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Friday, 29 April 2011

Become Peace. Do it now!

A mind at peace, a mind centered and not focused on harming others, is stronger than any physical force in the universe.
Wayne Dyer

There's nothing quite like the calm that follows the storm. This morning's stillness is perfect. Beautiful. This weather as of late is a perfect metaphor for life. The calm, like the storms, is to be respected and honored. All things change. All the time. Nothing is the same as it was yesterday, last week, last year. It's impossible. Even our bodies themselves undergo a complete renewal every seven years. Every single cell after seven years is completely different, changed. It's simply the nature of things.

If something isn't going the way you've planned - embrace it. Fully. If you're elated at the bliss of your life - embrace it. Fully. But don't hold too tightly. Because it's already changing. It's just the nature of things. Our job, as far as I can tell, is to retain equanimity amidst all the changes. To be the calm at the eye of the storm, and the peace that follows the storm. To let it all happen, all the changes, without resisting or clinging too tightly. To honor all the ups, and the downs, with the same respect. Knowing, that this too shall change. The same is true if you are viewing a situation with eyes of the past. Give your head a shake. The past is gone. It's finished. Open your eyes and see the truth of what is now.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Winds Of Change

Gale force hurricane-like winds struck our tiny village here in Southern Ontario. Crazy banshee - like winds!

There's been a creepy eeriness to the whole day.

No power since 8 this morning! Everything in town shut down, no stores or banks or coffee shops open. It's funny to see people wandering around irate and confused. Me, all I really wanted to do was ride my bike, practice hills and get lost listening to KOL. Bummer. I could really use a few grinds up DQ and F-ingham. But, instead I settled for an indoor workout while the winds whipped around, stirrin' up all kinds of trouble.

Blow winds blow! Bring on the spring changes! Bring. It. On. Hurry,hurry.

Here you go - soundtrack of my life...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Being Right.

Human being's need to be right creates a lot of suffering.

Truth is - I'm starting to realize that sometimes there is no "right". It used to annoy me so much when people would use that cliche saying - "Well, it is what it is." Ugh. I would roll my eyes almost every time. But, now, I'm starting to truly understand that sometimes it really IS just what IT IS. No right, no wrong, just perception. Two people can be having what looks like the exact same experience, yet they both come away with totally different re-counts of what should be the "same" thing. Totally different... because each person is seeing it through their own eyes. We are each viewing our lives through our own beliefs, views and  perspectives. So 'Reality' is totally subjective.

A few years ago I went through a very painful time. It was a time of a lot of turmoil and much distress. A true "dark night of the soul". I felt at that time deeply disappointed in a couple of important people in my life. People that I always thought would "be there" for me and that I considered my support system. People who, in retrospect, taught me tremendous lessons by not being there when I needed them and by betraying me in ways I imagined at that time to be "unforgivable". But time heals all wounds and with much reflection I began to realize that I was actually holding on to a lot of stories. Most of which were completely fictitious. I was allowing other people's abusiveness, and need to victimize, dictate how I was feeling. Not only that but I was allowing other people's lack of integrity to affect how I viewed myself. When, in reality much of the situation actually had very little to do with me and more in fact to do with other people's (warped) perceptions of the world and of life.

The moment I actually started to feel detachment for "what happened" was the moment Forgiveness started to percolate and I actually began to feel a million times better. Almost like the poison that was coursing through my veins in the form of: resentment, anger, anguish and depression was suddenly released and I could see clearly again. It was like a heavy heavy burden being lifted off my shoulders. Forgiveness is really like a magic antidote.

The fact is: Human Beings Make Mistakes. They just do. And not just a few of us - ALL of us.

The other fact is: Being Right is simply not always necessary or important. Being happy is. To me, it's the most important thing in life.

Every single ounce of non-forgiveness destroys your body, your health, your mood and  your life. There are a lot of  people who go to incredibly great lengths, wasting colossal amounts of time and energy, and sometimes destroying themselves and their lives, just to be "right". I know a person who is so deeply entrenched in their need to be right about how people from the past have "wronged" them, that that's all they ever talk about. In fact, every time I hear from this person it's more stories about how wrong everyone else is and how right and justified they are. It's positively exhausting. And I've seen how it has depleted them in every way. I've seen how this person would rather engage in fighting and negativity than find ways to release the past and move on. It is so important to be right that it actually seems to run their life! They would rather abuse others than simply forgive. Even though their "rightness" harms themselves and others, they can't seem to (or don't want to) choose to stop. Or perhaps, they simply don't know how. Either way, it is very sad.

