a brand new set of keys

In the past week, every key on my ring has changed. I have a new job and place to live, and even the lock at my parents’ place – my childhood home – has been replaced.

I can’t help but feel this is somehow metaphoric.

Those who know me well are not surprised by these life changes; my good friends find my constant activity highly amusing. Others have commented that I’ve experienced two major life stresses – moving and a new job – in a very compressed period of time. (I didn’t tell them about the relationship change too.)

The shifts have been stressful, but also exciting. And they feel different somehow; like there is new energy coming in, rather than recycling the old. In recent months, I’ve been longing for a place to truly call ‘home’. I now see that having to unexpectedly move out of my previous place several weeks ago was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to find a more sacred, soul-nourishing space.

I’ve also been feeling the call to perform work I can be proud of, something that contributes to the greater good. For many years, I spent time in long commutes to jobs that, after a short while, stopped being inspiring and stimulating. I’m currently working for an organization whose vision and mission I am passionate about, and it’s deeply satisfying to be part of something that feels historic and groundbreaking.

But within these changes, I’m ultimately craving simplicity. In a world that’s going madder and faster by the day, getting back to the basics – discovering what’s truly important – is essential for staying sane.

In synchronistic timing, during all this transition I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Kondo writes that putting one’s home in order can have dramatic, transformative effects in all areas of life. Like information overload clogging the mind, having too many possessions makes it unclear what we actually love…and so much of that extends way beyond material goods. If we don’t know what we love, how can we nurture it?

As I’ve sorted through clothes, books, papers, and miscellaneous items accumulated over the years, it’s become clear that holding on to belongings often stems from strong attachment to the past, or anxiety about the future.

And as I introduce items into my new space, I’m being very discriminating. Do I find it beautiful? Does it have some key functional purpose? Am I hesitant to let it go because I might need it someday? Will releasing it create room for something better (not necessarily a ‘thing’)?

One astrologer has referred to 2016 as the year of purification, and 2017 as the end of illusion. On a global level, it’s been said that horrific, unsettling events represent the darkness – the illusion of ego – coming to light. Will this pave the way for a golden age of humanity, as some suggest? I don’t know. There is a new age tendency to ‘acsension-ize’ things, and many ideas I once believed no longer resonate. My views on spirituality are transforming too.

Discernment, more than ever, is key. For me this means limiting my intake of the news and social media. I don’t think this is denial; it’s consciously being aware of fear propaganda and human programming. I’m taking more conscious responsibility for all my daily interactions and relationships, as this is where my real power lies.

My life experience is a projection of my inner thoughts and feelings…so if humanity truly is connected in oneness, I have faith that strengthening my piece of the hologram will have a positive ripple effect.

As I adjust to these new spaces, starting over again in many ways, all I can do is be easy on myself, trust that these changes are aligned with the greater good, and know that I am doing my best.

And enjoy opening some new doors.

when does karma become an excuse?

Karma’s been on my mind a lot lately. Through my yoga training these past few months, I’m opening to the idea of my dharma transforming my (perceptions of) karma. Given that it’s a full moon weekend, and the tail end of Mercury Retrograde, I thought I’d share this post from early in my blogging days. Though I can still relate to these words, I also see where so much has shifted. Here’s to transformation that serves our highest potential!

Sat Nam

alohaleya

The concept of karma has long played a central role in my life.  It imprinted on my psyche at a young age and has since shaped my identity.  My theories about what ‘my karma’ is have defined who I am and what I see myself as capable or deserving of in this lifetime.

Life experiences, mundane and significant, are often filtered through the lens of how they might relate to my karma. Maybe I have ‘unfinished business’ with so-and-so.  Maybe I did this to someone in a past life, so they’re doing it to me now.  Future plans and decisions are made with a cautionary inner voice: Maybe it’s not in your karma to do/have this.

Gold Parvati. Artst: Sonja Picard (www.sonjapicard.com) Gold Parvati. Artst: Sonja Picard (www.sonjapicard.com)

Where did this obsession with my karma originate? Ancestors, religion, society…an innocuous comment someone once made, which caused a fundamental rewire in my brain?

