Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I have often heard, "we are all replaceable," and as I prepare to leave my place of employment over the past 12 years, this thought is weighing on me. Where it is true, someone else can move into my position in life and do the things that I do in my work, I know no one will walk in and do it with my spirit, my unique inspiration. No one can, because no one else in the world is like me. I think any one would agree with me. To suggest we could lose one child and adopt another to replace it would be a ridiculous statement to any parent.

What separates us from each other, in sanskrit is called Jiva; your individual soul. No matter what one does for a living, we each bring our own uniqueness, Jiva, to how the tasks get accomplished, the relationships are cared for and our expression. It is an interesting place to be both leaving a role and moving into someone else's role. The truth is, I am leaving a role to some degree; my relationships will shift, but I can only choose to leave the people who choose to forget me. Similarly, I can never be the person whose role I am assuming. I can do the tasks, but never be the same expression of spirit. In this new role, I will create my own relationships in my own unique way.

And I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Receiving and Letting Go

Two of the hardest things for most of us is receiving from those around us and letting go of the things we love. This fall has certainly been a time of just that for me. In June my son informed me he wanted to go to Junior Boarding school. He just turned 13 years old in July. August was filled with planning and attending school visits, selecting the schools to apply to and deciding on one. It also involved determining what needed to be taken, left behind, dentists, orthodontists, doctors and the actual logistics of getting him across a border and moved into a new place.

I returned home with the intention to actually now take care of me. I started running regularly, I stopped drinking wine every day and I made sure I did not fill my schedule. I also became very angry and unhappy. It took a little reflection and wise words from someone to help me actually understand that I am grieving. I am letting go of my child. He is a young man now. Not the child I take to school and come home with at the end of the day. He is a young man who no longer needs me in the ways he used to. I am letting go of that part of my life. Once I saw it, I understood my motivation to be 'super productive,' and my short temper. I handle grief by putting up a wall of things to do and hope it holds back the uncomfortable feelings.

Little did I know that within days, I would be making the decision to let go of my other baby, the work I have been doing for twelve years. While the decision feels so right, I can feel the anxiety creeping in as I start to tell people. As I come to realize the coming days work of preparing for this change, I feel myself shutting down again.

I recall this quote brought to my attention by Brene Brown, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

I feel like that man in the arena. How do I stay in the arena and dare greatly in the face of these feelings that make me feel so vulnerable?
Last night, I went to 108 Yoga, (the Yoga centre where I teach), and I sat in the presence of such powerful and beautiful souls; the other teachers. I let myself be seen, and to feel the love that they offer.
We don't stand in the arena alone. Ever. But that is true only if we allow ourselves to be seen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Set the World on Fire

Be who you were created to be and you will set the world on fire.
~ St. Catherine of Sienna

This quote has rested as a parting comment on my emails from my personal account for quite some time. Years, I believe. In 2000, I wrote a book called Climbing Your Best. The name was suggested to me from a great friend and even though the publisher really liked it, I was a little reserved about it. When I transitioned from climbing as my means of physical activity and respite from stress to Yoga, I quickly realized Yoga is about BEING your best. And this quote became my moniker.

It sounds so easy... just be who you were created to be. Like climbing, just practice and learn a variety of tools and techniques and you can be the best climber you can be. Learning the tools is the easy part. Living it isn't so easy.

The biggest challenge is the fear of failing. I do not want to fail at being who I was created to be. Sounds illogical. How can you fail at something you were born to be? But we do feel we have failed if people do not love or appreciate who we are. So we tend to wear masks, put on roles and accomplishments or armour, and really only show most people what we want them to see.

After many years of practice and going deeper into the study of Yoga, I have come to learn how to love and support myself. I have learned how to be honest with myself about who I am, (the good and the bad), and how to continue to be loving toward myself because only from there - from acceptance - can I truly love and accept others.

That's freedom. That is where happiness lies.

I can always tell when I have stepped away from myself because that feeling of rigidity comes over me again. Maybe that is why people confuse Yoga with stretching and flexibility. It is not about the muscles, it's about acceptance and surrender.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Modifications of the mind

I awake and consider getting up. It's early. I decide to do yoga nidra. As I settle into the practice, following the directions methodically, my mind begins to settle. The instructions allow for silence and moments of resting in silence. My mind begins to think... I am back in the dream, what does it mean? Why would I be dreaming about plane crashes? How did it make me feel?

The instructions start again and my mind races back to attention, ever wanting to be the good student. This pattern happens over and over again, in one moment being with the practice and in the next, off in the land of thinking. This is mind following Prana, or mind following my energy and when all of my energy is back in a memory of a dream or planning the day ahead, it is not here in the present. 

There are so many enticements for the mind to draw it away and yet, as the wonderful teacher Byron Katie points out, you are really only ever physically right here in this moment... Woman sitting, typing. I cannot effectively change the past, nor change the events of the future until the future comes, so why is my mind already there?

Asana practice, meditation, pranayama, these are the practices that bring the mind back to the present; practices that cultivates more waking presence with the energy in the present, within yourself. When that energy is collected and contained within, you become more powerful, more patient, more joyful, free.

Practice, practice, practice. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Science and Perception

For the past couple of days, I have been harbouring some pretty unloving thoughts. Taking my responsibility as a Yogi seriously, I have been observing these thoughts... when they show up, what seems to be the trigger and why. Not the obvious why, but the deep seated why. The why that stems from there being something within myself that is rejecting this experience and trying to figure out what that is.
Well this practice is called vichara. It is as quoted from Plato, "the unexamined life is not worth living." The why in my case is not really about the things others do that upset me, no, the why in my case is what I am not doing for myself. The dishonesty with which I am living. I am a Yoga teacher and yet if you saw my schedule these days, you would very clearly note that 'self care' is not really given much floor time. You would see from my nutritional choices that self care isn't showing up there either. In addition, you could note that I am actually adding my type A style exercise to the mix to really burn myself up. With my son now living away from me, I am also not getting my regular dose of hugs. This is probably the hardest part of transitioning to this new lifestyle.

The dishonesty is not living in the way I know will allow me to be the best of myself. The symptoms; I have trouble getting to sleep, trouble getting up - oh I wake on time, I just don't want to get out of bed. The foods I crave, and then the food I choose. My approach to being in nature... which is actually more an attitude of "I am going to rock my time on this run if everyone would just get out of my way."

So now that it is pretty clear I am taking myself out of balance, I have some choices to make. Do I just work with contentment... finding a way to be content with being out of balance? Or do I need to make some changes. Clearly, in my case it's some changes. This is where Ayurveda comes in... the sister science to Yoga. I can select foods that will bring down my Pitta fire. I can choose self care that settles my ungrounded nature and improves my sleep. I can select a more cooling approach to work and to exercise. I can spend time in nature, not rushing through it, but nestled in the rich colours of her splendour.

Everything we do brings closer to balance or further away. The way we see the world is merely a reflection of how close to balance we are.