truth

“The only reason a totally free being would choose to stay within the illusion is to relieve the suffering of all beings. … The moment we choose to come back, we have to push against that force that is drawing us in to merge. We are pushing against God. That is the sacrifice. The sacrifice that Christ made is not the crucifixion. The change for a conscious being to leave his body is bliss. The sacrifice was leaving the Father in the first place and becoming the Son.” - Ram Dass

Ignore No More

I hate being ignored. It pushes my buttons like nothing else. 

I love it when someone takes the time to hear me. But more than that, it feels great when I’m acknowledged. Thanks to my life coach (à la Handel Group) for enlightening me on the subject, so does everyone else.

So I started to pay attention, a lot of attention, to my personal ignoring habits. 

I had to develop awareness.

Day one of this practice I caught myself red handed. While walking I saw a common sight for Toronto; a gentleman asking for change. I watched as he politely asked a woman and then watched as she walked right by him - his existence made invisible. Slapped in the face with reality a few seconds later, I did the same thing.

I spent the rest of my walk in a thought daze. “Did I just do that?!” Sure did. I’ve done it many times before too. In fact, it was my habit, something I was previously unconscious of.

Ignoring the people asking for change allowed me to disconnect from them. I didn’t have to look into their eyes and see their pain, fear, or hope. I didn’t have to slow my role to acknowledge them and I didn’t have to interrupt the very important thoughts in my head to stop and give change. I disconnected.

Disconnection is the exact opposite of what I’m looking for. 

Everyone deserves to be acknowledged. My new practice is to ignore no more. I will acknowledge people that speak to me, no matter who they are. I’ll either smile or verbally answer, whatever my answer might be. I won’t ignore their presence.

 

But I want to go deeper than my attention to others. I want to know if there’s anything I’m ignoring in me. I’m a huge believer that a healthy spirit means a healthy body - I speak from experience. When I’m stressed I don’t just feel it in my mind, I feel it in my heart, my sleep is affected, and my digestion sucks. If I’m sad my body feels heavy, almost as if it’s weighted with water needing to release as tears.

I’ve previously tried to ignore painful emotions hoping they’d disappear. If I could just put them aside and keep going, I would. Most often a night of booze did the trick as I was quite pleased with my hangover the next day. At least the pain was bodily, something I preferred over emotional pain.

My emotions became physical.

These ignored emotions didn’t disappear, they just went deeper  - sometimes even placed themselves in my muscles. These damn, deep set emotions led to things getting stuck in my body, and things should never be stagnant in the body. Change and movement are required for us to survive on so many levels. Even our organs move individually and if they’re doing so, they’re healthy. 

I learned how to flow.

As a yoga teacher, I’ve seen and experienced many of what some consider to be a random emotional release during a yoga pose. With yoga we learn to stretch and strengthen our body and if we’re lucky, we uncover an area that’s stuck. When we tap into such an area, the stagnant stuff reveals itself and bam, it’s an emotion stuck in our hip. All of a sudden… tears.

The tears represent your newly found flow (not just a flow of tears, but a new energy flow has opened). It may come with embarrassment as to why you’re crying in the middle of your pigeon pose, but congratulations! You’re releasing what’s no longer serving you. 

Just go with it. Flow with it. Engage with it.

My teachers have taught me to engage - not just my muscles, but also my mind. If I stop ignoring challenging emotions my future will be free of trying to uncover anything I’ve previously hidden. 

So my practice involves engaging with emotions instead of ignoring them. In this way, I can connect to their source and understand how to change them where necessary, or accept them.

I will ignore no more.

Who or what are you ignoring?

And I Don't Want To Miss A Thing...

Inspired by a recent teacher training program with Darren Rhodes, I’m now practicing conscious yoga teaching.

It’s not that I wasn’t a conscious teacher before… I just wasn’t conscious enough.

Sure I knew what I was doing, how to raise and lower the energy of the room and how to avoid injuries, but I wasn't totally conscious of everything I say and the potential meaning behind it.

