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.

***

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.

blog? what blog?

Life looks very different than it did just a few short months ago. Since wrapping up my job in September, things seem to be changing – internally and externally – at warp speed.

I have to say that these last weeks of 2014 have been some of the most eye-opening and emotionally intense in recent years.  I completed a school program, cleaned up messes and restored integrity with loved ones (this seems to be ongoing!), had an old flame contact me after years of distance, landed part-time work in a completely new field, started my own business with a dear friend, and met some amazing people who will undoubtedly play a significant role in 2015.

In all this, blogging took a backseat. And I’ve missed it!

Image courtesy of Vaughan Lewis

Image courtesy of Vaughan Lewis.

I remember sensing that once I quit my job, other aspects of my life would also change. And I don’t mean this on a purely physical level. Giving up my easy, cushy 9-5 was telling the universe that I trusted there is something more to life than the routine I’d become so accustomed to. It was saying – ‘I may be crazy, but I’m willing to take that risk. What could life really be like?’

I won’t lie that for the first few weeks after quitting, I was seriously second-guessing my decision. I realized that I deeply missed the structure my job provided.  Not the actual work, but having somewhere to go. My walks to and from work, and the daily coffee joint with the other ‘regulars’. Socializing with my friends and colleagues. Feeling like I was contributing to something.

I’m now appreciating the total responsibility I have for creating my entire life. It’s the first time in many years where it’s 100% up to me to plan my day.  I miss the structure of my old job? Well then, I must implement my own structure. It’s really that simple. (It’s our stories that make things complicated!)

Starting my own business has brought up a lot of stuff – excitement, fear, creativity, and doubt, to name a few.  But at this point there is no turning back. There’s a sense of urgency in the air and I know many of us are feeling it. Time is speeding up, and one year could easily turn into five.

If not now, then when? How do I want to design my life? And what am I actually doing to create that? In these last few weeks I’ve had to be really honest with myself about my procrastination tendencies…well, that’s another post. Suffice it to say that the universe supports me, but it’s not just going to pick me up and plop me into a new life without any action on my part. I need to give it something to work with! This is the power we have as creators. This is where our mettle is tested. Where I walk my talk.

***

On a different note, when I was in Bologna in 2013 I met a lovely couple from my hometown, and since we’d travelled to the same places in Italy, they kindly sent me their beautiful photos. Just recently I received a Christmas greeting from them.  I was immediately drawn to one of the pictures attached.  It was taken in Tulum, Mexico at a Catholic church on December 12, the Dìa de la Virgen de Guadaloupe.  There is a whole history behind the association of Mexican Catholicism and Aboriginal spirituality, but I personally was transfixed by the image of the mother and daughter, and the colours and feathers. To me the photo symbolizes the passing down of feminine knowledge and the role of the divine feminine on planet earth at this time. I knew there was a message for me here. And it has something to do with 2015.

With that I will say ciao – and that it’s good to be back! Wishing everyone a love-filled, creative, and inspiring new year.

 

 

 

 

not quitting my day job

If you’d told me a month ago that I would make the decision to stay at my job, I would have thought…there’s no possible way.

But what can I say?  Life is continually allowing me to refine my desires, and I’m just going with what feels right.

A little background: I’ve been working in administration for several years and, particularly in the last few months, have felt the strong desire to move on to employment that is more aligned with my passions and creative interests.  To that end, a few weeks ago I gave my official notice at work, and began arranging an upcoming trip to Europe.

finding the balance...

finding the balance…

I didn’t really have a plan in place, except to enjoy the art, culture, and wine of Italy, and let inspiration find me.  And, until recently, I felt relieved with my decision.  I felt quite proud for taking a leap into the unknown, and following my dreams.  For saying ‘yes’ to adventure and freedom and wanderlust. (Let’s face it, that sounds pretty cool.)

I felt happy that I wouldn’t have to deal with the same old work scenarios, the same old dynamics, the same old…sameness of everything.

But as the weeks flew by, uncertainty crept in. Instead of feeling sustained excitement and adventure, I felt uneasy.  Was this too much change?  What are my dreams?  Will I be able to pursue them fully, and enjoy Europe, if I am stressed about finances and not having a job to return to?

