Tag Archives: possibilities

Talkin’ About A Revolution

What happened to hope?

You know that thing where if you’re a woman and you’re a certain age and you don’t have a kid, people tell you that you need to hurry up? I know there’s a biological clock and all that, but it seems like people think there’s a closing window on hope and, after all, childbirth isn’t the only option available to those wanting to be parents.

We get to a certain age and we settle for whatever our lot in life is, despite not having lived everything we wanted to live, despite still aching to dream and to live. We agree to be content with what’s in front of us because the fear of not being able to follow through to see those dreams completed is bigger than us. Or at least we think it is.

There’s a spark inside you, a spark that inherently understands that you haven’t lived your highest highs yet. It’s a spark that doesn’t just live in hope, it is hope. It’s a deep-rooted knowing, not an understanding. It knows that light is brighter than you know it to be, and that despite our being easily swayed and distracted by darkness and shadows, the light will always be stronger.

If you hunger for better, for greater things for yourself and the world around you, if you trust that we will wake up and be better collectively than we have been, and that we are already better collectively than we are separated, then you’re in the right space.

The following week’s classes are intended to allow you to let go of the belief that there are things that you’ll never do. They’re intended to stoke that spark inside you so that you walk out of them feeling galvanized to go out there and kick ass. Galvanized to go get what you want, to accomplish what you believe you’re meant to, to move closer to who you’re meant to be in this life. It’s about a rejection of common sense, about revolting against what’s commonly accepted, knowing that you are your strongest supporter and that only you know what’s best for you. Forget the rules and believe in the unbelievable, in the fantastical, in the previously-thought unattainable.

There is no closing window on hope. If you believe there is, then understand you have accepted that belief. This is about a revolution. Against what you’ve been led to believe, and against what you’ve settled for because you bought into what keeps you safe. This is a revolution against staying in our cocoons. It’s time to revolt and be bigger and stronger and louder and more hopeful than we have been, as big and strong and loud and hopeful as we’ve always dreamed we could be, but never allowed ourselves to.

Dare to dream and live those dreams. It’s your revolution. And it starts now.

See you in class 🙂

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From Paros to Paris Pt 2

20130911-062244.jpgIt’s sunrise in Greece. I had this thought earlier this morning, after sleeping for 5 hours during my first night here in Paros: I love my life. A massive event took place last night as I ate dinner with the small group of eager students who had arrive a day before the start of this retreat, an event that, with little fanfare, was celebrated with raised glasses of wine and kind words from the gang…and at the risk of leaving you hanging, I’ll stay mum on said event until the time is right.

The event itself is irrelevant to the point I’m trying to make. The second I reflected on how much I love my life, I realized that it wasn’t MY life that I was feeling bowled over by, it was the possibilities contained within life itself. By calling it MY life, I felt like I was fraudulently claiming proprietary rights over it, which is ridiculous.

I’m currently living a period in my life where the possibilities that life has shown me could be more than mere possibilities are impressive and surprising and nurturing and humbling. These possibilities are not solely available to me, I’ve just made it my mission in life to explore the boundaries of what’s possible, of what could potentially redefine what I had foolishly believed life to be. These possibilities are not only available to every single one of us regardless of what colour our skin is, how much money we have in the bank, what are our education looks like on paper, and what language we speak…these possibilities are waiting. For each and every one of us.

That’s what I love. You should too.

Push

With the deep heat of mid-July in full swing and  many people taking vacations and time off of work, I figured that now is a good opportunity to offer something to those of you who have a moment to sit and reflect. Every so often, I encourage people to take a break out of their day or week to sit in silence and reflect on what they’re doing in their day-to-day lives. I even encourage my students to take a break from their yoga practice every so often. I’ve spoken about how pausing my own yoga practice for a week or two has given me incredible insight and reminders about why yoga means so much to me and why I keep coming back to it. I’m a big fan of the perception and clarity that comes from pausing to breathe, evaluate and re-assess the state of one’s life and habits, because the potential benefits are immeasurable.When we spend the majority of our time doing something, from our professional career to keeping ourselves healthy and well, we get so caught up in the routine of it all that we lose sight of the initial reasons that brought us there.

