Friday, October 30, 2009

The Unveiling

Halloween is the time of year when we put on masks and go out and be something, someone different than we are.

Yet this annual event of becoming someone else by putting on a costume or mask, is something we subconsciously do every day of the year and perhaps a different mask many times a day depending on where we are, who we are with, the role we have assumed, etc. We often choose the mask that matches the mask of the person we’re trying to please. The masks we have chosen to wear in our varied experiences are a way to keep us safe, but hides our true self from others and ourselves.

And that is exactly what the Celts were doing on Hollows Eve … trying to hide their identity to keep themselves safe. Celts who lived 2000 years ago, celebrated the New Year on Nov. 1. This marked the end of the Summer and harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold Winter. The Celts believed that transitions, times when things change from one state to another, had magical properties.

They, thus, believed the night before New Years was a powerful time in which the veils between the two realms was thinned , allowing one to move between the two worlds with ease. October 31st they celebrated Samhain or Hallow’s Eve, when the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
Afraid the undead would harm them and cause trouble, the Celts left out food on their door steps to keep their homes safe from these ghosts.

And if the Celts people needed to venture out on this eve, they would dress up in costume and don masks in hopes of being mistaken for one of the ghosts' fellow spirits.
Just as we do with the masks we wear every day. To hide our true identity, to keep ourselves safe, to fit in, and pretend to be something we are not.

Indeed October 31st - Halloween – is a magical and powerful time. A transitional time. A time to get in touch with our inner spirit, to observe ourselves more clearly as the veil of illusion is thinned. As the lines of our two worlds, our inner self and our outer selves (our own ghosts), are blurred. Opening up the realms so we can move with ease into deeper regions of ourselves and begin to remove the masks.

This Halloween I am going to be someone totally different than I, or anyone has ever been...

I am going to be me!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Twisting out the Toxic

At the end of teaching my yoga class tonight, I found myself thinking, “Did they like the class?” “Did they like me?” “Did they think I was good or bad?” “What did they think of the words I said, the ‘wisdom’ I imparted during class?” “Did they think it was corny, did they think it was profound, did I talk too much?”

Rather than just approaching the class from a sharing experience, I was wrapped up in my fear of rejection or failure. And here I was again, working through these codependent behaviours. Patterns I have learned about myself in the past few years after a couple of broken relationships…with broken people.

In my relationships, intimate or friendships, I realized that I worry about what they think of me, if they like me, rather than what I may think of them or their behaviours. I seem to need people to like me and/or approve of me, no matter if I really like them or approve of their behaviours. Sounds crazy and it is, but so many people look externally for proof of their worth, their value because somewhere along the line (usually childhood) their worth and value were not validated.

Let’s face it, most of us were born into some level of family dysfunction and thus learned specific patterns of behavior that made us feel safe or loved, for example pleasing others so they will like you or not expressing your opinions for fear of being shot down or worse. Then we carry these patterns of behavior into our adult relationships, without even realizing it because these patterns and wounds are so embedded into our subconscious. And as a child we did not have the cognitive skills to realize this is their shit, their issues and their unresolved pain not yours.

But I am slowly waking up to these hidden wounds that seemed to have been driving my life. I am learning to trust myself, believe in myself and really love myself. Learning to pay attention to my feelings, my thoughts and my intuition and make me matter. Hopefully empowering myself to find my value and worth inside instead of chasing my wounds out there trying to heal them. When we look for it out there, all we are ever going to draw in is our own subconscious, hidden wounds. Our relationships mirror to us how we feel inside.

So I will continue to do just as I told my yoga students in class tonight during our twisting postures, "Keep twisting from deep within your core and release all your toxins".

Friday, October 23, 2009

When you are falling ... Let Go

This is what I learned in Yoga class tonight as I went into a pose I have went into successfully many times before – headstand.

I was getting up into my headstand at the top of my mat, my right leg was up and as I began to bring my left leg up in line with the right I started to lose a little balance, but that didn’t stop me, I kept going. I can do headstand! I’ll balance myself out as I keep going in this already unsturdy foundation, I thought. And as I started to sway more, the more I tried to get up into place. It wasn’t working, I was struggling and starting to fall out of it yet I continued to get into the “right” position rather than just go with it, to just fall. Go where I was going anyway. It would have been easier, less painful and certainly more graceful.