I know many of us are facing ambivalence about our work.  How do we feel fulfilled and inspired in a career that, at times, feels like it’s sucking the soul right out of us?  How do we know when we’re finally done, that the universe is calling us to something higher?  When do we stay put, and when do we move on?

Having quit my job, I began to see more clearly, and deeply appreciate, its many positive aspects (including the best co-workers ever).  I realized that I’d been getting very comfortable with what I had, and taking much for granted.

I’d become so accustomed to focusing on the ‘negatives’ that I allowed them to completely eclipse the positives.

I started to observe: in which aspects of my job do I feel the most resistance, and how does this resistance play out in other areas of my life?  If I can transform that root resistance, will my experience of my job change?

For example, one of my beliefs is that I have no personal connection to the work I perform.  While this is somewhat true, I’ve put a lot of emphasis on this thought-form, and thus it has become a Big Problem.  I have over-identified with my job, allowing it to be reflective of who I am, when it is not at all Who I Really Am.  Moreover, I’ve felt that people are judging me for the ‘boring’ work that I do…when in reality it’s mostly me judging myself.  (There’s that ego again.)

I’ve also observed that I get emotionally triggered by certain people and interactions at work.  (Who can’t relate to that!?)  But interactions that push my buttons will follow me throughout my life, and in all scenarios, if I don’t find a way deal with them effectively, and in a way that feels good and empowering to me.

Every relationship is an opportunity to expand, and work peeps are no exception.  What energy/vibration/intention am I bringing to each interaction?  I’m going to be more diligent with this awareness, and I’m intrigued by the transformation that will undoubtedly occur.

I’ve also been carrying the mindset that I don’t love my job.  But the fact is, there are a lot of little things I do love about it.  And, in providing a foundation of stability, it enables me to do those things I truly love to do, even if I’m not doing them while physically at my desk.  It’s all about my own perspective.

Abraham-Hicks would advise that I continue to focus on these positive aspects, to get into a consistent state of gratitude that will align me with even more things to feel good about.  I have been practicing this in the last couple of months, and can honestly say that my life experience has changed for the better.  Things are happening – with my writing, with my trip, with a couple cool creative side projects I’ve been approached to work on.

do you think they ask themselves so many questions?

do you think they ask themselves so many questions?

So where does that leave my plan to ditch everything and hang out in Europe for a while?  I spoke with my employer and they were willing to arrange a two-month leave for me.  So instead of quitting outright, I’ll go on my trip and return to my job in the Fall.

This feels really good to me.  Perhaps I just need a grand adventure, something totally different, to reboot my system.  And I can then revisit matters when I’m back, with a fresh perspective. (Unless, of course, a handsome Italian whisks me away on his Vespa, which quite a few people think might happen…)

I really admire those that courageously pursue their dreams and, to be completely honest here, a small part of me feels like I’ve reneged on a promise I made to myself to do the same.  That little voice can’t help but wonder if my recent uncertainty reflects a lack of trust, a latent belief that I’m not worthy or capable of creating the life of my dreams. That by staying where I am (for the time being), I’m sending the message to the universe that I’m not serious about pursuing those dreams.

But of course that’s not my intent.  Let me be clear: my intent is to reframe my current situation (with gratitude), so that it allows the nurturing of my dreams – which are still evolving.  This is called appreciating, and maximizing, the best of both worlds.

Ultimately I am very grateful to have options to change things around if they’re not feeling right.  And as I tweak my desires, the universe responds with the support I need to make it happen.  I am the sole designer of my life, and I have complete creative control.

***

I’m off to a weekend workshop in beautiful Whistler, BC and am looking forward to the summer mountain air and connecting with kindred spirits, for what will likely be a very transformational couple of days. I’m sure I will glean some further insights there. 😉

Namaste.

travelling to new places

It seems these days that the universe is presenting me with numerous opportunities to break out of my usual routine and comfort zone.  And as uncomfortable as it can be, I know that I’ve asked for it. So I’m going with it.

First, I booked my flight to Europe.  I’m still in mild shock that I made, and acted upon, the decision so quickly.  If you’d told me a week ago that I’d be planning a trip to Italy instead of applying for a great job and signing my apartment lease, I wouldn’t have believed you. (Okay, I might have believed you, but it would be with big surprise.)

