Thursday, June 30, 2011



Mildred Norman was an American pacifist, vegetarian and peace activist Born modestly on a farm in New Jersey, she felt an inner call in her mid life to simply walk for peace and listen to God. In 1953 she adopted the name "Peace Pilgrim" and walked across the United States for 28 years. Her only possessions were the clothes on her back and the few items she carried in the pockets of her blue tunic which read "Peace Pilgrim" on the front and "25,000 Miles on foot for peace" on the back. She was backed by no organization, carried no money, and never asked for food or shelter. She vowed to "remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food."

I love her inspirational teachings. She offers much insight on how to live with complete integrity, true simplicity and utter faith. In one of her few printed texts, she says, “Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions.”

We all have stuff -- and a lot of it! Do we really need all we have? Similarly, do we really need to be doing all we do? Could we not do and find perhaps more joy with less?

Most of us are plagued with a deep, pesky thought of “not enough”. We want more to try to fill an inner void we cannot place and cannot satisfy. We try to do more to impress others, unconsciously still seeking approval from our parents, teachers, caregivers, fearing if we did not do to impress, we would not be loved.

Peace Pilgrim goes on to say, “The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace. A persistent simplification will create an inner and outer well-being that places harmony in one's life.”

If all is Divine Play, then why not slow down? Be and enjoy what is! Oh! The juiciness of it all! We rush to conquer tasks ahead, missing the sweetness of this moment. This moment comes only once in all of eternity and then it is gone, never again to be. In our attachment to the past and future, we miss the fullness of what is now. When we slow down, we see that we have been missing the divine in what is, and what is, is a reflection of our true nature.

We need to question if all that we have stacked on our to do list is really what we need to be doing. Often what we feel we need to do masks what we are truly called to do. We can hide in business and never slow down enough to find out what makes us tick, what brings us joy and who we truly are. Business helps us avoid our fear of not feeling like we are enough.

When is enough enough? Go through your to do list and make sure that what you have there you really need to do. 

Ask yourself, “If today were my last day, what do I feel I need to do?” Do you have a bucket list? If not, start one and begin integrating the tasks into your life.

Of course, we all have rent and bills to pay. We must care for our necessities. But if we get mired in these and mistake them for what is most important, we loose the fragrance of life. It is like if we were to see a flower only for it’s stem and petals, we would miss the best part, the sweetness of its perfume.

Make sure that what is on your list is truly essential. Choose actions that build a balanced life between necessary tasks like paying your taxes, and living, like smelling the flowers and your bucket list. Ideally, the necessary tasks can begin to feel as much of a joy as smelling the flowers.

If your life is all about the taxes, you will feel taxed. If you are all about fragrance, you will loose your ground. Find balanced wholeness and approach each task with equal importance, seeing it as a reflection of the divine.

(Continued tomorrow with “To Be And Not To Do”)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011



We habitually think of tasks to be done like objects outside ourselves to be conquered and cleared. We see errands to be removed from our to do lists, so that we may eventually find freedom and ease. And yet all that is, is an expression of pure consciousness. And all that has form, all that is before us, around us, within us, is the result of an eternal love affair between matter and consciousness. The Hindus call this Lila, the Divine Play unfolding, of which we are a part.

There are many different kinds of yogas. The most commonly known physical practice of yoga, Hatha yoga, is only one aspect of a broad life science. In karma yoga, the aspiring yogi is asked to practice seeing action as a means to self-liberation. He learns to see the tasks that are before him as an opportunity to serve and realize God. In this practice, serving is not seen as something done to another, to one who is believed to be separate from oneself. All that is, is seen as a reflection of oneself and of the divine. To serve another is to serve God.

The revered humanitarian, spiritual master and modern saint known as Amma (Mother) or The Hugging Saint speaks of our inherent interconnection: “The sun shines down. Its image reflects in a thousand different pots filled with water. The reflections are many, but they are each reflecting the same sun. Similarly, when we come to know who we truly are, we will see ourselves in all people."

