Monday, March 31, 2008

Last Monday Class

I'm just about to go and lead the last lunchtime Monday class at Rama Lotus. I've been doing it for about 6 months. I started this class in part to make up for the fact that I dropped the Friday evening class in order to take the Introduction Leaders Program in Montreal. Now that my course is just about over, I'll be back on Fridays starting next week and off on Mondays.

I have enjoyed the Monday class as it has tended to be smaller and it's just a nice time of day to be up in the Sky Room. The fact that it's smaller made it not so sustainable as a class to keep on my schedule as Rama Lotus pays per student.

We talked in class yesterday about what it takes to run a yoga teaching practice and how it's important to not be attached to the money and to really just provide service to whoever is there. That's great and true! And when you are teaching yoga for a living, the numbers matter as we have to be responsible to our families and other commitments.

It's a longer conversation however, I'm on my way to *scrape the snow off my car* here in Ottawa on this last day of March.

Friday, March 28, 2008

It Takes a Village

I did it! I finished the hard part of my course (the Introduction Leaders Program at Landmark Education in Montreal) and the work that's left to do is completely in my control and I'll be able to finish the course next Friday. I'm really pleased.

I knew I could do it but there was a little doubt about whether or not I would do it. That course is such great practice at being powerful in life and finding obstacles and going around them or blasting them away. I learned a lot and formed some strong relationships that will continue for sure beyond that course.

A lot of the time that course seemed like someone was trying to herd cats. We were the cats - all off wanting to do our own thing. Getting the group to start acting like a team was something to be a part of! Having a whole gang of leaders working it out together - whew!

It was by far the hardest course I've ever done - mainly because I was doing it from Ottawa and the course happens in Montreal. I made an outrageous request back at the end of August so that I could have Fridays off and be able to attend the course when it was offered. That worked out and there were other people who came with me sometimes - 3 others from Ottawa/Gatineau. Sometimes we rode together, sometimes we didn't. As the price of gas went up and as we started working more as a team, we rode together more often :)

I am such a supporter of people - when someone says they want to do something I really believe they can. I know from experience what it is to be unstoppable. I knew that to do this course was going to take something and I for sure had a choice - take it or don't take it - but I wanted to take it and so I did. I had people supporting me so I could do the course - Cecelia subbed my Friday night class each week at Rama Lotus, Remi spent an extra night a week with her dad, Ian took on more child care, John picked up the slack so I could be away, John and Remi stood by while the phone rang a lot and people came over, my family put up with me being busy and out of town so much, everyone put up with me being all inspired (or not) and yakking about it, my program buddies supported me when I didn't have cash on me or didn't want to go to Montreal, and it goes on and on. Hey, it takes a village. I get it!

I feel proud and relieved and mainly pretty grateful for the experience of feeling so supported. That gives me strength and confidence and helps fuel me to continue teaching and leading and sharing with others.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I got my hair cut

I mean, what can I say? My days are filled with miracles. I spent a session, like I do every week, with a man who may have Alzheimer's. His spirit is so gentle and he's so special. We don't always "do yoga" but we always connect and I always enjoy my time with him. I had lunch with a group of people who stop what they're doing, which is very important work, so that they can take time for themselves to stretch and breathe and relax.

Last night I led a home introduction to the Landmark Forum at Torsten's house. He let 8 total strangers come to his house, 7 of them were from India, visiting Canada for work, led by someone so inspired by her time in the Landmark Forum that she dragged her friends by bus to come out on a cold night and create possibilities. Wow.

I had a quick visit with my mom, who works miracles in her home with my brother, with Robin, with her partner, Roger and then her crew of dogs - who work their own set of miracles on the people they are with. Those dogs bring so much joy, as I've mentioned.

I spent some time with my daughter at her student-led conference at school this afternoon. Her teacher said she's talented and her poetry is beautiful.

Tomorrow night I'll be in the yoga teacher training where people are taking time out of their lives to learn how to share the gift of yoga with others. People who sit in the inquiry of what it means to be human and look at all that comes up - they're so brave!

I'm surrounded by such inspirational people and so much great stuff that it's hard to even write about it. So I act like it's normal and it is. But really, upon closer inspection, it's awesome. The things people are doing, the little things and the big things, are so meaningful and powerful. I'm moved by who I get to be in my life and who I get to be with. It's too big to write about.