My plans changed fast, but my intuition was telling me not to over-think things. I’m sure the longer I would have waited, the more reasons I’d find to talk myself out of it.

me and my co-host, who doesn't mind being on my blog

me and my co-host, who doesn’t mind being on my blog

Also, a few nights ago I really stepped out of my comfort zone in co-hosting my work’s annual Arts Gala.  This was an entirely new thing for me; my previous public speaking was limited to class presentations in university.  When I was approached in April to host this event, I immediately knew that, despite my ‘shyness’ and lack of experience, I had to say Yes.

I’m becoming more aware that if I want real growth in my life – and by ‘growth’ I mean allowing more opportunities for joy – I need to try those things that I would normally avoid doing.  I’m also learning that stretching out of my comfort zone doesn’t mean pushing myself unnecessarily hard, or having to ‘prove’ something to anyone (myself included).

It’s about breaking out of my own limiting self-perceptions, as an act of self-love.  It is allowing the possibility of more personal expansion.  And it is experiencing the amazing feeling of seeing myself in a new light.

And the gig was fun!  I was nervous going into it, but instead of over-identifying with that, I tried to channel as much of it as possible into the energy of excitement.  And though there were a few hiccups – aren’t there always? – overall it was an awesome experience, and one that I know will positively impact other aspects of my life.

Another thing I realized from this experience is that when people tell you they see something positive in you – something you don’t see – believe them.  I would not have pictured myself as an event emcee if my colleagues hadn’t asked me to do it.  It’s because I trusted their positive viewpoint that I was able to take that leap.  We all have blind spots and sometimes – often actually – we need others to show us what we can’t see in ourselves.

***

So, life has been a bit of a whirlwind and now that I’m not stressing about speaking in front of a large group of people, I can more fully concentrate on what’s ahead.  The trip is booked, and the details will reveal themselves as I continue to fine-tune the balance of planning and surrender – which will be especially necessary during my travels.

Mostly, I must be vigilant in not identifying with the feelings and opinions of those who don’t understand my decision.  I don’t have a job lined upon my return.  I don’t yet know how long I’ll be gone for; could be three weeks or three months.  I don’t know where I’ll live when I get back.  (I could go on…)

But so what?  Things will work out.  They always do.  There will always be jobs.  There will always be somewhere to live.  There will always be excuses to not do things.

There is nothing to wait for, and there is no more ‘work’ – internal and external – to be done.  I’m trusting the flow and am in gratitude for the ride.

italy won’t go away

I was all set to work on my resume tonight.  Last week I found a job posting within a local organization I’ve always admired, and my plan was to devote a good chunk of time to writing a brilliant cover letter that would be sure to land me an interview.

But instead I am blogging.

An innocent lunch with a dear friend has thwarted my well-intentioned plans.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about my little obsession with Italy.  I’d been taking an Italian language class at the time, and dreaming of European travels.  The idea of an overseas adventure felt amazing; a vision I could really make happen.

yup, it's italian day

yup, it’s italian day

But in the weeks following, the enthusiasm slowly dissipated.  I began to question my dream: is it really wise to travel when I don’t have the finances to do so?  Shouldn’t I just try to make things work in my city by finding a more meaningful job and fun things to do?  Am I just looking to escape some inner discomfort and boredom?

And to be honest, the unexpected happened.  I’ve started to see my city with new eyes.  I feel myself appreciating its beauty even more.  I’ve become hopeful and excited about work opportunities and forging new personal and professional connections.

For the first time in a long time, I’ve felt at peace with the idea of maintaining my roots here.  Just this past week, I’ve found a new place to live, something I was stressing about.  All this has left me feeling pretty optimistic.

Europe’s distance, geographically and otherwise, seemed fine with me.

Until I met W. for lunch.

W. informed me that she is travelling to Europe at the end of the summer, around the time I finish up my job.  Not only that, she’s going to Italy.  Not only that, she wants to be there with a friend.  Not only that, a spiritually-minded friend (who also likes to party once in a while).

All of a sudden, Italy was back.  Closer than ever.

I had chills the entire time, and so did W.  (And we both knew what that means.)

During our conversation, I remembered Abraham-Hicks’s concept of ‘the grid’, which is basically the art of coming into alignment with the essence of that which we desire.  That is, focusing more on the feeling of having/living our desire(s), rather than the details of how to acquire it.