You see, I was encouraged to say certain things while teaching (I’m sure most of us teachers are). It’s not necessarily because those words felt right for me, but because it was right for the style of yoga. Indeed I follow a style of yoga because it feels right for me, but that doesn’t mean I should say something out of habit vs. making it a conscious choice. 

Conscious teaching involves a lot of listening and correcting on the spot, to the point where I’m asking myself why I use words like “lift the leg” vs. “lift your leg.” This may sound nit-picky, but each word has a meaning, and I want my class themes to be a conscious choice, gifted consciously to my students. I don’t want to miss a thing.

With the magnifying glass on my own teaching, I expected to hear a whole lot of “your” and no “the’s”, but when I tuned in, to my surprise, I did use “the” more often.

I had to ask why. Was this on purpose? Is this a technique I’m imploring to help students avoid a sense of ego in their yoga practice? (note: “ego” is used here to reference a person’s sense of self - not over confidence). I sat with it for awhile and pondered both sides. There’s no right answer, except the one that’s right for me.

I found that giving an instruction using “the” followed by the name of a body part, felt a little cold. I could see the benefits from a Classically dual point of view where eradicating the ego is considered a good thing. But for me, for now, my path hasn’t called for that. I sit well with the idea that embodiment (human-ness yo!) is a gift that was meant to be, and with embodiment comes a very human sense of self. I prefer to work with my ‘gift’ instead of eradicate it. Moving forward, I’m changing all instances of “the” in my yoga classes to “your.” Bear with me, it may will take some practice.

Another word I’ve caught myself using is “advanced.” “Advanced” suggests it’s better than another option but realistically, it’s not. What’s truly advanced is knowing what’s right for you at that moment and that will and should, change often.

My focus on conscious teaching has snuck into my life outside the yoga room. Staying conscious is calling me to get closer to my truth and understand why I do what I do and say what I say. It matters. Here’s why:

Take care of your thoughts, because they will become words.

Take care of your words, because they will become actions.

Take care of your actions, because they will become habits.

Take care of your habits, because they will form your character.

Take care of your character, because it will form your destiny.

And your destiny, will be your life.

-Dalai Lama

I really don’t want to miss a thing. What are you missing?

Teachers out there - any thoughts, tips or experiences to share on your teachings?

The Age of Truth

The Internet has brought us many wonderful things, but this new one, you may want to prepare for.

Previously, I mentioned that we’re still ethically trying to catch up with the Internet and what it’s presenting us. The Web and more recently, social networking, is much more than a way to get in touch with old friends, more than moment to moment updates, and more than a way to meet your potential life parter.

Sure we’re all over the Net posting our best pictures and quotes of the day, but we haven’t yet figured out what it means to have our personal lives also be our public lives. Some of us may remain “clothed”, but some of us don’t… either by our will or someone else’s.

The Web is clearly laying everything on the table. Our cards are being dealt revealing our faults, lies and dirty “secrets” right alongside our sweetness, talents and pride, leaving very little for game playing. Thanks to social networking, sharing our cards, as well as peeking at someone else’s, has been made so easy

Long before I met Caio I dated a man who claimed to be waiting on divorce papers. I tred carefully knowing that certain things had to settle and heal. We dated for 8 months, vacationed together, I met his friends, and his 2 brothers. According to him, I was even invited to his parent’s house for a BBQ (a night I couldn’t attend). He said his Mother couldn’t wait to meet the woman who made him so happy. Soon after I found a day old picture of himself and his very pregnant wife standing arm in arm… on Facebook.

I ended it immediately. I felt hurt, ashamed, embarrassed and used.

It turns out, I wasn’t the only one (pun intended!) and social networking is being hugely related to relationship problems - even divorces. Take for example these recent statistics:

Facebook is quoted in 1 out of every 5 divorces in the United States, according to the Loyola University Health System.

81 percent of the U.S.’s top divorce attorneys say they have seen an increase in the number of cases using social networking during the past five years, according to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML).