Does it…

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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 hot shadowy summer

I didn’t intend to take such a long hiatus from blogging, but it’s been that kind of summer. In my part of the world, it’s been unseasonably hot…forest fires are raging and we’ve had water restrictions for the first time since I can remember.

The weather patterns reflect what’s going on in the lives of many people I know. Powerful change – wanted or not – seems to be happening all around. What no longer works is burning right out of our experience. Personally, I feel like a completely different person since my last post, but it’s hard to explain just how. A new reality is opening up, but I don’t know what it looks like.

I am learning what it means to surrender, not just as a concept, but a practice. The theme of this summer has been: Do I really believe? Do I believe that Spirit (the Universe, God, whatever you want to call it) knows who I am, is supporting me, and actually wants me to be happy? I am seeing that I have never really trusted this to be true. And I am at a crossroads, where I can continue to doubt and attempt total control in my life, or go deeper into my relationship with Source.

Enjoying high tea, London-style. I forgot to stick my pinkie finger out!

Enjoying high tea, London-style. I forgot to stick my pinkie finger out!

I write these words from London, England. I’m travelling with my mother for a couple of weeks, visiting her side of the family, most of whom I’ve never met. I feel the seeds of this journey were planted several months ago, when I began to consciously explore my relationship with my ancestors, particularly my grandmother (my mother’s mother, who died when I was quite young). In just a few days, I’ve learned so much about family history and family members I didn’t know existed, much less felt a connection with.

Days after I arrive home from the UK, I will be moving to a nearby city and starting a new job. This was a relatively unexpected move, the logistics of which came together so swiftly that the universe must’ve conspired to ensure I couldn’t overthink it. Part of me questions my eternal restlessness, but I’m also intrigued at what lies ahead.

Several powerful experiences this summer include my Ayahuasca journey in June, attending a Teal Swan workshop in July and meeting some wonderfully kindred souls there, and reviving my dormant Kundalini Yoga practice. Kundalini Yoga always creates major change in my life when I start it up again! I can’t explain how it works (yet), only that it really, really does.

But by far the greatest transformation has come from continuing my own shadow work, sinking deeper into the memories, feelings, and judgments in my psyche and, as best I can, bringing understanding to those buried places. The summer heat has helped with this process, driving my irritation and frustration levels way up, making me uncomfortable…forcing me to face what’s underneath.

And a beautiful thing is happening. More and more I’m discovering my inner child, the joyful, exuberant little me who is feeling safer to come out of her shell (or maybe ‘prison’ is a better word). Being able to feel a growing love and compassion for her has been the greatest gift of this summer.

What’s next on the horizon? I’m envisioning a more relaxed pace of life in my new city, which hopefully includes beginning my Kundalini Yoga teacher training in the Fall. My vision is to incorporate the incredible healing powers of this ancient form of yoga into sacred circles, bringing women together in creating a new paradigm that embraces the Divine Feminine and Masculine on planet Earth. I feel ready to take this step, so we’ll see what transpires in the next few months!

I hope my WordPress friends have been navigating the changes of this intense summer with hope and trust. I know that it has been a very challenging year for many.

Happy Leo New Moon from the UK!

Aleya

 

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.

don’t hold me to these words

Shortly after publishing my last post, I took it down. I felt overexposed and, as I’ve done many times before, questioned why I put myself so ‘out there’ on this blog. (The irony that it was a post on the power of vulnerability was not lost on me.)

It happens quite often: as soon as I hit ‘publish’, I second-guess myself, or see a perspective that I didn’t before. Wait, do I really feel this way? It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve read the draft. Once published, my words seem so…final.

I’m reminded of a very powerful women’s retreat I did back in 2010. The group facilitators requested that we not hold any woman to the words or emotions she expressed over that weekend. Once the words were spoken, they were to be let go. We weren’t bound to the pain (or joy) we experienced in those moments. Though we honoured the stories we shared, we weren’t defined by them. We were allowed the freedom and ability to change.

‘technicolor parvati’ by the amazing sonja picard. see more at sonjapicard.com

At my parents’ place, in the far corner of the closet in my old bedroom, there is a box. It’s filled with my old journals, spanning ages eight through my twenties. I think about that box often, because I have no idea what to do with it. I have little desire to read any of those diaries, but I keep thinking that I someday might.

