Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Transformation takes heat

My friend and guru Nicole wrote the following:
Everything that happens externally existed internally first.
Feeling disconnected? Oh, I'm not connected to mySelf and that Source deep within me.
Lots of love coming my way? Ahhh I am nurturing my self and the outside world is reflecting that.
Fighting an uphill battle? Oops, there's some inner resistance I haven't faced.

I love this. The simplicity of understanding that it is our own perspective that creates our experience is so simple and yet so complex.

In order to change the perspective, I must take action. And where do I begin? In the examples Nicole offered, it seems the nurturing is the place to start. For then I have allies in the face of the challenge of disconnection and resistance.

With January 1 a day away, it is time to start the nurturing! Time to build the inner fire!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Getting things done without the busy-ness

As the New Year approaches, so too does the day I will not have all this time in the morning. I will not have the luxury of waking up a little later, doing an asana practice or a Nidra practice as well as my meditation and walk the dogs. I will have to leave the house by the time I am currently just getting around to taking the dogs out. And I will probably become pretty intense about getting out of the house on time. and when I am at work, I am pretty fired up about getting the 6.5 hours completed so I can get on with the rest of my life. Only to end the day with the rush to get home, get the dogs out for a walk, the fire on, the supper prepared, eaten and cleaned up. Then comes the laundry or cleaning or sometimes just the desire to check out - to not be present for this life.

This is how I get myself fired up and burnt out. I rush... everything needs to be completed five minutes ago and everything needs to be done right and only when there is nothing left on the list of things to do can I relax. Which means I rarely relax. I do check out. I attempt to run away from this life of chaos by getting intense about knitting something or getting groceries, or I step onto a treadmill for 15 minutes and call it relaxing when really it is just more justified action through productivity.

Therefore, it is going to be critical to change the perspective. Everything doesn't need to be done to leave for work AND everything doesn't need to be done when I immediately step in the door at the end of the day. Nor does every action I take need to be a productive one. In other words, I need to slow things down, to appreciate all that is happening in the moment it is happening and not rushing for the finish line. Bring a little Himalayan Institute sattvic vibe into my own home. After all, being busy is a state of mind.

To get at the mind... at least my mind, it will be important to do more asana. I love the connection of getting my mind on the experience of my body. It is from here I connect to my spirit and find the truth in what really needs to get done and how it needs to get done. The trick will be making the asana practice an essential part of the "to do list." So you are hearing it here first folks...my New Year's resolution; I will do 30 minutes of asana practice a day. anyone want to keep me on task?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

If I had to write...

Today I feel a little empty of ideas. I have walked the dogs, usually something I do after I write, but today I need a little inspiration. As I walked, I thought about something I heard at a service for those who had died in the last year. The multi-faith minister or pastor said, "God is the first to shed a tear." This was in the context of learning of death. In that moment I realized I held the belief that the things that happen are because of God's will. I was so taken aback, I wrote a note to myself while still at the event to remember to reflect on this statement.

As a person who has shelves full of self help books ranging from Wayne Dyer's, Your Erroneous Zones to Pandit Rajmani Tigunait's, Touched By Fire. All of these sources allude to there being a bigger force at work and we are all a part of it. This has always been inline with my thinking. I recall my first Facebook profile religious description being, "there is a little God in all of us."

Ironically as I reflected on this idea that God is not the creator of our destiny, that I am the creator of my destiny, I realized I really believe that is I am "good" and "pure" God will reward me. In my darkest moments I recall crying out to God, what have I done to deserve this? As if somehow God was punishing me for some infraction. God wasn't punishing me; I made a choice somewhere along that way that led to other choices that led me to where I am. And if I get really honest, usually those choices were made from a place of fear.

I am so glad to now at least see that in every moment, I have a choice and that the choice of today will lead to the choices the will shape my tomorrow. And in my heart, I know it is not whether I am "good" or "bad" that makes the difference; rather it is whether I am fearful or feeling brave. There is always compassion for fearfulness.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


So what is my New Year's resolution you may ask. Well it is quite simple. I have a Para Yogi friend who recently very eloquently wrote a blog pertaining to alcohol. One particular blog struck a chord with me. She wrote about thinking about drinking and planning drinking earlier in the day. She anticipated and looked forward to it. This resonated with me because I do that too. Yesterday after the roast was made and the blueberry crisp was baked, the floors cleaned and the Christmas tree removed and decorations stored, I started planning. It was still only two o'clock in the afternoon. I also immediately felt the shame of and weakness of having this desire.

