Work Aparent

I listen to my grown kids talk about their professions these days and wonder… will they ever find a profession they are passionate about? Is that even a thing anymore? You hear lots of stats that say we will change professions at least 4-5 times or more. I chatted a-bit with my daughter. She is thinking about making a change. After so much education involved in professions are we brave enough to walk away from the money and security to pursue something different? Do we owe it to ourselves to try? She said she is thinking about stopping renting her “self” out for labour. Hah, what a great way to put it. We all got to make a living but do we all get to make the most out of life? Someone mentioned universal income to me the other day. Should we have a society that pays us not to work when we chose not too? The world is such a different place these days. Maybe this is part of the shift and trend in thought? Time will tell.

As a parent, I have changed my views of traditional work theories for my kids. I have changed. Don’t just put your head down and do what pays your bills. Find something that gives you a sense of moving forward. Be brave and able to pivot even if you feel that you owe your profession something of yourself. You don’t, in fact the more the shift and change the more valuable you become to any company worth exploring.

Coming Home

Kootenay Lake at sunset

Love surrounds us, peace surrounds us ,anyday, all the time…

I am back home now in Alberta. It was emotional to say “goodbye” to the “humans of the Yasodhara Ashram”. The last couple of days there, I kept getting the question asked “how do you feel?”. I wasn’t sure. The old me would have responded quickly with “I am fine” or “I am good” now?

I am that and I am more.

One of the traditions on your last day is to get up and say a few words at satsang. I don’t recall all I said though I do remember this part. I came as a guest to the ashram. In my interview I stated that I was looking for community. I had no real idea of how much I had missed belonging to a group of some sort. The drum circle hadn’t meant for over a year nor had I attended any meditations. Even work hadn’t had an in-person event for quite some time. Humans are meant to be together. We thrive when we feel like we belong, we matter. I left the ashram with a sense of leaving home. As the karma yogis helped me to pack my stuff into my sisters vehicle, I was overwhelmed with gratitude, love and support. 

I take with me the timeless teachings, the tools and the knowledge that I can sustain my practice anywhere and at any time. The wisdom is meant to be used every day, all the time it surrounds us in light.

Would I go back? Yes, no hesitation there. I know I have a life here at home and a husband and family who need me. I also know that, in order to help others, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. 2 months seems like a drop in the bucket for time. It goes by too quickly. You barely start to learn who you have been before you understand who you are.

I intend to stay in contact with those that still live there and continue my karma yoga virtually at home. As someone said to me while I was there “you can check out anytime but you can never leave…lol”

If you are exploring the possibility of this type of experience. Do it! I know we all are hesitant to go anywhere or do anything during this pandemic world we live in now. I also know that we are all craving community and human interactions.

Check out Yasodhara programs at yasodhara.org or email me or comment here if you want to ask me questions about my stay or what I took away from the experience.

The Empty Pool, The Snake Charmer & The Cobra

The practice of dream yoga

March 11, 2021

I am sitting in an empty pool in lotus pose. I notice a snake charmer in the distance and he is working with a cobra. I can’t make out his facial features or too much about his physical characteristics. His being is blurry. The snake, however, is quite clear and vibrant HD quality. The snake comes towards me and I keep expecting the snake charmer to call it back. This doesn’t happen. Soon the cobra is raising up right in front of me. I keep expecting the snake charmer to do something but he is silent. The reptile presses its snout into my cheek. I feel the pressure and become terrified that it’s going to bite me. It puts more force behind the action. I try to jerk back but realize the response will get me killed. The snake has poisonous venom leaking from its mouth on my cheek. I am frozen in place. I hear the snake charmer in the distance speak in a quiet tone. “Breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out”. It’s all I have right now so I start to control my inhalation and exhalation based on his advice. Soon, I start to calm and the snake eases up a bit on the pressing. I feel that as long as I stay calm and control my breathing I will live through this experience. The cobra loses interest and backs away. I watch as it slithers into a crack in the pool. I feel it hasn’t completely gone just given me some distance for now.

I don’t recall a lot of my dreams and yet, since coming to the ashram I have started to have more of them that are coming to the surface. Last week we started in a workshop series on interpreting our dreams, their symbols and sage advice they can give us. We were given some instructions on how to set up an environment around us to prepare our sleeping area to best encourage dreams to occur, capture and recall the details and then think about the events that lead up to the content of the dream. Once the dream has been recorded in as much detail as possible, you can start to work with its message and symbolism.

