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Sunday, 27 February 2011

Floating Downstream

You know what keeps me up at night?
I worry a little bit.
It's a terrible habit.
And I'm workin' on it.

While other's are obsessing about their body fat percentages and whether or not they'll place 1st or 10th, I'm ruminating about how I can possibly leave this world a little better than I've found it. Or what I could possibly do that helps to create a little more light in this crazy place while trying not to slip into the negativity, fear and unhealthy lifestyles I seem to be surrounded by. I worry about the immense responsibility of knowing what I know sometimes and if I'll ever be able to truly make a positive difference. Yes. I feel good when I help others feel good. I consider this a huge perk of my job and a tremendous honour frankly.

I didn't exactly have the easiest or 'normalest' of early childhoods. I endured some fairly significant pain. Pain that, at the time, seemed like an insurmountable challenge. But ended up being the source of some of my deepest strengths and greatest sensitivity. It's probably some of those early experiences with pain, and the subsequent isolation that comes with that; that have left me a little more interested in creating a livelihood through creating community, compassion and health.

I've always lived with this sense of Urgency. Like - there's not a lot of time here... and that time shouldn't be wasted... and this life can change at the blink of an eye... and so the most important thing in life is to be happy and to LIVE each day to its fullest. To me happiness is impeccable health, good friends, my amazing family, and a sense of support in my life.  It's that Urgency that has pushed me along some really great adventures! And helped me make some pretty unconventional decisions about how I live my life (much to my parent's dismay sometimes, I'm sure!)

So one of my Resolves for this New Year of 2011 is to surrender more. Float downstream for awhile instead of trying to claw against the current. Now that doesn't mean my typical ambitious, goal-oriented self isn't going to still make lists and dream big and work everyday towards making my dreams a reality. It just means that, this year, I'm going to release attachment to how things should/shouldn't turn out. I'm going to let go more. And I'm going to allow other people to take the lead once in a while. (Especially in my relationships). Surrender is an inner attitude. An attitude of Acceptance. No Resistance to the moment. Just acceptance of what is. Whatever that 'is'!

This is going to be a fun challenge for me.
And you know how I like a good ol' fashioned challenge.

Bring. It. On.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

That's what's inside...

So I'm sitting at Starbucks with a friend yesterday and we start talking about Dr Wayne Dyer - you know, the motivational guy who is just full of divine wisdom it seems. Well, Mr Dyer recently recorded a little talk about oranges that I found really interesting....

He asked - If you take an orange and slice it in half and start to squeeze the daylights out of it - what comes out?
....Orange Juice of course.
Ok. But why?
....Because that's what's inside.

Then he goes on to add that many of us act unfavorably to Life as it unfolds. When we are challenged, or when we don't get exactly what we want, or when we are uncertain - how do we react? A lot of us become anxious, or terrified of moving forward. Some of us get angry and lash out at the people we love. Others withdraw and go into darkness and isolation and deep negative thoughts or cycles of depression based on how we think we simply aren't good enough or are somehow flawed and deserving of suffering...blah blah blah.
Ok. But why?
....Because that's what's inside.

This just hit me like a truckload of oranges!

Like the orange, when we are squeezed by Life, what comes out ultimately is what we are carrying around within us. Ultimately it's not really about what people have done TO us that is the problem. It's how we choose to perceive it based on what we are carrying and cultivating within. So when we are presented with disrespect or someone attacks us with anger or judgement, we take a moment to see clearly where it's coming from. Maybe, just maybe, instead of using these things to feed our inner insecurities we see them for what they are - other people's pain. Other people's suffering, bubbling out of them. Because, that, is what's inside.

When you speak your truth and someone responds by skwelching your dreams or worse, getting angry at you and reacting by trying to tear you down or hurt you.....stop and remember.....that's what's inside (of them). Our job is to be honest with ourselves first and then act with integrity to those around us when expressing our needs/desires. When this gets met by someone else's hurtful reaction - it's not about you. It's simply what's inside...of them.