I have spent time asking myself why this glass of wine holds meaning for me. I recognized I have an idea that having wine is "bad" and at the same time, I realized it signals my time to relax, something I want. When I have a glass of wine, I am off the clock. Whose clock I wonder? Perhaps I have this negative view of alcohol because I abused and misused alcohol when I was in University. It helped me blot out the confusion and discontent I felt then.

I go to the Himalayan Institute and do not even think about wine or being on or off the clock. I don't think of any of my vices. I just rest and feel content. The environment supports me by removing the clock. It's the clock that is the problem. It is this tenet I live by that I must be productive and only then can I reward myself and relax. That is a tenet of my own mind and when I do not follow it, I feel shame.

So the resolution is to feel balanced in productivity and relaxation. To learn to do what my heart wants to do, not what my head tells me. And to understand that my heart will still desire a clean and tidy home, and it will desire play time too.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Karma and Coaching

Yesterday as I snowboarded down the bunny hill and walked back up; my choice since I only had a fifty percent success with the rope tow; I noticed how silly snowboarding and skiing really are. There really isn't much point in going up the hill and then down the hill again. I was boarding alone and not really having a lot of fun so I went inside. I sat and watched the others on the hill. Eventually realizing I would be here a while I committed to the exercise of going up and down the hill at least ten more times. I began to recognize other newbies on the hill and we exchanged smiles and encouragement. As my connection to these other boarders grew, I realized I had started to really enjoy myself. As I scanned the hill again, I realized it was as much about the relationships as the action of skiing.

That got me thinking, as a personal trainer and coach, it has been my job to give people the karmic seeds to help them get better. Every action is the seed that blossoms into future actions. There are seeds being planted at multiple levels. I have the karmic seeds of choosing to exercise and the karmic seeds of how I feel about myself when I exercise. Likewise, there is the choice to not exercise and how I think about not exercising. As a coach, it has been my job to change the thinking about the fruits of exercise. So many clients always just looked at the success at the grade. My job was to make them excited about the effort, not the outcome.

Having this support, someone who encourages and believes in the effort is a key element to success. And perhaps this is why I have struggled with reaching my own goal in recent months, I have tried to do it in isolation and kept my eyes on the outcome.

This New Year's my resolution will be to share my goals and more than that, look for a coach to keep my eyes on the efforts. ;)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

In Joy

Last April when the family had gathered for my mother's funeral, my son Fynn and I spent a night with my dad. In the morning, his first task was to bake bread. My dad has been baking bread once a week at least I believe since I was in high school or maybe earlier. It's been a long time.

He pulled out the mixer and the flour, the yeast and set to work. As the mixer began to mix up his bread I could see there were a few glitches. Now this mixer is one that has a plastic gold outer shell - that tells you just how old it is. He proceeded to tell us how it works, but sometimes it whines if he makes bread and cookies in the same day.

In that moment, I wanted to get my dad a Kitchen Aid mixer. I asked my siblings about going in on one for Father's day, but they already had plans. As Christmas approached, I debated it again. I would see them crop up in the ads and think, 'that's what I want to do!'

And then the voice of reason, or perhaps fear, would step in and say, 'that's a lot of money, more than you can afford.'

My heart troubled over this. The inner voice continued to urge me toward it and yet, the voice of reason continued to counter argue. I know these voices well. I recall my inner voice would tell me Nick had to go climbing in France and we would buy the ticket on a credit card and I would just know that somehow we would make the money for the trip. And we did. But since Nick and I divorced, when it comes to money thoughts, I no longer have that same confidence that the money will come. And so I struggled with the decision.