I’ve been working a lot this year, adding a handful of projects to my already busy 2012/2013 schedule of classes, retreats, education and workshops, all to keep myself focused and stimulated. In the midst of all the planning, scheduling, and communicating, I took some time this week to unplug from all my outlets to ask myself the simplest (but scariest) of questions: why am I doing all this?

It’s very easy to lose sight of the initial reasons that led me to make the decisions I’ve made to teach, mentor and put myself out there, just as it is for anyone to lose sight of why they spend their time the way they do. The opportunities for reflecting on  how we spend our time are infinite. I know that the measure of one’s success is very often based on the degree of positive feedback and reinforcement that one receives as a result of one’s efforts, and it’s even easier to allow the ego to flare up every time that occurs. I also know, however, that the more one buys into the illusion of validation when it presents itself, the more one is affected by the lack of validation when it seems like no one is paying attention. To substantiate one is to substantiate the other, and both are an illusion. They can be indicators of possibly veering from one’s intended path, but they ultimately aren’t real.

After really giving it some thought this week, the fact of the matter is this: I do what I do because it’s the most authentic extension of myself. I do what I do because I am in a state of perpetual wonder at the possibilities that are available to not only me, but to us all. I work as hard as I do because it’s not work for me – it’s personal development and exploration. I push forward in this life to inspire others to push forward in their lives, because the possibilities are more wondrous and inspiring than anyone could imagine. I definitely feel like I face challenges and risks in having chosen a path that ultimately depends on whether or not people want to listen to what I have to say, but I also have unshakeable faith in the knowledge that nothing of any value is accomplished without taking risks and barreling through challenges.

And so I now find myself re-focused, with clear objectives in all areas of my life, objectives that I know will bring me past the boundaries of what I thought possible. I want you to do the same. Essentially, I’m doing it to show you that you can do it. I am doing everything possible to demonstrate how the doors we have always believed were closed to us have been open the whole time – we were just standing in our own way. Push past your limits of what you thought you were capable of achieving/doing/being. Don’t pay any attention to the voice of doubt or fear that will inevitably pop up, either from your own thoughts or from those around you. Do what’s right for you, and know that you haven’t figured everything out yet – keep pushing and exploring, and I’ll do the same. Let me know your findings when you get there 🙂

Landmarked

It’s 9am Monday morning, and I’ve slept in (as much as one can do with a new puppy) for the first time in four days. My head is still buzzing from my weekend at the Landmark Forum, and when I look back at my post from last week, I have to say that it ended up being everything I thought it would be, but if I thought I really had a grasp on the big picture, I was absolutely wrong. The forum needs to be experienced first-hand to actually see that regardless of what its detractors may say, this organization is helping people…guiding people…re-directing people…and ultimately, opening their eyes. It really is about empowering every single person (regardless of the usual demographic classifications we use to separate ourselves from each other) to become complete and whole, to face their fears, and to show them how those fears and obstacles that have often paralyzed them from living/growing/loving/expanding/sharing/hoping are based in the decisions that their 5-year-old selves made long ago.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I had many moments throughout the weekend where I asked myself “what have I gotten myself into?”, where I questioned if experiencing unpleasantness was necessary in order to learn something, but in actuality, when was being challenged and held accountable for your choices and actions ever comfortable? And our forum leader was strong, matter-of-fact, and hell-bent on getting results for the people who were in attendance. Albeit robotic at times, she was adamant in her mission to have us open our eyes to the areas and aspects of our lives and behaviours that we weren’t aware of – the ones that often are visible to others who then point them out to us, much to our disdain. Her mission was to empower us to create new possibilities in our lives, to step up to the plate in order to touch, move, and inspire others so they could do the same and have it ripple off into the world. The creation of these new possibilities stems from living a life steeped in authenticity, and she was there to encourage us to do so…to open our eyes to the time and energy we waste trying to look good to the world around us when in fact, everyone else is doing the same thing and no one actually sees each other. I greatly admired her ability to not simply shower participants with empathy and affection when they collapsed into tears, opting instead to coach them using tools they could practically apply to examine the real source of their obstacles.

