is life better without facebook?

Life feels much simpler since I went off Facebook a few months ago.

I didn’t plan it; one minute I was scrolling through my feed, the next I was searching for the ‘deactivate’ button. It wasn’t necessarily about ads or privacy or even the horrible trending stories. Something in me had finally had enough. Enough of the noise. Enough of my inauthenticity.

By inauthenticity, I mean feeling removed from my heart centre, my inner aliveness. I felt like a machine while using Facebook: addicted, robotic, consuming, judging, comparing. I’d stopped posting regularly some time ago, but I could still feel the desire to be seen, liked, and validated. These are human needs, and they’re understandable – but they got a little out of whack. Facebook made it hard for me to get one step ahead of my ego.

befunky-collage

Of course, none of that is Facebook’s fault. Social media obviously has positive aspects, and our experience is our own responsibility. In other words, you can’t blame Facebook for your misery! I’m sure some people have figured out how to have a balanced relationship with it.

But I personally struggle to feel the real connection to others, maybe because there are so many connections. A constant stream of photos, opinions, inspirational quotes…Where is the space to digest it all? What’s true and what’s contrived? In all this hyper-connectivity, how much of our real selves are we actually sharing?

Are humans ready to handle all this information about each other?

A while back, an acquaintance created a ‘Truth Day’ event. She proposed that for one day, people would post how they authentically felt, not how they wanted to be perceived. One woman immediately objected, stating that Facebook shouldn’t be a place of airing “dirty laundry”. It struck me that she equated authenticity with airing dirty laundry. Is that how we regard our real feelings and emotions – as something dirty, something to shield from others?

But then, I had to wonder how authentic I myself would be on Truth Day. As open as I am on this blog, I was not so real on Facebook. Occasionally I’d share my blog posts, but always to a limited audience, and never the more personal subjects. I wasn’t ready for all those people to see all of me.

Many of us crave true sharing and intimacy, and social media might give us a taste of that…without us having to be too vulnerable. The online world can distract us from pursuing relationships where we could experience real pain or rejection. ‘Social’ media ironically locks us into further isolation (under the guise of connection), and it becomes harder to leave our comfort zone.

For now, life does feel better without Facebook. I’m not getting sucked into a huge time-waster. I’m enjoying reading actual books, and savouring prolonged moments of silence. I’m tuning into my inner self more. I’m realizing the importance of my real-life relationships. I want to nurture these things as much as possible. Maybe then I’ll have a more enjoyable relationship with social media. I’m open to that.

gratitude: 5 things to share

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There are so many wonderful gems on the internet and I would never run out of blog posts if I were to write about all of them. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, it feels right to share just a few things I’m grateful for.

Blog: I have several WordPress faves but wanted to give a special shoutout to Linda at litebeing chronicles. Linda’s posts are deeply insightful, with a good measure of pop culture thrown in. There’s also astrology. 🙂 Linda’s been a big supporter of mine since early in my blogging days, and I’m very appreciative of her friendship, encouragement, and always thoughtful comments. Thank you Linda!

Just after writing this I found out Linda is in the hospital. We are sending you well wishes Linda.

Book: Dancing in the Bamboo Forest. This was written by DJ at djahariahmitra.com. After DJ read some of my earlier posts about India and my inklings to begin yoga teacher training, she generously sent me a copy of her memoir documenting her travels and yoga experiences in India. I resonated deeply with so much of her inner and outer journey. It rekindled my desire to visit Mother India again, hopefully soon…

DJ’s book also inspired me to keep writing. So many of us want to write a book – let’s just do it! Who knows who our words will help. The purpose of creativity is to share.

Youtube: emergegrowprosper. I’ve been following Jenna Forrest’s teachings for about a year now and I’m so thankful for this channel. Jenna shares the (love) awakening process from the point of view of a highly sensitive empath. Her teachings are clear and profoundly healing in their depth and simplicity. For such cosmic and spiritual subject matter, she is very down-to-earth and practical. Jenna doesn’t advertise and she’s not on Facebook; her channel is growing primarily through the strength of her classes and messages.