Friday, I cannot explain why I saw it, but I did. A $50 gift card if you spend a certain amount at Canadian Tire. And so it was decided. I was going to do it. I was going to believe I would be okay financially. More than that, I was going to start questioning that voice that tells me to be conservative, frugal, fearful of not having enough and not being able to make enough.

As my dad unwrapped the gift, I could see his sense of happiness and his concern all at the same time. I could sense his mind doing the math and deciding this present was too expensive. That's my dad. But in my heart was joy. Giving him the gift came from my heart... something I knew he would use and love, something that reaffirmed the essence of who he is. A mixer, really? Yes, my dad loves to bake, to construct, to work with his hands, to grow his own food. He loves the independence it stands for. He loves the healthiness of it. And he loves that he has something unique to offer others, something home made or home grown.

This gift was really one I gave myself.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Last night in church, as the ritual of Christmas mass marched on, I noticed the couple in the pew in front of me. They continued to move, always a little movement. I then became aware of my own continual minute adjustments. I recall thinking that Yoga such a better spiritual practice because at least the teacher at the front of class gets you in your body and let's you move.

It's is hard to remain still. Try it. Even with a moderately simple pose. Try to remain still, steady. Usually within 30 seconds, the mind wants to come out. The mind wants to be distracted with movement. Awareness wants to move outward.

The goal of the practice is the opposite, it is to move inward and connect yourself to the power that lies within you and to harness it to work for you.

Try it! And a Happy Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Breaking the Rules

In The Four Desires, there is an exercise of doing fearless action for 48 hours. "It means saying yes to the things your inner voice says yes to and no to things your inner voice says no to." Lately I have toyed with the idea of doing this exercise and every time I do, there is an inner voice that says, "you have too many responsibilities to make this work. You will fail."

As I began my meditation this morning, I could hear the inner voice saying,"do we have to? We should take the dogs for a walk first. Or you could do your writing."

The cortex responded, "no, if we don't do it now, it may not happen and that would be bad. Stick to the plan."

I attempted to meditate. And realized just how many rules I live by. I do not live by an inner voice, I live by rules. We get up at a certain time, we meditate at a certain time. We are supposed to do agni sara. We have a new rule - thanks to my friend KT - eat before having coffee. We let the dogs out for a pee and feed them before I eat. My whole day is dictated by a schedule and when that schedule doesn't work out, I have a lot of frustration.

Well, for the next 48 hours, let's just try this fearless action. Let's just do what the inner voice says and see what happens. This should be really good... considering I have 4 invites for evening visits and as yet I am somewhat undecided. And the inner voice has already mentioned midnight mass and the cortex revolted with how that would wreck the schedule.


Monday, December 23, 2013

If I had to write...

This morning I was trying to settle my mind and meditate, which wasn't working out so well. And today is the day my parents were married 52 years ago. With my mother dying last April, there really is no 52nd year. My heart immediately went to thinking about my Dad and how he is holding up. I heard the voice in my head saying, "I know Dad, I've been there. I know this grief and you will get through it."

I heard his reply, "I don't have my whole life ahead of me."

"And I did not have the financial freedom you have Dad. We can argue back and forth over giving up, but there is always an answer for every excuse."

Suddenly, I understood something. My behaviour over the past year really has been very similar to that first year of the end of my marriage. I have felt the same uncontrollable craziness I felt then.

I am grieving.

It is as if something is off, I feel discontent and I had not connect that with grief. But this morning, I could. I understood that this desire to change things in my life is really related to not wanting the changes that have happened already this year. That driving desire to fill in that place of emptiness has caused me to search for something that will fill in the hole. Because there hasn't been success in filling in the emptiness, and so I sit at night and watch TV and distract myself.

Not tonight. Tonight I will offer myself some compassion. I will allow myself to sit with my loss. I will place my legs up the wall, support my hips and allow myself to just not be so controlled. I will allow myself the opportunity to grieve.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

What if I were a writer

The Star

Sunday, Dec 22nd, 2013

What has traditionally been known as the Star card is about reconnecting one's Soul with the Divine -- the transcending of personality, family, community and reputation. It has to do ultimately with the freedom to be one's Self. The Soul is responding to celestial influences -- forces that can provide the personality with a stronger sense of purpose. The Star card helps us to remember our exalted origins and our attraction to a Higher Union.

