Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My New Year's Eve Plan

A few weeks ago in the yoga teacher training program I revealed that I didn't have plans for New Year's Eve and that I wasn't going to be spending that time with my daughter and I am single and I really didn't know what I was going to be doing. I said it not to get invitations, but to share that not everyone may be having a "happy holiday" and this can be a hard time for people, including yoga teachers and other people who practice yoga!

To those of you who extended invitations to me - thank you! I really appreciate it! Please invite me again!

The number one thing I wanted to do was to go to visit a friend who lives far away but that seemed a bit crazy due to the sheer expense and distance. So I made alternative plans to take myself on a yoga retreat at the Sivananda ashram in Val Morin. The more I settled into that idea the more sorry for myself I felt.

So I revisited the travel option. My inner voice was clear about what to do - just go and bring your camera and shoot some yoga video footage in the warmth and have fun - but my rational voice was thinking about the expense and that's really about it. Everything else seemed to fit, it's just costly.

And now I'm really excited. I was going to be contracted and hunker down and sit tight and now I'm doing something a bit edgy, on the wild side, expansive and "yes" and that feels more like how I want to live.

I used to travel with open-ended tickets. I can't do that anymore given how I want to raise my daughter. I got clear last year that I wanted to travel more and I'd do it and return home. Which means remaining employed, productive, dependable and all of that. But that also means going away when I have time, even if that time is the most expensive time of the year to do it!

I just cancelled my reservation at the ashram. The good news is that my deposit is refunded to me in a credit note, so I don't lose the money. And I would like to go and sit and stretch and be in the quiet. Just not this weekend. (So I won't be there this Sunday like I said I would. Sorry guys.)

Saturday, December 26, 2009


This year I can actually write about Christmasasana because I didn't have to breathe into the sensations as much as I have had to in the past. I was able to witness the pose and even enjoy parts of it.

I hear so much about Christmas around Christmastime! People who love it but their partners don't. People who don't love it but their partners do. People who don't have partners and wish they did. People who avoid their families. People who enjoy their families.

Often in the past I'd watch my family do a familiar pattern that seemed to include my sister being sent into a tiz and getting close to boycotting the whole event each year. There'd be the mad scramble to get presents for everybody and make sure we all had enough in our stockings.

My family vacillates between who's hosting and what we're eating and what we're giving. Over the years I've had to split my time up between visiting a variety of in-laws and/or introducing my family to whoever was in my life at the time. This year I've been single at Christmas so I wasn't torn and I didn't have to suffer while my partner awkwardly endured my family or I put up with his family's interesting traditions or relatives. That may be the thing that made it the easiest for me. That, and the fact that we all agreed to forget the presents except for Remi, who's only 11 and who actually spent a lot of time working on making things for each person. We ate and played on computers and gave a concert and we were just spending some time with each other and I didn't have to worry about other people much.

Christmasasana tends to stretch the patience and compassion muscles and shows where there are weaknesses in the creativity and communication regions of both the physical and subtle bodies. It's a great time to observe where we are in our families, in our culture, as well as with ourselves. It's just a big pose we call Christmas Posture and it's one that we hold as a culture and there's nothing wrong with it. Some of us like it, some of us don't. Some years we do, some we don't. It changes. Just like a good yoga pose. Ahh.

Friday, December 25, 2009

If you think you're enlightened, go home for the weekend

When I lived at Kripalu we used to say if you think you're enlightened, go home for the weekend. Like a test. People's stuff comes out around their families, wouldn't you say?

So at Christmas, times are often difficult partly because we are so used to having thing our own way and then having to give that up to be with other people occurs as a big challenge.

I'm doing pretty good, I must say. No fights. No tears. Everybody's getting along. We're all getting stressed over our different things - my brother doesn't like Christmas music, the dogs' barking drive me crazy (there are 9 of them), my stepfather is just cranky - and we're still doing well. We even had a sleep over at my brother's last night.

I slept on an air mattress that leaked and left me with a sore back but I'm still okay. Woke up with a big headache on the left side (didn't even have a sip of wine yesterday) and now I have a bloodshot eye on the same side and I'm still okay.

I'm not anxious to go home, I'm looking forward to dinner in a while. I notice when I'm feeling a bit irritable and then breathe a bit more. Everybody's doing it and we're having a good time.

Here's a video we made of our day yesterday. It's really for my grandmother and my dad so I warn you it will be 7 minutes of your life you won't get back if you choose to click on it. (Also it's widescreen but I don't know how to widen the blog column - so watch it at youtube if you're going to waste your time.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm Feeling a Bit Rumi Today

Have you ever had a day when you're feeling a bit Rumi? Know what I mean? A bit lost but loving the feeling of surrender to the possibility of being found?

I think on the Solstice it's a fitting way to feel. The shortest day of the year. The beginning of the coldest, harshest months. The return of the sun and the promise to thaw us out again. The beginning of patience.

Here's a poem I clicked on that was long enough to give you the sense and short enough to post.

My Dear Friend
by Rumi

My dear friend
never lose hope
when the Beloved
sends you away.

If you're abandoned
if you're left hopeless
tomorrow for sure
you'll be called again.

If the door is shut
right in your face
keep waiting with patience
don't leave right away.

Seeing your patience
your love will soon
summon you with grace
raise you like a champion.

And if all the roads
end up in dead ends
you'll be shown the secret paths
no one will comprehend.

The beloved I know
will give with no qualms
to a puny ant
the kingdom of Solomon.

My heart has journeyed
many times around the world
but has never found
and will never find
such a Beloved again.

ah I better keep silence
I know this endless love
will surely arrive
for you and you and you.

translation by Nader Khalili

(I grabbed the image from here.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Paying for Prayers

Let me start off by saying I don't have much of a religious background and I don't have a lot of knowledge about religious stuff. So I also don't come with a lot of baggage about these things and forgive me if I am ignorant.

It seems to me that people who do praying and meditating and chanting and other things like that, even though they personally benefit, are also doing good for others and could be recognized for that. If someone prays for you and you believe in it and believe the prayers are helping, that would be worth something to you, just as an herbal supplement or a bit of medicine might be worth something.

I think we're rightfully in a place in our culture where we've let go of praying and developing strong mental practices but I think the time for the return of those things is coming. I say rightfully because obviously there has been an abuse of power in the past and when we think someone else has the power to heal us or to help us when we can't do it ourselves, then there's a risk of trouble.

On the other hand, having someone else support you in your practice by doing it themselves, could really inspire you to take your health, physical and mental and all of that, in your own hands by leading the way. I think that's what monks and nuns are doing, if they're doing it, when things are working as they could.

I think that type of practice would be like art and the person doing the practice is an artist. Really. Because with art, we are inspired, we are transported, we are pleased, and with prayers and chants, the same thing can happen. And just like with art, it's quite personal about what pleases us and what moves us, same thing with prayers and practices. Some things will work and others won't. Some cultures and governments will want to pay for it and others won't.

I think that the people doing that kind of work serve a valuable function in our society and are often overlooked in our culture. We don't provide space or accommodation for people who need a lot of time to meditate or chant or do stuff that others may consider "non-productive." If you've ever tried to sit for an hour or do a daily practice even when you don't feel like it, you'll recognize how hard it can be, how many years it takes to cultivate a strong practice, and how valuable it is to have someone else doing it to show it can be done, not to mention to help filter the space, the air, that we pollute with our materialism.

