year of the jellyfish

It’s my 4th WordPress anniversary this week, and since we’re in a New Year month, it seems fitting to re-blog my very first post from 2013.

I had the sense, back then, that a new world was opening up. And now, 4 years later, with friends made around the world and so many stories shared, I have a newfound appreciation for those early words.

Reading that first post, it’s clear that I was feeling hope and relief in shedding some long-held beliefs; something had shifted within, and it was palpable. Looking back now, it’s like the stage was being set for me to discover just how deeply ingrained these beliefs were in me, and in my family, culture, and ancestry. These past few years have been about diving down, exploring, and uprooting.

I also see that my journey has taken on a new dimension since 2013: self-compassion, humility, and forgiveness have grown. I’ve learned that spirituality is not all ‘love and light’, and that spending time in the muck is an essential part of healing. Also, after years of resisting, I’m becoming much more comfortable with silence. Stillness speaks volumes.

Happy Anniversary, Happy 2017, and Happy Year of the Rooster! No doubt this upcoming year will be monumental. My intentions? To breathe, meditate, feel all my feelings, and remember I’m not alone. And oh yeah, to blog. 😉

Sat Nam, Namaste, Aloha. Thank you for reading!

alohaleya

jellyfish Image courtesy of wikimedia.org

a few years ago a relative told me i reminded her of a jellyfish.  i was confused and she explained: she saw me as translucent, a pearly bubble ready to burst with all the colour and potential and goodness inside me.  she said i couldn’t see it, but she could.  it was a sweet conversation and one i remember once in a while.

maybe it’s all the end-of-2012 talk, but lately i’m beginning to feel those colours emerging.

something has shifted. like i’m breathing a sigh of relief. like i made it to the other side of something. i don’t feel quite so intensely compressed, like i’m a tube of toothpaste and someone is trying squeeze every last bit out.   although everything looks the same, something unseen and profound feels to have taken place.

i can’t hold onto anything anymore. i can’t blame anyone anymore. i…

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stillness in solstice snow

A few days ago, it snowed in my hometown. Since this is a rare occasion, my city was thrown into complete chaos. Streets weren’t plowed, buses stopped running, people were slipping and sliding everywhere…I made it halfway to work and gave up, turning around and heading straight home. (Most of my colleagues did the same thing.)

Given that it was the first day of Mercury Retrograde, and Winter Solstice was approaching, I relished the opportunity to stay cozy indoors, enjoying the peace and silence of a random Monday off.

snow sure makes the mountains look pretty

snow sure makes the mountains look pretty

The previous weekend, I’d gone to a party where I met the one person who actually enjoyed 2016. Everyone else I know is happy to see this year go. It’s been a time of major life changes, wake-up calls, and dispelling of illusions all around. A hugely pivotal year, yes. But not necessarily the most pleasant.

What have I gleaned from 2016? That 2017 will not be about straining or efforting to make things happen. I want to enjoy what I have created so far, trusting that I’ve made appropriate decisions for myself, and knowing that there’s nothing to fix. I want to relax into what is, right here right now.

The great thing about 2016 is that I was forced to pare down my life in many ways – especially financially. That, and my break with social media, allowed me to see where I’d been spending my energy, i.e., starving myself through over-consumption. Without such distractions, I began spending more time in silence. I realized just how difficult silence was for me, and how much I craved it.

Many of us know the running commentary that comes with meditation. The inner critic, the monkey mind, the myriad of voices we’ve heard throughout our lives, all re-playing the same old tapes. They relentlessly question my choices, convinced there is something better I could/should be experiencing.

Because we (in the western world) seem to have so much opportunity, freedom, and information at our fingertips, we can drive ourselves crazy looking for what’s more desirable than what we have right now. (Especially if we’re comparing ourselves to others on social media, just sayin’.)

These past few years, I received many of the things I asked for. And I then let them go, in search for something new-and-improved. Though I’m very grateful for the ability to create new experiences, I see that I was plagued by chronic restlessness and dissatisfaction. I couldn’t be fully present with my creations, because I was already onto the next thing. The seeds didn’t have time to germinate.