So I'll tell you I got my hair cut today. It was getting my eyes too much and I could really feel it needed to be trimmed. So there you go.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Very Affectionate Dog

I have a very affectionate dog. She is so out there with her love! She cuddles like a cat and must be part stuffed animal because she will also just sit there. When I meditate, she sits so still on my lap. She doesn't bug me to pet her or anything. She just lets me rest my hands on her and then we sit still together until I'm done!

If you look closely at the picture you may notice her tongue. She usually does most of her licking in the morning - right as we wake up - she wants to lick and clean and play. Today for some reason, she was majorly licky in the afternoon. I'm not sure what she wanted or what came over her, but it was pretty funny.

If you're looking for a meditating companion, I would recommend a Bischon Bolognese. What a gentle, friendly companion. She's really the best dog I've ever had and although she gets in the way when I'm doing yoga, most of the time she really lets me be and she just sticks by my side.

Eckhart Tolle and Oprah were talking about animals and presence in their webcast today and it reminded me of when our "guru" used to say how dogs and birds were feeling, which makes me kind of mad when I think - "you don't know what they're thinking!" We have no idea what they're thinking. How do we know that they have thoughts or not? I have no idea what's going on in my little dog's head. I do know that she can tell time very well and asks for her dinner at the same time everyday...I do appreciate that she is "in touch" and that she seems to be stress-free and in the moment, but honestly, I don't really have a clue...I just like having her around :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

It Was Almost a Day Off

It was a day off for Remi from school. And John from work. But on peoples' days off, they like to do yoga... So my lunchtime class at Rama Lotus was full for a change! And one of my CHEO classes was cancelled because some of the kids aren't in on holidays.

So I finished watching the rest of La Vie en Rose. Wow. What a beautiful movie and that actress certainly earned her Oscar this year. If you haven't seen it, well you can imagine I'm going to recommend it.

And while I was surfing the internet, I came across this article, which I found moving (but some of you may find disturbing if you're squeamish). It's about dealing with feelings that are difficult. The people in this article choose to embrace feelings rather than pushing them away or ignoring them. Pretty powerful.

It's good to be back in almost my regular schedule. I love moving around and travelling and being in different places and at the same time, I really love my routine!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Yoga Teachers

Someone asked me today after my morning class if I used to be "corporate." She said that most of her yoga teachers used to be in other professions and then had major changes in their lives and switched to being yoga teachers after some realization or shift in their priorities and she wondered if that was true for me too.

If you know me, you know that's not my situation. Sometimes I think of myself as such an unlikely yoga teacher. And then again, not really. It has become more and more apparent to me that I'm a very likely yoga teacher. It just wasn't always that way.

I am one of those people who grew up in a family and time of exploration where new things were considered and practised sometimes. We had family meetings and spent the weekends "in community." I grew up going to potlucks.

When I graduated from university, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I had a degree in Communications from McGill and didn't have a clue what kind of job I wanted to do or anything. So I went travelling. While I was away I ended up in India basically because my Thai visa ran out and it was cheaper to go there than to go down to Malaysia. It was on Easter that I met Mother Teresa (see last year's post). That wasn't really planned - it was more of a "what should we do, it's easter, hey, let's go to Mother Teresa's, great idea, let's go" but it had an impact on me at the time.

Anyways, I came home after my trip and was working in Montreal on a film and I was not taking care of myself and was in crummy relationships and I didn't know what to do next so at the age of 24 I moved into Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, which at the time was an ashram. That means there was a guru and we were volunteers and practised yoga. I figured if I went I could at least learn how to be a yoga teacher. I went for 3 months and stayed for about 3 years.

I learned to be a yoga teacher. And I learned a lot about yoga and about what it means to integrate yoga into a "normal life" and I got a lot of experience that at the time occured for me as regular, but as I found out, was pretty special. I'd walk down the halls and pop into lectures by Deepak Chopra, Swami Satchidananda, and other gurus.

I later left and went to Omega, where again, what was normal for me was seeing Thich Nat Hanh, Maya Angelou, Ram Dass, and other major teachers, all in the course of my work days.

I love my computers and my technology and my daughter and my friends and live what I would consider to be a pretty normal life. I've just happened to have had access to a lot of amazing teachings and communities where people are practising those teachings. So leading meditation is easy for me to do. I've had lots of practise being a student! Leading yoga experiences is fun and easy too. Sometimes I think I'll branch out and start some sort of completely unrelated business and just use my yoga practice to help me in my business. And lately I've come to accept what I do as valuable and completely up my alley - accept the gift I have been given and continue to offer classes and support for people who want it.