When we overly focus on the details, things can feel forced and stressful, creating inner resistance.  It’s then challenging to find the flow in life, and we feel stuck. At that point we can choose to let it go, allowing Source/Spirit to bring it back to us when we’re more aligned (relaxed).

The desire doesn’t disappear.  It circulates.  Perhaps my dream of Italy was merely put on hold, to allow details of the grid – which I see as a ‘framework’ or ‘blueprint’ – to fill in. (In this case, through my friend W.).

I left our lunch walking a little taller, a spring in my step (though that could’ve been the green juice I’d just consumed).  But I had the thought:  if I am meant to go to Europe, why are aspects of staying in my city coming together so easily?

Maybe I need to first be at peace with where I am now, before anything else can happen.  And maybe there is no ‘meant to’ anyway.  We are masters of creation.  What we put our attention on, what we are aligned with, will come to fruition.  It’s not that one choice is more ‘right’ than the other; they are just different, and will lead to different experiences.  At this crossroads, I choose which path to travel.

So which choice feels better to me?  Which feels more exciting, more intriguing, puts a smile on my face, feels a little like magic?

It’s decision time.

Which means it’s time to be still, to breathe, to meditate, to be excited, to feel that excitement in my heart, and trust that whatever transpires will be physically aligned with that.  From that place, I win.

***

You know the really funny thing?  My next stop after lunch was meeting my folks in town for the city’s annual ‘Italian Days’ celebration.

Spirit has such a great sense of humour.

I am listening.

am i ready for the life of my dreams?

A recent visit with my chiropractor unexpectedly morphed into an intense life-coaching session.  It was my first appointment with this particular chiro, and though I knew he leaned towards the spiritual/energetic, little did I know he was a life coach, or that I’d leave our meeting with much more than an adjusted spine.

Through the course of our 40 minutes together, I became aware that as much as I feel I’m taking the steps to create the life I truly want, another part of me appears to be in deep resistance to this, and the tension is showing up in my body (most conspicuously in the form of clenched teeth and neck pain).

dreaming lakshmi, sonja picard (sonjapicard.com)

dreaming lakshmi, sonja picard (sonjapicard.com)

I’ve been really sitting with this for the past few weeks.  Yes, I am ready for change.   But am I really excited about it?  Is there passion and energy behind my decision to open myself up to new adventures, find meaningful employment, learn new skills, and make new connections?  Or is this process marked by underlying ambivalence?

It has become clear that I’ve been holding on to a lot of restrictive and limiting beliefs that aren’t supporting me on my quest for a life with more meaning, freedom, trust, surrender, and abundance.

My ego is all-to-happy to supply a list of reasons for why my dreams can’t be fulfilled.   And by ego, I mean the energy of fear (and all that stems from it), which has infiltrated my individual – and our collective – psyche.

Some of the ego’s incessant chatter sounds like this:

  • You don’t even know what your dream/passion is.  How can you possibly hope to achieve it?
  • You can’t get paid for the things you love to do.
  • Life is hard…it is not meaningful without struggle and suffering.
  • You need lots of money for this.
  • Living your dreams is such a self-indulgent, western concept.  Why not be satisfied with all you already have?  (My ego is particularly fond of this one!)
  • It’s not in your karma.
  • There’s not enough to go around.
  • What if you fail?  What if you’re just an imposter?  What if people laugh at you or (worse?) feel sorry for you?

The list could go on and on, if I let it.  Because that’s how the ego works.  It wants us to feel bogged down and overwhelmed, so that we give up before we even try.

The ego is relentless and insidious and its job is to make sure we don’t excel and discover our magnificence and greatness, i.e., Who We Really Are.  It wants us to stay small.

It has been said that the ego is useful in that it protects us, gives us boundaries.  But I don’t know about that.  Protect us from what, exactly?   Danger, harm, being taken advantage of?   I personally would much rather rely on my intuition, self-love, and an implicit sense of trust.  Ego is all about fear, fear, fear.

I don’t want to focus on these beliefs as problems (because the ego loves problems!), so much as become more vigilant and aware of the dark corners in which they’re hiding.  I need to turn the light on, name them, call them out, so that they’re not subconsciously tripping me up and causing self-sabotage in its many forms.