It was fear. Fear that I’d made the wrong decision (even as I told myself there was no such thing). Fear of being stuck. Fear that I was missing out on my true home, true career, true relationship. Fear that I didn’t deserve what I asked for, and couldn’t hold on to good things. Fear of imperfection. I demanded perfection in my outer circumstances, because I couldn’t accept imperfection in myself.

and my window looks pretty too

and my window looks pretty too

My surprise day off, a gift from the snow god/dess, was heavenly because I experienced prolonged peace and quiet for the first time in a long time. I’ve been having more of these moments lately…glimpses of relief, however brief, from habitual thoughts, worries, and stresses. Plans and action are good and necessary. But this is what I want to cultivate.

Love…compassion…breath…here is the fertile space for creation. Good things – maybe the best things – come from being still with life as it is right now. Maybe nothing needs to change; I can allow what’s already here to emerge in its full bloom and depth. The ‘doing’ then happens on its own. It’s a beautiful symbiosis.

Happy New Year, indeed. ❤

a selection of awakening experiences part II

I write these words the day before the February full moon, also my 40th birthday. For weeks I was looking forward to participating in Barbara Franken’s awakening challenge – I picked a pretty auspicious day for reflection – but now that the moment is here, I feel blocked. There’s so much to say about awakening, yet it all feels like concept. How to write about the ineffable?

Touching Her Potential, Hans Walor

Touching Her Potential, Hans Walor

I moved away from my current city last summer, only to return a few weeks ago. I’m living in the same apartment building as before the move, and this week I’ll likely return to my former place of employment. My favourite cashiers are still at the Whole Foods down the block, giving me extra stamps for my coffee. I hear the familiar sounds of birds chirping outside my window, and a siren in the downtown background.

It’s like I never left.

Back in August, I couldn’t wait to get out of the city. I was so tired of honking horns, screaming sirens and noisy neighbours. I was on edge all the time, and desperately wanted to be somewhere quieter, more removed. I needed to hear my own heart and voice, and I just couldn’t do it where I was.

And the move was good for me. I started my Kundalini Yoga teacher training program, met some wonderful new people, learned valuable work and life lessons, and, two weeks before moving back, ‘randomly’ reconnected with a soul mate for some much-needed healing and completion.

But overall, I didn’t really find the peace I was searching for. In perfect universal order, all the sounds I’d resisted followed me to my new place. I got it – changing the externals wasn’t going to change much. It was time to come ‘home’.

Knowing What She Wants, Hans Walor

Knowing What She Wants, Hans Walor

Since last October, when I began my teacher training, I’ve gone from sporadic meditation to a daily practice of yoga, breathwork, meditation, and/or mantra chanting. Specifically, for the past two weeks I’ve been doing a meditation designed to calm the heart.

As I become more attuned to my body’s signals and sensations, I can feel the bracing of my heart. For many years I’ve held my breath, hypervigilant, steeling myself from any potential hurt or shock coming my way. Lying in savasana, deep relaxation, I’m aware of how difficult it’s been for my system to just…relax.

Throughout my spiritual journey, I heard the words ‘listen to your heart’, ’trust your heart’, and ‘open your heart’ so many times that they lost meaning for me. I was frustrated. I didn’t know how to hear my heart. I didn’t know how to access that soft, still place that knows, I’m okay wherever I am. The voice that knows me better than anyone.

Genesis, Hans Walor

Genesis, Hans Walor

With patience, practice, humility, commitment, and discipline, I am becoming stabilized in my own heart. This is my awakening. My breath is clearing the way. My heart was never closed to begin with. It has always been strong, open, pounding, wise, knowing, and loving – waiting for me. And now I get to live in that place.

The sirens don’t bother me so much anymore. The loud noises aren’t so jarring. Since participating in Barbara’s first challenge, I’ve learned and unlearned so much. I’m a different person than I was two years ago, six months ago, two weeks ago. Nothing has changed these past few months, yet everything has changed. My experience of awakening will surely change too. And it’s all perfect.