We were asked, in the workshop, to pick three symbols in the dream to work with. I chose the pool, the snake charmer and the cobra. The next exercise was to try and define what each of those symbols could represent to you. Our dream language can be quite different than our reality. Objects, words, colors, tones are not necessarily what they seem or are they literal in their use within the dreamscape journey.

Interpreting my dream

What was occurring that led to the dream? 

The day before the dream I went to a Hawtha yoga class. I was feeling like I might never be able to do the poses in the limber way of some of the others in the class. My body is stiff and tight and resists the stretches every chance it gets. There are many reasons for me being at the ashram some of which are because I am out of shape and in need of a regular routine of exercise, clean eating and living. I lack “know how” and discipline with my spiritual practices and I have been trying to create habits that will help me to sustain my growth after I leave here. I have been feeling very supported, encouraged and reminded of the benefits of establishing positive routines, rituals and habits.

Initial Thoughts About The Symbols

To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to make of the dream at first. It was short and to the point and I didn’t think it was very significant other than reminding me of my lack of flexibility in the cobra pose. As I worked with sequences, chanted and meditated on possible messages a theme started to appear. It took several tries and some discussion with others to help me realize the potential learnings my subconscious was giving me. 

The Empty Pool

A pool is a confined space. It holds fluid. You can become weightless once it’s filled with liquid. It’s meant to be used to exercise the body. It’s relaxing,comforting and a safe space. An empty pool can mean “potential”, a controlled space that contains a substance that normally wouldn’t be easy to keep for long in one place. At least long enough for it to be effective. I started to think about the ashram and how it can be compared to an empty pool for me. I have many options as to what I can fill my “pool” with while I am here. 

The Snake Charmer

Why is this person blurry? I think it’s a man but not really sure as I can’t make out any details of the figures appearance. I get the vibe that it’s unsure of its ability to control the snake. I am irritated by the lack of confidence and feel that the person could try harder to help me. They only become useful when the threat gets to a point of crisis. The snake is about to kill me and then I hear the voice to breath. This symbol I got wrong a few times before I started to zero in on understanding what this could mean. My yoga practices has been a hobby in the past. Something I dabbled with like so many other things. I know a little about a lot of stuff. I lack confidence to help myself sometimes out of everyday challenges. In a crisis though, I come to life and I am able to manage my way through. My practice is the snake charmer, they are vague and need commitment and regularity to become more effective.  

The Cobra

The snake is pressing hard into my cheek. What am I supposed to face that I am not? On a walk with my guide, we talk about the dream and the cobra pressing me hard. I am very afraid. She asks me “How do I feel about facing my fears?” The light goes on in my head. Facing my fears. The anxiety is real, the F.E.A.R.- false expectations appearing real, has been with me for a long time. I have a safe space, I have the start of a practice that can help me with anything I chose to use it for. I have the opportunity to face my fears head on and learn what is real and what is false about them.

Now, the conclusion to this dream sequence. What can I do with this message? Like life, interpreting what our inner self is pushing up to the surface is tricky and takes patience, time and determination. Swami Radha, who founded the ashram, has a useful book called “Realities Of The Dreaming Mind, The Practice Of Dream Yoga”. In the book, it gives a practice to follow and details of how to start the flow of information from our inner guru.

Dream yoga opens up the opportunities for us to speak with the guru within us. I want to continue this practice as well as others that are pouring into my pool. They keep me resilient and buoyant on my life journey. I know that cobra will always be present somewhere and yet, I am less afraid when it comes into view. My inner snake charmer is growing in confidence and clarity of self and tools associated with its craft.

Namaste

W.A.I.T.

There is a badge you can get in the gift shop here at the ashram. It says Speech Awareness on it. Silence and speech awareness are part of the daily practice here. Meals are taken in silence and karma yoga is practiced with limited chatting if possible. At first, I was a bit taken back by not being encouraged to talk while we work. I then started to read the Kundalini writings.

Why do I need to talk? Is there a purpose to my words or am I enamoured with my own voice? Hmmm. The text talks about those that feel the need to fill the silence with chatter and equates the behaviour to being an infant or full of self importance.