Just like artists could use patrons, I think spiritual practitioners (and I'm not talking about myself in any of this!) who may have in the past been in monasteries or convents but aren't associated with any particular religion anymore, could also use patrons. Their work is valuable but their work often goes unrecognized.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

No Wonder I Was Crying

I was in the car today on my way from Kanata, where I've been working on the iPhone app, which is going to be finished any day now, to pick Remi up from school, which is on the other side of town and I had some time in the car. I like to listen to the radio and so I tuned in to CKCU.

They've been playing some seasonal music over the past week and today there was a piece I was listening to that sounded familiar but so sad. I couldn't place it but I just sat back, drove slowly, and noticed the tears starting to stream down my face. Traffic was moving slowly too, so the tears in my eyes weren't that much of a hazard.

It turns out I was listening to Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. I think I caught the third movement. When you hear the first part of the second movement you may for sure recognize it.

David at the station said he had put the show together in the theme "from darkness to light" for this time of year. How beautiful. He sent an email reply and we chatted on the phone after I called the station. Thanks again for playing it. So these pieces made up the darkness part of his show. The rest of the show was all joyful, but this was the part that sang to me and opened me up.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

We've All Got Issues

We've all got issues. There isn't anybody that doesn't have their issues. Some people have identified and are so used to their issues that they may be able to manage and seem to hide them for some period, but they flare up eventually, because we all have them.

I'm old enough now to recognize some of my patterns. I am quite certain there are yet-to-be-identified other patterns, but I've got enough to know I've got some to deal with. If you aren't sure what yours are, ask someone who knows you well to tell you what you're always going on and on about and they'll be able to help you locate those issues.

It might even seem like karma. Like it's your "money karma" or "relationship karma," or whatever you've got. Like my sister, she's got relationship handled, but given the opportunity, she'll talk a lot about her business. I won't go on too much about my "business" but I will, if allowed, go on and on about my relationships or lack thereof. Other people have health issues but have other things handled. Some people can start relationships but can't sustain them past a certain point. Some people make money but are still in debt, other people don't make money and can't seem to figure out how to earn a living. We've all got something we're dealing with. My examples are general but you know what you're dealing with and it may be very specific.

It seems to me that this is all normal. And part of how we're going to spend our lives is trying to sort things out in that area that has been chosen for us. We're going to bump up against ourselves in that area where other people will seem to breeze past and all sorts of things will come up. "How come they can do it and I can't," not noticing that people are saying the same thing and they're looking at you as the one who's doing it, being successful or advanced in an area that they're not. It's just what we do.

There is of course, way more to the story, which reminded me of Rosanne Roseannadanna and although this clip isn't at all the one I would choose to play, it's one I could find to remind you that if it's not one thing, it's something else. (If you find the one on youtube with the "sweat ball hanging off of her nose," send it to me!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Green Bins

In Ottawa we have a green bin program about to start. I've been putting my scraps in the little bin on the counter and then into the big green one out on the porch in anticipation of the program starting up in a couple of weeks.

Just now I heard a noise as I was sitting here rendering my video again for yesterday's post. It sounded like someone was up to something on my porch. I opened my door (I have no fear) and there was someone digging through the big green bin. She had knocked it over and was pulling stuff out. And I'm thinking, "that's going to be a mess to clean up."

I told her that she couldn't be there and she had to leave it and she argued with me, saying she wanted the garbage. I told her she couldn't have the garbage. The shelter should be open in a few minutes for breakfast as far as I understand and she can get a proper meal.

It's something else living in this neighbourhood. I love the composting idea but I was aware that the reality of having food scraps in a bin next to my place would draw some kind of interaction with the neighbourhood. My daughter has already found beer cans and bottles left in the bin.

I hope the program works, but it's going to be a mess to clean up on a regular basis.

Right now we have such abundance. There are fountains everywhere. Fountains of food, fountains of stuff, fountains of homeless people. Seemingly endless supplies of anything we could ever wish for and many things we wouldn't if we stopped to think about it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Said Yes

I was thinking about how tough it is to be me sometimes and how I'm still in the same place I was just about three years ago when I started this blog and then it occurred to me that I have really said YES to life. I've said, "bring it on."

And Kat and I joke sometimes about this "path," and how really there's no choice. I know it's powerful to choose and I know that for me choosing is a super-important thing to do, but somehow I cannot imagine that I could have not chosen what I've chosen. The choiceless choice?

Torsten reminded me last night that I'm a writer and that I could probably write something people would want to read. I'm not sure. I think I'm normal and everyone's like me (read yesterday) and I don't have anything interesting to share. I forget that I've done interesting stuff and that some of what I've done may be entertaining or of value. And yet, I blog a lot.

I keep saying yes. I say yes to all kinds of experiences and responsibilities. I don't always do a good job just because I say yes. I'm open though.


I started this blog almost three years ago to deal with my "mandate," and I've been reflecting lately about how much I am in the same place I was three years ago. I've travelled around, seen new sights, and circled back to where I started on more than one occasion.

I'm a bit older. I have learned a few new things. But essentially, I feel like I'm in the same place. So I'm probably not. I'm probably further along on my path. I know I've opened up and grown and I'm nicer and deeper and other things. But it feels the same. I know more. I can see bigger pictures. But it feels the same inside. And it's uncomfortable.

And I know now that it's more than normal to feel uncomfortable. And I'm more aware of my discomfort. And that doesn't make the discomfort more comfortable for the most part. I still want things to be different than they are a lot of the time. My own words ring in my ears about how it's important to allow myself to be as I am and that things are going to change. Some of the changes I'll like, some I won't like.

I know that being present with what is, is the way to go. I know that to allow the moment to be as it is, is the healthy, enlightened option. But often I don't feel that way. I want to manage things. I want to change stuff. I want to edit my life. I want to grow in areas I feel weak in. And that's just how I'm feeling.

Sometimes I don't feel that way and I feel grateful and lucky and happy and pleased with my choices. That happens for awhile everyday too. But just like it's that one negative comment on the feedback form that sticks with you, the "what's not working" seems to stay in my brain and repeat itself off and on through my day.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Similar and Different

I keep thinking that people are more the same than they are different. I've always thought that for as long as I can remember. I keep thinking we're a lot alike. And I think that's probably true. We want to feel good, we want to feel important, we want what we want when we want it. We deal with sadness and grief and loss and disappointment and pain and all of that.

So sometimes I get surprised when it occurs to me that we're different. We're quite different. We want different things. What turns us on is different. We like different foods. We behave differently. Our likes and dislikes are totally different. What leads us to where we want to go is really different. And I forget that obvious fact all the time.

I talk to people like they're like me. I treat people the way I'd treat myself. But of course, that's missing the big picture. The big picture is we're alike in that we have differences that make us special. We have ideas we hold dear, we have theories we're working on, we have stories we're writing that are unique to us. We have ways of doing things that make sense to us and don't make sense to the people around us.

What gives me pleasure is to be really curious and listen to the people I'm in front of, not taking for granted our similarities or our differences, finding out what I don't know about the situation or relationship. It's not always clear where we're going to be aligned and where we'll feel some dissonance. Lots of times I'll think I'm talking to someone just like me and it will turn out we're from different planets in an area, and other times I'll resonate with someone I think I have little in common with.

This is all pretty obvious and simple, but as I take a closer look at some of the relationships that are important to me, I notice that I've taken for granted some of the similarities and have disregarded or underestimated some of our differences. I'm reminded to be open and curious and don't think I know before I go into a conversation. And know that my angle will be to think we're alike and to be aware of that bias I have when I'm dealing with people. I'm learning...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Living at the Thin Edge

Someone recently described to me something that happens in biology where things get moved to the middle and the edges are taken off and how sometimes things get taken away at the middle and the edges get bigger. He said that being creative and forward thinking gets you out in the edge and it can be lonely there sometimes. I think it's probably lonely to some degree everyplace on the curve, but out at the edge you're aware that you're alone.

