Tag Archives: intolerance

Key Principles To Remember in Times of Darkness

There is no moment in time that is not rife with turmoil, with difficulty, with fear or with obstacles. And there is no moment in time in which peace, ease, faith and trust are not accessible, even when their opposites seem unstoppable. I believe humanity needs to remember a few key principles as we navigate our way through the highs and the lows. Here are those principles:

1) How we choose to respond to life is the most important choice we will make. Any form of discrimination, depression or oppression is unacceptable. To meet discrimination, racism, homophobia, misogyny or any act of hate and intolerance with more hate and intolerance simply feeds the energies that we are objecting to so vehemently. To end negative behavioural cycles, we must be conscious of how we may be inadvertently perpetuating them under the guise of moral indignation.

2) It is not helpful to throw around opinions and judgement. We may feel that in doing so we are disseminating wisdom and the way forward, but we must remember that it is not the subjective understanding of any one circumstance that will help heal what is wounded. Only expressing and sharing our humanity will accomplish that. The former highlights what keeps us separate. The latter highlights what brings us together.

3) We are meant to spend our time cultivating the seeds that will flourish into lasting happiness. We are meant to embody and emanate the vibration of joy. We are meant to have fun with this time we are offered. Getting stuck in that which leaves us resentful, disappointed, ashamed, afraid or sad propels us away from happiness and joy. It is our responsibility to seek out light when darkness smothers, to take action to touch happiness when sadness overwhelms. Our natural state is one of joy, and so we must remember to do whatever it takes to experience the sensations of joy when they seem the furthest away.

4) Setting an intention to make this moment in time better by infusing it with compassion, generosity, kindness and goodness so we can all stand side by side with unfailing support for each other can only end well. We are social animals which thrive on unity and togetherness. We must remember to prioritize this, especially with those who look, sound and act differently than we do. Appearances will always deceive. Don’t allow yourself to fall for that old trick.

5) We must do better than our predecessors did. We must learn from their efforts, their sacrifices, their defeats and their mistakes. We must do better. It starts with every single one of us. Don’t rise to the bait. Deprogram initial response and come back to your intention. This is how we will awaken to the next chapter in history. Not by repeating what has proven to be harmful or useless, but by standing in our own power and ability to effect positive change when it most matters.

6) There is a fraction of a second that exists between stimulus and response, between what instigates fear, sadness or anger and the emotional reaction that it elicits. In that fraction of a second we must remember to breathe deeply. A deep breath not only helps release the existing tensions the body is carrying, but it helps deflect new ones from landing. Breathe deeply to stay in action and avoid falling into emotional reaction.

7) We must remember that “This too shall pass.” Life as we know it is simply a series of moments. Some of them will be pleasant, others unpleasant, but they are moments, pure and simple. We must continually remind ourselves that this moment will pass. Doing so will allow us to hold on when events get rocky, and will also allow us to appreciate the good while it presents itself.

8) Depersonalizing the narrative that is unfolding and affecting us is essential to seeing events as they are and not how we fear they may be. Look at the facts, imagine you were reading an article about them occurring to someone else, and ask yourself what advice you would give to the people affected. Taking ourselves out of the equation, even momentarily, allows us to step out of the emotional stranglehold fear can instill in us so that we can keep a level head and proceed with clarity.

The time is now. Use it wisely.

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The Way Forward

I have been relatively quiet about the US elections over the past couple of years. I have chosen not to contribute to the vibrations of chaos this archaic system of “politics” has instigated. This morning I have no choice but to speak.

There is much despair right now, not only in the good old US of A, but globally. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named is the leader of the so-called free world, apparently. This is. So we must accept and move forward from here.

What we also must accept is that we have the tendency of getting stuck in the human experience when that experience gets extreme. Like it is now. But there is a greater narrative unfolding that we cannot ignore.

The spiritual, energetic experience that exists simultaneously as these chaotic details unfold is occurring on purpose, for a reason that will be specific to every single one of us. In moments of turmoil, the energetic experience is begging us to ask ourselves, “What am I meant to learn? What am I meant to learn?” This needs to be our mantra, because to look for the meaning behind the chaos is to see beyond the literal, beyond what gets us stuck, so we can move forward.

Some of us are meant to learn that we need to speak our minds louder than we have done.

Some of us are meant to learn that we need to stand up for the rights of others who are being persecuted.

Some of us are meant to learn that if we don’t vote, our inaction will turn around and bite us in the ass.

Some of us are meant to learn that the struggle is, indeed, real, that the fight for freedom is far from over, and that entitlement is the luxury of the few and the deluded.

Some of us are meant to learn the names Gloria Steinem, Matthew Shepard, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Frederic Douglass, Harvey Milk, Ella Baker and the countless others who fought intolerance and ignorance.

Some of us are meant to de-program initial response and wait to see how things will unfold.

We are treading new waters and we don’t necessarily know how things will go. We cannot let fear motivate us into emotional response and hasty action. We must ask ourselves if we want to be part of the problem or part of the solution. We must remain in ACTION and not in RE-action.

We must be awake and alert and ready to support each other regardless of what God we may pray to, regardless of the color of our skin, regardless of gender or money or all the other bullshit details that typically keep us separate.