She teaches spiritual aspirants to “fill your hearts with love and express it in all you do”. She goes on to say, "Do your work and perform your duties with all your heart. Try to work selflessly with love. Pour yourself into whatever you do. Then you will feel and experience beauty and love in every field of work. Love and beauty are within you. Try to express them through your actions and you will definitely touch the very source of bliss."

The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit word “kri”, meaning “to do”. In its most basic sense, “karma” means action and “yoga” means union. Karma Yoga then is the path of union through action. Karma yoga is described as a way of acting and thinking without thought of personal gratification, or one’s desires, likes or dislikes. One acts without being attached to the fruits of one's actions.

In the sacred Hindu text The Bhagavad Gita, Krishna, the manifestation of God, teaches karma yoga. Krishna explains that by working without attachment one attains the Supreme. He teaches us to surrender all our works to Him, “without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy and fight.”

Krishna explains that work done without expectations, motives, or anticipation of its outcome purifies one's mind and gradually makes us fit to experience the divine in all things. He states that it is not necessary to become a hermit, or be without action, in order to practice a spiritual life. We don’t need to run off to an ashram, or lock ourselves away from our busy lives. We need to act with consciousness. It is precisely through action, through non-resisting what is, through meeting what is with openness, alertness and ease, that we meet the divine.

Take a moment and consider this: What if we shifted our perspective and saw all the tasks in our lives as an expression of pure consciousness arising, as an expression of divine play, a call from God bringing us back to God? What would life be like? What if we were not separate from all those tasks? What if that task that we resist is actually our teacher, guiding us to wholeness? What if by learning to act lovingly, with integrity and kindness, action is leading us to live each moment in the divine? 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


(Continued from “The Perfect Now”)

If we could step outside our fixed ideas of reality more often, if we could learn to pause the habit brain that tells us that we are unsafe and must fight; that we are not loved and must want. If we could let go of trying to conquer life, we may just find what we were seeking. We would touch an eternal moment, the eternal now.

Those who meditate may know of this place, the space between breaths, the momentary pause that exists between the inhale and exhale. It is the space between thoughts that opens the gateway to the underlying reality of pure consciousness beyond the grip of our thinking mind.

Lovers may know this place when life feels perfect, whole, like million watt bulbs were just turned on and all of life bloomed into technicolour. Artists and athletes know this when surrendered to their task, time dissolves, the sense of separate self is gone and all that exists is the perfection of what is. Heroes know this, when they throw all caution to the wind and dive into a seemingly impossible situation and experience the momentary death of their ego expanding into the realm of eternal possibility.

This moment, eclipsed a billion times each day, has within it all we need. Absent of the wanting that comes with thoughts of the past and projections into the future, this moment is complete into itself. The thing is, we eclipse it. It is not eclipsed for us. Due to our habits, our thinking, we cut ourselves off from the fullness of living. This is great news. If we cut ourselves off, we can reconnect.

The author Byron Katie does a wonderful job at helping people cut through their limiting beliefs, so that they may open to the perfection of this moment. Her method, simply called The Work, consists of four questions and a turnaround. When you notice a fixed thought you ask yourself, “Is it true? Can I absolutely know that it's true? How do I react, what happens, when I believe that thought? Who would I be without the thought? Then you turn it all around. Each turnaround is an opportunity to experience the opposite of what you originally believed and in so doing, help dissolve the feeling of life being fixed and bound.

Once we have unearthed ourselves from the burden of our limiting thoughts, we discover that in the perfect now, we have all we need. We begin to live in I am consciousness, that is, in the flow of pure consciousness arising. This is not dependent on thoughts like, “I am a doctor. I am a nurse. I am a lawyer. I am a mother …”. We are simply “I am.” When we add descriptions after that simple truth, we add an i-dentity, a label, a story over what is. We become identified with our actions, rather than rooted in surrendered being. We are human beings, not human doings. Our value is in our beingness. Though we may do beautiful or horrific things, our inherent goodness lies beyond that. We are born of the infinite. To the infinite we must return.

