Tag Archives: time

Loss Lessons


With the passings of some of modern culture’s most influential and prolific artists like David Bowie and Prince, I’ve had some students asking me what I believe is going on and how to deal with such immeasurable losses. 

I do my best to see the symbolic meaning behind literal events. I also spend a large portion of my time and career discussing topics that we’re only collectively encouraged to discuss at the end of life. I choose to talk about these topics in the prime of life because I believe that in doing so, we are more apt to focus on what really matters in this human existence as opposed to the noise and distraction that typically pull us into the superficial and fear-inducing. In keeping with my spiritual teachings and beliefs, the following is my take on why the collective consciousness is taking such a harsh series of blows with the loss of our most seemingly-immortal artists and trailblazers.

The idols we celebrate and hold in the highest of esteem, on some level, are not expected to die, because we, on a very unconscious level, believe that they are immortal. When they die, we are violently yanked back to the understanding that we will all die, that we are all, in fact, dying with every passing second. And that scares the hell out of us, largely because today’s culture does not encourage us to look closely at the mystery of life and death, the miracle of the energy that sparks these bodies into “life” and which, when it leaves the body, results in “death.” 

The fact that this life, for each and every one of us, is a total and complete mystery is not something that the masses are interested in. This age of money as the ultimate deity, combined with the insatiable desire to photograph ourselves and act as if we were the stars of our own reality show, pull us away from examining anything other than the appearance of it all. This is the age of the image, so fix whatever you need to and filter until it you’ve produced the masterpiece selfie, but don’t look past the appearance. Our culture is self-obssessed. And dealing with our own deaths isn’t cute and it isn’t sexy, so why would we bother? 

I think we should bother. I think that to examine how we are living this life can lead us to reassessing what we are doing with this time that we are blessed with, time that is not renewable. I believe that these celebrity deaths are occurring at a faster pace and more dramatically than we are used to for a reason, and that reason is simply universal source letting us know that it’s time to start making the most of our own life-time.

I say this incessantly in lectures, classes and workshops, but I’ll run the risk of repeating myself: if you are spending time in a job you hate, leave it. If you spend your time in a relationship that drags you down instead of elevating you to a better place, get out of it. If you spend a lot of time doing anything that that you’d rather not do, then stop doing it. If you spend your time adhering to the rules of our society but feel suffocated by them, if you do what everyone else is doing but find unhappiness plaguing you, then it’s time to make your own rules and step out of the shadows. If you really understood that there is only one of you in all of time, then why wouldn’t you stop doing what doesn’t allow you to live your way?

We are here to be ourselves, authentically and unapologetically. We are here to follow the path that our intuition is constantly directing us towards. We are here to take care of ourselves and each other, not to ruin our health in the name of keeping up appearances or in the pursuit of money. We are not here to waste time judging each other and spending more time in darkness and negativity than in light and positivity. We are here to choose life, love, togetherness and purpose. And yet we don’t, not as a general rule. 

I see all these high profile deaths as a reminder to live. I see every day as an opportunity to ask if it might be the last one I get in this body, which gives me the fuel I need to get it all done, said and accomplished. I am not afraid of death, but I am afraid of not living. And so I live this life rejecting appearances, not placing more importance on money than I need to and prioritizing love, laughter and inclusiveness as opposed to hate, judgement and division.

We are being asked to wake up from this dream of superficiality and live like this day may be our last. And you know what? It just might be.

To Prince, Bowie, Glenn Frey, Joan and all the others that have slipped off this mortal coil in recent weeks and months, I thank you all for the example you have left in your wake of individuality, purpose, authenticity and brilliance. 

May we all wake up to our own individuality, purpose, authenticity and brilliance and realize that a life lived in distraction is a life half lived, and we are not here to do this half-assed. We are here to burn brighter than we can imagine. The time is now.