Why Am I Talking? W.A.I.T for short. For many years I have got paid to talk it’s a hard habit to break. My daughter and I took a rode trip from Vancouver to Seattle and back one time. On the way back, she told me I talk too much. I love my daughters directness. We drove in silence for a while and then she couldn’t stand it and told me to start talking again.

I have been practicing speech awareness here and to reduce my need to contribute often to the conversation. Its a hard habit to break and yet it feels warranted. Do I really have something worth saying or do I feel the need for attention? Wow, taking a closer look at ones own ego trips is revealing. How many times have I felt the need to add in my own experiences instead of sharing in others with the gift of just listening? The more I make a conscious effort to restrain myself the more I am aware of my speech.

So where do I go from here? Just stop talking? No, I don’t think that is the point. Be comfortable in the offering of silence. Be generous with my ability to listen. Become more present and speech aware. Practice W.A.I.T. when opportunities are available.

W.A.I.T.

Om Tara Tuttare Ture Soha

Finding a mantra that resonates

The above sandscript translates into english as: praise to Tara who removes all fear and grants all successes. 

I am writing this blog Sunday morning as I sit at the cabin kitchen table. I ponder synchronicity and timing of things. As I struggle with what is the right thing to do in my life I know I have been given a gift by being here in the right moment with the right opportunity. I am aware of this place, stretch of time and state of desire to explore an alternative path.

Every day, my vision is clearing. My space is becoming infinite.  A focus that magnifies aspects of my life, existence and behavior. The first day of arrival I saw a lake and shoreline across the water. The third day I saw a lake, shoreline, road and powerline. By the 5th day I saw a lake, shoreline, signs of life across the water, waves changing colors from white, grey and shades of blue. On the second week I experienced a shift of perspective. I still saw all of those signs of life and more. Everyday I am able to split through a little bit more of the outer layers of my view to start to understand what is really there for me to see.

Sight is an interesting one of the  senses. It takes a tremendous amount of patience and determination to clear many years of conditioning. We learned at a young age to trust what we see. The challenge is, what do you really see and do you trust it?

I chanted the mantra “Om Tara Tuttare Ture Soha” for a moment this morning to give me the words. I opened my eyes and an eagle flew by, swerved and headed back out onto the lake. It’s been snowing this morning so the view is a bit muted against the clouds. When I saw the eagle I stopped writing, grabbed my coat and went outside. I wandered down towards the cliffs and stood out on the summer house balcony below me. Searching for the direction the eagle had gone. It was nowhere to be seen. Sigh, am I so easily distracted? Is this another test of my undisciplined mind?

The heart of the message, in this blog entry, is about discipline, practice and trust in a process. As I learn more about mantras, chanting, symbolism, life seals and life strategy it all comes to nothing if I don’t take the tools and apply them to my healing. Apply them to stripping away the layers of my life experiences. I am starting to feel like those memories have been learned for me and yet they aren’t my now. The mantras and chanting can help me to channel new thought patterns.

In a class we talked about some of the main Gods that the Yasodhara ashram studies such as Shiva, Krishna, Tara and Radha. We went through a mantra that is attached to each and then were asked to work with one that resonated with us.

I chose Tara. More research on the deity provided me with some intuitive reasons why this one was standing out for me. Green Tara ( apparently there are many versions and colors) the goddess of healing energy that brings awareness and relief from negativity, fear and ignorance. She embodies bounty in nature and the energy of growth and regeneration. Sounds like a good goddess to start practicing with don’t you think?

I have a couple more days in quarantine before I will be relocated to the general population. I am excited and nervous. The solitude has been exactly what I needed to gain footing before I join the chaos.

The snow has stopped and I see a patch of blue sky starting to widen. I won’t go chase the eagle as I know it’s moved on. It only wanted me to know, it’s there when I need it. I may, though, find a secluded spot to chant my newly learned mantra and give thanks to Tara and my many blessings that have come to me through the divine light.

Namaste

PS as I proof read the blog post the eagle is back…sigh. My discipline is a work in progress for sure.

On A Path To Awareness

Moments of reestablished balance exists between steps

I have always been a fan of walking meditations. They are used in silent meditation workshops I have attended to help break up sitting for hours and hours. You walk with purpose. Usually in a small space in any pattern you choose. The point is to focus on the breath and the senses. Some points I have been given in the past are to try walking with your eyes partially closed in order for the other sense to become more tuned in.

The meditation assignment today has added a new twist. It asks to compare the motion of walking to your life and see what comes up for you.