It seems to me that when you want transformation or change, you are open to yoga and meditation and the Landmark Forum, which I would put in the realm of jnana yoga, and things like that. When you are not aware that you want transformation and you aren't aware of your suffering or the obstacles in front of you, you won't want to do those things. Or you'll think those things are stupid or perhaps just doubt their benefits and judge the people who do take on those practices.

When I was in India studying yoga a long time ago, I'd meet people in town and they'd ask me what I was doing in India. When I told them I was studying yoga they asked me, "are you sick?" Because for them, they only did yoga when they were sick, or they did it in school as punishment, like my math teacher used to throw chalk at us and make us do laps around the classroom or push-ups, and these guys had to do sun salutations.

And when people tell me the Landmark Forum is a cult or scheme or that meditation is stupid, or my favourite, "I can't do yoga," it makes me bristle a bit inside. Sometimes it makes me bristle a lot. But what I have learned to do with that conversation is look at who's saying it. Where is it coming from? Usually it's first of all coming from someone who hasn't tried yoga or meditation or spent the weekend at the Landmark Forum. It's commentary from other people who also haven't tried those things. Where it's really coming from though is from fear. Fear of change. Fear of growth. Fear of responsibility.

When we're in a place of fearlessness things don't occur as threatening. And when we're on a path of fearlessness, we're also on the look out for other things that can help us maintain or grow our fearlessness. We resonate with things that bring on transformation and strengthen us rather than take us back to the middle. We may turn off our tvs, we may stop listening to so much news, take a closer look at our children, maybe meditate and listen to what's happening inside, perhaps have live conversations and spend time with people. We are invariably faced with criticism and judgement from people whose opinions we care about and may even begin to doubt our own path. But that's just another one of the obstacles on the path of yoga...

And if we are into transformation and we aren't into meditation, yoga - hatha, jnana or otherwise - and we've got another path (there are many, many) - we still recognize their value and that they are paths and we can appreciate them without having taken those particular paths because they resonate with our own inner wisdom. But that would mean we're living at the thin edge, sometimes remembering what life in the middle was like...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stepping to the Right of the Left Side

Without going into too many wah-wah details of why I feel like I'm in a difficult position at the moment, just know I have been feeling a bit put on by the universe (so victim-like of me) and I even had my Facebook status read this morning, "Jamine has been enrolled in a mandatory training program in non-attachment," or something like that. I'm having to practise non-attachment in an area of my life that's important to me. Practising non-attachment in areas that are not important to me is easy - it's the areas that matter to me that make it challenging.

And because I've been enrolled by the universe in this training program, I'm currently interested in methods of letting go. I remember the "trying to let go" of a pen exercise in the Landmark Forum. To get it, pick up a pen and try to let it go. The only way to let it go is to just let go of it. Duh. Not so easy though in other areas. So I'm trying to let go. It's embarrassing, to be honest. Watch yourself try to let go of a pen and you'll get the idea. It's awkward and silly. It's much more graceful to just let go. However, that's not how I'm doing it at the moment.

This morning during my meditation I got some insight into another method that may already be obvious to many of you and again, forgive me if I'm slow in places you'd expect a yoga teacher to have mastery in. So yesterday I was at the TEDxOttawa talks, which are basically mainly live presentations a la TED. They are "ideas worth spreading." One of the non-live presentations was a repeat of something I'd seen more than once before, and that's Jill Bolte Taylor's story of watching herself have a stroke. I'll post the video here so you can see the whole thing, but one piece of her message is that the left side of the brain handles worry and memories and the right side of the brain puts us in the moment. There's loads more, so watch the video.

The part that got me really interested this morning was the idea of stepping to the right of the left side of the brain. Just step out of the left and into the right. So I tried that. And this morning, for me, at this time, it worked. I don't know how it will go later. Things just let go automatically. And it's not even that they let go, there was no action or anything really.

So for me, the new distinction is rather than letting something go, just move into a new space and different things will occur as important. I'm still working on it. But I thought I'd share it as it is :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Meaning Making Machines

On some level we're all meaning making machines. We all take things that have happened and we make them mean something. This is all in the Landmark Forum, by the way. Something happens (or we think it's going to happen) and then we make it mean something. That's just what we do. Sometimes we make it mean the same thing as a whole bunch of other people and then we have a "culture." But really, there's no meaning in anything. We put it there. It's just what we do.

And when something happens that we like and we make it mean something good, there's not usually a problem. It's when we take something that happened in the past (or something that's going to happen) and we give it a meaning that doesn't work for us that is where it gets interesting. Often the thing that happens and the meaning we give it have no relationship at all. So we can get all bent out of shape because of how our parents treated us or our bosses or life, and then we go on and think we're not enough or we're not capable, or we're not going to get what we want, and feel bad and go unconscious. Then we're not really present to what's happening at all, but we're stuck in our pattern of making meaning that's not true or good, and we're not being with who's in front of us.

We're not going to stop doing it. But if we can notice when we are doing it, we can snap out of it, come back to being present and then get on with things until it happens again.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Practising Non-Attachment

One of the things that has stood out for me that Anthony De Mello said is that you can't really practise non-attachment until you've experienced attachment. It's easy to practise being non-attached to something you're not really attached to in the first place. It becomes much more of a practice if you let go or begin to let go of something that's actually quite dear to you without knowing if you'll get to have or see it again or not.

In the case of a death, you know that you won't get to have it again and in some ways that makes it easier. It's so final. In the case of something else, it can be difficult because you don't know if you'll have it again. So letting go in the face of uncertainty becomes that much more challenging. It could be letting go of a habit, like drinking coffee, or something small. Or it could be bigger, like letting go of a child who's going to go off and experience the world. It could be even bigger and more attachment-like if it's someone you don't want to let go but they're going anyhow, like a good friend or lover you don't want to say good-bye to.

I'm currently in the middle of practising some serious non-attachment. I'm trying to keep my arms by my sides while my whole being is screaming to grab on and hold tight.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Know I've Been Quiet

I know I've been a bit quiet lately. And it's not that I don't have anything to say. I'm pretty busy and I'm also busy with stuff that's having me be a bit internal. Looking back in my life, I think November tends to be a time to go inside, sleep more, eat more, go slower, and this one is shaping up like that too.

In the meantime, here's a video clip that I worked on this week that is still in draft form but is at least postable.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lead Me from the Unreal to the Real

That's one of the mantras I've been chanting over the past couple of weeks. It's a common mantra, often used in yoga, but lately I've been chanting it a lot because someone's staying with me for a few weeks and it's one that he chants. So I chant it too. It is not a "feel-good" mantra though. Going from what's unreal to what's real isn't necessarily a comfortable ride.

Going from darkness to light - shining the light on the situation can be a relief, like finally getting to the bottom of things, to the heart of the matter, acknowledging what's so. And on the other hand, it can also be shocking to see what we've been thinking is real turns out to not be that way, or how we've been living thinking certain things will bring happiness, knowing they probably won't, but then confirming that. Sometimes it makes living in this culture a bit disorienting. Our culture places emphasis on acquiring, on going faster, on physical fitness over mental fitness. However, all of that passes and what is sustaining is something deep inside that you can't put a price on.

