Sunday, August 05, 2012

Movin' on up (literally)

Further North, in an even more remote area than Labrador. Adam is already there and starts his work this coming Monday while Jules and I will be heading up in early September. Where you might ask? Dawson City, YUKON! We're thrilled to be moving to a new place, into a fresh adventure and amidst a community that seems so *right* for all of us. But before we move, I feel a little reticent to write about the *rightness* until I've experienced the expectation for myself. For now, I'm caught amidst the organizing, packing and 'letting go' of the many things we've accumulated in the couple of years we've been here in St. John's. For me, releasing from the many layers of attachment will forever be a work in progress. When I'm in Savasana I think 'Let go' and allow my mind to list releases with a smile.

Looking forward to more regular blogging in September, if not before.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

Thanks for reading. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Thanks polar bear.

We're supposed to be leaving in a couple of hours. However, winds are high and the snow's still falling. We'll soon see if the plane takes off or if we'll be spending another night in Hopedale. 
We had some people over for supper last night and it came to my attention that a polar bear was shot just yesterday -by our neighbour- who currently has the remains at his house. And just last year, around this time, a polar bear wandered into town.
I know we're north but I hadn't fathomed the possibility of encountering one of Canada's predators along the way. It definitely gave me a lot of food for thought. I couldn't help but think about my own vegetarian diet and its intended purpose- creating as little suffering as possible. Yet, I'm relieved to know that the polar bear next store didn't make it to town this year. We are walking, talking paradoxes sometimes; maybe even most of the time.
Instead of getting caught in the quagmire, I'm deciding to connect with something we all experience and share. I'm conscious of visualizing my own suffering and that of others on my inhale, and on my exhale, extending an out-pouring of happiness and health to all sentient beings. The practice of tonglen meditation helps me to be more compassionate and allows me to accept life- paradoxes included.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Not waiting, just practicing

The system with which we use for air travel is extremely laid back. We call 6am, the day of travel, to find out if the flight's leaving within the hour or perhaps in the next six hours. We're given a rough time estimate and we wait, as prepared as we can be, to get the 'go' call and are quickly whisked to the airport. In what feels like moments later, we're in the air.

Whether waiting in line, to get picked up or for someone to finally make that left turn at the lights, waiting is something that's generally seen as irritating; something to get through to get on with 'it'. This is your chance to shift perspective. 

There's no interruption; all life is an opportunity for practice.

Wherever my travels may lead, paradise is where I am.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Take 8 to meditate: Part 1

There is no better time than RIGHT NOW. You will never be more ready than you are in this exact moment. You don't need to get a yoga mat, find a silent place, light a candle or designate a special room for the occasion. If you've had a wonderful day, meditate. If you've had a horrible day, meditate. If you're complacent and/or apathetic, meditate. And, if you've moved on to judging these words instead of reading them with an open-mind, maybe you should try meditating.

There's always a reason to wait; I just want to relax, I need some 'me time', I can't just 'do nothing', I'm too busy, I'm too hurt/happy/sad/mad/glad/excited/depressed/tired/cold/warm. Or, I'll do it later when: I'm thinner, more inspired, my kids are in bed, I read more about it, there's a full moon, I've cleaned the house. What it amounts to is an unconscious wall of excuses. We validate the reasons by allowing them to be a rote response and can even begin to believe what we're saying (usually by convincing ourselves of the excuses' validity instead of feeling guilty). Ultimately, we externalize our blame- and we all do it, some more regularly than others. As my mother used to say (which was simultaneously wise and horribly frustrating): "Let your conscience be your guide Joanne".

And, it's that conscience that draws the line between reason or excuse. You *know* when you have a legitimate reason, and even if you think you don't, it is there- no quantifying required. You just need to stop looking outside yourself for the answer (read: blaming the external world) and it will be there. So what are you waiting for?