When you stand still you feel balanced, weight evenly distributed and your equilibrium is solid. Think of your life. You are perhaps standing still, it feels solid and balanced on the surface. Trouble is, it probably isn’t possible to stand in one place forever. You get stiff, get bored, maybe grow roots that become hard to pull up or weeds grow to impair your view of what’s really going on. Your body is meant to be in motion and your body and soul want to grow outward.

Life is motion,development and change.

In order to move, you need to decide to upset the equilibrium. Change your situation. Change your life. That can be frightening and cause unbalance. When you shift your weight or change your direction, you become off balanced. Take another step and what do you observe? Your weight shifts, balance reestablishes itself. In that moment between two steps is an opportunity to once again find equilibrium. Moments between two steps, between two events and between two thoughts are all opportunity to connect with present. Recognize the moments exists and use them as opportunities to rest and renew.

The key is in the recognition of the moments. They can help you to unlock the door to your life. The path on the other side leads to freedom.

In the words of a great band called Shinedown, “The first step is the one you believe in. The second one might be profound”

I have loosely adapted the above from the writings of Yoga Path to Awareness. I hope you find it as meaningful and useful as I do.

Namaste

You Gotta Learn How To Trust

Day 2 at the Ashram

It’s day two at the Ashram. I slept like a newborn baby. The quiet is different here. There is a certain lack on ambient noise you can’t get anywhere else. Yesterday I was introduced to “Ruth” she is going to be my guide and help me to acclimatize to life here.

COVID has changed so many things. Even an Ashram can’t get around the challenges of how to mitigate protocols and a continuous cycle of people coming in and going out of the community.

How do you make and keep connections when you are trying to reduce the amount of time participants are using their phones or smart devices?

I am not a big texter, right now those that know me are saying “that’s an understatement, she never answers a text or a phone call”. So the constant transfer of information via text, zoom or website has caused me to increase my screen time instead of reduced it. Hah!

The connection to Knechtion (see what I did there…lol) is ironic. My guides have been very attentive asking me if I need anything or how I am finding my experience so far. I said I was a bit concerned because one of the doors to the house doesn’t have a key to the lock. I had asked a couple of people that had texted me and the response was the same. “We don’t lock our doors here”. I had brought some expensive computer equipment with me and, if being honest, hadn’t ever stayed anywhere on my own where i hadn’t locked the door as soon as I could for the night. I decided to “let it go” and not think about it. Ruth had brought it up today and asked if I slept ok knowing the door wasn’t locked? Truthfully? I didn’t even think about it and slept deeply. What she said next struck me profoundly.

“You have to learn how to trust”

Whoa, when did I unlearn that? It took me back for a few moments and I think she saw the reaction on my face because she raised her eyebrows over her mask and looked me square on.

“That’s really good advice” I said.

I am learning to ask for what I need. It’s an adjustment being in a quarantine situation for 14 days. It’s even more challenging when you are trying to make connections and get to know the community. They have been very attentive and I feel safe and wanted. I can’t wait to bust out of the isolation period and start Knechting.

Namaste

What We Learned From Not Giving A F*&^

Warning, this isn’t an episode to play around your kids as we do use the F word.

On this episode we dig into Sarah Knights’ book “The life-changing magic of not giving a f*ck”. We get real about what matters and have a very open conversation about Time, Energy and Money.

Non-attachment

Be in the world but not of the world

I had a dream a few years ago and it has stayed with me. I am weeping because my husband has told me he sold our home and we were moving. I wasn’t upset about the house nor its contents. That, I was perfectly fine to let go of. What hurt my heart was to leave my gardens behind. I have spent years in development of my outside spaces. I have created a space full of fruit, flowers, havens for bee and birds. It is my own little oasis. My paradise. It’s an interesting attachment. Perhaps even a little unrealistic as plants, earth, rocks and wood can all be recreated anywhere. Yes, it would take time but it isn’t impossible to do.

In buddism there is a practice called “non-attachment”. The gist is to not allow your sense of wellbeing to rely on anything other than your own presence of awareness. “Be in the world but not of the world”.

Be in the world but not of the world

Buddha

We spend much of our time seeking out the approval of others. We are addicted to “Likes”. We are on a perpetual quest for acceptance, recognition of contribution, confirmation that we matter. We have lost reliance on our own awareness. Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to check in with those we trust to make sure we have a good grip on reality. Opinions, though, are a tricky thing. They can come from a place of love. They can be contructive and they are attached to someone elses perspective.

