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Sunday, 26 January 2014

Savasana...Heaven or Hell?!

I like to think of Savasana, that final posture of relaxation that finishes a yoga practice, as a sweet treat. Like a dessert that follows a great meal. It's the only posture in yoga where there is nothing to do; nothing expected of you, no complicated instructions or expectations. And yet, despite all this, Savasana seems to be one of the hardest postures for people to master. It's almost like the concept of just being - perfectly still, totally surrendered, is completely foreign to some of us. We've been conditioned to "keep busy" and somehow trained to believe that the more we do, the more we have, and the worthier that makes us. Our society doesn't really place much importance on the idea of just Being.

I've noticed at times my "busyness" is nothing more than an extension of my anxiety. The more I rush and charge around, the more I cram my schedule with more and more things to do - the less i have to feel. And the less i have to face my own emotions. The "busier" I am, the less time I have to think, or to really acknowledge what's happening within me.

But lately, I've been practicing just BE-ing with whatever is happening. Settling into savasana at the end of my yoga practice has become quite an adventure these days. Sometimes it's the only time of absolute stillness in my day. Sometimes, once I stop and just allow myself to settle down, the tears come rushing out - often without notice or warning. Part of me finds this so humourous. Especially because most of the time i don't even know what it is I'm crying about! It's just all the unexpressed grief and worry. All the sadness and fear that I haven't really allowed myself to feel, or created space for, in my life.

Other times - I settle into Savasana and I'm nearly crawling out of my skin. I fight the urge to jump up and flee from the room. It's as if all of a sudden, the stillness of simply laying there on the floor, brings me right into the heart of all my tension...everything I've been avoiding. Lately I have been finding this humourous as well. How interesting, how funny.

Through it all I am rediscovering my relationship to the Present Moment. My practice lately is one of releasing resistance. There has been much happening that I simply do not like. So much that is just so NOT comfortable, or positive at all. And yet, when I allow myself to just BE....still, observing, breathing....beyond all the stress and the anxiety and the judgemet is this place of emptiness. Once I let all those intense energies course through me without needing to change them, or deny them, or hide them, or numb them - all that's left is just this sweet sweet...emptiness. And somehow in that emptiness I know, I just KNOW, that All Will Be Well. It has to be. All Will Be Well.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Winter Begins - Solstice Reflections

The Winter Solstice on the 21st of December marks the shortest day of the year and the official starting of winter.  Symbolically, the solstice represents the returning of light as the days gradually get longer. From a yogic perspective this is a time to go inward, set intentions that will foster and grow, and to prepare for the winter ahead. Winter is, in Canada at least, a time of reflection & stillness….a time of going inward….just as nature does outside with the return of the cold and snow. 

Although beautiful in many ways, winter has never really been my favorite season; especially here in Southern Ontario. It’s cold, it’s dark and a little barren as most of the trees lose their leaves and the sky is almost always a dull shade of gray.

 This winter seems darker than most after the unexpected passing of my beloved father, and friend, on Dec. 10th at the (too young) age of 64.  He died just 3 days after his sister’s funeral, my Aunt Alice, who finally finished her journey with cancer. My family is deeply affected by the loss of these two people that we loved dearly.

From a yogic perspective I am trying to see the natural beauty in my father’s transition. I am trying to honor him and his life respectfully and be thankful for the incredible father I was so blessed to have. I know that Energy cannot be created, or destroyed, and that it simply changes form. Physics teaches us that. I know that although he is no longer in his body, he is still with us. But the daughter in me is heartbroken and frightened of a world without my Dad. He was a good man, a wonderful man. He was one of the most thoughtful and giving people I have ever met; an amazing example of a devoted father, a good friend and a source of endless unconditional love.  He was the “go-to” guy for everything. He always seemed to have the answers…

My father had beautiful ideals about many things. Even after 42 years of marriage he still brought my mother flowers, still enjoyed surprising all of us with gifts that he would secretly shop for – that would always be so delightful and so thoughtful I would wonder “How does he DO that?!”. He was the type of man who was happiest when his family was happy. Now that he is gone, and we are slowly trying to get over the shock, we have begun to organize and prepare for life without him. This has not been easy. We have uncovered many things including the absence of life insurance and remnants of a man who was deeply overwhelmed. Like most men, I think it was difficult for him to admit that he was overwhelmed. Or to ask for help. So – he suffered silently. Until finally his heart could no longer take it.

As my family and I gently pick up the pieces and try to re-arrange our lives around the hole that his absence has made, I am sad and my heart is heavy. And I am reminded once again what an incredibly deep emotion sadness is. It seems almost infinite. I guess that’s why it can be so easy to lose yourself to the abyss if not careful. My sadness is for my own loss, and also for my mother and sister. My sadness is also for my niece Nika, whom my father loved and adored. He wanted so much for her and they were very close. He absolutely loved children and loved being a Grampa. And also – my sadness is for my father. Whom I truly believe was hurting for awhile but refused to stop working, or let anyone in, for fear of disappointing his beloved family.  He wanted us to have all that our hearts desire and it was my dad who taught me not to succumb to my limitations. He helped me to become the person that I am. Without him, I don’t think I would have made it this far. 

It’s interesting to begin to return to teaching classes and to my normal routine(s) now that things are starting to settle. It’s similar to walking through a dream where everything feels strange and surreal. At times, my anxiety definitely gets the best of me and I find myself frozen in fear of what the future might bring. But at those times I take a deep breath and remind myself that ‘All is well’. In this moment, it’s ok. I’ve started telling myself over and over that ‘out of this situation, only good will come.’ I think I’m starting to believe it. So mixed with my sadness there is also this hope. My intention is to make him proud. He would have wanted us to move forward, to thrive and continue to grow and flourish. 

I Love you Dad. You were the most wonderful man in my life. Thank you, infinitely, for all you've done. For all of us.