[2018 update: I no longer follow Jenna’s channel as her message changed significantly in 2017. Read my post https://alohaleya.com/2017/06/24/technology-the-divine-search/ for more on that]

Documentary: The True Cost. Thanks to my friend AM for telling me about this one. This documentary explores the impact of the fashion industry on the environment and the human beings who produce the clothes. It is a game-changer in the way I shop, and the stores I visit. (Whenever a friend  tries to get me to go into H&M, I mention this documentary.) As an Indian woman, the film hit me especially hard as I saw how I’ve been playing into the suppression and violence of my Indian sisters across the globe.

Many of us are already aware of this issue – sweatshops aren’t exactly a secret – but for me it was a major wakeup call.

Website: What can I say, I love The Power Path! I’ve been trying to not overdo it with the spiritual articles and websites, but Jose and Lena Stevens’ moon updates, monthly forecasts, and monthly articles are always inspiring and insightful. They don’t sugarcoat the chaos of the paradigm shift we’re all experiencing (and co-creating), and their shamanic perspective and practical advice helps me navigate this grand adventure on planet earth.

Thank you, Internet! ❤

And of course, I’m grateful for the teachings of Kundalini Yoga. I’m currently immersed in the next module of my teacher training program, now in a different city, with all new people. It is a complete contrast to the intimate, cozy retreat setting I’d become accustomed to. But so far I’m enjoying the shift in perspective, and meeting some amazing yogis. The only constant is change…

india is awakening within

Adjusting to ‘normal’ life after completing the first module of my Kundalini Yoga teacher training program has been…well, there are no words. And there are so many words. My whole being feels very full of insights, knowledge, understanding, and gratitude.

Being sequestered for five days in a house full of yogis, with daily meditations starting at 4am, physically challenging classes, and yes, a snoring roommate, put me out of my comfort zone in a big way. I embraced it all as gracefully as I could – though there were definitely a couple of clunky moments!

Me in India, in 2010

Me in India, in 2010

My Kundalini adventure is just beginning. I have three more modules to complete, plus daily homework of yoga, reading, and meditation till the program finishes in May 2016.

I’m seeing why it took the amount of time it did for me to get here. The seeds of this journey were planted over ten years ago, when I took my first Kundalini Yoga class and knew there was something very special about the technology. Even then I knew that this path couldn’t be pursued halfheartedly; it requires a level of commitment and discipline that I wasn’t prepared for until now. Actually, I still feel unprepared – but that’s a story of limitation I’m ready to break through.

I understand why I’ve spent so many years alone, exploring different teachings, and delving into my shadow and dark feelings. It’s all been preparation for a new way of being.

‘Surrender’ and ‘trust’ are recurring themes in the blogs I read. If humanity is indeed evolving in consciousness, we must let go of the idea that God/Universe/Source is out to get us. That is an old paradigm. We’re moving into the deep knowing that we are fundamentally good and not fundamentally flawed (as many traditional religions would have us believe). We’re much more than the duality we live in.

To surrender and trust means giving up the need to control every facet of our lives (or rather, releasing the illusion that that’s even possible). During our morning mediations, I felt so much tension in my face…clenched jaw, scrunched up eyes…the stress of thinking, worrying, and holding on. My body is so ready to let that all go.

Our beautiful teacher training room

Our beautiful teacher training room

We don’t need to try so hard; the universe remembers connections we’ve made and seeds we’ve planted. Last month I received an unexpected email from a former employer, asking if I’d be interested in writing a blog post for her spiritual travel company. For a time I’d worked as the company’s social media coordinator, and blogging was my favourite aspect of that role. I was very happy to have that opportunity arise once again.

I found myself writing about India. She is playing a very big role in my life right now, as I study the yogic teachings and feel the presence of my ancestors all around me. I’m discovering a part of myself that I buried a long time ago. India is awakening within.

Nothing is ever lost, if it’s in alignment with who we really are and what we love to do. Things are always cycling back to us in newer, more refined forms as we experience, learn, and clarify. It’s about shifting the power from the mind to the heart.