So chanting Asatoma Sadgamaya can be something that fries you, laying your life in front of you in a way that demands reconsideration. There's lots more to say but I'm off to CHEO to lead some fine yoga to some fine young ladies at the hospital.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Living from a Broken Heart

One of the things that Pema Chodron said on the last day of the retreat I was at just over a week ago is to stay tender and open in life. In fact, she said, "live your life from the place of a broken heart." It's not depressing or sad even really. But it's about being open to your life - to what you like and don't like, to what's there and what not's there. It's a really tender place to be.

Letting my heart be broken means seeing what's really there. Seeing the humanness in people. In myself. It means I make mistakes.

When I took the clown workshop a couple of months ago one of the things Nick said was, "we love you when you're confused." The clown can be confused and people love him/her. Sometimes being tender and open means being confused, not sure where to turn, not knowing if it's going to work out. Resting in that place takes a lot of strength. It takes something to sit while you're tender and open and uncertain.

But something happens in that space. Some kind of softening and connection to other people emerges. Compassion, even friendliness towards others and ourselves. Pema writes a lot about that, about cultivating friendliness towards ourselves.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Familiar Questions

As I was meditating this morning I was struck (okay maybe striking wasn't involved, noticing perhaps), that there's a quality to the discomfort I feel that is always the same, it doesn't seem to change. It's like when I peel back all the other dynamic stuff, there's this base of softness and it's the same. Am I doing the right thing? Will I be loved the way I want to be loved? Will I ever get it together? Am I fulfilling my life's purpose?

And for awhile, and probably for a really long time, I thought there would be answers to those questions, like I'd finally do enough internal research and the answers would appear, guidance would be given, and I would be confidently on my way. The fact that the answers weren't popping out at me just meant I had to work harder, purify more, do more practice, and THEN maybe the answers would show up. Like somehow I just haven't been doing things right and that when I do start behaving properly like a good yoga teacher should, the answers will just be there. The suffering will stop. The pain won't be there anymore.

After allowing the teachings of the past weekend at Omega to sink in and through taking a new peek at this stuff, this morning I'm left with a feeling like those questions are just there. That fear is just there. It's part of my internal landscape, it's part of my being human. There's nothing wrong with me that they're there. I'm not deficient in practice or in internal inquiry. I can allow those questions to be there knowing some days they'll be answered, most days they won't. Having those questions and that underlying discomfort smacks of being human.

One of the topics covered this weekend was about how to overcome that doubt and move into a place of doubtlessness. How to pick ourselves up and trust that the ground of fearlessness is fear itself. The fact that fear or that underlying discomfort is present makes it possible to stand on it and rise up out of it. It's good that it's there. It's useful.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I spent the weekend in the presence of Pema Chodron and it was a really special time. Pema Chodron is an American Buddhist nun, who spends a lot of time in Canada, I've written about a lot this year since I read her book, When Things Fall Apart. She was so real and accessible and the teachings were so practical and down to earth, just like they are in her writings.

I learned a new meditation technique that I hadn't tried before and this one includes having the eyes open. I had the experience during the weekend of it being really easy and effective. I tried it this morning and it was harder! It was hard to do it on my own, to get that same clarity and I was reminded that company is stronger than will power sometimes. It was doable, but yesterday, when she or her assistant, Carolyn Rose Gimian, led the meditation practice it occurred as super-simple. Remembering that it had been simple was useful and encouraged me to stick with the practice this morning even though it wasn't simple at all today.

Smile at Fear is the name of the new book of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche teachings compiled by Carolyn. It is also the theme of the talks Pema gave all weekend. Pema said they considered calling the book "Conquering Fear," or other things, but that "Smiling at Fear," seemed to just get it right. It worked for me!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Meditation Retreat over Hallowe'en

I get to go on a meditation retreat this weekend and I'm getting excited. Having been to meditation retreats in the past I think it's funny that I'm excited about going to sit for hours at a time and be uncomfortable and faced with my mind and body for a couple of days. Normally, I wouldn't describe meditation retreats as fun but to me they really are. This one is going to be a little different because I'm going back down to Omega where I get to take advantage of my friends and get in for nothing but as I was informed yesterday, I need to sit in the back and keep the good seats for the paying customers. Ha!

This retreat also falls over Hallowe'en and that leaves me to wonder how the retreat is going to handle that! When Halloween falls on a night that I'm teaching yoga, I wear my costume to teach. I figure this shouldn't be any different so I'm bringing my princess costume. I'll sit in the back, alright. I'll sit in the back dressed as a vampire princess.

One year I had glue-on nails as part of my costume and I had to lead a regular class as well as Partner Yoga. Other people came in costumes too and it was fun, however, part of my costume was these nails. And the glue had dried and there was so much pressure on each fingernail like they were each being pulled off. The only way to get them off was to soak my hands for 15 minutes in warm water, which was clearly going to happen only when the class was finished. So I led the class in major discomfort and as soon as it was over I put my hands in a sink of warm water. Those memories are so clear that years later I can recall the sensations in my hands.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ancient Teachings

I just listened to Spark podcast 89 here and I'm impressed. I've always loved the show, and I think Nora Young is amazing, but it turns out she's a yoga teacher too! Did not know! So listen to the podcast to hear her lead a little pranayama and have a conversation about how the west has taken ancient teachings and tried to patent them and how India and other ancient cultures are correcting the situation.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Begin Again

And so it goes. We begin again. Tonight the yoga teacher training program at Rama Lotus begins again, well this one is beginning for the first time really. The yoga teacher training has become such a big part of my life and involves all aspects of it, even my daughter's schedule is impacted as approximately every other weekend there's some YTT going on.

I welcome the YTT in my life and love being a part of the team that delivers it. I maintain that it doesn't really matter who your teacher is, if you're put in front of the teachings of yoga and there's space for you to explore, you'll get it. And every year, people get it.

A community is born tonight that will be together until next spring. It's probably the program that has the biggest "community" feel of any I've had outside of a retreat centre setting. It's a whole new group and yet there will be similarities to other groups in the past. There will be varying degrees of wanting to be in the room, there will be different backgrounds and intentions for taking the course. There will be people who will feel at home, others who will be triggered, and those people will likely trade places during the weeks of the course.

The people who tend to come to a yoga teacher training are a special sort. They are in a place of readiness and commitment. They don't accidentally walk into a teacher training. There's some purpose behind it - they're usually up to something. And that's inspiring to be in. We get to start with the first yoga sutra of Patanjali by experiencing it - "now is the time for yoga."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Back from Vacation

Hey! I made it. I'm back from the vacation. And no blogging or tweeting as you can see. It was actually really nice to not have email and internet access until I really wanted it yesterday when we landed in Montreal.

Let's see...there's so much I could say. Yogawise, I didn't see any signs of yoga in Switzerland where I was. No rolled up mats in bags going along the street, no signs for yoga classes. There were a few "yoga-ish" pictures in some ads for tissues and things like that, but no real yoga presence. The birthday party I went to requested some yoga moves so the 75+ year olds did some gentle stretches after the main course and before coffee and dessert. And that's about all the yoga there was except for my own thing in my room.

I went up a big, old church steeple walk on the first day. I'll show you what I mean with this little clip. It was neat and I was reminded of how cool it is to be in such old buildings. This one was built in the 1500's I think.

And there are so many old things. The house I was staying in is over 250 years old. Here's a video of the key and lock for the house. I wanted to show my daughter what I meant.

Switzerland is quite "farmy." I don't really know how else to put it. Every little bit of extra space is used up with farming and a lot of animal farming at that. Even in Interlaken, which is a touristy town, in the middle of the old city there's a grassy area and in many cities there may be kids doing sports or a band playing or people just lounging in the grass (okay it was a bit cold for that), but in Switzerland, there are cows there. Right in the middle. In another little town I was in, there were sheep just cutting the lawn on the side. I'll see if I can post my little video of that.