So it makes sense then, to diligently work at cultivating our own inner steadiness. Inner peace and vitality that becomes the makeup of our inner landscape. So when the sh*t hits the fan we can respond with love. With patience. With gazing at others through eyes of compassion instead of angry reactivity. No matter what others say or do - we are unaffected because at the core of ourselves we are Love. Peace. We have cultivated an inner landscape that is so filled with light, appreciation and deep awareness, that there simply doesn't exist anything that could be affected by any amount of drama or bullsh*t that anyone could throw at us.

Sounds so simple right? But Damn! It's hard! Hard work some days!!!

But this, my friends, is The Work.
And *sigh* some of us teach what we most need to learn! ;)

Simple...but not easy.
I guess that's why they call it a "practice".

So - when you're squeezed - what's inside??

2011 - So Far So Good....

Well this year started off with the culmination of several wonderful "dreams" actually becoming a reality....

I had the great honor and tremendous adventure of spending the first 5 weeks of 2011 in beautiful El Salvador hosting a series of Yoga Retreats. It was an exciting time, a wonderfully heart warming trip and a journey of deep healing and personal reflection. This blog is the result of the questions I found myself asking every day:

"What is truly important in life?"
"What does it really take to live an extraordinary life?"
"Am I happy? If not - why the f**k not!?"
"What needs to change?"

Many people I had the privilege to meet in El Salvador had what would be considered by most of us to be "very little" in terms of their lifestyle, possessions, material wealth. Many had no promise really of a "better future".


 Yet, they were the happiest, kindest, and most generous folk I've met in
a looooong time. The hospitality and undeniably amazing customer service was second to none. And for a country with such a tumultuous past who really doesn't have yet a 'Tourism Industry' this was remarkable to experience. I felt almost ashamed at my trepidation before the trip and my fears about whether or not I was going to be 'safe' there. I felt so welcomed and so taken care of it moved me to tears. Often. I am deeply humbled by the wonderful people I met simply for their ability to mirror to me what true honor, respect and enjoyment of life really means. 

So how is it that we are the richest nation in the world and so many of us seem - unhappy, angry, miserable, depressed? I don't get it.

One thing that struck me was the absolute pride the El Salvadorian
 people had in themselves, their families, their life. Simple as it may be - culture there centers around Family and God. People work hard and are grateful for what they have.

And this very thing was the basis of many of my meditations and reflections. I tried to look objectively at my life, the people in it, my goals; and ask myself - is this what I really want? In most cases the answer was Yes. But in a few areas I knew change was needed. One of which was the relationship I have been involved in for the better part of the last 1.5 years. A lovely relationship with a kind and gentle man. But a relationship that seemed hard to move forward with. And really for no more than the simple reason that it just didn't feel right. It felt I was just carrying too many things that weren't mine to carry. And that heaviness permeated everything until it felt like my lungs were filled with smoke and I could no longer breathe.  I realize now there's something to be said for intuition. Sometimes, the path we're on really just isn't in tune with what we desire our lives to become. Sometimes the people in our lives want us only for the prize we represent or what we can add to their lifestyle or their toolkit of interesting things to talk about.

Upon returning home I am reminded just how selfish we are, as a culture, in North America. And this saddens me a little bit. There is no real sacredness to the relationships in my age group. Everyone is quick to move on, quick to search for the next new and shiny toy that is going to help them 'feel good' or help their lives look like that picture perfect image society says is adequate and 'acceptable'.

Maybe the magic is in the tough times, and finding appreciation and gratitude even in the shadowy nature of change. Maybe it has something to do with looking deeper into your life, and the people in it, and asking "how can i help/be of service?" Instead of so much of "But what am I REALLY getting out of this?"  Maybe the real power is in endurance and having enough balls to look at yourself and what you're adding to the mix. Perhaps jumping on to the next person we think will complete us, or the next internet dating site or the next one night stand isn't the answer. Maybe, just maybe, we can't ALWAYS get what we want, but we'll always get what we need to ultimately develop us into the impeccable human being we are meant to be. 

So, again, I surrender.

The sunshiny warmth of those endless sunny days in El Salvador still warms my heart. But I look optimistically to the future and what the Great Mystery has in store for me. As I collect my things from my former lover's house and neatly stack them back on the shelf, I can't help but wonder - What was THAT all about!?