Creating the life of one’s dreams can’t be accomplished merely through thinking the ‘right’ thoughts and saying positive affirmations, and long-held beliefs can’t be cleared if we’re totally unaware of their existence.  If we carry around deep beliefs that fundamentally contradict our positive words, we will manifest conflict.  And for me, this was showing up in my body.

So now the most important question becomes: if these beliefs are not my true, authentic nature, am I truly ready to let them go?  I know that it requires a whole new set of (more fun) rules to play by.  I also know that I have no other option.

I’m here for beauty, love, and expansion.  Restriction and limitation simply do not fit into that picture.

keeping my words sacred

A couple of nights ago I went to a book launch party at the invite of a dear friend who wrote one of the chapters.  The book, The Thought That Changed My Life, features 52 authors recounting, as you might imagine, the one thought that changed their lives.  I have not yet read the book but after hearing some of the authors speak I am really looking forward to doing so (I got a free copy, yay!), as it was hugely inspiring and gave me further insight into the power of the mind, words, and thoughts.

As I have been writing about in this blog, a couple of months ago I decided to leave my job and I will be wrapping it up in the coming months.  As yet, there is no real plan in place.  I’ve realized in this process that I have to be very discerning as to who I reveal this information to.  Some people are highly supportive and excited for me, while others can’t imagine leaving a job without having something else solidified to take its place.  The latter group would probably feel it’s unwise and impractical – not to mention scary – to do such a thing.

There seems to be a general feeling among my circle of friends that the old way of doing things doesn’t work anymore, but the new way hasn’t fully formed yet.  This can lend to a sense of self-doubt about our decisions to leave jobs or cities that aren’t resonating with us anymore.  Which brings me back to my point about being discerning about who I share my intentions with.  I can be quite susceptible to the fears and doubts of others, which of course have nothing to do with me – unless I internalize them as my own. (Then again, in some cases it could be that I’m projecting my own self-doubt onto others, and interpreting their reactions through that highly questionable filter.)

The funny thing is, I often know better – I find myself sharing my thoughts and words with people who I know will not be supportive or encouraging, and who would not do the same themselves.  Why do I set myself up for that?  Many people will not take a risk or step into the unknown.  And there’s nothing really wrong with that – everyone has their own unique circumstances – but I always feel slightly bad after such an interaction.  Not ‘guilty’ bad; more that I’ve diluted something that is precious and sacred.  That I’ve wasted my words…words which represent the energy of what’s going on in my heart.   And then I have to get myself to a place where I feel ‘right’ and centred again.

crystal in sand in varkala beach, india

crystal in sand in varkala beach, india

I want to me more conscious and respectful of my desires, and speak of them only with people and in situations where they will be nourished.  I want to treat them with more care and reverence.

I’m in transition: experiencing a tenuous, raw space between my head and my heart, and I need to do all that I can do to move in the direction of my heart. So that living from there feels more natural.

The trouble is, the heart’s signs aren’t as easy to read when one has been living in their head for most of their life!  Thus I really appreciated being among such an inspiring group of people at the book launch.  I shared with a few of them where I’m at in my life, and I received nothing but support in my decision and ability to say ‘I don’t know what’s around the corner, but I know I can’t do this anymore’.  One of the authors asked what my dream in life is – something I’ve been asked numerous times before, always to space out and stammer something about not knowing, usually with a slight deer-caught-in-headlights expression.  I found myself about to do that again, but paused to think about how I really wanted to respond to that.

It is time that I let myself fully dream.  There’s always been a hesitancy with the dreaming…do i dare?…I hold my breath, and don’t allow it fully into my being.  So it doesn’t have a chance to make itself known to me, let alone express itself.

My head (and body) has long echoed with all the people and voices and social constructs and mass thought-forms that tell me why I can’t have, and live, my dream (and their reasons are endless).  But that’s ok and I’ve learned that resisting those voices doesn’t work for me.  My friend Sadee Whip mentioned the idea of spaciousness a few weeks ago, and I’ve been contemplating and feeling it ever since – that my true, essential nature wants to expand to include new ways of being, rather than use its energy to resist the old ways (and thus constrict myself).

So that’s the thought that’s currently changing my life.  I’m allowed to dream, with no limits to my imagination, and open myself up to whatever wonders dreaming lets in.

I think I just felt my heart smile.