Tag Archives: motivation

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.

When Words Fail…

I am home after spending the past twenty-four hours promoting the launch of my new book A Year In The Light: Daily Spiritual Life Hacks, Intentions & Reminders. I am flabbergasted and humbled by this whole experience. The reaction has been nothing less than extraordinary. It is often said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but I believe that to give one’s time is the most sincere form of flattery, and hundreds of you did just that to support me and the launch of this work. Thank you for showing up, literally. Thank you for showering me with beautifully kind words and appreciation of what I devote my life to. To those of you who gave me the spaces to promote the book and give the readings and the signings, I will never be able to fully communicate my gratitude. And to the crew at Indigo Bookstore in downtown Montreal, know that you have been instrumental in creating a moment for me where I felt legitimized as an author by encouraging me to do the book signing today.

Thank you. Without you all, I’m nothing. Everything I do in my career and my spiritual life is an offering, and you all made it abundantly clear that you are all there to receive that offering. I couldn’t do it without you. I hope these words convey a fraction of what I’m feeling. CTzr9EbW4AAR6yv (2)Thank you.

A Year in the Light

IMG_5948I have a massive announcement to make, and an even more massive favor to ask of you all, but let’s start first with the announcement: as I’ve mentioned in passing and through a few social media posts, my second book is on its way. My first book, The Examined Life, is still selling consistently after 18 months of being released and promoted, which I’m taking as a fantastic sign considering the following: I self-published it, I promote it myself, I do the footwork to get it all over the world to be sold through online and retail outlets and, as a result of having succeeded in getting it sold at Indigo (the largest book retailer in Canada) in downtown Montreal at Place Montréal Trust, it has become the most successful self-published/consignment book ever sold there. The book is now in its third printing and I couldn’t be happier with its evolution and the reception you’ve all given it. And trust me, I’m grateful. I’ll never be able to properly express just how grateful I am.

As I continue to get The Examined Life out to the world with no assistance from publishing houses or agents, I am now including my next book project into my efforts. The working title for this year’s release is A Year in the Light: Daily Spiritual Life Hacks, Intentions and Reminders. The cover design is in the works, the actual content is 95% completed with edits being done over the next couple of months and the actual book itself will be released in paperback and digital formats on Saturday, November 14, 2015.

As described in the description on iTunes, “A Year in the Light is the latest release from yoga and meditation teacher and author of The Examined Life, Bram Levinson. Veering off from where The Examined Life brought readers, A Year in the Light serves as a daily companion for seekers, thinkers and anyone striving to live a life more steeped in peace, perspective and mindfulness. With 365 pages of daily insights, intentions and reminders, this book serves as a practical tool for those either seeking occasional inspiration and focus or for those looking to commit to the year-long, 365-day A Year in the Light Challenge. Those taking the challenge are encouraged to read one page per morning and then bring that page’s insight or intention out into their day to see how and if it proves relevant or helpful. Participants are encouraged to start their 365-day period whenever they’d like and to bring the insights and discoveries they find through the book to social media outlets using #AYITLChallenge as the identifiable hashtag.

Written in a no-nonsense, relatable style, this book brings many of the intentions and themes from Bram’s classes, workshops, retreats and teachings into one extremely practical collection. Guaranteed to inspire, motivate and provoke thought, A Year in the Light is the perfect companion for anyone seeking guidance in the pursuit of truth, awakening, purpose and, above all, peace.”

I am, needless to say, beyond excited that this work that has been in the works for the past year is finally getting to the delivery stage, and I cannot wait to see the impact it makes with you all (and with those people who don’t yet know who I am or what my message is that I convey through my work).

Now here comes the favour I am asking of you all: as you may have noticed, there are hyperlinks above directing you to the iTunes (and there it is again ;)) page in iBooks where the book is already for sale as a pre-order. This ability to pre-order a digital book is new for self-published authors, and there are many advantages to being able to do this. The reason I’ve decided to put the digital book up for pre-order is because every pre-order made leading up to the November 14 release date will count as a first-day sale, which means that it will all count as a sale on November 14. This means that with enough orders, the possibility exists that A Year in the Light will chart on digital book charts which gives it one more sell-able feature to help me get this book to the world, and I do mean the world.

So here’s the ask: if The Examined Life made any impression on you at all, if you are curious about the next book, if you just feel like supporting me and my efforts to bring some mindfulness and purpose to the world, then please consider purchasing your digital copy of A Year in the Light as a pre-order today. I have put it up at a lower cost than it will sell at come its launch date as an incentive to get it sold and to thank those who buy it as a pre-order. And know that there is thanks. Please know that there is gratitude.

I know that my books are going to impact on a much more global scale than they’ve been exposed to as of yet, and I know that I just have to keep chugging on to make that happen with no publishing house or deal. I also know that I can’t do it alone, and I need every single one of you to help me get there. Trust that I’ll be bringing you all along for the ride…

Above all, if you buy the book in any format, I hope that it brings you what I hoped it would: insight, focus, epiphanies, purpose and peace. My life’s work is to make this world a better place than it was than when I was born into it, and these books will outlast me to help accomplish that.

Enjoy A Year in the Light when you get your copy, and keep your eyes and ears open for book launch dates, promotions and more amazing news to come. And thank you. You’ll never know how much I appreciate it.

Minority Rising

 
In this moment in time, a moment of almost daily terrorist attacks and overpopulation somehow leading to unheard of statistics of isolation and loneliness, we have a responsibility. 