So we can beat ourselves and others down by proclaiming "you're had no are this or that (horrible thing)....I'm gonna get you back....I'm gonna find a way to win this...." blah blah blah. Or another choice is that if someone is nasty - we simply ignore it. Or, even more radically, we actually send them love. Whoa. Now there's a notion!! That is a choice we are free to make. I mean, really. Ultimately other's need for nastiness is nothing more than their view, their opinion, the result of their "story". Nothing more. At times, of course, protecting ourselves is absolutely necessary. As I've said in the past - being spiritual or forgiving does NOT mean being a doormat. But, engaging in the drama of another's negativity is always a choice.

The path and practice of Yoga is often described as the way to "Enlightenment". To me, enlightenment means a healthy, love-filled way of thinking and living. It means imaging yourself , lovingly, as you wish to be. It is becoming detached, practicing sending love to nasty people, and allowing life to be a joyful adventure. And there's a reason why they call it "a practice" of becoming this way. Because there are times when it requires exactly that - practice, practice, practice. I see things now that used to upset me and I wonder - "how the heck did I ever let that ridiculousness affect me?!". As we learn more about ourselves and our connection to each other , I believe Life and the mysterious universal "Powers That Be" will continuously send us tests. Just to help us see where we're really at, how far we've come, and to give us an opportunity to put into practice all that we are learning. After all - the definition of Insanity has been stated as " Doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result". One day, we're eventually gonna have to let it go!

Enlightenment, or simply learning to live happily, is about practicing new ways of thinking and acting until it becomes habitual. Until it becomes no longer a practice but who we are. Gradually as we learn to send out more love, angry behaviours become less and less natural, less habitual and (hopefully) just disappear altogether.

Because at the end of the day you can be "right"...or you can be happy.
The choice is always ours.


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Oh Vancouver!

How do I love thee....let me count the ways.

Each and every time I come to this beautiful city I ask myself the same question - Why am I not living here?!
Although I find Vancouver, as a whole, a bit conservative - I love that life is so active and healthy here. Obesity is extremly rare to see and the vibrancy in the faces of Vancouverites is absolutely contagious. There's beautiful, fit, healthy people everywhere, amazing restaurants, fantastic night life, the mountains, the ocean, and sooo much to see and do.

On my quest this year for an extraordinary experience of my life and as I search for ways to recreate my vision for my life, I decided to take part in something called The Landmark Forum. This is a 3 day workshop that's taught all over the world and has been highly recommended to me by several people I know. Although I could never really get a straight answer about what Landmark was all about, I've seen amazing transformations and heard remarkable stories about how this program can and will change your life. As someone who's done A LOT of searching, a lot of transformational courses and workshops and endless hours of study in the healing arts of self discovery and awareness, I have to admit I was skeptical. Very skeptical. But anything that promises to "free you up" from the constraints of your past and encourages a positive new view of yourself and your life sounds intriguing to me. It really can't hurt, right?

So I spent this weekend in downtown Vancouver with 125 other participants learning all about what the Landmark Forum has to offer. At first I was excited to meet so many remarkable people. I mean, some of the stories that were shared this weekend really opened my eyes, touched my heart and helped me see my own life through different eyes. And the presenter - Jan McHenry, an ex Marine, was very dynamic and engaging. He definitely got my attention and knew how to keep it. The first couple days was all about learning that, no matter what, human beings always seek to be "right". We each have our views on life and on the world and we go through life proving our "rightness" about our views. Interestingly, Mr McHenry explained how each of us will continually attract and create situations that repeatedly prove that we are "right". And that whatever view we hold about people, or life's circumstances, will always be proved right. Because we will continually seek out validation to keep ourselves right. That means that whatever your view is - is exactly what you will continue to experience over and over again. Whether that view is positive or negative. In fact we will build up whole stories to support our views. Many of which are in fact exactly that - just stories. Illusions that we build up in our minds. The fact is - if these stories were Reality - everyone would be experiencing the same things. But we're not. We're all experiencing our own Views. And because we will always seek to be "right", we will surround ourselves with people who make us "right". The problem with that is that nothing ever changes. Negative cycles repeat over and over.

Then we learned about "rackets". A racket is basically a fixed opinion or idea that usually involves a negative judgement towards something or someone. So we go through life holding onto these rackets and continually attracting experiences that prove those opinions right. Huh. Ok. So - this was interesting to me because I could see, in my own life, how many rackets I've held on to and that no matter what I've tried to do to fix, heal, or change certain situations, they haven't worked. Simply because my view wasn't changing.

So - I feel like I've learned a lot. Sort of. I mean I definitely examined a lot. To the point where I kinda got a headache actually from all the thinking.