I wonder how it would feel to burn all those journals – my stories, my identity, my past. Would it be incredibly liberating, or profoundly terrifying? (Both?) I sometimes fantasize about creating a ritual fire, a sacred ceremony to release my entire past into the flames. Become a true phoenix rising from the ashes. But it seems too great a risk to take. I am protective of the younger me, and her journey. Burning that journey burns her.

Maybe that box is on my mind because blogging seems to now be my very public diary. And once again, I find myself questioning why. On two occasions I’ve deleted a post, only to re-publish it a few hours later. Why not just keep them offline, if that’s what makes me comfortable? Because deleting some of my words deletes all of them. Hiding part of me is hiding all of me…the part contains the whole.

I’m really loving Dani Shapiro’s books at the moment. I just read a wonderful passage from her memoir Devotion, in which she quotes BKS Iyengar:

The moment you say ‘I have got it,’ you have lost everything you had. As soon as something comes, you have to go one step further. Then there is evolution. The moment you say ‘I am satisfied with that,’ that means stagnation as come. That is the end of your learning; you have closed the windows of your intellect. So let me do what I cannot do, not what I can do.

Writing is my evolution. Whether for my eyes only or made public on the Internet, it takes me to new places of awareness and self-discovery. But my words are never final; they shift and evolve with me. One post always leads into the next through the thread of my consciousness. The process is addictive and irresistible.

I’m still not sure why I share that process so openly. But maybe it doesn’t matter. I remember what I learned in my recent float tank experience: living my expression, and doing what I love to do, is enough. No questions asked. My goal is to live and write with integrity in the moment, knowing that nothing is static and brand new words are always around the corner.

my new world of tweets, hoots, & loops

My first week of school is officially over and I am using this weekend (my days off are Sunday/Monday) to r-e-l-a-x. As much as I can, anyway – I do have homework!

So what’s it like to go from full-time cushy-job employment, to a student with no paycheque? I don’t know if it’s quite hit me just yet, as things have been incredibly busy since my last day of work just over a week ago. I’d had an amazing sendoff from my colleagues and friends – they really spoiled me with love, wine, and gifts (including a stunning mala bead necklace). Days later, I was sitting in my first class.

the gorgeous sunset on my last day of work, at my farewell party

the gorgeous sunset on my last day of work, at my farewell party

For my reader friends who don’t know, I quit my job and am studying Digital Communications for a few months, so that I can fully understand the realm of social media and incorporate that knowledge into a business I’m starting. Might as well put my social networking skills to good use! 😉

But that’s the thing: though I have some of these skills, there’s so much more to learn. The social media world is fast-paced and requires near-constant keeping up with…everything! And there is a LOT of it going on in my city (the birthplace of Hootsuite!).

I’m having a great time learning about it all. My brain is pretty saturated with the influx of information, but it feels good to actually be using it for something new! Already I’ve been schooled in the worlds of SEO, HTML/CSS, news releases, social media (Twitter & Hootsuite), and using Final Cut Pro and GarageBand for video promos. (Side note: how’d it take me so long to discover the joys of GarageBand?!)

I’m even learning more about our good ol’ WordPress world!

And there is more to come. It’s easy for hours to fly by, immersed in all the different platforms. I must remember to take time away from the computer every now and then. And to be ‘real’ with what I put out there, instead of adding to the noise.

***

Do I miss my old job? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some sad moments. But in those moments it’s not really the job I’m missing. It’s the comfort and the familiarity (and the paycheque!), but mostly it’s the people: my awesome, loving colleagues; the best ‘boss’ ever; even the hot Whole Foods guy I’d see most days as we ordered our morning coffees (and who I went on one date with, but that’s another post).

I know I have made the right choice, and despite the moments of discomfort in this transition, it will all work out. My mind is opened to new possibilities. I’m encountering different people every day as I walk through my city’s business district to and from school. My body is happy that it doesn’t have to sit so much. And I’m finally starting to understand Twitter!

Most importantly, now that I’ve taken this leap, I’m inspired to think bigger and greater for my future creations. Why not? There is nothing to lose in dreaming big.

#peaceout #findmeontwitter #alohaleya