Wish I had this little piece of wisdom in my pocket about a year ago during a break up that caused me so much inner turmoil … I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t let go of the pain of breaking up, couldn’t let go of my expectations of the relationship, couldn’t let go of why he couldn’t understand, couldn’t let go of analyzing him, analyzing the relationship, couldn’t let go of the love we shared, the words he said, couldn’t let go of the why’s. Why did he do this? Why did this happen? Why couldn’t it work out? Why? And the more I held on, rather tried to hang on, the more suffering it caused me. My mind, my ego had a grip on me so tight that it was squeezing the life out of me. Yet it was the trying to hold on that caused the inner turmoil, the pain, the suffering more so than the actual break up, the fall.

Then I fell … awkwardly. Not awkwardly in a humiliating sense (although I am sure humility would have served me here instead of my ego mind), but in a potentially physically harmful way. My left leg fell over to the one side and I came crashing down on the side of my heel, my other leg fell forward over my head and my neck twisted sideways, while my hands were still grasping to hold on! When I fell, I felt a little stunned but I also had this weird sensation … an exhilaration. I had felt, for a very brief moment, like I was flying. Then I landed ... not so gracefully.

So, instead of all this time spent thinking, doubting, questioning, trying to get it right; instead of all these mental acrobatics that wouldn’t change the outcome anyway, all I needed to do was let go. LET GO. Just let go and land. On the solid ground beneath me. A stable place. Then try again from this new landing place.

Try again. I recommend falling, in fact, because it is your chance to really experience freedom, but try to fall with grace. You do that by letting go.

It is from falling that I have started to learn how to fly.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fate or Free Will?

This is the question I was left with after my, perhaps, “fateful” meeting with a homeless, gypsy Tarot card reader the other day as I stepped out into the streets from my friend’s downtown apartment. “Would you like a reading”, greeted a friendly and a little disheveled man holding up a worn deck of Tarot cards. “Sure,” I answered, a little too eagerly without asking what this would cost me … financial or otherwise.

He guides me to an empty bench on a quiet side street as we chat and immediately find a connection through our mutual hometown 3000 miles away. This is fate, I thought, I was meant to bump into this homeless gypsy so that he could offer me some profound insight into my future!

I won’t bore you with the details of my reading…okay just a little bit…I am going to live to be 100+, I am going to be successful, write a novel and have an animal sanctuary. Oh and he said I am very youthful and look much younger than my age (yes, flattery works!) I must admit that writing a novel and owning an animal sanctuary have been dreams for me, but does his prediction of such mean this is truly my destiny no matter what choices I make?

First, I actually think there is a difference between what is termed Fate as opposed to what is our Destiny. I think fate is something we subconsciously create for ourselves as we make choices from fear, insecurities, the need for security, beliefs, family structures, wounds we carry from the past and so on. The cage we create for ourselves leads us to a certain fate.

Sure there is free will involved, in so far that we are making our own choices, but we’re operating from a subconscious place. One of security and familiarity, self-imposed limitations and old patterns. Like a gerbil running on its wheel in its cage, but always ending up in the same place. We are fated to something as we keep making the same choices from the same place and end up just recreating the same experiences … maybe different people and different scenarios, but all part of the same theme. That seems to be fate.

Destiny I think is what we are supposed to be, our purpose; that innate calling we feel inside and the yearning in our soul. It is what we could be if we let go of our fears, insecurities and ego. If we truly follow our hearts, listen to our instincts and truly make choices out of self-love, self-esteem and self-value. This is authentic free will, perhaps. The freedom to break out of our own self-created cage.

All our own choices, but choices made from different parts of ourselves. Choices made from fear or from love. One seems to fate us and almost seems to steal our free will and the other sets us free to live our destiny. Although I think many of our fated events are the unfolding of our destiny … if we learn and are willing to change.

Free Will? Absolutely. But we can “free will” ourselves into fated lives or living our destiny. Therefore, every choice we make is an investment of either our Fate or Destiny, that’s our free will.

So was my encounter with this gypsy fateful? I guess fated to be out $30 by placing my trust in someone else to tell me what I am destined to do, to be.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they
will be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood of
every government --
signs for all to see.

I can't run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned,
they've summoned up
a thundercloud
and they're going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Caterfly - Freak of Nature?

There it was on my dining room floor of my apartment, a half caterpillar, half butterfly – a caterfly. Not fully metamorphosized into what it was intending to be.