Time to head to my local Kundalini Yoga class – today’s homework! 🙂

Until next time,
Aleya

Here’s my guest post for Sacred Earth Journeys: http://www.sacredearthjourneys.ca/blog/indias-cosmic-winks-a-story-from-a-past-participant/.

(spiritual) information overload

Back in March, a dear friend invited me to a new moon/birthday celebration where we were treated to a heavenly meditation in a salt cave, divine live music, and a beautiful despacho ceremony.

As part of the evening, we also chose angel cards and shared them as a group. I picked Archangel Metatron, whose message for me was ‘Prioritize’. Ugh, how boring, I thought. I would’ve preferred something much sexier, like ‘Cosmic Power’ or ‘Twin Flame’…but looking back on the past few months, I see just how apt this card was. I’ve lived in three different places since then, and life has been an ongoing process of clearing out, paring down, and de-cluttering.

It hasn’t just been about physical ‘stuff’. Over the summer I began to feel overloaded with commitments that my heart wasn’t into anymore. Thinking about all I ‘had’ to do left me feeling drained, with little drive to pursue any of it. So bit by bit, I let certain responsibilities go. It wasn’t easy. I felt guilt that I was letting down people whom I’d committed to. I felt like a flake.

But now, settling into my current living space, with minimal possessions around me, clarity is sinking in. I can see that I’ve been whittling away the outer noise in response to my soul’s desire to be heard.  I’ve chosen to bring with me the things I find most beautiful…the colours and books and art I truly love, that harmonize with me.

One of my favourite images, from my trip to India

One of my favourite images, from my 2010 trip to India

There’s a lot of information out there about a new earth – a 5D paradigm we are collectively awakening to.  Sitting here in my temporarily Internet-less apartment, I know I’ve been on information overload. I need to digest rather than consume these spiritual concepts. I’m understanding that this new world can only be created from within me. I need to feel that world in my body rather than compute it in my head.

I’m also seeing themes of sloppiness versus integrity in my life. Where have I been cutting corners and settling for ‘good enough’ when I know more is possible? Where can I take greater personal responsibility and create a higher standard in the way I interact with others, myself, and the planet?

And when does taking personal responsibility morph (in my own mind) into being ‘too hard’ on myself? Am I really being too hard, or am I being brutally and lovingly honest, sensing my divine potential to live more compassionately, joyfully, powerfully, simply?

Since registering for my Kundalini Yoga teacher training program, I’m feeling all this more intensely. I’m nervous, which could be a good sign. I sense I will be confronted with things I won’t be able to ignore, numb, or justify. I know the training will take me deeper into myself and enable me to stand more firmly in my own truth, as it is being revealed. For this I am grateful, excited, and hopeful that the world(s) I discover within will manifest without.

Now to find some wifi…

goodbye city, hello island

Just two days after returning from London, I moved to a smaller city on an island a few hours away from my hometown. A day after that, I started work at a local university – the same university I attended fifteen years ago. The past couple of weeks have been a surreal trip back in time. I’m remembering places and streets I’d forgotten, and discovering new ones.

August was a complete whirlwind: wrapping up one job and starting another, packing up my old apartment, temporarily staying with friends in my new city, and of course the transformative journey in London. I’ve now found a place of my own to live in October…so I’m going to relax and enjoy the rest of September in a beautiful beachside property owned by a family friend, assimilating all that’s occurred.

morning sunrise

morning sunrise

This move happened very quickly. One day I had the thought of changing cities, and a week later I had a job offer and various places to stay. I had no time to ‘think things over’; all I knew was a screaming yes! from within.

I can’t say for certain why I’m here. Merely weeks before my UK trip, I’d moved into a new apartment in my hometown. For the first time in a very long time, I felt like I’d found somewhere I could breathe, relax, put down some roots – or at least hang some art on the walls! I’d finally found the sanctuary I’d long yearned for.

And yet, something wasn’t quite right.