I haven't always been an enthusiastic yoga teacher - yoga was just always there for me - it wasn't something I stumbled upon that changed my life. It is so integrated that I can't really remember life without those teachings. And I forget that sometimes. I'm starting to get it and I appreciate it when people come across yoga and meditation and are willing to give it a try. As I say, it doesn't hurt and most people don't say, "I started yoga/meditation and things have just gone downhill from there." It's not like that! Things usually get better with yoga and meditation!

I'm grateful for the presence of yoga and meditation in my life and I can imagine my life without them and it's not a pretty picture. I'm glad I had the opportunity early in my life to learn and practice and now to share that as well. So I'm a full-time yoga teacher and I realize it's a privilege and I'm honoured.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. I'm not sure what to make of it. I remember Joseph Campbell saying something about how the Jesus story is an archetype and that this is really a time of renewal. I could see how that might be the case. I was wondering about the part of Jesus dying and then rising 3 days later and it occured to me that if he was then born again, that mother's milk comes in 3 days after the baby is born, and maybe there's some significance there and, well, it's not a fully formulated idea.

I went to the Navan United Church service this morning basically because John's parents invited us and there were going to be pancakes afterwards. (If you want to get me to come some place just offer to serve me pancakes.) It was really lovely and we sang a couple of songs and sat and listened for a bit and then we definitely had pancakes and more!

We were told the story of how Jesus died on the cross and how it was not criminals that put him to death but regular people. The minister referred to evil acts, which I translated to be "unconsciousness." People try to do good and other people don't stand up for them. How we need to stand up for people doing good and what's happening in Tibet and the Chinese killing monks is an example of the same thing. It got me thinking.

I won the little potted flower on one of the tables from the church basement breakfast. It was lovely.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

When Will It End?

It seems like it's been a long winter. It has, hasn't it? It seems that it is especially nasty on Wednesday mornings when I need to drive in my car, which still does not sport winter tires, all the way through traffic to CHEO for 9 am.

I'd better go hop in the shower and scrape off the car. I will blow dry my hair using the car heaters...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Yoga Practice

Some people have what we call a "home practice" and some people don't. Some people use yoga classes as their practice and don't do anything outside of class. Some classes are taught in a way that would help people who have a home practice deepen their understanding of the postures so they could take it away with them - or even bring that to their group practice. Some classes are only ever taught as the practice itself, without pauses during the class to take a closer look at a pose and go over the benefits and specific details of it.

If you have a home practice - good for you! If you don't have a home practice and only go to yoga classes, it may be valuable for you to give it a try. See what comes up when you make a space in your home for you to take time for yourself and notice the distractions in your space and all of that. If you're only a home practice person, try going to a group class once in a while and notice how the group may bring distractions and how overcoming those may deepen your home practice.

Going out of our comfort zones is a stretch in itself. If you're totally comfortable in your practice, you may enjoy the challenge of working at home or in a class, whichever is the opposite of what you normally do. These are just ways of increasing our awareness and facility to be able to adjust to any situation, thus limiting the power of the situation to determine how are. If we remain at the effect of our circumstances all the time, needing things to be a certain way, we stay small and our lives are limited. If we are able to be in a wide variety of situations and circumstances and still be okay, then we have more freedom and our lives become unlimited.

And if your practice is working for you and you don't want to change it up, that's fine, too! I've always found that life has a way of offering us challenges all the time - we don't always need it in our yoga practice :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Yoga Exams

So yesterday the people in the YTT were supposed to get their take-home exam. But something happened and we didn't have it to give them.

I am now in possession of the take-home exam. However, I am at CHEO, almost about to start another yoga class, and I do not have everyone's email addresses on me.

So if you are in the YTT and you're checking your email looking for the exam I promised to send you today, you're going to have to wait just a little while longer. As soon as I get home I will find the email list of y'all and I'll pass it on. It will definitely happen today. Just not right now.

Sometimes there's a glitch. Sometimes things don't go according to plan. (Sometimes your cell phone goes off in the middle of a quiet part of a yoga class.) Sometimes you don't have what you need and you can't do what you say you're going to do. What then?

You acknowledge that the glitch happened and you restore the situation. If you don't acknowledge it, it can seem like you're pretending the glitch didn't happen, which doesn't occur as nice for anyone. So you act like you know it happened, you take responsibility for it and you go and correct the situation and put something place so that it doesn't happen again. Until it does. And then you do it over again. Also, as needed, you acknowledge the impact the glitch had on people and even listen to them share how it impacted them.