I mean, I certainly had a few moments of clarity regarding some of my past relationships and some of my beliefs that have prevented things from changing. The Forum is set up to give you a really good look and a detached perspective of your life. The 13 hr days, the endless sitting, the uncomfortable "sharing" with complete strangers was hard for me at first. I always take the seat at the very back of the room, really in an effort to avoid such things. I'm definitly a back-of-the-bus kinda gal. I have absolutely no need to stand up in front of everyone and talk about my "stories".

But I really didn't learn anything that I didn't already know. I guess the real question is - now what? I get the ideas/views that I've been holding on to, I get the whole thing about "running rackets" on the people in my llife, I get it. But what do I do with it now?? I mean, you can pick apart your past until the cows come home. But how do you actually create change? I was quite frustrated by the end of the program when they said the whole Landmark philosophy was this: Life is Empty and Meaningless. I was like - wtf does that mean!? I see that they are trying to say that there is no "purpose" or "meaning" to find in life, it's all about your own viewpoint and what you choose to create. Ok. But, again, how?

The Landmark Forum seems to think that their philosophy and all their courses are the way to create that change. I have to admit the constant hard sell tactics of it's presenters was a bit annoying. If the Forum was as powerful as they claim it to be, why the constant pushing and forcing and "convincing" about how great it is. And the constant annoying tactics trying to get you to sign up for more and more courses. If I had $1 for every time they tried to get us to commit to signing up our friends and recruiting our family, I'd have paid for the course 4 times over. It's an unfortunate turnoff that really deters one from relaxing and getting results from the experience.When I approached some of the Forum leaders with my confusion and concerns about how to apply all this in my life - instead of answering me or helping me out, they simply gave me a refund. Um, ok. While that was fantastic costumer service, what I really want is just to "get it". So - I will keep plugging on and one day I'd like to actually figure it out.

One thing is certain - an extraordinary life is only as extraordinary as the person living it. And their Views.
We're all searching for the same things ultimately.

So -from what I learned this weekend, I guess it's all a matter of letting go of your negative fixed beliefs about the people/circumstances in your life and holding the view of those people and things that you wish to experience. That way, you actually create each relationship, each situation as you'd like it to be. One thing that struck me powerfully is when Mr McHenry talked about his wife and the view of her that he holds of her as an extraordinary human being. That way, he actually creates her as such each and every day that they are together. I thought that was beautiful and powerful. And, truthfully, a great practice. Imagine that - you holding the view of the people in your life being amazing, lovely, wonderful, remarkable people who support only the best in you. Imagine if that was your View - how different thigs would be.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Blast From The Past....

So after a long and rather arduous weekend in Toronto I passed by a friend's house on my way home to take her up on her offer for a yummy green curry dinner with fresh coriander and a few good laughs.....(mmmm...this girl definitely knows what I like! Thanks Kat & Jonny!)

And this very good friend of mine has been my friend since we were in Grade 9. We've had many adventures together and seen each other through many changes, many challenges, many dark and twisty tunnels and many incredibly enlightening moments of soul sisterhood....  Including living in Banff Alberta when we were just barely the ripe ol' ages of 18 & 19 (just barely "legal" in the province of Alberta). Plus - the numerous mildly rebellious and sometimes not-so-discuss-able situations we seemed to often find ourselves in! Lol! Whoa.

So we pulled out a few of her old photos from the days when we were all so happy, so free. It's like we didn't have a care in the world! (not to mention how long my hair was!! Weird.) And we laughed and we laughed over the ridiculousness of our outfits - mostly our pants to be honest. And how wise we thought we were! Gosh! We honestly believed we had ALL the answers. How unbelievably on top of the world we all seemed to be. Even though in retrospect, those days were full of a lot of confusion.

But amidst all the photos that she had saved was also a few quotes that she collected of the apparently hilarious things I was often saying. I've been smiling all day over this one in particular:

"Even though nothing matters, these things have been proven to: Vacuuming." Heather Jones Circa 1990-something.

It's just so ridiculous and yet funny at the same time because if you only knew how much that cracked us up, it would probably make you smile to!

Ah, Life. 
It's good to laugh at the hilarity sometimes. The grass is never really "greener". Ever. Nothing is ever really as it seems. This moment is all we have. And so this moment is what I celebrate today. I have NO IDEA what's coming next. No idea what twists and turns life has in store for any of us. But I do know that right now, it feels pretty great to look back on how far we've all come. Despite the mild rebelliousness, and the REALLY BAD pants - we all turned out ok! Awesome actually.

I love you guys. xxox