What else about Switzerland? I think it would be tough being a non-Swiss person living there in a small town. I'm just guessing. I'll post a questionable image I saw and you can tell me what you think.

The people I met were awesome and friendly and the food was great and the Swiss are great decorators. Especially of gardens and windows and home decor things. Quite lovely to walk around the little villages as people really go all out to spruce up their space.

The coolest thing I think I did the whole time I was there was go to the mountains for breakfast. We got up a bit early, left the house around 7 and went up this old funicular train to the top of a mountain in Niesen. There were hardly any other people there and it was an amazing view. Then we went down the hill and off on our way. Amazing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I'm leaving today for a vacation. Yep, a vacation. I'm not teaching yoga while I'm gone on this one. It's a pure, planned-in-advance, vacation with a modest itinerary. What that means if you know me at all, is that obviously I'm tagging along with someone else because that is not my style. And that is part of what I'm looking forward to - letting someone else lead and I just get to show up. Love that.

Hans' dad died the night that John left. I remember it because my sister had come over to keep me company and safe from myself and had the phone with her. I was not to take any calls in the middle of the night if they came. And one did come. At about 4 am. And I figured it must be John calling but it turns out, it was Hans calling to let me know his father had passed away and he just needed to tell someone. I felt badly that I had not answered the phone but that's what happened. I did talk to him a few hours later as the news was starting to sink in but I was hardly in a position to be comforting anybody.

Hans has been back to Switzerland twice since his father died, once for the funeral, and once for his already planned spring trip. This time it's his mother's 75th birthday and he didn't want to go by himself. His girlfriend was asked but for a variety of reasons couldn't go, and then my name rose to the top of the list and would I like to go to Switzerland in October, and sure, I'm going!

So the plan is to visit and be there and eat and nap and do some shopping and visit with family and practice my rusty German and read. That's the kind of trip this one is and it feels like it's going to be a good one.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


It's Thanksgiving Weekend. Just a couple of things I'm thankful for this morning...

Having a great kid who is making me Play-Doh sundaes for breakfast.

Friends who pop in and can sleep over and then be on their way with big hugs and see you laters.

Other friends who drive all the way up from old places and spend breakfast times after yoga.

The promise of Spa Day this afternoon with my kid and her buddy.

A gentle peace that has wafted in over the past little while and has stayed.

Super-health and a chance to use it.

Being a yoga teacher with a place to share the joy of yoga and being in a body.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I like to teach yoga. I don't like to do the paperwork associated with my job, however. And that's not even totally true. I don't really mind the paperwork, I just often leave it alone and wait to do it in batches. So things get left until past the last minute sometimes. Other times I'm on top of it and things are invoiced on time and papers are put away and emails are sent and I'm in alignment :)

Today was one of those days of getting into alignment. As I'm typing I'm remembering just one more invoice that needs to be sent out. It's nice having a job and direct deposit and and all of that. This isn't that kind of job. It's not a job really at all, except in a way that it's a bunch of things all cobbled together. And that's how I like it, otherwise I'd do something else.

Sometimes I think of that. If you've been reading you know I think about that. My latest store idea is a shoe store on Dalhousie. That street badly needs a shoe store in my opinion. I'd open a store and I'd call it "Dalshoesies." I think I might just do that. That would bring on more of the Administrationasana though. Totally. I figure I could still teach yoga...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Helping Out

I was at the Shepherds of Good Hope today trying to help, I say "trying" because I'm not sure I did a good job yet, in getting them up and running on Facebook and Twitter. They've had Facebook for awhile but they were set up as a "friend" but needed to be a "page" and a "cause" and we're getting that all sorted out. It's a fun way to do seva/karma yoga for me!

One of the things I asked them is what do they need? And if they can be specific about what they need, they may be more likely to get it. So it turns out that right now, they have enough winter coats but they don't have any spices and the food is bland as a result. Hmm. I would not have guessed that at all. So it's a good thing I asked. I like giving people what I have, but what's even better is giving something that somebody actually needs right now!

They also need volunteers on Sunday. It seems that people like to go and volunteer when they can see people all happy being served meals and stuff but Sunday's the day that the prep for the big meal is done and that's where they're short. So I'm planning on going where I'm needed, especially now that my gig at the Museum of Civilization is probably cancelled due to a labour dispute. Oh well. That was actually not on Sunday so it wouldn't have been in the way.

How can we know what people need if we don't ask them? And how can we get what we need if we don't ask people? It's kind of neat what can open up when we share what we have and are willing to part with, and also what happens when we share what we're up to and what kind of support we could use.

So, to be specific here, if you can consider volunteering, please call them at 613-789-8210. If you happen to have or want to go get some cooking spices that would be good with chicken, they need that too. Oregano, black pepper, garlic powder, tarragon, sage, thyme, dried parsley and chilli peppers are all on the list. You could bring them to me at yoga and I'll walk them over.

And if you've been thinking of "tweeting" please follow them and help grow their network. Thanks!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nice-Nice Yoga

Yoga has gone a bit "nice-nice" in my opinion. And first of all, let me say that I think it's fine that it has gone that way and I'm sure it's the pendulum swinging back from the other way, which would have been a bit harsh. But right now, yoga is nice, it fits neatly into our schedules, yoga studios can schedule lots of classes in a certain way because we all know what time it starts and what time it finishes. It wasn't always that way.

A couple of weeks back, I attended a classical Indian music concert. Knowing that I had to pick up my daughter afterwards and trying to make plans I asked the hostess what time the concert would be finished. She smiled at me and reminded me that the first half would probably be a bit longer, there'd be a break and they'd tell people 15 minutes but know they'd take 20, and then there'd be a lighter, possibly shorter second half. It was an Indian concert, you see. Short context for classical Hindustani music - basically the musicians work with certain rules for their ragas/songs and try to generate a certain feeling. Once they've got their groove they take the song or probably the song takes them and the audience, wherever it is going and that takes as long as it takes. There's no notes on a page as it's all improvised within certain guidelines. Sometimes concerts are short, sometimes they're long.

Yoga "classes" used to be like that too. They'd start at a certain time and then they'd end when they were done. Right now classes start at a certain time and end at a certain time - I totally make sure of that in my classes. What that provides is an ability to plan for things afterwards, to pack as much stuff into our free time as we can or want to, there's little pressure, and it's nice. And I like it like that. However, what is missing in that model is the freedom of the teachings, the poses, the group, to create itself and see where it wants to go. It doesn't acknowledge the life of the practice and that the time needed for that may be shorter or longer.

I guess, what's missing is a bit of both. Times when the classes are for practice and you know what time you'll be done and times when things are indeterminate and who knows what's going to happen but the space is dedicated to transformation. Sitting in the space of transformation can be exhausting over a long time and having something count-on-able is really useful. In the Landmark Education for instance, the Landmark Forum and other courses have certain guidelines about when they'll end but no promise to be out at a certain time, but the seminars and other meetings have a strong promise to be done on time so people can fulfill on other commitments they may have without being out of integrity with time. So some of both seems to work.

What I see in town right now is a lot of nice-nice yoga. Little yoga in the hot seat. Am I willing to be someone who creates the space I'm saying is missing? I'll have to think about that...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thoughts on a Birthday

Today is my daughter's birthday. She's 11. She told me she'd rather skip and just get to 12 but we both agreed that wasn't possible and how about just deal with 11. It's pretty good, as I recall.