An interesting thing about integrity I learned recently is that it is always in a state of going out. So it's not like when you get further along in your path that you're going to have permanent integrity, that you're going to do everything perfectly or everything will always go like you wanted it to or that you never have ups and downs in your relationships; it's that you'll be able to restore your integrity quicker than you used to - you'll take responsibility for the situation and restore the integrity as soon as possible.

That leaves everyone feeling "complete" and undisturbed about the situation any longer. It's a way of stilling those "chitta vrittis," those disturbing thought-waves of the mind. If you find you're disturbed but stuff going on, chances are there's a place where integrity needs to be restored. Check it out.

Hey, Oprah and Eckhart Tolle are on again tonight. Also, Elizabeth Lesser is playing a big role in all of this. Cool! That makes me 2 degrees away from Oprah!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back from the Beach

I'm finally back from vacation and the weekend right afterwards, which included my Landmark course in Montreal and the Yoga Teacher Training in Ottawa. I held the pose I was talking about in an earlier post and now I can release! Ahh. It felt good to do all of that stuff - be in my course until late Friday night, fly out in a snow storm on Saturday, visit in California (lost luggage, Disneyland and all), come home late and go straight to teach and then off to Montreal for my course, come back and start the YTT, get some shut eye Saturday night, lead the YTT again Sunday - and ahh.

A lot has happened I could write about but the main thing I was impressed by this past week was my grandmother. I really got that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree...

My grandmother is 90 years old. She lives in her own place. She drives a car. Drinks a beer or two. She surfs the net, chats online with her peeps, and seems to generally enjoy her life. She's a strong woman who's had a strong background. She's got strong kids and some wicked grandkids, not to mention great-grandchildren. She contributes to her causes, giving both her money and her time to the things that are important to her. I think it's funny that my grandmother is majorly into Ronald Reagan - I didn't know you could get 2008 Ronald calendars. She loves basketball, especially the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. Even has some framed photos of him in her place thanks to my uncle.

She eats sensibly so she has room for dessert. She loves cereal and ice cream (not together necessarily). She takes walks on the beach. She doesn't like to shop and she cooks using a George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine.

She doesn't tend her garden and this is what she gets.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Creating a Life

I know I wrote about pregnancy recently, but I'm not refering to that! I'm commenting on creating my own life - how I create the life I want to live. It takes big steps sometimes and I do some wild things as a result. I went to Montreal for my class and thanks to Torsten, we got there and got home safe and sound. We left early on the return home to ensure we made it so I could catch the outbound flight with my daughter later today, which is still scheduled to be on time.

Sometimes my choices go against what other people want for me. My people here in Ottawa didn't want me to go to Montreal last night because of the weather. My people in Montreal didn't want me to leave the class early because they wanted me to stay. Sometimes carving out a path and the life I want to live requires going against the will of the people around me. That's tough for me when it's not all in alignment.

The course I'm in training for is a leadership course. I can see how that sometimes as a leader I'll be holding a vision that maybe not everyone around me shares at the same time. If I can get other people to see what I'm looking at, it will make my job easier, but even if that's not happening, it's important for me to not let go of my vision in the face of dissention.

Time to finish packing!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Goin' Away Again

I'm going away again day after tomorrow. It's kind of funny how it all worked out and now I'm feeling all jet-setty. In the past I didn't ever really take vacations, I just moved to new places. Since I became a mom I pretty much Settled Down. I even Bought A House. And I haven't been anywhere in ages. Aeons really.

And that is not entirely true either. I did go away with an ex to the Dominican 2 years ago. No strings attached, just we would go and be friends and keep each other company and well. Anways, so I havenèt (why is the apostrophe putting an e with an accent on it pleaseÉ) (What has happened the keyboard commandsÉ - now the question mark is gone too.)

So after a year of being together, John and I decided weèd like to go on vacation. I picked the week that would possibly work and we aimed for that. Remi was invited and declined to come. And I reflected on whatès important in my life and how Ièd like to go with her someplace special and Iève been meaning to see my grandmother who lives in California and that sounded like fun. I figured that would be in March and there would be time in between. I have to admit I didnèt really look at a calendar when I did the bookings. I went away and basically have been home for a week and then Ièm gone for another week.

I checked on the weather site and itès like 21 C in Huntington Beach. Sorry, guys. A light t-shirt or jacket will do for strolls along the boulevard. Maybe a hat for standing in lines at Disneyland. Pants OR shorts - our choice as that 22 C mark allows for both options.

Thatès if the plane gets to take off on Saturday seeing as how theyère calling for more and more snow these next few days.

