a compassionate february

I have been waiting for February. February feels like fresh air and moving forward. Not ‘moving forward’ as in doing a bunch of things; in fact, as I write these words, I feel utterly exhausted. I can barely grasp the gravity of what’s happening in the U.S., and the tragedy of the Quebec mosque shootings. It’s all slammed me in a way I wasn’t expecting.

Which is why I’m taking extra care to be aware of, and conserve, my energy as much as possible. 2016 brought into sharp focus the consequences of not honouring my energy. So much of my attention was directed outward, and I felt the severe financial, emotional, and spiritual impact. What I thought made me feel good was actually draining my life force, slowly but surely. By the end of 2016, I was running on empty.

It’s hard to imagine 2017 being more intense than last year – but it likely will be. How are we going to handle it? I don’t tune in to social media or the news, but that’s not necessarily the solution. This isn’t a time to bury my head in the sand. (It wouldn’t work anyway; I’d still feel what’s going on globally. We are interconnected.)

purple-tulips

January was about wrapping up loose ends and completing, or moving forward with, projects and commitments I’d procrastinated on. At times it felt like a bit of a slog…but I’m glad I took care of these things, because the more I clear the energetic cobwebs, the greater space I have within. And the better equipped I am to handle what 2017 will bring. The good, the bad, and the ugly/beautiful.

On another note – or maybe it’s completely related – I recently attended some mental health training sessions as part of my new job. Though I registered in these courses to assist those I work with, the training unexpectedly helped me on a very personal level. Not only did I come away with a greater empathy and understanding for those with mental health issues, I felt self-compassion and insight into my own journey.

We never know what’s going on in someone’s interior world. Our assumptions, wounds, and projections are so strong that we can completely miss the humanity in another (and in ourselves). These past few weeks I’ve realized that I often assume others are ‘okay’, when maybe they’re really not. This all feels very timely and relevant to the world stage.

Many of us are grieving. Collective healing begins with self-compassion; when we acknowledge our own vulnerability, we recognize it in those around us. Compassion dissolves our hardened walls. When we cut out the superfluous ’stuff’ of our lives, we draw on our inner resources and share them with others. We become creative in totally new ways…creative with people, love, and relationships. We become leaders in our own lives.

Reaching out to others is courageous; it’s much more comfortable to stay in our cozy little spaces. But withdrawal and isolation won’t work. Our survival as a species – if that’s what we want – hinges on the awareness that we need each other, now more than ever. Baby steps quickly become leaps and bounds. Compassion is the way.

I wish everyone a peaceful February.

milestone: teaching my first yoga class

My Kundalini Yoga practicum – teaching a ‘real’ class at our studio – took place last week. All trainees in my program taught over a 3-day Yoga-thon, me being placed in what I considered the least desirable spot – late Sunday afternoon. As someone who likes to get things over with, it was somewhat agonizing to wait around all weekend for my class to begin!

On one level, I wasn’t at all nervous about teaching. There was nothing to fear; I’d done all I could to prepare and I knew I’d be in a supportive environment. I didn’t have to be perfect. I’d never done this before!

But on another level, there was everything to fear. I could sense my ego kicking into overdrive, anticipating all that could go wrong. I knew the havoc this could wreak, so I took advantage of my extra time that Sunday morning and let myself fully feel all my nerves and anxiety. As if I had an internal dial, I turned all the uncomfortable sensations up to ‘Intense’.

Yup, I look pretty happy up there!

Yup, I look pretty happy up there!

The usual suspects turned up. Humiliation. What if I panicked on the spot, forgetting everything I’d memorized, and getting my notes all mixed up? Pride. I was afraid of losing face. I feared the pity of others – or their secret satisfaction – if I failed. (That’s a fun one to admit!) Shame. I feared being exposed as a fraud, an imposter. The list goes on. Ultimately, I feared failing God.

I knew this wasn’t just about the yoga class. These fears are deeply embedded in the human psyche. In such states we can’t access the knowing that we are eternal and infinite, fundamentally unaffected by whatever ego construes as danger. I prayed for humility, trust, self-compassion…and to have fun!

