, yet anxiously for my inevitable return, year after year. I come to England to reconnect with my oldest friend Helene, her husband Kerry, and their two sons Freddie and Wills, the latter of whom is my godson. It seems like whenever I come over to visit, I end up getting sick, whether it be from missing a night of sleep on the plane over, or from being immersed in a household containing two young boys building up their immune systems with bacteria and germs solely on offer on the floors and doorknobs of the local daycare. Regardless, my inevitable decline into feeling less than robust succeeds in setting the tone for my stay in this breathtaking country, one whose history of gothic and medieval tales can easily be forgotten in the light of the blazing mid-day sun, but which takes microseconds to regain its position and influence with the return of a single charcoal-edged cloud. Spending months of my life in this history-drenched corner of the country has allowed me to understand what it must feel like to live among spirits, as every turn of the ultra-narrow roads that wind their way through the English countryside reveals another centuries-old church, cathedral, or cemetery, usually complete with a detailed history retold on a tablet nearby for passers-by. As fortunate as I am to be able to have this magical land as part of my make-up, I’m even luckier to have people here who I feel close enough to to refer to as extended family, and, in turn, whose respective families have become part of that extended network of mine. I’ve been treated, this birthday of mine, to a visit from more UK friends who drove from the other side of the country to spend my 36th with me, to a gorgeous meal in a Thai-themed country pub as well as a pub birthday lunch, all topped off with a full, home-made Indian feast that Hel painstakingly prepared over two days. The food, the company, and, ultimately, the network of lovely people and the mutual affection we hold for each other has left me feeling like the luckiest guy in the world, and I feel the need to acknowledge that…to appreciate how blessed I am in this life knowing how much light I’m surrounded with, and to understand the responsibility I have to reflect and pass on that light to everyone else around me in the knowledge that it will travel the globe through the actions and words of like-minded individuals. Thank you to my UK family for leaving me speechless, for making me laugh until I can no longer catch my breath, and for loving me so generously…I am more grateful than these words can ever express.