Thank you for this opportunity, Barbara. Next up is Sue at http://suedreamwalker.wordpress.com.

entering the terrifying darkness…again

It took a whole year – literally! – but last weekend I revisited one of the scariest places I’ve ever been – a sensory deprivation (isolation) tank, aka ‘float tank’.

My first experience was, for the most part, harrowing. I had no idea what to expect, as I never considered myself claustrophobic. (Then again, I’d never been enclosed in a small space, floating on water, in complete silence and blackness.) I didn’t know just how deafening my mind was (is), until I had to spend 90 minutes tuned into its inane soundtrack, with no distractions whatsoever!

It wasn’t all terrifying; there were moments of stillness and peace. And for weeks after, I couldn’t stop thinking about that darkness. Why had I been so scared of it? What made that void so powerful? Was there anything beyond the fear? What possibilities could be created from that space of nothingness?

float

my home for the next 90 mins

Well, a year later, I decided to revisit the tank. I was slightly dreading the experience; I remembered some of the ridiculous thoughts that plagued me the first time around (What if there’s an earthquake and no one can save me?), and I did not feel like reliving all that again. But, as I’d realized after my first session: that enclosed, dark place isn’t just located in that chamber. It’s always there. Lurking in my consciousness, guiding my every day reactions and decisions. In the tank, I can’t avoid it. Sure, I can physically get out…but it will follow me. So I knew I had to face it again.

Almost immediately after starting my float, I felt petrifying fear at my core. I became aware of acute pain in my neck and shoulders, which lasted throughout the session. Adrenaline coursed through me and I often felt short of breath. Is this how I feel all the time, and just don’t notice it?

Lying there in complete stillness, I felt defenceless. I am very vulnerable in this place…open to attack…I need to be on guard in case something unexpected happens…When I let my guard down is when there will be attack…I’m a mouse, not a lion…I live in fear, trying to control every aspect of my life…

The fear made me hold my breath. Which made me start to panic. Which only made me more fearful!

Then I would remember to breathe. Deeply. And remind myself that it’s not the situation itself that makes me hyperventilate – it’s my thoughts about what could happen. Thoughts that, no matter how ludicrous, seem so real they take on a life of their own, distorting my reality so that I’m blinded to everything else.

In this void, there was nothing to hold onto, to ground me. There was no ‘Aleya’ here. I was reminded of a previous Ayahuasca journey, where my physical reality dissolved in front of my very eyes. My ego did not enjoy that one bit, and the experience still haunts me to this day. I also remembered being in my ex’s presence years ago, and feeling an immense void within. It was something he could never fill, and we both knew it. He was showing me something I’d have to face on my own, sooner or later. It came sooner than I wanted it to.

We are told to ‘look within’ to find love. But this has often felt very conceptual. Many spiritual teachings refer to a loving Mother/Father God, a universe that only wants the best for us. And this is such sweet relief for those of us who grew up in religious upbringings with a judgemental, patriarchal God. In environments where we became intensely self-policing in order to avoid disapproval and punishment, because in survival mode, disapproval = death.

What if I look withinand there is nothing there?

This is the core of all my fear. And it stops me from seeing what could be on the other side of it.

What if there actually was an earthquake? I let myself really sink into that fear, and stay with it. My resistance yielded a little. Even if the worst did happen, I would be ok. This body in the tank wasn’t all of me. I sensed something dormant – huge creative reserves I have not yet tapped into. Are they really there? What will activate them?

I pictured myself floating on a beautiful amber-pink liquid – the colour of a soft sunset. I imagined my little self in the womb, about to emerge into this world. What would I want her to know? That her only ‘mission’ is to live this expression called Aleya, and let her do what she loves to do, no questions asked. Living the expression is enough. On a cosmic level, it’s doing more than she can consciously comprehend.