What does eight have to do with anything? It's a number that rhymes with meditate. That's it. No yogic reasoning, just an attempt to cajole the memory towards commitment. Simply take eight aware breath cycles; feeling the air entering the body on the inhale and exiting the body on the exhale, no need to change your breath, just notice. You might notice your shoulders are rounded, your legs are crossed, you feel your heartbeat, your mind keeps wandering or perhaps you notice nothing at all.  It's all important and relevant because you are practicing consciousness; meditating. If you actually commit to this practice, you'll start to notice more -than your breath- and it's for the better, in my estimation. This awareness is all too rare.

Take 8 to meditate and begin to raise the level of consciousness, then pass it on.

Friday, February 10, 2012

It ain't me babe

Here's a stumbling that made room for a little more perspective in my mind. As always, wishing you a wonderful and aware weekend.

These days, my practice is teaching me to embrace 
 imperfection: to have compassion for all the ways things haven't 
turned out as I planned, in my body and in my life- for the ways things
 keep falling apart, and failing, and breaking down. It's less about fixing things
 and more about learning to be  present for exactly what is.

-Anne Cushman

Welcoming your thoughts in action, as always.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Caring less and loving more

Last year I started cutting my own hair. The first time I did it, I felt giddy seeing the bathroom sink overflowing with hair. Sharing my enthusiasm, I asked my husband to come upstairs.
The reaction? Shock, surprise, but ultimately - and thankfully - support. I decided it might be a good time to mention the possibility of shaving my head, but there wasn't as much support for that idea. And, while I'm trying to look less and less in the mirror, he's the one that sees me more and more so I figured it fair enough. Someday, perhaps.

My practice teaches me to embrace my perceptions of imperfection. By building on the compassion I feel, I'm beginning to learn more and more about myself. Living consciously, I have become aware of my judgments. Instead of unconscious acceptance or berating myself for judging, I try to observe my thoughts. Building awareness creates change.

In case you're wondering what precipitated these thoughts, I cut my hair in the shower today. I have no idea how it looks because I haven't looked in the mirror...yet.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Accepting as I go, fra la la la la la la

Maybe it's because I missed my mat practice on Thursday or perhaps it was simply 'one of those days'. Either way, I found this past Thursday (and Friday morning) difficult. Thankfully, these days are now rare, largely due to a lot of hard work and dedication to yoga; mind, body and spirit.
I work on accepting my feelings instead of struggling against them (and although living in the moment can be difficult, it's tempered by awareness). Accepting myself the way I am rather than thinking about what I want to be in the future or what I was in the past.  It is, and will probably always be, a work in progress.
I think we all hide from ourselves in varying degrees. We build walls that create an imagined story-line and often allow our 'true self' (the *knowing* or, as my mom would say, the 'gut instinct' about 'right' and 'wrong') to be subordinate to our capital 'I'. We fight to be 'right' instead of work towards authenticity and as a result the beauty of insight; within ourselves and eventually, others.
Acceptance can be both painful and embarrassing. It's also empowering, beautiful and worth every effort.
As we yogis say: 'What we resist, persists'.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Half of sixty Seva Yoga

Volunteering doesn't have to take a lot of time, but it can be incredibly rewarding. An opportunity I took advantage of this past weekend was an outdoor walk organized to motivate people who suffer from chronic pain to get active.  It felt great to be outside, meet new people and get a jump start on the day; thirty of my favourite minutes from the weekend were spent in service, what a gift! So, feel free to step off your mat and do some (Seva) Yoga!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Enjoy (your weekend)!

One day some people came to the master and asked: How can you be happy in a world of such impermanence, where you cannot protect your loved ones from harm, illness or death? The master held up a glass and said: Someone gave me this glass; It holds my water admirably and it glistens in the sunlight. I touch it and it rings! One day the wind may blow it off the shelf, or my elbow may knock it from the table. I know this glass is already broken, so I enjoy it -- incredibly. 
- Achaan Chah Subato

Monday, January 23, 2012

Duck, Duck...