11's so sweet. It's really on the way to being a grown up but with full access to childhood. My daughter notices she can pass for an Older Kid but appreciates the understanding that she really is close to Little Kid.

I find myself feeling a bit sad today. I didn't expect to. Maybe it's other things, maybe it's other circumstances, and maybe it's that my little girl isn't really one anymore. I went to school to drop off the cupcakes and she said hi and bye real fast. I went all the way to the school, like totally out of my way, and I got a "hibye." It's not new and it's not surprising or anything.

Being a mom has taken more from me than anything else I've ever done. And I love being used up. I love being challenged and having to get creative and be strengthened and taken to my edge, taken past my edge, and having to use my values and insights and having to dig down really deep to answer those challenges. I also feel free to make loads of mistakes knowing I'm a good-enough mom.

I also love the ease with which being her mom comes to me. It's natural to face those things and it's fun to see how it turns out. It's not going as planned in many ways. It's going better than planned in some. It's a relationship I don't question or evaluate. It's a part of me, it's not a stay or go or change or fix or wonder about. It's an expression of who I am in a way that's not separate. There's no question about it. That's not to say there aren't times when I don't have to modify behaviours we're doing or come up with strategies for how we're going to get through particular spots in our lives. But there's never a question that we won't get there, or that it won't work out.

I enjoy the little kid and big girl my daughter has become. She threatens to get taller than me and has declared that this is the year she's going to do it. Imagine - my kid getting to be bigger than me. I still think the whole thing is weird. And normal. All at the same time.

(Here's a picture of the cake that was made for her. The Photobooth makes it mirrored though and I don't know how to flip it, so there you go.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's a Busy Night for Yoga

Tuesday is a busy night for yoga. It might be a busy night for anything because a lot of people can do stuff on Tuesdays. It's rarely a holiday, unlike Monday and Friday often are, and people are up for doing things. One of the things people like to do is come out to a yoga class.

Most people at Rama Lotus, where I teach, like to do hot yoga in the Hot Room. I don't teach Hot Yoga for a variety of reasons but sometimes on a Tuesday night lately, I wind up with some of the hot yoga students because that class is full and they still want to do yoga so they come to my class. When the hot people end up with the Beginners in my class, it's a bit of a culture clash. Tonight there were a couple of guys with no shirts on, for instance. They wanted to be in the hot class. It turns out with that many people in it, my class gets hot enough for people to sweat and it's not too cold to have few clothes on. It's just funny. A contrast to what I'm used to being with.

And it's nice. When I get a bunch of new people in the class I get to say my old jokes with some fresh energy, for instance. I get to hear how my instructions land for people who are new. I get the privilege of being peoples' first yoga teacher sometimes. And that's a treat.

Monday, September 28, 2009

3 Simple Exercises for Your Back

Finally. A blog post with exercises.

These are the three most recommended exercises I give to people who complain of back pain. If it's not clear, come to see me in class tomorrow or maybe I'll make a DVD with three things on it. Here are the things:

Gluteal Rolling. Roll around on your bum. On the meaty parts. Go one direction on one side. Go the other direction on the same side. Turn the other cheek, heh. Do it both directions on the other side. Come to class to have me tell you the benefits. They go something like, "lots of tension is stored in those big muscles. Lots of muscles meet there, so this is good for your back and your knees." There are loads more. Ask me if you want to know.

Next thing. Stretch along a shelf or table. Reach out with your arms and have your hands flat. Press your right hip out, hold for three breaths. Do it on the left side. Same thing. Go back and forth a few times. This is to stretch the fascia, not the muscles. On a scale of 1-10, do it from 3-5. It's not a big stretch.

Third thing. Stand with your hands flat on the shelf or table. Have your right foot forward and left foot back. Find the hamstrings on your right leg. Hold for three breaths. Switch legs. Same thing with the left leg. Like Runner's Stretch.

No pictures. Just try it. Or come and see me. Or ask for pictures and I'll see what I can come up with. And keep moving. Being still doesn't help!

Friday, September 25, 2009


I am definitely not an expert on prayers by any means. I just had some observations about stuff I've experienced that I thought I could share given that I'm in the middle of my Prayer Project. It's totally still on and if you want me to pray (wish, intend, hope, affirm, suggest, whatever, call it pray) for you, please be specific about what it is you want so I can focus. Maybe when I get better I'll be able to do a general "all good" type of thing and I am sort of doing that now, but having a little direction would be good.

Early on with my prayer "buddy" what I noticed was that the prayer (good wish, thought, whatever) could be sent at any time to me (because at that time it was being given to me) and I would receive it when I was open to receiving it. The idea at one point was that we'd be both doing it at the same time. A part of me was afraid that if I missed the time, I'd miss the prayer and wouldn't get it at all. But what I experienced was that I could receive the prayer when I was open to receiving it. It's like it was waiting in its full potency for me to receive it. It was above my head, in my space, whatever, until I could take it in. It's like it transcended time and space. And I could feel something when it arrived.

And then I realized that it could be reviewed and it didn't go away. Like an email. It comes in when it comes in. Now, a phone call is different and I guess being aware and praying at the same time would be more like a phone call, but if you miss the call, it's like a voicemail message. You get the message. And you can replay it. Or like an email. It's in your inbox, you can read it when you like, when you have time, and then it's there and you can reread it. And even if you delete it, it's still there someplace. It's recoverable. So all of the prayers or good wishes that have ever been sent to you are retrievable, recoverable, they're there. You can get them again. They're stored on your server.

So those are my early stage observations. And again, what I've found is that it is so good to give the good wishes, but I did totally experience the benefits of being on the receiving end of them, too. I totally felt it. And as I mentioned yesterday, I get woken up by them. I've tried to sleep in past 6:00, past the time I said I'd get up and do my prayers for you people and something wakes me up and prods me into doing it. I've got a list now and I'm keeping it with me so I can remember who and what I'm working on. I still have room for more, so don't be shy. Feel free to ask for what you want!

(And for those skeptics out there, me too. I'm also one. I'm trying this out. And I have to say, it's something worth trying out. So if you have something and you want some extra energy directed towards it and you think every little bit helps, I'll do a little bit!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Birthdays are Fun

So thanks, I did have a good day.

I tried to behave a little more like a 10-year old about it and less like a 43-year old about it and that worked out. I felt light and good and special.

I got lots of birthday wishes sent to me - mainly Facebook and emails, but a few calls and even two cards in the mail! Funny how things have changed. The Facebook cascade of wishes was lovely and reminded me a lot of something we used to do when I lived at Kripalu - a prayer circle where we'd put the person in the middle, they'd lie down and we'd sit around them and popcorn different things we loved or appreciated about them. Then we'd do a continuous om and that was it. Short and sweet. The Facebook thing is the closest I've felt to that lovely little ritual.

Hans made a fantastic cake even though I wasn't so enthusiastic about it when he was gathering information during the week (read yesterday). And it was delicious. And it was big. And thankfully, most of it is gone. Remi didn't like it. Didn't appreciate the kirsch in the layers. So she's made a request to have just the top part of the cake for her birthday next week!

So my day is just about up. My prayer project continues and the wishes pour in slowly. Let me know if you'd like me to pray for you and if so, what I'm to pray about. I don't know if it helps, but surely it can't hurt. This morning I sort of slept in during the time I was going to get up and I felt nudged to get up and do it. So maybe some of you are up at 6 and you're participating but you haven't told me. Who knows. It's been fun focusing my attention and noticing what distracts me and what can keep me in the zone and focused.

