Tag Archives: Personal development

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.

My Two Cents

As we creep closer and closer to another calendar year, I’ve been noticing more and more videos, social media and blog posts, webinars and courses on goal-setting as a way to profit from the New Year’s Resolution craze. Personally, I believe that New Year’s resolutions are ineffective and their own form of self-hate, as they typically come about by looking at some aspect of ourselves that we dislike and then vowing to change that aspect by committing to a practice that is not healthy, beneficial or respectful of who we truly are and how we operate in our own lives. I believe that we force ourselves to suffer by trying to tweak that thing that we think is a problem, and from what I’m seeing, there are tons of people ready to not only reinforce that there is something wrong, but that the only way to deal with it is to adhere to some unrealistic regimen.

If you want to take advantage of a new year to create a healthy habit, then work with intention. Set your intention to be loving and kind throughout 2016, especially when you feel pulled into anger or impatience or disregard. Set your intention every day to be loving and kind. Start with yourself and then redirect that lovingkindess outwards with no specific direction. It will land where it is meant to in ways that are unknown and unpredictable. Stop instigating change by using criticism, fear and judgement as catalysts and understand that love takes care of it all. Start there.

The Disservice of Love

Language, while being the primary mode of communication that allows us to interact with each other, occasionally fails us. With countless adjectives to describe ourselves, each other and the world around us, we have the ability to precisely construct the conveyance of our realities. But when it comes to love, flaws in the potency and effectiveness of language become more obvious the same way well-worn areas of a favourite sweater begin to thin out with time.

When we love a newborn child, there is an element of awe, of wonder, of almost touching the miracle that is the embodied soul in human form. There is also an element of protection, the instinctual need to fend for and defend the defenceless of the species. There is a warmth that is enhanced by all the soft, fuzzy fabrics we ache to swathe newborns in, a warmth that is palpable within seconds of holding an infant close.

When we love our parents or guardians (assuming they have loved and provided for us), there is an element of reliance, of dependence, of knowing the stability of those who will always swoop in and save us when we lose our way. There is also an element of kinship, of tribe, of belonging through bloodline that no friendship or relationship could ever provide. There is safety, and because of it, there is gratitude in its purest, rawest form.

When we love another passionately, there is desire, there is physical attraction that draws us to them like a magnet finding its home surface. There is an animalistic urge to remove any and all barriers: from protective defence mechanisms to layers of clothing, we ache to strip ourselves bare. There is the need to be vulnerable and visible and to connect with them in a way that transcends the physical and allows us to graze the spiritual realm in a heaving mass of unity.

When we love a material possession, there is a need that is met through claiming proprietary rights over an object that pleases us on a sensory level. There is a sense of validation that comes from owning something we admire. We viscerally, and often unconsciously, believe that we become more worthy of admiration when our belongings are desirable in our esteem.

When we love art, there is a poignance that is elicited that wells up and reminds us of the heart-wrenching beauty and fragility that this life is illuminated, and often shattered, by. Moments in time are immortalized for us as we race through our routines leaving trails of energy behind us, but with few memories of where we’ve been or who we were with. We find breathing space and heart triggers when we admire art, and the most beautiful aspect of what we refer to as the ego emerges, blossoming until tears spring from our eyes and our lung capacity seems to grow with every intake of oxygen.

When we love the fallen, the injured, the damaged and the oppressed, we revert back to energetic beings that thrive on cooperation and collaboration. We want to give unconditionally, knowing in the recesses of our memory that to give to those in need is to give to ourselves. We find purpose, meaning and fulfillment when we extend ourselves for the happiness, well-being and freedom of others, which brings us closer to the union we crave in a world of missed connections.

In all these cases, we love. But how can one word apply to so many cases? Why does, “I love you” not even begin to describe the sensations and emotions we embody that remind us what it means to be alive? How is it even possible that the same word we use to describe the most meaningful of human connections gets used and debased and diminished until we are using it to describe how we feel about a meal or TV show or a new pair of shoes?

There should be more than one word for love. But there really isn’t. Words will never be able to describe the sensation of the energy of love in all its forms, triggers and destinations. The best we can do is live the word, in all its definitions. Embody it. Breathe it. Ooze it and live it.

The best we can do is live love. To do anything else is a life wasted.

If You Remember One Thing…

The reason some get a thrill out of extreme sports is the same reason why some love exercising or binge-watching television or spending money or drinking alcohol or practicing yoga or getting a massage or ingesting drugs or hanging out with friends or meditating or eating or listening to music or having sex or doing whatever it is that brings them contentment. The elation they feel is the result of releasing the contractions or tensions they have absorbed in the body through the pairing of their thoughts with the events they encounter in their lives. We seek relief and release so that we can let the tensions that have landed in the body as contractions dissolve. This allows our musculature to de-contract, to relax, thereby permitting our breathing to deepen and our mind to stop obsessing over all the details typically keep us busily distracted. These outlets let us breathe deeper than we typically do, which brings about the sensations of ease and peace. When discussing the topic of smoking cigarettes with students recently, a few students who had been smokers told me that they loved their cigarette breaks so much because it was in these breaks that they had the opportunity to intentionally take deep breaths as they inhaled and exhaled. They loved smoking because they breathed deeply.