Crawling on my floor, flapping its wings you could see the beginning of aesthetic beauty, the bright orange colours of a monarch butterfly at the centre of its otherwise faded brown and underdeveloped wings. But this creature could not fly.

Assumedly blown into my apartment during a torrential downpour, the blustering winds tearing it from its home on one of the trees out back. Breaking open its cocoon that was created for shelter from the inner storm of transformation. It’s self-created protective device to keep it safe while it goes through the agonizing discomfort of change. Not unlike our own self-created, eventually self-destructive, protective devices intended to keep us safe from the storms of life.

This caterfly was unceremoniously cracked open far too early for it to reach its full potential, to fully transform into a butterfly. Ripped from its shelter, while in transition from beast to beauty.

But this caterfly did not come to me by accident. Propped on my apartment floor six storey’s up, the wind guiding its way through a small opening in my balcony doors seemed like an extreme feat even for nature …. not to mention that it had not been eaten by my cats, who were in fact just merely staring at this “odd” creature in awe and curiosity just as I was.

This creature torn from its cocoon, its comfort zone during its most fragile transition was symbolic of me, of my life … able to crawl, but not quite able to fly yet.

Yet this caterfly survived the storm, seemed to be accepting of its limitations, not frantically searching for its cocoon of safety and needing to fearfully crawl back into it, rather it appeared to be at peace as it continued to crawl on and attempt to fly.

And it is with this observation of character and perseverance that I realized it is exactly these imperfections that make it beautiful and unique … perfect in its imperfection. And it is here in this transitional stage where we find our own way, who we really are and develop our own wings to fly.

But I wanted to keep this caterfly, to nurse it, help it grow and become what it should be or so what I thought it should be, but I knew I couldn’t. It would wither and die and never be what it is supposed to be in this life if I tried to hold on to it and force it to become something it couldn’t and, perhaps, something it didn’t want to be. I knew it could only be what it is and realized there was nothing wrong with that when I saw it find comfort and joy as I placed it where it belongs … in the garden. I watched it happily crawl up the stems of the plants, proudly spreading its wings and showing its unique beauty to the world.

I knew it was flying on the inside.

Beautiful Freak

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tides of Change

The change of the season can be felt in the air, with the days becoming shorter, the nights growing cooler and the waters turning colder. It is said change is a constant; something we can always count on. We often view change as good or bad, depending on our own wants, desires and perception of things. We tend to notice change more when it is something we don’t want, and then we have difficulty dealing with it … accepting it. We think it should be different or it’s not fair. We resist, sometimes even deny it’s happening at all.

As I resisted “unwanted” change in my life, I felt I was swept up by a cyclone, spinning me around, spinning me down into a dark well of stagnant water with walls so high I could not climb out of. Holding on, not wanting the change to take place (even though it already had). My mind gripping on ferociously to what was already gone, already done. My resistance and the not accepting what was, created a dam inside me; blocking the natural flow of the river, the flow of my life. Not letting anything in, not letting anything out. Being sucked down by the undertow.

It wasn’t until I let go, stopped resisting and accepted the change, that I found some peace, a glimpse of joy … the very things I was searching for in the first place. Though in an attempt to calm the raging rivers of emotions that change brings, I clung, resisted, not realizing it is just that which kept me from what I was seeking.

Perhaps we resist change because of the fear of the unknown and our primal need for security and safety. And sometimes it’s just easier to stay with our limitations and with what doesn’t work. To keep things the same. Keeping us in a state of inertia, yet one of familiarity and comfort, even if it isn’t ideal. But things will never stay the same no matter how hard we resist or stay in denial; we just prolong the struggle.

Just as we can’t stop the trees from growing, the flowers from dying or the rivers from flowing - all the natural beauty and wonders of nature - we can’t stop change. And when we can learn to accept change – “good” or “bad” – perhaps, then, we will be able to embrace the beauty and wonders within ourselves.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Between Mountains and Oceans

Power and Peace.
Solid and Malleable
Stable and Supple.

Strength and Surrender.

All that I have been trying to find in myself; find the balance between. The ebb and flow of our lives require a certain power to navigate the rough waters, not one of force or will, but an inner strength, strong and stable like the mountains; peaceful and surrendering like the ocean.

It is the majestic, omnipotence and serenity of these landscapes that brought me all across Canada to the West Coast. Hoping to receive inspiration as I breath in the air, taste the salt on my lips and soak in the mystical energies of these wonders through every pore of my body.

To possess what they emanate. As I navigate the landscapes of my life.