I was done with the city. I was tired of the noise, stimulation, sirens, the daily grind. I told myself the outer noise was reflecting my inner noise. But I couldn’t get ahead of it to quiet it down.

I believe that wherever you go, there you are – no matter how far we travel, we can’t escape ourselves – but sometimes a change of scenery is exactly what’s needed for a reset. To cultivate new habits. To shake up the system and connect more easily with one’s inner truth.

Here, on the Island that’s my home for an unbeknownst period of time, things aren’t quite so convenient as in the big city. I haven’t had immediate access to all I ‘need’. (What?? You don’t have wifi here?!) It’s been an adjustment, and annoying at times, but I have to laugh. It’s exactly what I asked for.

my new commute

my new commute

I enjoy being in motion. Whether I’m on a long walk or a ferry, plane, or train, I love travelling to new places. It’s often where I feel most connected to Source – where I receive my insights and downloads. Being in new neighbourhoods, discovering new terrain, excites me.

Nevertheless, as I lay in bed last week, I doubted this very fast turn of events. Was I running away? Did I give up a good gig in my old city? Did I make the wrong decision? I woke up to a voice asking me: What would make this decision worth it? And I realized that wherever I am is the perfect place to be. Because, ultimately, I’m not looking for the ‘right’ job or city or house – even if I think I am.

I’m looking to strengthen my relationship with spirit, with myself – to go within, to find the love within and without, to meditate, to practice yoga, to be more in nature and discover the peace that is my true nature. Those things aren’t necessarily contingent upon external circumstances. But I’m grateful for the Island air reverberating in my cells. And its gorgeous trees, water, and slower pace of life. The elements are supporting new habits and ways of being.

I’ve heard, and I sense, that September is a very potent month. What we do with all the delicious, available energy is up to us. I’m choosing to not squander it on fear.

meditating beyond the mosque

It will take me some time to process what I learned about myself in London. I knew it would be an eye-opening journey – I was travelling with my mother and visiting family I’d never met before – but I didn’t expect to be so confronted by my own views on family and religion.

me being a dork in a london phone booth

me being a dork in a london phone booth

I was brought up within a minority Shia sect of the Muslim faith. This group differs from the majority of (Sunni) Muslims in many ways – too many to go into here (and I’m not an expert anyway). I remember going to mosque as a child and not really getting what was going on. My grandparents were extremely religious, my parents less so – but we still attended mosque somewhat regularly.

Being Muslim was my identity. Back then, I referred to all my white friends as ‘Christian’, regardless of their spiritual belief. ‘White’ and ‘Christian’ were synonymous in my little mind.

I always resented that I had to be part of a religion that didn’t get to celebrate fun things like Christmas and Easter. But I also felt conflict and guilt that I didn’t like my religion. My mother tried to make me see the positive aspects of the faith, but it never took. I didn’t understand any of the rituals (and wasn’t motivated to really explore them), and I’d get preoccupied by the dynamics of the people around me. At mosque, I was irritated by any gossiping I heard, or excessive dressing up. It was hard to see beyond those things.

My deep conflict surrounding religion was majorly triggered in London. Several of the family members I met have converted to the more traditional Sunni Muslim path in recent years. They view this path as more ’true’ and ‘logical’ to follow. Each family gathering I went to in London involved discussion of religion and over the course of my trip I was becoming more resistant, irritated, and yes, judgmental of those around me. I was also experiencing the old feelings of guilt, alienation, and fundamental wrongness. I am so different from these people! What would they think if I started talking about ascension and starseeds and blue rays?!

On some level, I always thought that ‘someday’ I would embrace my faith and make my mother happy by attending mosque more often. What I realized on this trip is that might never happen. I mean, I really got that. I also understood that my deep resistance, guilt, and judgment was showing me that more healing is needed. I know a part of me still views the faith through the eyes of an alienated child who wanted Christmas instead – and that’s the part that needs compassion and release. I will never find peace with my religion by running away from it.

I know that there are beautiful aspects of my faith, and I’ve seen the peace and kindness in my family members who credit their religion for helping them be better human beings.