I feel full of love and I'm glad this day was a good one. Thanks for being a part of it. It makes a difference.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's My Birthday Tomorrow

I got an email recently that I think was attributed to George Carlin and I don't know if it was his stuff or not but the email asked me to forward to everyone I knew so I was thinking maybe he wasn't the originator, but anyways, it was about birthdays. And about how when we're young we are so excited about our birthday coming up and we count it in fractions. The we get older and we aren't so excited about it and then we get really old and we get excited and we count in fractions again.

My daughter's birthday is a week after mine. She has had her birthday planned for weeks. The guest list went out, I've booked the party space and the loot bags were ordered, and it's a happening. And then there's my birthday tomorrow. My mother asked me a week ago what I wanted for my birthday, but by now she's trained. I don't want anything, I'm not doing anything, it's not a big deal. And my friend Hans asked me days ago what kind of cake I wanted because he wanted to make me a cake for my birthday (he's a chef). I was almost mad at him. Did I want mousse cake or a flan or what did I want? "Cake. Cake is good. Okay if you're going to make me choose, how about something with layers and include chocolate? Writing on the top, jeez." He got right into it and apparently it's going to be Black Forest and it's beginning to be marinated in the morning, oh, and it's going to be big and I'm going to need to have people help me to eat it so I'd better call some people.

So while I was at the Children's Hospital today teaching yoga, I was aware that I was in the over-40 frame of mind but I was in the presence of the under-20s and that to them, for me to withhold that it was my birthday tomorrow would basically be rude, so I said, "tomorrow's my birthday." They were all audibly excited and one of the girls asked if was staying later to teach another class so she could make me a card. I tear up again just typing that. They were so happy and excited for me. Tomorrow's my birthday! Wow!

I picked my daughter up at school and she had something close to her chest. She said it was her homework and then presented me with a big card that said "Happy 43rd Birthday Mommy!" I loved the gesture, but it still looked to me like it was for someone else. "Surely that card from this lovely girl was not for me, because I'm hardly someone's mother let alone someone who's turning 43 years old!"

I'm not against growing older or even being 43. I don't dye my hair, I'm all about the natural process of things and still, 43 feels weird. 42 was at least the answer to life, the universe, and everything. But 43? What in the world is 43? Torsten mentioned that some driver's number is 43 in answer to my question. I'm still wondering, "what in the world is 43? Is it even a number?" And I got another message tonight, "43 may feel like nothing but it's something. Think back on everything you learned this past year. A lot. Not pleasant, a lot of it, I know. But, man, Really good." That struck me. I'm so me at this point in my life. I'm almost completely myself. I feel some of the constraints I'm in, but I'm really very close to me. And that makes it something.

So I celebrate tomorrow. Or as my good friend who thought today was my birthday saved the call, tonight's my Birthday Eve, we'll do it in the Jewish way. Whoopie! It's my birthday tomorrow! Yay! I'm going to be 43! Whoohoo!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yoga in French

Today I led my first ever class in French. I agreed to teach it a while ago and have practised a little bit by increasing my vocabulary of body parts. I didn't know chin and wrist, for instance. And I don't remember them now, but I did write them down, so when I go to teach the class again next week, I'll have those words available. I will.

It made me nervous to teach in French and in fact had me in a bit of a mood for days beforehand. What if I can't get the words out? What if they don't understand me? What if I'm a fraud and I really don't know any French and all those years of school French never amounted to anything?

It turns out it was a lot of fun. Part of what was fun too was that I didn't understand everything the guys were saying to me. They'd make a big joke and laugh their heads off and I smiled and they knew I didn't know that they'd just said. They could have been making fun of me. And I didn't care! (I don't think that's what they were doing.)

But it freed me up to try something challenging like that and I'm glad I did it. It made me want to practise some more and teach more classes in French. I'm doing it again next week for the same group of police. But who knows after that? And they were a bit resistant at the beginning, I'll be honest. I was so into being nervous myself that I didn't let their resistance bother me! And afterwards they were very receptive and told me how much they thought they weren't going to like it and how much they did.

One guy even asked me if I'd heard of PX90 and raved about how the moves we did today were a lot like what's in the PX90 videos! I think it's great if yoga gets into mainstream culture and then filters through. It's great! Here's a PX90 commercial so you know what he was talking about.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Posture Project

The Prayer Project continues, so if you want to join me, just read below and get in touch.

On another note, there's a Posture Project underway and today we made some progress. I still don't know how it's all going to go, but it has started to take shape and I can see that we'll actually have a finished product in a little while. Like maybe really soon. It's still in development and it's still just a baby thing, but it's a thing, and it's out of my head and it's in an iPhone Simulator at least.

You may remember a long time ago I said I wanted to make an app for my iPod Touch. More recently there was some movement towards it. It turns out it's really hard to do if you don't know what you're doing and less hard if you do know what you're doing. So I've teamed up with some people who know lots more than me about it, and voila. An app is born. Or will be. It's still gestating.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Prayer Project

I've begun something I'll call my "Prayer Project." If you knew me as Sunali, you may remember some years ago I did a "Puja Project." This is going to be similar but without ghee and flower petals and stuff. Maybe I'll reintroduce that but for now here's the deal.

At 6 am I'm praying if that's what you'd call it, I'm asking the universe, I'm making a wish, I'm directing good thoughts, I'm thinking or praying for lack of a better word, for whoever wants it. The thing I've chosen to do though is only do it for people who want it. And if you want it, tell me what it is that you want me to "intend" for you. I'm sure it probably "works" on people who don't want it, but I'm more into helping people who want help at this point rather than helping people who don't want help. For now.

It's an extension of the Metta Meditation I've done, which can be done on people you don't know - I've grown quite close to one of the cashiers at the Metro but I don't know that he knows that. So I don't want it to be weird, I want to see if it would be helpful. And really the person I expect it to be helpful for is me. So far in my Prayer Project, when I've been praying for someone else, it makes me feel really good. So in that respect, if I prayed for anyone whether they wanted it or not, it shouldn't make a difference. But it has made a difference and a bond gets created and there's a tenderness present that I'm enjoying being with. What I've been doing so far includes someone else intending, praying, whatever, for me at the same time, but I get the feeling that the back and forth isn't necessary, although it's very sweet. So I'm not asking you to pray for me but if you want to, tell me you're doing it and I'll know that at the time.

I realize this may be an "out there" kind of thing to let you know about, but it's what I'm up to right now and I'll see how it goes. You can contact me through here or the other many ways to reach me. I'm not psychic though, or as I mentioned earlier, I can't tell, so don't try and ESP me. Use email or Twitter or call me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Missing Filters

I notice that I'm missing some of my usual filters and I have to say it's fun on the one hand and it makes me feel a bit vulnerable on the other. I think it was at the clown workshop I took a week ago that really highlighted this aspect for me. In one of the exercises people were encouraged to say whatever came up, to say the things that aren't usually said, and it might be funny. I think it was while Scott was visiting in the last hours where we talked about it. About how you have to remove that filter and allow yourself to be fully self expressed. Holding back isn't funny or entertaining or inspiring. What inspires is expressed, is out there, is beyond the norm.

I've played with this over the years, especially with Gurubelle or with some of the yoga practices. Like yesterday, I saw a woman walking backwards down the street for a bit and then she'd walk forwards and trust me, she wasn't doing strength or agility training. And I was thinking, "that's the kind of thing you'd do in an ashram." Like just try something different to shake things up. Sleep with your head at the foot of your bed. Don't put sugar in your coffee if you're used to that (except you'd be drinking your coffee behind closed doors because it wasn't permitted). You know there are guys in India go for years with one arm up overhead. Sometimes the thing is to do things differently to mix the brain patterns and free things up, get obstacles out of the way, or at least bring them to light. And that can be inspiring or entertaining or both.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sometimes I'm Psychic

I don't really think I'm psychic. But I know that I can come across that way sometimes - it's just that it never occurs to me that it's happening. I just say what I say. And then people say what they say.