We arrived back in Goose Bay this past weekend. It felt good to explore and spend time with Adam and Jules. And, as of last night, I've officially experienced the beauty of Aurora Borealis; two worlds colliding couldn't be more spectacular:

Here's a welcome reminder I offer myself when I forget to remember all the satisfaction and joy I have in my life. Some of you might remember me referencing this in my December yoga classes; when we slip into unconsciousness and the soft and splendid spirit of the season is lost in our hearts. How many of us have run around looking for that *special gift* complaining to ourselves about the many stores we've had to go to, the horrible traffic we've endured and the long lines that take 'forever' to get through (giving up control of our capacity to shift our own mood and perspective)?

Hope it serves you well on a Monday morning:

Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the one who serves nor the served. But all pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.
- Mahatma Ghandi

*Photos taken in Goose Bay, NL by  Brett Wilson*

Friday, January 20, 2012

Get YIN to it

Yin yoga is about surrender. 

v. sur·ren·dered, sur·ren·der·ing, sur·ren·ders
1. To relinquish possession or control of to another because of demand or compulsion.
2. To give up in favor of another.
3. To give up or give back (something that has been granted)
4. To give up or abandon
5. To give over or resign (oneself) to something, as to an emotion
To give oneself up, as to an enemy.

Within a yin class, postures are typically released into- as opposed to held onto- anywhere from three to five minutes in length or longer. The student lets go of as much muscular effort as possible in order to release fascia and maintain the health of connective tissue. The result is greater range of motion and increased joint stability. On a mental, emotional and energetic level, yin yoga has the capacity to change your life by changing your lens on life; increasing the flow of prana (qi) in the body. The opportunity for insight, wellness and growth is truly exponential. It also helps to encourage, nourish or deepen a mindful meditation practice.  But, it's one thing to be aware and something completely different when put into practice. You cannot understand the capacity that (yin) yoga has to better your world, life and perspective until you combine action with theory.

Surrender the body.
Surrender the mind.
Give over to the spirit-
and get back in control.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Always already home

                                  If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?
-Dogen Zenji

Adam and I went for a walk the other night. The crisp air was revitalizing. En route, we realized how difficult it was to carry on a conversation. Turns out that the need to bundle up keeps not only the wind, but the sound out too. Regularly repeating ourselves, we decided to keep the verbal exchange to a minimum. The result? A wonderful opportunity to be together without talking. Simple satisfaction in experience itself.

We're expecting to return to Goose Bay tomorrow afternoon; I wonder if the elements will agree.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Population: 700

We arrived in Hopedale, Labrador on Monday. I wasn't aware that passenger planes could be that small. Hopefully the photo will give you a sense of its size. I've been equally unaware of just how much our actions can effect our communities. It's easier to feel distant in a bigger city (all being relative) and to think less about more people.

While attempting to exit the airplane in Hopedale my daughter, having just been roused from a deep sleep, refused the necessary winter clothes to go from plane to skidoo in order to reach our new home. I tried for twenty long minutes to dress and/or reason with my child. I was delaying the pilot and the new passengers aboard waiting to leave. In that exact moment,  I realized that everyone wanted me and my two-year old daughter off the plane. I quickly ended my attempts at reasoning with her and got her dressed as quickly as possible. And, away we went- crying toddler and all. I was so grateful that she enjoyed riding on the skidoo.
I realize that if someone has an accident, is reckless or has any other medical emergencies, it impacts me and my family. My husband is the only doctor here so when I see people on skidoos testing the limits of man and machine, I can't help but feel it a little more. And sometimes I even whisper, 'Please be careful.'

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Practice off the mat

We arrived in Labrador yesterday, barely. On one side, the plane was delayed in Halifax; on the other, Goose Bay was in the midst of a storm. And, there we were- somewhere north of middle ground, bags being weighed while simultaneously being told that the impending winds might divert the plane to Deer Lake.

Feeling frustrated, I made a conscious decision to get curious about what was making me so ill at ease. Although my body was still in St. John`s, my mind had my feet firmly planted on the crisp, squeaky, Labrador snow. No matter how many times an old realization becomes new, I`m still grateful in the moment. Was there a moment today where you can recall the separation of mind from body? Are you willing to take a minute to simply be, exactly where you are, and think about it?