In true Mercury Retrograde fashion, there was an element of ‘expect the unexpected’. The trainee scheduled before me had become ill, and I was asked to teach her class as well. Two classes in a row?! I did not see that coming. I swear I could hear Yogi Bhajan chuckling in the ethers. Surrender.

And – things went well. It was a wee bit distracting to have my lead trainer evaluating me in the back of the room, taking copious notes throughout both classes…but the time flew by and I was provided wonderful feedback that bolstered my confidence and helped me see where I can improve. To be honest, once I got up there, things felt quite un-dramatic! I don’t recall my heart pounding as furiously as it had during my practice sessions. Yes, there were nerves – but it mostly felt comfortable and natural.

That’s not say it wasn’t a big deal. I’d accomplished a goal I’d dreamed about for years. This was a huge step!

Some passions are so obvious that we’re certain of them from a young age. Others, like my yoga journey, are more subtle and reveal themselves over time. Those dreams often take years of cultivation before they germinate. Even if feels like ‘nothing’s happening’, on some level, we know exactly what we’re doing. The dream itself wants to ensure we’re ready to receive and take good care of it. It deserves the best ‘us’ we can bring to it. And so, we have to prepare.

I’m not quite finished my training – I still have a final exam and another training session to complete – but regardless of what my Kundalini future brings, in my book, I’ve already succeeded.

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On another note, I LOVE that this is my 108th post! 108 is a sacred number in yogic tradition, and this seems like a fitting opportunity to thank everyone who reads, follows, and comments on this blog. It is such a blessing to connect with, and learn from, you all. Thank you!

Sat Nam. Truth is my identity.

feel it all

I love these words. So often we put pressure on ourselves to be positive and think happy thoughts when we really don’t feel that way. Being a human being on this planet means feeling the full spectrum of emotions available to us. This is what makes us multi-dimensional, authentic, complex, wise, compassionate, and oh yes – soooo much more interesting.

Namaste.

embracing the discomfort zone

Something very unexpected happened at work a few days ago.  I was asked to co-host our department’s upcoming annual Arts Gala.

I think the first words out of my mouth were, “I’m way too shy to do something like that.”  But before I even finished the sentence, I knew it wasn’t true.

I’m not shy.  I may have been shy when I was six years old, but that was a long time ago.  Continuing to impose that label on myself, as an adult, keeps me stuck in a limited world where I don’t grow and stretch beyond my comfort zone.

For the past few days I’ve been mulling this proposal over.  But there’s nothing to mull.  I know I have to do this.

Oh shit…I have to do this.

risky business

risky business

I’ve never even hosted a dinner party, let alone a gala.  All the horrible scenarios have flashed through my mind: what if my voice is shaky, what if I flub up my words, what if I freeze, what if I sweat profusely?  What if I can’t hack it, what if people laugh at me?  What if I make a complete fool of myself and am embarrassed forever and can’t ever show my face at work again?

Or…

What if I love it?  What if I get really excited, and come alive speaking in front of a crowd?  What if I discover a talent I never knew existed?   What if it allows me to envision a whole new set of possibilities for myself?  What if it’s fun?

I’ve been asking for change and expansion, and here I’ve been delivered a (seemingly) out of the blue opportunity to do something completely different from the norm.  Perhaps the universe is in fact listening, and bringing to me exactly what I seek – albeit not in the way I would have pictured. (But then, isn’t that often the way?)

The invitation to co-host also makes me see how our self-perceptions can be so skewed in relation to how others see us. I often feel a bit awkward and uneasy in a crowd.  My colleagues perceive something else; I was approached because they agreed I would be “amazing” for the gig.

Others really do see in us what we can’t see in ourselves.  The beauty, potential, and possibilities.  I am very appreciative and grateful for this chance to see it for myself.

I haven’t officially said yes, but I’m going to.  I want to rise to the challenge of doing something that scares me.  I need to know – for myself – that when I’m asking for change and growth, I really mean it.  That I’m not going to deny the opportunity for metamorphosis when it presents itself.  If I wait till I’m actually comfortable with this, I’ll be waiting forever.

‘No’ is just not an option at this point.  I’m far too intrigued by what’s on the other side of that fear.