Will I do another float? Yes, definitely. There are many treasures in this darkness.

i want my power back

In my last post I wrote about my journey into my power centre, and how that relates to the Divine Feminine – her reemergence on planet earth, and the role I play within that.

It’s clear to me that many of us, especially women, have felt very disconnected from our solar plexus.  I myself had always written it off as having a ‘weak’ third chakra…but what was I telling myself?  That I’m not wired to be strong?  That power is for other people?

shiva and shakti, by my amazing friend sonja picard. http://www.sonjapicard.com

‘shiva and shakti’, by my amazing friend and artist sonja picard (sonjapicard.com)

On yet another walk, these insights were further intensified. (Yes, I seem to have most of my revelations on long walks, especially those along the water!)  I remember I was in a particularly twisted state at this time.  And it mostly had to do with a man.  Something this man did (or didn’t do) that day set off some major triggers, and I was sent into an emotional tailspin.

Prior to this, I’d had a very teary few days at work, for various life reasons; at some points I felt like I was one synapse away from a nervous breakdown.  My heart was beating rapidly and I felt a free-floating sense of terror and helplessness, the likes of which I had never felt before.  A feeling of nothingness, emptiness…like I was a mere shell, with no substance. I was gasping and grasping for solace in something, anything…but not finding it anywhere.

So on my walk that morning, I had the sense that everything I had once derived comfort from was gone.  I couldn’t feel God or my angels (could I ever before?), no spiritual teachings or readings were working, and there was nothing to pray to.  It was just me – and this terrified me, because it felt like there was nothing to me.

At that moment, all I could do was breathe.  On some level I understood that breathing into my belly was my only option.  It was my last resort; the one thing that just might give me relief, keep me sane.

I’d always been stubbornly resistant to deep breathing. It felt uncomfortable. I rolled my eyes when yoga teachers would go on about ‘the breath’.  It was a sensation that didn’t come easily to me, and I didn’t enjoy it.  I thought it was overrated.

But now, I strongly sensed that it was my last hope. A deep, profound knowing that my head was no longer going to give me  the solace I craved – and that it never would (if it ever did!).

As I walked, my iPod distracted me from my intense discomfort. A certain song helped me to breathe deeply.  As I did so, I felt a little spark growing in my belly. Dancing, swirling.  I don’t know if I actually felt it or visualized it, but it doesn’t matter.  My focus suddenly turned to power.  I became very aware of my personal power.

“I want my power back,” I said aloud, in a low voice, surprising myself.

uma parvati, sonja picard. www.sonjapicard.com

‘uma parvati’, sonja picard (sonjapicard.com)

And so it began.  A  two-hour  dialogue with my power.  I ‘saw’ that a tug of war had been playing out within me, for years.  Me fighting myself, my whole life.  I was ‘told’ (by my power) that the ego wants me to fight this war, so that I can be distracted, occupied, my energy drained – that is, not in my authentic power.

I understood that my authentic power wants me to surrender this war.  Not surrender it to some outside force, but to myself.  To the most wise, creative, authoritative power in me, which resides in a place my mind has little (if any) access to: my belly, my gut, my solar plexus.

The insights continued.  I realized that I’d been carrying the belief that I have to choose between power and a man.  That intimate relationships ultimately take away my power.  “I want both”, I said, again surprising myself by speaking aloud.  “I want both.  I WANT BOTH.”

It’s then that I started to really feel it – that self-love is in the belly.  That once lit, the fire grows inside, bigger and bigger, building.  It has always been there.  You choose, my power told me.  You decide.  I either claim it and direct my own life, or I don’t.

I then stated: “I am not asking permission to have my power back; I am TAKING it.”

I can’t say that I felt a strong  sensation in my belly, but my internal eyes were definitely seeing and feeling something new.  “Show me your secrets,” I asked.  “Your knowledge.  Your creation.  Your magic.  Show me how my bliss truly transforms, and enables it for others.  Show me.”

