Tag Archives: intention

2017 Higher Learning Weekend 


What fundamental aspects of the human experience are we not taught in school? How are we being set up for a lifetime of settling, mediocrity, frustration and disappointment? What conditioning does our culture endorse and depend on to keep us stuck in what keeps us silent, stationary and skeptical? Where are we getting the skills we need to respond wisely to the more difficult and challenging moments we all face?

Traditional channels of education set us up to be economically accountable and productive members of society, but don’t give us the survival techniques necessary to prioritize our own sense of peace and well-being when tensions land and everything goes wrong. It has been a few years since I have had the intention of creating an educational program that addressed the way we live while providing tools and coping strategies for navigating the ups and downs of this winding human journey. I am so pleased to now unveil years of study, insight and experience with the Higher Learning workshop.

Join me Saturday & Sunday, January 21 & 22, 2017 for the inaugural Higher Learning Weekend of Workshops. Space is limited to 25 places per workshop and students can choose to attend the entire weekend or choose specific modules à la carte. The subject matter is appropriate and relevant for people of all ages, so children bring your parents and parents bring your children. This will be an event for anyone with a pulse and the desire to LIVE this life to its maximum potential. The Higher Learning program is an opportunity to focus on the skill sets that have the potential to influence and inform the rest of your life.

All levels of student welcome, no prior study or knowledge of Hinduism or scriptures necessary.

Contact me at bram.levinson@gmail.com for more info or choose your payment option below.

Sat, January 21
9:30am-12:00pm – The Power Of Intention
1:30pm-4:30pm – The Power of Being/Awareness

Sunday, January 22
9:30am-12:00pm – The Power of Thought
1:30pm-4:30pm – The Power of Time

$300+taxes ($344.93) – full weekend
$90+taxes ($103.48) – individual module à la carte

Equilibrium Yoga
4812 Boul St-Laurent, suite 101 (corner Villeneuve)
*do not contact the studio for information, contact Bram directly*

**I am thrilled to announce Simply Protein as the official sponsor for this event!**

I Want

IMG_3206I want to live a life of adventure. I want to know what it feels like to fall through the sky. I want to travel and see the world and have my soul resonate with the vibrations of the most beautiful geographical locations on this earth. I want to eat food that tastes like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. I want to swim in warm oceans of transparent blue water and let myself float under the sun until I’m waterlogged. I want to laugh until my jaw and my belly ache, and I want to love with a passion that inspires works of art. I want to stand in front of millions of people and wake them up to every single way that we’re exactly alike. I want to walk through forests and smell the richness of nature, and I want to be with friends who interweave their tapestries of life with mine. I want to sleep uninterrupted every night and wake up every morning when it suits my fancy. I want to find ways to express this unstoppable force of love that I find vibrating in my body, and I want to help others find ways to express the exact same force that they embody. I want to live bigger than anyone ever told me I could and I want to die knowing I did it all my way, no compromise, no dumbing down, no doing it so others can be comfortable with it.

I want you to take every “I want” out of that last paragraph and understand what I’m doing with my time.

What do you want?

 

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.

Whistler While I Work Pt.2

WhistlerI’m sitting on the bus that will soon depart for Vancouver International Airport as i make my way back home to Montreal, and I’m literally vibrating from the experiences I’ve had over the last 4 days. The energy coursing through me was so intense last night that I couldn’t fall asleep for hours, and woke up exceptionally early ready to get up, senses alert in anticipation of the events that would close out my stint on the faculty of the Wanderlust Whistler Yoga Festival.

My time here has been densely packed with moments that have woken me to the reality of this cross-section of my life: I have more of an impact on people than I was aware of. I am known by many more people than I was aware of. I am better at what I do than I was aware of. My future is blindingly brighter and bigger than I ever could have imagined.

I have always worked hard in this career, knowing that it was actually less of a job and more of my raison-d’être. I put my blood, sweat, intention, honour, and tears into what I do, and I have always hoped that I would be fortunate enough to reach people on a grand scale. That hope is now being realized.