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Intention

i don’t have time to pay attention to critics.
i don’t have time for judgement.
i don’t have time to look at all the photos of beautiful bodies in intricate yoga poses.
i don’t have time to get caught up in gossip.
i don’t have time for blaming.
i don’t have time for finger-pointing and name calling.
i don’t have time to try to convince people to pay attention.
i don’t have time for hypocritical speech and false “friends.”
i don’t have time for justification of bad behaviour.
i don’t have time to make sense of any person or organization who believes that anyone is better or more deserving than anyone else.
i don’t have time to get caught up in your bullshit competition game.

i make time for education.
i make time for community.
i make time for compassion.
i make time for the awakening we’re approaching from this long slumber of unconsciousness.
i make time for self-study.
i make time to speak for those whose voices are silent.
i make time for collaboration.
i make time for the advancement of collective freedom.
i make time for helping others move forward on their journey of illumination, understanding and spiritual development.
i make time for embodying love and doing my best to let it emanate with no specific direction.
i make time for the creation of space within which both you and I can do the work that matters.

How is your i spending its time?

Enter The Devil

I got into a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday about spirituality and faith, and it got me thinking.

Some of the questions I was asked by my friend were:

– do you believe in God?
– do you believe in luck?
– how do you reconcile being born into privilege versus being born into poverty in a third-world country?
– do you believe in reincarnation?
– do you believe in ghosts?

Midway through last week’s yoga retreat in Bali I got into another conversation with one of the students there who had been a teacher and who told me about the fallout she experienced by bringing the first Harry Potter novel into the classroom to read with her students. She told me how visceral some of the parents’ reactions were to having their children exposed to magic and sorcery, and how these parents equated the concepts of magic and sorcery with the devil and with hell.

Our beliefs dictate how we live, what we cling to, and, more importantly, what we recoil from in fear-based judgement. Personally, I believe that the devil, the embodiment and gatekeeper of hell, is simply the mystical figurehead of living a life based in fear, based solely and specifically in the lower chakras, based in attachment to and sole belief in the tangible, the material world experienced through the 5 senses. I believe that living in fear and doubt as a result of being afraid of the existence of more than the physical is literally hell on earth.

Enter the devil. Watch yourself cling to him for dear life. God forbid we should maintain open minds. God forbid we should pay attention to and trust our intuition, or sixth sense. God forbid we should know ourselves as contracted forms of God and reside in that Awareness and witnessing as a seventh sense. God forbid we should let go of the devil we know so that our faith in something else can carry us to a place of awakening, knowing, connection and deep spirituality.

My friend who asked me all the questions mentioned earlier is also a student of mine who has participated in classes and retreats. I understood that despite being privy to my take on things in the classroom environment, she still had some fundamental and relevant queries that needed to be asked to help guide her closer to her own understanding of spirituality and connection to forces greater than us. And so we got into it. God, ghosts, luck, work ethic, life, death, karma, reincarnation… It was a great exchange. We discussed our beliefs and allowed them to be challenged as the conversation evolved, and eventually walked away from it deep in thought and contemplation.

And so I ask you: what do you believe? How would you answer the questions I was asked? Have you ever considered what your beliefs are and what your answers would be about birth, death and everything that happens between the two? What about what happens after death? Do you believe in karma and reincarnation? Is luck everything to do with success or do we earn our glory? Why are you alive today and how do you think your time on earth is supposed to be managed? Is the path you’re on already set out for you or do have any degree of influence on its trajectory?

I bring these types of questions up at every possible opportunity because I know the meaning of life to be the unifying force behind these topics, and I want to help focus others to the issues that matter so they can begin to see past the literal to the symbolic, replete with underlying purpose.

This is an opportunity for you to do some work, work that will matter long-term. Go ahead and ask yourself some of these questions and see what you come up with…and if you feel like sharing, the forum is open!

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Human Being Human

We fuck up.

This little nugget of insight might seem childishly obvious, but for some reason it’s also the little nugget that instigates the most destructive thought patterns and behaviours in us mere mortals.

I’m a thinker and an observer, and I live my life looking through a philosophical lens. The by-product of doing so is that I tend to pay less attention to the tiny mistakes we all seem to make and more to the energy of the one making the mistake. Energy and intention are the lighthouses whose beacons convey the relevant information to me, and so when someone messes up and I’m affected by it, I’m hesitant to get caught up in reprimanding and blame and more apt to know the essence of the doer so I can stay in action vs reaction.