This card could also be called the "Celestial Mandate" -- that which refers us back to our reason for being, our mission in this lifetime. The Star reminds us that, in a sense, we are agents of Divine Will in our day-to-day lives. If we let go of the idea that we are supposed to be in control, we can more easily notice and appreciate the synchronicities that are nudging us along. In this way, we become more conscious of the invisible Helping Hand, and we better understand our place within -- and value to -- the larger Cosmos.

This morning as I sat in meditation, cultivating the essence of faith, I received a strong feeling. I want to write and teach. This is not an 'aha' moment, this is something I have known for years. And I do have this opportunity. I teach Yoga, and workshops and I write a blog. Those are the moments of connection with the authentic me.
Then I did have an 'aha' moment. I will write everyday. I will pose the question to myself, 'what would I write today if I had to write something today?' I will write not for the audience, rather, I will write for me, because I need to put it into words.
On this rainy first day of winter as we approach a new year, I would write that life is not 'fixed' it is merely adjusted. There is no absolute answer to any question, only a momentary understand and peace. There is a part of me that wants to run to a warmer climate, to bring a partner into my life, make some change; to move out of the dischord of the local climate, the job that is not too challenging and monotony brought into home life around a child's school and sport schedules. The part of me that likes to launch a raft onto to lake to get to the island is longing to build and launch another raft. Problem is that the feeling is not motivated by the adventure of moving forward as much as it it motivated by the desire to run away. Ahhhhh..... Skillful discernment. Here's to running toward unknown lands through creative expression of thoughts.
Happy Solstice and first day of winter.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's that time

As we move into the busy Holiday season it is easy to become out of balance. Our eating changes, our ability to get to Yoga class changes and the time we have to just rest changes too. Not to worry, you can still reap the benefits of asana in a few postures and measured breath.

Bringing yourself back to balance requires we often work asymmetrically. Here are a few poses, with a few counter poses to help bring yourself into a more balanced state and grounded to face what's next this Holiday season.

As you exhale turn the navel more toward the wall you are facing. As you inhale, think about lengthening both side bodies.

You can relax the knees and release the low back as you fold forward. As you inhale allow the front body to expand and as you exhale, fold in over the legs.

The key to this pose is to be long through the front body. Bend the knee to the side you are twisting if hamstrings are tight. And use a block or chair to allow the spine to be long and parallel to the floor. The navel twists toward the ceiling in exhale. Use the inhale to lengthen and create integrity in the spine.

The squat is a great opportunity squeeze the digestive organs and enable you to keep things rolling downward. If you have tight calfs and are up on the balls of the feet, you can support the heels on blanket or block. Continue to lengthen the spine- both front and back body.

Draw the knees into the chest on exhale. Extend the legs away on inhale and feel the pelvis release and relax.

Spend a few breaths in a relaxed savasana allowing your awareness to just rest at the navel - and allow yourself to feel empowered and grounded.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reflections on a snowy afternoon

The snow, mix with rain beats down on my skylights, wind shakes the patio doors. I hear the children's voices downstairs, "Left hand yellow." 'Right foot red."

I sit on my bed, with two pups waiting out the cold and wind, rain and snow.

My mind reflects on the time when my son was so young. The continual attention to keep him entertained. Now at twelve and a half, he doesn't need me. Just a computer screen and an internet connection. But he still loves to do things with me, games, baking, putting a tree up. And he will go out and go sledding with two neighbourhood children under the age of six. He's pretty amazing. And this time is moving quickly. I love this moment of not being responsible to entertain and yet I also know the suffering of thinking he will soon leave and go to school away and I will be alone.

In every thought there is the fear of change. In joy and bliss we worry when it will end. In sadness we long for the joy and bliss. It is simply the human condition. I guess then Yoga practice, meditation and mindfulness practice are just the practice of being able to rest in both the joy and the suffering. And to not attach more to one thought or the other.

The game has ended and the children are getting ready to leave. Time to assist the exodus. And perhaps stay in the mindful action of contentment with what is right now.