What have I learned from this incredible, game/life-changing weekend? I’ve learned that my tendency to second-guess myself, which on one hand helps keep me grounded and focused on creating the best space possible for those who need it, also has kept me from seeing the sheer scope and immensity of how effectively I connect with people, and where in the world those people are. I’ve learned that the success that seems to be blossoming from this epicenter of honourable intention embodies endless possibilities lying in wait for me. I’ve learned that my goal of helping people live better lives and heal by shifting their perspectives and focusing on that which serves to unite us is being realized, and that I am already connecting to people on a global scale. I’ve learned that my intention is growing with the possibilities that have suddenly become illuminated to me.

I’ve met incredible people this weekend, people I had previously held in the highest of esteem, and held at a level above where I considered myself to be. These people embraced me during my stay here, reminding me that we’re always level with each other, and that we are all living a communal existence of light-bearing, especially into the darkest of times and places.

My bus is on the move now, so I’ll wrap it up here. I’m coming home a changed man. Galvanized, refocused, and feeling more confident than ever that the road that my dharma continues to lead me on is where I was meant to be, and where my life’s work will continue to unfold. To all of you who are thinking, “I TOLD you so!”, I’m grateful that you’ve given me the time to catch up to what you were already conscious of.

Onwards and upwards 🙂

The Present of your Presence

One of my favourite memories of being in a yoga class was when I took Cat’s class at Jivamukti London a year ago. Cat was leading a strong, amazingly instructed vinyasa, and in one of the sequences, the guy practicing next to me went fully rogue, taking whatever postures he felt like moving into, completely veering off of the class we were there to take. Cat didn’t let it go unnoticed, as I quickly understood by her “STAY PRESENT” interjection. He quickly came back to the moment and fell into the flow the rest of us were moving through.

As a yoga teacher, I constantly find myself instructing students that veer off of the path that the class is moving along, and, admittedly, as much as I try to address it without interrupting the instruction, I have never had the guts to literally tell someone to follow along and stay with my words. I loved Cat’s certainty, but more than that, I understood where it came from. Some people argue that those who attend classes and then follow their own internal teacher shouldn’t bother coming to class at all, because what’s the point if they’re not an active participant in the process? But, I know that some students have physical limitations and/or injuries that prevent them from taking certain postures, so they adjust what they need to in order to stay in the flow and maintain a certain pace. However…what I also occasionally see is students who have been practicing for a long time, whether with me or with other studios and teachers, who are familiar with the practice and feel like they’re used to the sequences and know where the class is going. I’ve been that student, and still am, on occasion. It is because of this assumed familiarity that we sometimes find ourselves moving through the asanas with reduced presence and attention…and it is in that semi-lethargy that we find ourselves moving into the next anticipated posture without being aware that the teacher hasn’t brought us there – in fact, everyone else has kept following along and they’re moving through entirely different sequences. So we snap back to the present moment and speed-yog through a few postures until we catch up to the class, and with the adrenaline rushing, we make sure we’re fully present for the rest of the class. And that is what it’s all about: presence.

If yoga is union, and we’re aiming to unify the mind, body and the breath, then we’re falling out of a state of yoga when our minds are elsewhere. The same goes when our breath is out of control, as well as when our bodies are taking postures that are not being instructed. To come back to the practice involves coming back into a state of union, and that is what the fundamental aim of the practice is. Our goal as yogis is to come back to that state of unification and alignment as often as possible so that we can have glimpses into the realm of truth, possibility and permanence. It is through those experiences that we become galvanized to pass on the teachings and guidelines to our students so that they can experience those moments of beauty and expanding awareness as well. The ultimate goal? To achieve a state of oneness all the time, in all moments, remembering that what happens on the mat during any yoga practice is a  microcosm of what happens in our daily lives, allowing what we learn through our practice to be incorporated into our daily meanderings. To achieve peace. To achieve detachment from the material world, understanding that true happiness lies in our ability to connect…to each other, to the earth and the world around us, and, ultimately, to a higher energy. All through the practice.