So what’s the point? The month of Januarys’ theme has been “clearing spaces”-mind, body and spirit. I have been working on the connections between mind and spirit. Pulling up past traumas to examine it with the lense of being present and self-aware (as aware as possible). I know I have choices to consider. I can blame others for how I think and feel about me or I can practice non-attachment.

If my gardens ever disappear from my life, I know I can recreate them in my heart and mind. I am master of my universe any time I choose to be. I have proof this is possible projecting memories and spaces in meditation and dreams at will. I can do the same with how I think and feel about myself. Learning to rely on intuition, empathy and a sense of “self” to guide me perhaps to a new oasis non-attached to a world or space that no longer relevant to my wellness or growth.

Are you ready to “let go” and practice non-attachment?

30 days of Silently Purging A Path To Clarity-Part One of Two

This year’s mission is to reclaim space. It will have to be a slow and steady process of sorting, evaluating level of connection and then making the decision…keep, sell, give away or turf. I can’t even fit this blog post into one post.

When things are physically apparent in excess it’s a bit easier to evaluate their worth and potential for future use or to purge. The piles can be seen, compared, and then dealt with as appropriate. What often gets missed is the things you don’t see. I know of people who rent storage units to hold onto momentos and family history. That makes some sense. I even got a notification that suggested I up my iCloud storage account as it was getting full. What? Something I hadn’t given much thought to was my digital storage footprint. It’s so easy to keep thousands of videos and pictures when you don’t print them anymore or save them to disks. You can even specify, in you will, what you want done with your Facebook page.

Here’s the thing about possessions – they come with a price tag and it’s not the one you think. In order for you to possess them you have to give up the space they occupy. The space can be tangible or intangible. The more you accumulate, the smaller the space becomes and sooner or later you either run out of space or find yourself trapped in a corner behind layers and layers of things you don’t value anymore.

One of the last places we tend to think about spring cleaning is in our minds, and yet it’s one of the most healthy things we can do to improve our quality of life.

We have all heard of Steve Jobs wardrobe preferences. Dress the same everyday to free up your mental state to concentrate on other things. It’s scientific fact that our brains only have so much capacity to concentrate on any given number of thoughts and concerns about anything and everything going on in our lives. If you are skeptical about this concept I recommend you try a weekend silent retreat. I won’t torture you with an invitation to take a seat in my mind during one of these retreats. Heck maybe your monkey is worse than mine?

As with anything, a whole lot of practice can create habits. Habits become routines. A regular routine of purging that which no longer serves me is a direct route to clarity in my opinion and my mind, body and soul.

I have routinely attended weekend silent retreats over the last few years. It usually happens in February and is hosted at a local convent. The place is on the edge of the coulees, nestled into the side of the hills and is cut off from outside noise. It’s pure outside noise deprivation for 3 days. Now, this either scares the heck out people or lights them up with eagerness to join. The first day is like going through withdrawal symptoms just like someone who is addicted to a substance. You don’t realize how loud your life is until it’s not or you take away the source. You don’t realize how loud ambient noise is or the degree of stimulation that bombards you daily until it’s cut off completely.

By the end of the first 24 hours you might experience headaches, physical pain or nausea as the noise purging starts. The practice begins each day with awakening before dawn (4:30am). The first meditation begins at 5:30 am and continues with the rising of the sun until the breakfast gong rings at about 7 am. There are 3 group meditations each day, afternoon naps, personal time and shared silent meals. Every movement of your body is tracked in your mind on purpose. One of the purposes is to recognize connections between your physical, mental and spiritual self. By day 3 you are becoming comfortable with the silence. If you are lucky you have purged some of your monkey mind. Believe me when I say that 3 days of listening to the crap of my inner musings is enough to make any sane or otherwise person exhausted. The retreat, if you can call it that, gives you a taste of what it would be like to decompress and let go of all that internal and external clutter that takes up space in your mind, body and spirit.

So for the month of January in the 2021 year I am starting a practice of letting go. Any good purge starts with some rituals that help to make them stick. We will share our journey and insights as we go.

Follow along with us as we delve deeper into the excess and discover that which we will choose to keep or let go of. We will also explore what is behind the door that connects to my basement stairs and other interesting crevices in my house and Sharon’s.