There will be tension relievers that will be productive and those that will be harmful. There will be those that will carry us safely to a place of well being and others that will have repercussions that would be better anticipated than faced. Remember this: that which brings you release which allows you to breathe deeper does not have to be what instigates your relaxing. You can instigate your relaxing. You can intentionally remember to breathe deeply when tension overwhelms, when situations spin out of control and when your fears and insecurities start to distort your understanding of what really is. If you remember one thing, let it be that breathing deeply when things go any way but the way you hoped will save your life. It will keep you in reaction, perspective and clarity. Simply by breathing deeply.

Give it a try. You will see what I’m talking about sooner than you think.

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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Re(s/v)olution

calendarJanuary 1 is always a welcome day for the majority of us because it’s a real day off. Businesses close, the daily grind comes to a halt, and we nest (usually as recovery to the debauchery of the night before). The day itself has a cozy connotation to it, an insular vibe that breeds lounging around and getting the new year off in hushed tones. And, as it goes with that which we deem as easy or beneficial, we create the necessity to stain the calm of the break we get with the need to accomplish something, to produce, to not get to complacent. It’s resolution time.

As I mentioned in The Examined Life, every single one of us can identify at least one aspect of our lives where we’d like to see changes occur, and we pounce on that opportunity come the beginning of the year. It becomes our raison-d’être until January’s motivation turns into the slump that is February, and by March our sights have moved from where we were to where we’re going as we get ready for the prime months of the year. What started off as good intention ends up bleeding into the rest of the things that we start and never see to completion. And there’s a very simple reason for that.

You won’t be able to effect sustainable change simply because the date crawls past January 1. The concept that one specific day out of the year is better than another to start making the most out of the resources and opportunities that we have available is ridiculous. Every day that you can wake up and move is a potential platform for improving your life. But real changes, sustainable ones that don’t peter out with the arrival of the newest distraction, don’t take flight with simple hope and intention. The only time real change manifests is when you’re so fed up with the state of some aspect of your life that you simply refuse to let it continue on as it is. You may not know what the alternative will look like, but you sure as hell know that you’re done with what’s nagging at you, what’s begging to be seen as the instigator towards something better. The tables will only start to turn when you can no longer stomach sitting at the one you find yourself.

And so if you’re hell-bent on getting those resolutions sorted on January 1, make them revolutions. Set your intention to change that one thing that you’re sick of dealing with, the one thing that you recognize keeps rearing its ugly head over and over again. Change the one thing that you keep coming back to that has insidiously convinced you to believe it as being true, that has led you to redefine who you are. The patterns that you can’t seem to break free from, the ones that bring feelings of hopelessness and despair, are the ones you want to target. If you’re going to do this, you might as well do it big. Set your sights on the aspects of your life that, when altered or eradicated, will help you change the way you’ve been thinking and lead you to new heights. Create new patterns, ones that show you the benefits of surrendering to the fact that what’s familiar and what’s gotten you here can be tweaked and moulded to bring you that much further. The ground you’ve covered has been well-traveled, but the journey continues. And so go for that thing that will continue to propel you forward. Keep fighting for what’s right for you, and don’t take no for an answer. Have faith in the knowledge that you will be able to handle whatever life throws at you, regardless of how dire the risks you’re taking seem. You will handle everything with intelligence and determination, and you will land on your feet barreling forwards.

If you’re going to play the resolution game, make it more than an exercise. Get your hands dirty and dig deep. The payoff will last way longer than through the third or fourth month of the year, and will condition you to keep aiming high. It’s time to get your own personal revolution started.

The Examined Life Book Release

imageI was going to wait until I got back from Europe to announce this, but I just can’t wait any longer…I’ve got something to share with you.

I’ve been working for over a year and a half on a book originally based on my blog, and then on the workshop I’ve been giving for years called The Examined Life. All the time and focus put into it, all the effort and vision, is now coming to fruition with the release of the final product, a book that I’m insanely proud to self publish and to put my name on.

The Examined Life is a work of love and dedication. It asks the questions that we all ask ourselves from time to time, but rarely answer completely before moving onto the next distraction. In addition to asking these questions, it offers tools to digest and process them so that we can let them steep and integrate into how we live so that their answers manifest organically. It allows us to assess where we are, where we want to be, and what lies in the space between the two. It begs us to find our voice, to find something to believe in, and to find the words necessary to speak our truth. This book is a call to the now, to the present moment, all in the hope that it will spark a fire in the mind of the reader to examine the quality of life being led. It offers route markers and pathways to making whatever changes are necessary to increase happiness, contentment and quality of life. It’s about living the lives we’ve always dreamed of, but potentially never thought possible.

I’ve spent more hours than I can count writing, re-writing, editing, editing, editing….ok, you get the gist of what I’m trying to say. The book was written in Canada, England, The Netherlands and Germany, and has taken form in its own time while giving me the opportunity to put down in words what I believe matters to us all. It’s been an incredibly illuminating, frustrating, challenging and rewarding process from beginning to end and it’s only because I’m surrounded by incredible people that I pushed (and was pushed) harder than I thought possible to produce this work. I believe that it succeeds in communicating exactly what I wanted it to in regards to the lives we lead and our roles in them, and it does so in keeping with my voice.

I will hold the book launch for The Examined Life at the studio I call home, Centre Luna Yoga, at 231 Saint-Paul West, suite 200 on Friday, November 8 from 19h30-20h30. I’ll introduce the book, do a short reading and then celebrate with you all with wine and vegan treats. I’d like to invite you all to be a part of this milestone event in my career and in my life. Come help me celebrate the culmination of so many hours of hard work and determination…after all, none of it means anything if I don’t have anyone around me to celebrate with 😉

Pre-registration via the Luna website here.

I hope to see you all there!

Bram