So today it came up during a class at the children's hospital, where I'm dealing with teenagers who are still technically children and don't worry, I don't forget it, that addictive behaviour includes lying. The kids I deal with are in the hospital, some of them in the psych ward basically, for disordered eating issues - bad enough that they're in the hospital for it. I just talk to them like I'd talk to anyone else normally and today we're talking and the next thing I know we're talking about lying and being an addict, which is kind of like what's going on with ED, but I'm not talking about that, I was talking about smoking and how I'd lie like crazy to my mom about it and I'd come up with plenty of excuses, and they were totally relating, and then it came up that I mentioned, "you'll know you're getting better when you can't lie anymore and you find yourself having to tell the truth." One girl was laughing and the other girl was just lying there on her mat because she was really new, and the other girl was saying, "nobody's perfect." I took that one and ran with it. "Of course nobody's perfect and anyone who says they are is a liar," is what I told them.

As it turns out, one of them had totally been lying earlier in the day about hiding food and the other one had confronted her about it, mentioning that her hiding food was a trigger for her - behaviour is a big deal in these tiny communities in the hospital. Wow. During my little break between classes I bumped into someone (one of the therapists) who told me that she had been concerned how yoga would go given that there had been this tension earlier in the day between two of them. It wasn't hard to tell who she was talking about. I told her that we'd had the conversation about being an addict, she laughed and said that it was great that I reinforced that when you get better you won't need to lie. "The truth is manageable" is what I told them (and you know I'm into that - that was not a hard thing for me to say) and I told her and the therapist laughed. She seemed really pleased that I would send that message without any prompting or divulging.

It was funny to have hit the nail so totally on the head. It's neat when that happens. Again, I have no idea when I've struck a chord (or nerve as the case may be) but when it happens it's magical.

When you are lying there's something going on and trust me, it's not alright. The need to tell the truth is a sign you're getting better - you can handle the truth and you trust that the others around you can handle it too. What a powerful way to live.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Aliveness shows up in a lot of ways. I like it when aliveness shows up as happy and joy and tingles and fun. But sometimes aliveness shows up as sad or worry or wondering or pain. It's just as alive! But the "negative" sensations are the ones we try to get rid of. We worry about them, making them bigger, when what we really want is that they just go away. And sometimes they do. But they always come back. We always get winter. It is never not winter here (yet).

One of my teachers used to say "breathe. It beats the alternative." And when strong sensations came up he'd say, "it beats the alternative," as though those strong sensations we wish to go away are part of the deal too. In Elizabeth Lesser's book Broken Open, she's got someone in there talking about her problems like they're her friends. They're there. Hey, the only people with no problems are dead people, right?

So allowing aliveness to be in its fullness means allowing the discomfort to be welcome just as the comfort is. That Serenity Prayer always seems to make sense to me - do what you can about the things that you can and leave the things alone you can't control and know the difference between them. So when stuff shows up, a mood comes over, some internal weather pattern moves in, just trust it will pass for one thing. It always does. And something else shows up and then it goes too.

In Mother Daughter yoga today I mentioned to everyone that at some point probably everyday, the body is uncomfortable. It just is. Our thinking that it's supposed to always be comfortable inside and that there's something wrong when we are uncomfortable isn't helpful. It makes things worse! (Of course you can also get some other opinions - don't ignore sensations - check them out and get things looked at that need to be looked at!) Once you've done what you can to be comfortable and you're still uncomfortable, just breathe and consider those are signs of life. You're alive. It's part of the deal to be uncomfortable some of the time.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I'm big on this. You probably already know that about me. I don't have much to hide. I'm open. What you see is what you get pretty much. Some people I know are uncomfortable with that - it turns out the people I know for sure who are uncomfortable with that are people who do a lot of hiding and lying. Okay person. Nevermind.

It can be uncomfortable to say one thing and have that ring out in space. Other people may hear what you have to say. So if you like to say one thing to one person and something else to a different person (sometimes known as talking out of both sides of your mouth) you may not be comfortable standing by what you've done or said or having what you say be public. That doesn't mean you have to go around saying everything you've got going either. Filters are useful!

I sometimes like to say what's on my mind and when that changes, I'm happy to update. I think it's great that we share ideas and opinions and clips and songs and pictures. During the teacher training something came up about when to play mantras. It was suggested that maybe we don't play mantras doing certain things (supposedly unconscious things that perhaps happen at parties ha!). My point is if you can't play mantras doing what you're doing because it's not worthy of the mantra, why are you doing it at all?

Just this moment's thoughts...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yoga DVDs

Something I've been thinking would be fun to do is have a class where what we do is do a yoga DVD or CD together and then talk about it - what we liked, what we didn't like. We'd have a practice and a chance to chat about it afterwards. I think it would be open to intermediate students as well as people who've done a yoga teacher training. It would give people exposure to other styles, it would be fun to hear something different, and for some people who are interested in buying a DVD for home, it would give them a chance to do it in a group and see if it's something they'd like.

I'd go to that class. I'd lead that class! So today while I was doing Ray Crist's Vigorous Flow, Yoga Breath at home, I was imagining myself in the Crystal Room or Sky Room at Rama Lotus with other people. And I saw myself on my mat doing the poses with everyone else and then leading a question and answer about it.

Hmm. Would you come?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Clown Pose

So this weekend I've been in a Clown Workshop ;) Yep. I'm taking Clown. Don't ask, it just came up and seemed like a good thing to do at the time. It still is! However! We'll go from being sitting on a cold floor to all of a sudden running around in barefeet pretending to be riding horses in a ring. (It sounds weird as I read what I'm typing, but trust me, it seemed right in the context.) And we'll start jumping around and then go sit down for an hour and back and forth. I should have stretched first.

There's a place for yoga in Clown. At least in Clown Classes. We could do some asanas first and maybe a few after! Imagine a savasana after all that clowning around? Heaven.

Clown Pose itself has been interesting. It's a pose that requires being present and connected to the surroundings while having an intention and I would say a commitment, although we haven't talked about that. The pose, whatever it is, is the form and the being present inside of it gets us to have whatever vibration that pose is, that prana diagram, that experience, and there's freedom in that. That's exactly where it is, in fact.

So I'm learning Clown Pose. It's got a big stretch to it for me. Lots of sensations to breathe into!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Books on a Shelf

I heard once that most people don't read the books they buy. I must have been really young when I heard that because I could hardly believe it. How could you buy a book and not read it, I wondered. Hmm. So I've got more than a few books on my shelf that I have not read. To be fair, a lot of them were gifts, so it wasn't like I went out and got the book on purpose to read. But some of them I did buy thinking it would be great to read them, and then, as you can tell, I just didn't get past the first few pages.

So today I picked up a book I actually bought with a full intention of reading straight away. It came recommended to me and I have had it for a year and have not read it thoroughly until now, and that is Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff. I remember buying it at Omega on Steve Weiss' recommendation. He said it was a good anatomy book and he should know because he's really good at anatomy and yoga! I even saw this book on sale at Costco a few months ago for $12 or something. (And I figure if it's good enough for Costco, it's good enough for me.) Seriously, it came highly recommended and I'm giving it a thumb up too - when I finish it I'll probably have two thumbs up.

Anways, I'm going to back to reading it now. I'm really enjoying it! It's challenging and interesting and a great review.