I saw how much self-doubt, fear, and insecurity I’d been carrying my whole life. And I wanted it gone in that instant.  I wanted the miracle of divine intervention, for lightning to strike my belly – zap, zap, zap – for transformation and change to occur immediately.  And my power said, Okay, it’s done.  It’s never been undone; you just keep throwing shit on it that you have to remove.

Hmmm.

In that moment I realized that my wise, all-knowing power will never allow me the relationships I most desire until I acknowledge the full extent of my power, my Divine Feminine, my love for myself.  She’s been waiting patiently, unwaveringly, feeing my pain and angst…but she won’t give in on this one.

saraswati, sonja picard. http://www.sonjapicard.com

‘saraswati’, sonja picard (sonjapicard.com)

Breathe.  Breathe.  Breathe.  Keep breathing.

I don’t have to understand ‘why’ or ‘how’. I don’t have to analyze or intellectualize my power centre and the knowing that resides there.  So many definitions of my self and spirituality have been (mental) concepts.  The time has come for communing with God through the belly.  Its fire melts away all the superfluous stuff in the background – all that is not love. I don’t have to do anything; I can enjoy this process.  All the old beliefs can be dropped, I was told.  They were never even real to begin with.

I realized that the most terrifying thing of all is not being there for myself.  Why has it been so hard to be there for myself?  To have my own back, first and foremost?

***

Why some people seem born with a strong sense of self, and not others – it doesn’t matter.  It is in everyone, to be discovered eventually.  We are all lotuses emerging from the waters.   There is no sense in thinking about what I used to be like, or what could happen in the future.  Enjoy this beautiful stage you are in now.  It will create more beauty.

I create it to share it.

Regarding the man who seems to have sparked this dialogue…even at the time I knew it wasn’t about him specifically.  But he drew my attention to something in me that was screaming for attention.  The emotional discomfort was so strong that I had no choice but to pay attention.

And I am so thankful to discover how essential it is for me to allow the power I couldn’t previously access.  And how it relates to the Divine Feminine, which is personally very important.  “No man (or woman) has the power to destroy me”, I realized with great relief. I am indestructible.  Yet I have never been more open.

I no longer accept feeling ‘gutted’ as the norm…bottomed out, hollowed out. No.  With a strong spiritual sun, spirit cannot leave me. My sun forever holds my spirit in place.

year of the jellyfish

 

jellyfish

a few years ago a relative told me i reminded her of a jellyfish.  i was confused and she explained: she saw me as translucent, a pearly bubble ready to burst with all the colour and potential and goodness inside me.  she said i couldn’t see it, but she could.  it was a sweet conversation and one i remember once in a while.

maybe it’s all the end-of-2012 talk, but lately i’m beginning to feel those colours emerging.

something has shifted. like i’m breathing a sigh of relief. like i made it to the other side of something. i don’t feel quite so intensely compressed, like i’m a tube of toothpaste and someone is trying squeeze every last bit out.   although everything looks the same, something unseen and profound feels to have taken place.

i can’t hold onto anything anymore. i can’t blame anyone anymore. i can’t make excuses.  i can’t tell the same old stories.

but instead of feeling ungrounded or anxious, i feel peace.

i know that:

-i’m not powerless.

-i don’t have ‘bad karma’.

-i’m not being punished.

-there’s nothing to feel guilty about.

-i’m not unworthy.

-it’s not about the money.

(to name a few.)

whatever i used to say to myself that stopped me from doing what i really love to do, does not work anymore.

and saying that ‘i still don’t know what i really love to do’ (my usual fallback) is also an excuse, of sorts.  maybe i don’t consciously know, but it’s there nonetheless, and moving within me.  something inside has cracked and there’s an opening…to something that’s been closed a very long time.  the hope that maybe i can create whatever i want.  maybe, just maybe, everything i’ve believed for 30+ years no longer has power over me.  it’s subtle yet undeniable.

just the act of putting pen to paper (or fingertip to key) shows that something has shifted.  why today?  why after years and years, did some part of me decide that yes, today is the day to write?

my story that’s not a story. 🙂