So if you have en existing practice, challenge yourselves to observe how you practice. Notice when and why your attention wanders from the breath and the movement, and see if you can gain insight into why it’s happening. More importantly, if you don’t practice yoga, check yourselves throughout your day. If you’re constantly active and busy, take moments out of your hustle and bustle to step back from everything, and notice if you’re fully participating in your own life, or if you’re half-heartedly going through the motions, with some of your attention elsewhere. If you are, do your best to let whatever is in the past stay in the past, and to let go of how you think things will unravel in the future. Be present, and see how it serves you. You might be surprise how it changes your approach to everything, and to the relationships that already exist between you and the people you work with, live with, etc…Try it out…If you don’t find yourselves any the wiser for it, you’re still ahead of the game, because you made the effort to stand back from yourselves and do some digging, some exploration. If the expression “An unexamined life is not worth living” is accurate, then it’s time to infuse our existences with worth. All it takes is the intention and awareness. Try it out, and see for yourselves….

Learn more about YIOM, follow the bloggers participating, and catch up with our twitter feeds at http://theveganasana.com/YIOM.

My Raison-D’Être

As most people are doing at this time of year, I’m finding myself reflecting on the past 12 months and everything that they have offered…remembering where my head-space was at this time last year and how I put down in black and white what my goals would be for 2010…how 2010 would be the year to see if a career in Yoga would be financially feasible, if I could still support myself and pay the mortgage while pursuing what I consider to be my mission in this life. After a year of hard work and a clear vision, I now find myself at the tail end of what will go down in my personal history book as the “Year of Firsts”.

From co-organizing my first foray into philanthropy alongside Dawn Mauricio, Vanessa Muri and Fanny Poveda with the 2010 Yoga Mala, to promoting the event on TV…from teaching 3 times the amount of private classes I had set as my goal for the year to having one of those classes be with one of my long-time idols, Margaret Cho…from completing my teacher training to co-leading Yoga retreats in Tulum, Mexico & Eastman, Quebec…from getting married (*gasp*) to visiting Spain & Portugal…from bringing my practice to a new level to filming the “Yoga Flo for the Earth” DVD with my partner in crime (and all things enlightening) Jennifer Maagendans…from becoming an ambassador for Lululemon to being flown to Vancouver for their Ambassador Summit…and these are only the highlights that come to mind immediately…it’s been a watershed year for me, one that has set the tone for the rest of my life. Having reflected on and taken stock of all these amazing moments, what I hold closest to my heart and my soul is that I am doing something with my life that allows me to contribute to the people I find myself blessed to be surrounded by, and to the universe itself.

The only reason I do what I do is because it provides me with a platform from where I can offer alternate avenues for approaching life, death and all that is. It allows me to verbalize what often proves to be confusing and convoluted in words that are comprehensible, and more importantly, practical and applicable. I doubt that I will ever be the textbook yogi who communes with Being by retreating to the mountains in solitude and renouncing the householding life…that’s not who I am and it’s not where I feel I can influence society and culture. Yoga, for me, is a system of tools that allows me to live right here, right now, in the life that I’ve spent decades building for myself, with an innate sense of peace and calm, and with a direct link to what affects every aspect of my physical, mental, emotional and energetic bodies – my breath. Being able to control the breath gives me incredible clarity and focus, and it’s largely due to this clarity that I find myself feeling compelled to convey the information that I feel most relevant and insightful…that which actually offers options and different approaches to digesting what we live in our daily lives so that we can have lives filled with peace, happiness and laughter…always laughter 🙂

It would be remiss of me to not thank you all for allowing me to have a forum where the intention behind (and accompanying) my words is afforded a destination. The support and encouragement you offer is what keeps me going, what motivates me to continue to express what I feel needs to be expressed, and with the last year behind me,  I can see with that almost blinding clarity that the universe really does provide, and that when something is pure in intention and deed, it can’t help but be good.

Sending a flood of light to you all, and wishing you all the happiness and health I can conjure up for 2011 🙂