Working in yoga allows me to study ancient scriptures and texts whose teachings are as relevant today as they perhaps were at the time of their inception, but there’s a shadow side to working with concepts and ideals that have the potential to be sermonized. It’s great to remind people to practice non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-hoarding, etc… , but by doing so we, as teachers and leaders, run the risk of insinuating that we are perfectly moral examples of how to live our lives and creating the false sense of our own idolatry. Politicians are the most extreme example of this situation: they spout ideals as to how we should behave and in which values we should place importance, and we believe that if they’re encouraging such grandiose virtues, they must be walking the walk themselves. Cut to the sex scandals, the financial scandals, the drug scandals.

We ALL fuck up. We prioritize sheen and gloss and post it all over whatever outlets allow us to promote our fabulousness, and we relegate our fears, vices, quirks and shame to the realm of shadow. And in doing so, we totally miss the mark and waste the time we have in this life.

We all end up harming something or someone. Every single one of us has monopolized time away from someone else, and in doing so is guilty of theft. Every single one of us has lied. In the past 24 hours. Every single one of us.

You fuck up. So do I. Own it. Share it. Laugh about it and celebrate it. Understand that the universe will continue to provide you with the opportunity to fuck up so you can finally see the end in the beginning and eventually choose to NOT fuck up. Until then, you’ll be given that moment again and again and will potentially fuck up again and again. The universe doesn’t measure success on how much comfort or cash you have, it does so based on how much you’ve learned, so pay attention and learn from your fuck-ups. They’re simply moments to potentially learn from and evolve spiritually and emotionally.

Stop letting your fuck-ups open the door to shame, doubt and fear and start seeing them as the gateway to finally making better, more deliberate decisions for yourself and the world around you. Stop making everyone else pay for their fuck-ups and life lessons. We are all doing our best, so let’s see THAT through a philosophical lens and stop taking everything so personally.

It’s time to no longer waste time.

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Like Sands Through The Hourglass

It’s been a week since my first encounter with Sharon Gannon and David Life, the creators of Jivamukti Yoga. Spending last weekend in Woodstock, New York at the Jivamukti Immersion Weekend was a fantastic opportunity to spend time with some friends who work in yoga as well, so time together is usually scarce at best…and our exposure to the teachings of Sharon & David was enlightening, to say the least. We were taught countless things, while being reminded and re-directed to countless others, but among everything we heard and discussed, I found myself honing in on something that became my focus of the week for my classes over the past 5 days, and I wanted to get it down here as well.

How often do we say yes to things that we’d rather say no to? How many times do we agree to do something when we’d rather do something else, or even do nothing at all? How many people do we keep in our lives who bring us more suffering than peace, and how many times do we spend time with these people when we’d rather not? How often do we avoid confrontation or having to defend our reasoning by agreeing to something? Think about it. We spend so much time being agreeable, settling for less than we want for ourselves, making other people happy. We forage our way through life treating the time we are blessed with as if it’s a renewable resource…we agree to do something, to use up some of our time, to get something done or make someone happy, attached to the moment that we’re done so we can get back to what we originally wanted to be doing. And I’ll tell you something massively important – if we do these things, if we choose to sacrifice our time in ways that don’t fulfill us, we’re deluding ourselves that our time isn’t valuable. And it is.