I also know that my own inner truth is longing to be heard, and that it could be very different from the truths of my parents, grandparents, and the long line of ancestors behind them. This path is lonely, scary, doubtful and, at times, filled with grief. It has felt like a betrayal of my family, and of God. But my own truth, whatever it is, isn’t going away. I love that meditating in the mosque makes my mother so happy. But I want to meditate beyond the mosque.

It’s possible that my ancestors are jumping for joy at what’s happening within me, and on planet earth in general, as many of us are finding our own ways of connecting to God or Spirit (or not). Maybe those in my lineage are thrilled that I’m rediscovering my ancient Indian yogi roots! Maybe they’re excited that I and many others are taking it beyond religion, as we expand into something that transcends any doctrine, belief, or dogma.

London is one of my most favourite cities ever…even more so now. I can’t wait to go back for more.

a letter to my friends (speaking my truth part 2)

Dear Friends,

I know I haven’t been the greatest friend lately. It used to be that you’d email me, and I’d respond right away. I might even answer my phone, or call you back in a timely manner. But something shifted when I quit my job last summer. Removing such a central element of life – one that had been in place a very long time – affected everything else, in ways I wasn’t expecting.

I’d quit my job with big ideas of future career directions…starting a business and finally being my own boss. I would be doing the kind of work I’d always done, I was good at it, and the demand for my services was high. It was a no brainer.

But it seems the universe had other ideas, and removing my 9-5 created the space for it to show me something else. Spending so much time with my own self, with nowhere I ‘had’ to be, plunged me deeper into my spiritual journey.

Quitting wasn’t just about becoming an entrepreneur, I now see. It was about aligning me with my authenticity and integrity. It was showing me those long forgotten places my true desires lay buried. Was this new venture something I really wanted to do every day? Or was it a more palatable variation of something that had never made my heart sing?

I see more clearly where I’ve been compromising myself in life, particularly in relationships. Most of you, my dear friends, haven’t seen the whole me – what I’m truly passionate about, what I deeply believe, what I want to do in this world, the role of the Divine Feminine in my life. I’ve compared myself to a lot of you, wondering why it’s taking me so long to get where you are. I haven’t fully understood the power of what’s taken place within.

We live in a material, 3D world where much of the planet is operating in fear, scarcity, and doing what’s always been done. It’s not ‘real’ if we can’t see or prove it. This mass consciousness is like a magnet, and we often get sucked into its programming, losing our hope and momentum to create a new paradigm based on love, interconnection, and empowerment.

The necessity to pay my rent is a reality, and I’ve been fortunate to have small jobs these past few months to get me by. But I’m hesitant to find something more permanent; intuitively it feels like a slippery slope. Months can easily turn into years, and I don’t want to act from fear and survival, putting myself in the same situation I was before. Doing something that doesn’t resonate with my soul takes an energetic toll that’s difficult to articulate.

What kind of work do I really want to do? What does it look and feel like? Do I believe it’s possible, that I’m capable and ready? Can I charge for it? Will people actually pay? Do I need more training? Am I good enough? What if I fail…exposed as an imposter?

Stop. Breathe.

If I don’t value my work, I won’t find those who will. There is a sense of urgency that compromising, in any form, is no longer an option. This planet is shifting and consciousness is evolving. Transformation and intensity are the norm, and the universe is ramping up what doesn’t serve. We can no longer fake it!

Many of us stand at a crossroads. We’re on the verge of something big, but we don’t have all the information. Sometimes all we have is a tiny shred of hope, and we must hang on to it with all our might. We’re creating a new reality in every moment, with every thought we think and action we take. It takes major courage to unhook from the old and put our faith and trust into something so brand new.

The more I speak my truth, the more I find others who are speaking theirs. And it’s a beautiful thing! This is the ultimate act of self-love…expressing our true selves because we value what is within us.

Friends, I’ve been given myself some much needed space and solitude. But I’m slowly emerging from my cocoon. Ready to show up as the real me, as she’s being revealed. Ready to see the real you in my reflection.