In a moment in time when women fighting for education and equality in war-torn countries are being raped, tortured and killed for it, in a period of history when unhappiness bleeds into daily life and our leaders react by stripping away basic human rights, in a time when children with every luxury available to them are losing their childhood to the overt sexualization of a society with no direction, we have a responsibility.
In a world where technology affords never-before-seen methods of communication and yet we have an inability to speak face to face about issues that affect our happiness and well-being, we have a responsibility.
That responsibility is to be a source of light and connection to each other, to focus on hope and togetherness, to love bigger than anyone has ever proven capable before. To rise up out of the cesspool of our own dramas and bitchery, to recognize how blessed we are and ensure we stand up and speak for those whose voices have been muted, to prioritize peace at any and all costs.
 
We, in this part of the world, are in the minority. We are the minority who can speak our minds and engage in stimulating debate and not be shot for it. We are the minority who can pursue our dreams and goals and not be struck down in the process. We are the minority who can love freely, without shame or fear, and not tremble as we wait to be forcibly separated and punished for the simple act of loving. We can study, regardless of gender, and we can voice our opposition to our governments and not disappear mysteriously, never to be seen again. We can inspire and be inspired and actually make our lives better through that inspiration.
 
We have a responsibility to focus on everything that cannot be taken from us: love, peace, spirituality, kindness, faith, trust, brotherhood, sisterhood, light, hope and certainty. 
 
Remember that responsibility. Every day of your life. Don’t let yourself get complacent. Remember how good you have it and remember your responsibility. Don’t get tricked into believing that all is lost. We are found through intention and unity. We are found through the ties that bind us one to the other, not through our differences. We are found through the simple energy and act of love.
 
On this Easter weekend, remember your responsibility and focus on everything you’re blessed with, and send a prayer out for those struggling for a fraction of your blessings. Love huge, and be peaceful.

A Prayer for A New Year

IMG_5331On 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.

Don’t Give Up

You know what keeps on popping up in my mentoring sessions and in my own personal development? Clinging to what we hoped could have been, to what we planned for, to what we dreamed might actually push the boundary of what we believed possible into the realm of the sublime.

The outcomes of these spirit-crushing moments? Disappointment, crashing back down to earth, self-flagellation for even daring to dream, for even daring to hope that we could soar that high.

The lesson to be learned? Keep going. Keep moving forward. Stand up taller. Breathe deeper. Grieve for what could have been but what wasn’t meant to be. And then MOVE ON. Keep dreaming. Keep visualizing. Never take no for an answer. Stop clinging and take stock of what is. What is will change, and with determination and steadfastness it will prove to be more of everything that your wildest dreams.

Don’t EVER give up.

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Averting Aversion

Today I find myself lying in bed, trying to manage a stomach bug which has kept me from attending 2 workshops with our friend and inspiration, Kimberly Wilson, at my place of work, Centre Luna Yoga. As frustrated as I am to be missing her visit again, I’m allowing myself to stand back from the whole situation and just surrender to whatever it is that’s making my stomach go full Cirque du Soleil on me 🙂 And so I’m lying in bed, pacing myself as I finish one of the most important books I’ll ever read, The Journey Home – Autobiography of An American Swami by Radhanath Swami.

I don’t want to ever finish reading this book…which is why I know it will become one of the few books that I will re-read over and over throughout my life. From cover to cover, Radhanath Swami’s memoirs speak to me on every level: as someone constantly in search of, and occasionally getting brilliant glimpses of, a higher, divine power…as someone reluctant to ascribe to any one school of thinking or faith until I have no doubts in my mind that I have found a true extension of myself…and as someone who continues to see with growing clarity the illusion the majority of mankind lives with, unable to see that the love of a higher power is the ultimate expression of every kind of love that we seek on earth – from each other, from our pets, from ourselves.

As is the pattern throughout his journey, Radhanath Swami finds Vishaka Sharan Baba, a scholar and devotee of Vrindavan, the favoured geographical location of the Lord Krishna’s manifestations on Earth, and he sits with him one day…and asks him a question that I think would be beneficial for every single person to ask of someone whom they trust implicitly. With absolute trust and genuine reverence, he asks, “Please tell me whatever you feel I need to hear.”

Our nature, through conditioning and socialization in this part of the world, is to steer well clear of any situation that might present an opportunity for criticism to sneak in. In today’s Western society, it is unfortunately much easier to vocalize judgement and negativity than it is to offer someone a kind word of gratitude or a compliment. And so most of us would be averse to asking such a question of another, but we’re wrong in allowing for that aversion to guide us. If every one of us has one person, regardless of who that person is in relation to us, that we would entrust with our lives, someone we know loves us unconditionally, than this question absolutely needs to be presented to them at the appropriate time, in the proper setting conducive to a real heart-to-heart exchange of words and ideas.

We shy away from questions like this one because we’re afraid of what the answers will  be and how those answers will prompt us to step up to the plate and hold ourselves accountable for our actions, but we don’t need to assume that the answers will always be critical. I can immediately think of a dozen people who, if they posed the question to me, would receive the following answer: I don’t think you realize how capable you are. I don’t think you realize how beautiful you are. I think that you’ve gotten so caught up in how the world around us tries to control you that you’ve lost sight of your innate sense of what’s right for you and what isn’t. I believe that you need to look at everything going on in your life and determine what is serving you and what isn’t, and then let go of that which isn’t. I think your life is about to kick into gear.

On this last day of the month, as we transition into the heat and warmth of the approaching Summer and let Spring recede, let’s allow for the insight and truth that only those who know and love us best can offer. Allow the unconditional love that the Bhakti yogis steep themselves in to make an appearance in your own lives and for your own well-being. Allow for that shift in how you approach the opinions of others in relation to yourself. Changing the way we think, the way we approach life, will absolutely and without fail lead to changing our lives for the better. You cannot change your life without changing the way you think. It’s impossible. So try it out. And let me know what happens 🙂

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