The majority of us were raised by parents for whom this type of thinking was laughable and quickly dismissed. Our parents came from a generation where things had to get done, regardless of how they felt about them. The fact that I’m writing this blog post and encouraging us all to live with greater integrity and accountability to ourselves proves that we are blessed with options our parents may not have had. It’s in our nature to NOT prioritize ourselves or our time, to always be available to others, to put ourselves last. If the teachings of yoga and the majority of what I believe in provide a call to the NOW, then why not start treating time like the gift that it is? Every single one of us is here for a reason – one that is greater than ourselves, and greater than the sum total of ourselves. The more time we pay attention to that, honouring the paths we feel compelled to travel, the closer we get to figuring out what our mission is and how we can affect change in the world around us. These bodies of ours, our ability to discern universal law from government-enforced legislation, our attraction towards light and all it represents, are all gifts, but like any gift, if  put aside to be opened at a later date, they’ll probably go unnoticed and forgotten before long. Open your gifts. Use them. Let them wake you up to why you’re really here. Incorporate them into your daily routines and see what you notice in your own behaviour and understanding, as well as in the world around you. See the time that you have been allotted as non-renewable, and allow that comprehension to affect everything in your lives. What would it change for you if you knew that your days were numbered? Because they are. Without getting morbid, let me remind you all that no one is given immortality to get everything they want to do done. Get things done. Tell people you love them. Stop wasting your time, and make the most out of this moment. Now. Consider this a rarity, because being reminded that everything could change within one second seems to be unpopular. I’m willing to be unpopular.

Go.

The Beat Goes On

As 2011 comes to a close, elements of the Hindu mythology workshop I gave this year keep creeping up int my thoughts, and I find myself listening for the drum beats of Lord Shiva…wondering if the passage of one year constitutes enough time to merit a beat. It is said that with each beat of his drum the death and rebirth of another age comes to pass, and as much as 2011 has been a year of growth and fruition of our efforts (for many of us), all the kineticism and daily events that have brought us everywhere we’ve been and that have shown us everything we’ve seen are all but a tiny blip on the radar. As we all, to varying degrees, look back on everything that 2011 has shown us, all we’ve learned about ourselves and the path we forge (or follow, depending on your beliefs), let’s remember some things, and commit to bringing these things with us into 2012:

1) We are never simply one thing. We are many things to many people, and many things in the image that we hold of ourselves. The root of all these things is a collective energy that itself is timeless, limitless and impossible to define. Let yourselves remember that to see yourselves as your bodies, your careers, your religious beliefs, your failures and successes, your fears, hopes and paranoia is to limit yourselves. To buy into any or all of these things is to give the ego validity to continue to seek out what it is ravenous for, which in turn validates all that is superficial and that serves as a distraction from truth. None of it matters.

2) There is room for everyone. In a world where the human population has just surpassed 7 billion people, it is easy to believe that we need to make ourselves smaller, to be less visible and to speak in quieter tones. We are encouraged to be small by the powers that be online and in our society. Forget all that. Speak up. Step forward. Raise your voice and make sure you’re heard. Take all the space you find yourself blessed with. Be expansive. It is possible to do all these things and still leave as minimal an impact on this earth as possible. Seek out how you will do this.

3) The space between how we see ourselves and the image we project to others needs to diminish. Let people see the real you. The path of truth is there for all those committed to an existence steeped in authenticity. There is no need to project anything other than what and who you are. The sooner we are all more honest about what we are living, the sooner we will be able to understand that we share more than we’d like to admit.

4) The people in your lives are there for a reason. Allow yourselves to be honest with them. Communicate with them. Allow yourselves to share with them the things that you’re proud of as well as that which shames you. Let them in.

5) One aspect of being human is suffering. Buddhism states that life IS suffering. The Yoga Sutras and many of the Hindu Mythological tales exist to show us that the sooner we get past that fact that we suffer and actually start doing something about it, the closer we move to a state of Yoga, of oneness. Don’t be afraid to suffer, and don’t be afraid to let that suffering be seen. To explore the depths of suffering is necessary to be able to fully comprehend how startlingly beautiful the joyous moments of life are. Welcome everything as an opportunity to know more and be greater than you ever thought possible.

6) Teach. Pass on what you’ve learned. Pass on your mistakes. Pass on your successes. They are not who you are. They are to hold up as a marker of humanity and the human condition. Make sure those around you are learning from you and paying attention. We are all messengers, here to make visible that which has always been here but which is veiled.

7) Love. Everyone. Equally. Everyone.

Thank you all for your presence in my life. All the best of health, love and truth in 2012 to you all, and keep your ears open for that drumbeat…♥