Much of what happens in Landmark comes from its participants, and by the end of the weekend, one feels a definite complicity with these people (spending 39 hours together over 3 days will do that). Participants (whose ages ranged from 15-84) are encouraged to share their personal stories with the group, and the courage that these people have to step up to the front of the room and divulge their personal tales of trauma, fear and loss is jaw-dropping and refreshingly inspiring. It is through this sharing of personal stories that the rest of the group sees their own lives reflected back at them, complete with the stories we have told ourselves which have dictated the choices that direct us to where we find ourselves. Those stories, when we actually stand back and examine them, are all based in the mind of who we were as a child when every new thing that occurred in our lives imprinted itself, and understanding that one concept is massively enlightening to many. Once that is understood, it then becomes clear that to move towards a place where we can create real possibilities in our lives, we have to let go of the patterns and thought processes that have led us to wherever we find ourselves. The results come into being through letting go of all the reasons which have informed our behaviours.

The truisms that Landmark is based on aren’t new to many of us, but to others, seem revelatory…that change is futile and accomplishes nothing, and that personal transformation can only occur through acceptance of what is and why it is. The destructive force that is gossip was addressed, as was the power that language has to change our lives…that the cost of avoiding responsibility is one’s own vitality…that we are in denial as a race of human beings about the fact that we are inauthentic..that our actions are what matters and that opinions and talk are worthless without some sort of doing associated to them. The concepts of success vs. fulfillment (which ironically, I wrote about a few weeks ago), and that other people’s battles are theirs to fight were huge ones for me, but the one that seemed to speak to everyone was that we should see what happens as what happens while letting go our of interpretation of it. A lot of important insight was on offer, and to many in attendance, this was the first time they had ever been encouraged to think about anything other than the usual superficialities of daily life. It was incredible to see these people wake up, and even more satisfying to see myself do the same to many things I had simply agreed to not address in my own behaviours and patterns.

Two things didn’t sit well with me throughout the weekend. One was the incessant , non-stop chatter courtesy of the two translators that flanked the forum leader on either side. One was responsible for translating into French every phrase that came out of the leader’s mouth, and it was like watching a tennis match as sentences came out incrementally in one language, followed by the other. The other translator was present to translate whatever was spoken by participants, often killing the essence of what was being shared by having to interrupt to translate to the room. My personal opinion is that there should be two forums, one for the French-speakers and one for the English, so that the flow of communication could remain unimpeded (which could perhaps turn a 13-hour day sitting in a chair into a 9 or 10 hour day). The other element that almost had me heading for the hills (and had my bullshit meter practically exploding) was the selling/business aspect of the experience. There were several moments throughout the weekend where the forum leader spoke about other seminars and programs offered by Landmark, and as a choice between two seminars was already paid for with the cost of the weekend we were experiencing, registration sheets were handed out to everyone to enroll themselves in. The pressure tactics were subtle, but at no point were we told that registration was optional. We were guided through filling out the form and when I handed mine in blank, I was then approached the following day to discuss which seminar I would register for. I politely declined, but knew that a more vulnerable and less self-assured person would have caved and would have gotten brought further into the organization’s programs. When it came to other programs offered, we were given a choice, but told that we could take a few minutes to sign up after the forum leader described the benefits of the programs, and this was done in full view of everyone else, so the ones who chose not to sign up were exposed to the ones who were full-steam ahead, which I felt put undue pressure on people to sign up for fear of standing out from the crowd. This may have just been how I personally felt about it, but looking around the room, I saw I wasn’t alone. I felt that the business side of it all could have been dealt with through transparency instead of spin. I would have felt more respect for them if we had been told that yes, Landmark is a business, and that their product is worth paying for, but that to maintain the integrity of the business, they wanted to tell us about what was on offer. With that said, giving people the option of signing up with a bit more privacy (during breaks, after the day ended) would have spoken more to me.

To sum up, I found that this past weekend refocused and enlightened me in many ways, all for the better. For many who have already connected to something greater than themselves, what Landmark teaches might sound redundant, but for others, an existence steeped in possibilities lies waiting at the end of their forum. I’m grateful to Lululemon for having given me the opportunity to experience Landmark first-hand, and am the better for it.