Facebook is the unrivaled leader for divorce evidence with 66 percent quoting it as the primary source the AAML said.

The saddest part of this isn’t the stats. It’s the fact that these stats are greatly in favour of pointing the finger away from us and blaming something else - in this case social networking tools. That finger should be pointing directly at us and our reliance on game playing.

In my instance, the biggest problem wasn’t that this man was yet to be divorced (although that was a major fault), nor was it Facebook for revealing a previously secret part of his life. The problem was that neither of us were telling the truth.

His truth: he wasn’t waiting on divorce papers and his wife, whom he claimed to be separated from, was very pregnant with his child. 

My truth? Something didn’t feel right. I kept asking him when the papers would come and how he was feeling. I often asked if he wanted to continue with our relationship. He always provided a soothing answer, but my gut feeling never changed. I didn’t ask again the next day simply because it was too soon to ask, not because I felt confident. I wasn’t listening to my inner truth.

No more games. Welcome to the age of truth. It’s here, it’s now and it’s long overdue. This is the age when we’re called to tell our truth… or else we’re revealed. 

To be clear, I’m not promoting that we no longer have any privacy in our lives. There are definitely moments and situations that should remain private. I’m saying this: It’s time to hold integrity. Mean what you say. Practice what you preach.

We’re going to see a lot of individuals make mistakes as this age progresses: what it means to be human, faults and all, will be clearly examined and magnified. It will continue to challenge our beliefs, judgements and ability to forgive. We’ll be presented with many opinions and facts surrounding the mistakes - enough to overwhelm. Heads will spin and we’ll be left with only one question to answer: What’s my truth?

If we have nothing to hide, this won’t be scary. If we’re honest, transparent and hold our integrity, this age of truth is no longer intimidating. Instead, it becomes an absolute blessing. 

Telling the truth calls us to live consciously and to make conscious decisions. It asks us to be aware and deeply in touch with our inner feelings (gut feelings baby!). As soon as we’re aware, we can act on what our heart is saying. 

Consider social networking and the Internet a reminder to tell the truth. Consider them a tool for your spiritual practice that acts as a reminder to follow your heart and practice what you preach. Don’t fake it… or else.

Fooling Nobody

Fooling Nobody. 1968.

I found this picture years ago in a book titled The Secret Art of Dr. Suess and it’s been hanging at my desk as inspiration ever since.

You see, I’m on a journey to be real.

To keep it real.

To tell the truth.

It turns out, telling the truth is hardest when I have to tell it to myself.

This is an online journal where my truth telling has the potential to be public (if someone other than me reads this, then it’s public). When I tell the truth to someone other than myself, I’m held to it. I like that. I like being called on my shit - it’s one of the reasons I have a life coach and also one of the reasons I practice yoga. 

They’re revealing. 

Layers peel away at times with ease, and other times with work. 

It took me years to uncover that the vision I had of myself as an Advertising Executive wasn’t one that I wanted. I had convinced myself however, for 10 years, that that was my path. I was going to make great ads, crack the toughest briefs, and that I would find it fulfilling. The idea of that being a lie scared me. Sure I made decent coin but I went home miserable 5 out of 7 days a week (on a good week). I was fearful to go on and live a life doing something I no longer wanted. I was fearful that I had wasted the past 10 years. I was fearful of change, because I didn’t know what was next. 

But when I opened to the truth, I knew I couldn’t stay. I found my new path only by telling the truth again and again.

This new path is moving in the right direction - I don’t just believe it, I feel it. It wasn’t wrong before, but it also wasn’t life affirming. 

I look forward to what’s ahead and what might kick dust up next. My path carries no promise of a destination; things are constantly changing, unfolding, enfolding and evolving.

I’ve come to terms with not knowing the way, or finding mastery (in most cases). Instead, I like to think it’s about finding an edge. A place where I can keep it real a whole lot easier and in turn, follow my heart’s desires. This place encourages me to embody consciousness a little deeper every day.

I no longer want to fool anyone, including myself.

Who are you fooling?