This is our call to attendance. The time is now, the struggle just got even more real. Be peaceful. Be loving. Accept and make wise decisions that allow you to respond to life, not react to it.

We can do this. All of us, together.

Is Freedom An Endangered Concept?

At the beginning of many yoga classes I’ve taken, the mantra seen above has been chanted, and occasionally even been focused on as the theme for the class. This chant calling for the happiness and freedom of all beings is not simply a channeling and projection of good intentions, it’s a call to personal responsibility. It galvanizes and empowers us to take accountability for other beings by ensuring that everything we think, do and say is done with the aim of creating our own personal happiness and freedom. Sounds simple enough, one would think. However, throughout the past weeks and months, with the American election campaigns in full swing (pun fully intended), as well as the election here in Quebec and the reports coming out of Syria and Russia, I have been seriously mulling over what freedom really is, and how its meaning might differ from one person to the next.

I’m not a particularly political person. I’ve rarely followed any political party very closely in the past, but the rise in global intolerance seems undeniable these days, an intolerance reflected in the heads of political parties that somehow rise to power. The greater the intolerance, the less freedom people have. The two may be inversely proportional, but they’re co-dependent. There is no freedom without repression. We wouldn’t even have to discuss the concept of freedom if mankind wasn’t power-hungry and ego-driven enough to feel compelled to strip away the options and opportunities available from those they feel superior to. Every history book in existence tells of those who, in their blind pursuit to sate their hunger for control, have inflicted the most horrible and unspeakable of atrocities onto their quarries because of the threat they felt was posed to them. Repression has always existed, and judging by the snail-like pace that mankind is evolving at, it always will.

American Republicans include the withdrawal of women’s, gay, and minority rights on their current campaign platforms, and for some reason, even with the direct threat to those freedoms, they still garner a huge number of supporters. Despite the US being the “land of the free and the home of the brave”, Republicans obviously feel that they should instead adopt the political slogan “land of the racist, misogynistic, classist, and homophobic, and home of the ignorant.” Not bad for a nation with 1 in 5 people living in poverty and Caucasians now in the minority.

Our own not-for-much-longer premier of Quebec introduced legislation this year, Bill 78, essentially prohibiting our population from taking to the streets in an impromptu fashion to voice our discontent over how we felt our democratically elected leaders were managing our province. The freedom to come together and communicate dissension had conditions imposed on it, regardless of the fact that the bill itself was a farce and will prove next week in the provincial election to be the Liberal Party’s demise. And now, Russia’s government has pretty much banned homosexuality from existing (have Mr. Putin and Mr. Ahmadinejad started hanging out?), even going so far as to prohibit Russian Gay Pride Parades for the next 100 years. Countless other threats to what I have always believed freedom to stand for exist in every single village/town/city/province/state/country/continent on the globe. They always have, and they always will. That’s what I believe we are working against in the pursuit of so-called freedom.

Let’s now look at those of us in materialistic, industrialized nations. Our children have grown up, for the most part, unaware that the options available to them are the direct result of others who came before them having fought and died in the name of freedom. With them not knowing that only white, Christian, heterosexual men can breathe a sigh of relief with the bulk of history on their side, they stand to lose their own freedoms. People constantly speak about freedom as something to defend, as a basic right, but what are they really referring to? Are they speaking about the right for every single person to voice their dissatisfaction with something? How about the right to carry a gun around and use it? Or maybe what they’re talking about is the right to judge others and strip them of their dignity and livelihood? It’s unfortunate to say, but I believe on many levels that freedom for all isn’t what’s being coveted by the masses – people want the freedom to protect what they believe they are entitled to – they want security at the expense of freedom. Security to make and keep their money, security to sit at home and play video games while the rest of the world fights senseless wars, security to protect their families from the same people their attitudes are repressing.

As an innately empathetic person, and as a teacher of yoga and spirituality, I make it my responsibility to embody the essence of other beings. Yoga has us take poses named after dogs, trees, cats, lightning bolts, and so much more, all for a reason – as crazy as it may sound, to visualize adopting the energy of another being allows us to see how we as humans are simply one drop in the ocean. It shows us that it’s not all about us. It reminds us that the only threat to mankind is mankind itself. We are responsible for destroying our planet. We are responsible for allowing atrocities to take place all over the world. We are responsible for the misinterpretation of freedom and how that misinterpretation allows our leaders to forget that they’re supposed to work for us, not against us. We need to fight for our own freedom without forgetting about peace, to voice our opposition against anyone who tells us that one person is better than another or that what one person believes is more valid than the beliefs of another, and we need to teach our children that the fight existed before them, and will continue throughout their lifetime. Incorporating non-violence is essential, even against those who would beat us down, but we have a responsibility to stand up for. It’s in doing that that we fulfill our responsibility towards the freedom and happiness of all others.

And so with all that said, I ask you: what is freedom according to you? Knowing that the political pendulum swings from the right to the left and back to the right every couple of decades, do you really believe that freedom is available to all of us? Should it be? Do you feel free in your own lives? If not, why? Let me know, because in doing so, you’re letting everyone know, and we are all sharing the exact same experiences, but simply don’t feel free to enough to share. It starts with us.