I once met this yogi who was visiting Kripalu when I lived there who said that people should only live between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. He said you should be able to live outside and have fresh flowers and fruit. I thought he was a bit of a nutbar, but he kind of had a point...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Breaking News

Catherine Larrivee-Currie just called me to say that Nathan was born at 1:30 am on Monday, March 3 after 23 hours of labour. He's 8 pounds, 11 ounces and I heard him cry - he has arrived alright! She went to the hospital when she was 4 cm dilated and spent a long time in labour before progressing. Once the epidural kicked in, which she delayed and delayed getting, she went from 4 cm - 10 cm in 45 mins! She pushed for an hour and 10 minutes and there you have it.

(Catherine is on maternity leave from being the general manager at Rama Lotus for those of you who may not know...)

Back at the beginning of February she was thinking she was ready and he was coming soon and the moms would wink at each other and figure she would go to her due date, which was at the end of the month - really, what would we know - we've all got stories of kids coming early, right Sue? But usually we go to term and little Nathan took his time and then some.

Welcome Nathan!

You Gotta Love Oprah

I meant to watch this yesterday but it wasn't posted yet. She and Eckart Tolle are doing a free "webinar" on her website every Monday night. If you miss it, you can watch it later.

You can watch it using a proprietary program or if that doesn't suit you, there are other viewing/listening options.

I just think it's radical we're having this conversation in North America on the mass media. I know it's not the first time, but more and more people are getting the teachings.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Patanjali was a Smart Guy

After the yoga teacher training weekends I'm always so impressed with the yoga sutras. I think that's my favourite part of the training - listening to others share about how they understand the different yoga sutras. These are teachings from thousands of years ago and they are so practical and useful even in everyday life today.

He describes obstacles on the path of yoga including not feeling well, getting bored, thinking you're done or don't need it anymore and like that. The obstacles on the path of yoga are the same obstacles on the path to anything really and they're not external. The obstacles are all within us.

I got clear that my Introduction Leaders course at Landmark Education could easily be called "Overcoming the Obstacles on the Path" because that's what we're really doing there. There are many obstacles I'm encountering and they're not new and they're not specific to that course. They're familiar and are the same things that stop me in other areas.

I'm waiting for my next group and CHEO to get in here. The people I'm dealing with in here in the Eating Disorders Program are also dealing with the obstacles on the path. In the program they're given tools to help them overcome their obstacles including training in mindfulness meditation and yoga.

I feel privileged to be working with groups like these that are committed to overcoming their obstacles and living great lives.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Holding at the Edge

Sometimes in yoga we'll hold a pose for longer than we may normally want to because the teacher has asked us and has set it up that way. For example, a class might be asked to hold the Pigeon pose for a while or a Bridge pose. More intense might be to hold Warrior or Mountain. What happens is that we get to a place that we call an edge and then we hang out there. If we go over the edge the pose collapses and we're done and if we don't make it to the edge we're not really doing that exercise then...

One of the things that exercise does is gives us practice and some experience at being at the edge so that when we come to the edge in our lives, we have an idea of how to handle it. We can breathe through it and know it will be over soon - it will pass. It's not a great way to live all the time, but sometimes we're at the edge and we need to know how to handle it when we're there. Kind of like defensive driving techniques. You don't drive like that under normal circumstances, but it's good to have some practice with a trainer in driving school so that when those times come up, you're ready and know what to do.

I'm at an edge personally in my life as I have taken on many projects and don't have much of a buffer built in time-wise for the unplanned to happen. For example, I stuck a week-long holiday in the middle of a busy period, which is fine, except for the fact that it was right before I was pulling a "stretch" a day later by doing my course in Montreal and then coming back and teaching the next day for the whole weekend at the teacher training. So when the plane was 10 hours late in getting home, my buffer got used up a bit and when I pulled another all-nighter 2 days later, well let's just say I'm at my edge. I'm not worried or freaking out about it and I expect I'll get to stop holding this pose tonight when I go to bed.

Then I'll stop holding that pose at the edge until the next weekend when I'm doing my course in Montreal again, getting home at 3 am if the weather's good, and then I'm getting on a plane with my daughter to go to California to visit my grandmother. Being on a plane is holding a pose at the edge for me as well as I've already mentioned!

My yoga practice comes in handy in those instances in life when I know I'm going to do something that's potentially uncomfortable for me. But it's doing those things that allows me to have a great big life where I create what I want and just do it. Those might not be the things other people would want, but they're what I want and it's my yoga practice that trains me so I can be in a big stretch and be present at the same time.