(Continued tomorrow with “Karma Yoga: Action As a Means To Self-Realization)

Monday, June 27, 2011


(Continued from “What is time?”)

People today may think of the word “now” and immediately associate it with Eckhart Tolle’s incredibly popular book “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment”. His book skillfully sums up much of Buddhist and Vedantic teachings in a way that most can digest. To me, it was Grace that this little man with a big message was guided to be on Oprah and eventually have his own television station. Yay for conscious expansion!

Eckhart Tolle, like many mystics that went before him, insists time is an illusion. He says, "There's nothing that exists that's not now”. In his book “The Power of Now”, the author shows how to connect to the indestructible essence of our Being, "the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death."

Because of our profound attachment and identification with our ego, we see things as divided. Through that lens, we tend to see things around us as separate from us, which somehow seems hostile, painful, void of love. We then reactively feel we must dominate and control. Yet all of this is the construct of our ego, the part of our psyche that is deluded into a self-perpetuated state of fear and disconnect. It is part of our human condition to free ourselves from this self-perpetuated nightmare and realize that what we experience is in fact more like a dream than a nightmare made real.

The Hindu notion of Maya is a profound concept that explains this notion of illusion. In the words of the great saint Sri Ramana Maharshi:

"It is like a cinema-show. There is the light on the screen and the shadows flitting across it impress the audience as the enactment of some piece. If in the same play an audience also is shown on the screen as part of the performance, the seer and the seen will then both be on the screen. Apply it to yourself. You are the screen, the Self has created the ego, the ego has its accretions of thoughts which are displayed as the world, the trees and the plants. . . . In reality, all these are nothing but the Self. If you see the Self, the same will be found to be all, everywhere and always. Nothing but the Self exists."

We believe what we see, feel, taste, touch, smell and think is something solid and fixed. Time then becomes something externally imposed, to which we are confined, rather than a temporary structure that can serve, but is not absolute. Sri Ramana Maharshi goes on to say:

"The idea of time is only in your mind. It is not in the Self. There is no time for the Self. Time arises as an idea after the ego arises. But you are the Self beyond time and space; you exist even in the absence of time and space."

As we begin to let go of the need to be in control, of seeing things through the lens of our ego, we begin to touch the substratum of life, the field of pure consciousness, our true state. In this, life arises, flows, unfolds in ways that are perfect and balanced. We then see ourselves as part of a complete system within Nature, within the Cosmos, cradled, held, supported, loved, given exactly what we need. We learn to embrace and relax with what is, rather than want what is not and push. In the perfection of now, life is.

(Continued tomorrow with “In This Moment, We Have All We Need”)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ask Parvati 18: To Do Or Not To Do, That Is The Question, Part 1: What Is Time?


Dear Parvati,

No matter how organized I seem to get, I just can’t get a handle on my to do list. I seem to never get my tasks done and I often feel overwhelmed. Any ideas on how to stretch time or where to find a magic wand so I could fit more hours into the day? I am tired of feeling like I just can’t get on top of my to dos.


The word “time” is part of our conversations everyday. We seem to have a common understanding of what it means, but what does it really mean? I know what it means to me, but how does the dictionary define it? So I looked it up.

The Webster’s dictionary says time is “the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues”. So time is a measuring system used to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them.

Based on time being a measuring system, it seems reasonable to believe that working within the construct of time would help us keep control of our lives. To an extent, it does. Because of time, we know when we are expected to be at work, or when to be at a coffee shop to meet a friend. We know how long it takes to do a job, and I will know what portion of my day this blog will take me to write.

If time helps us measure, why then would we need the many self-helps books on time management, if time, by definition, is something that helps us stay organized? Why do so many of us feel like we get caught up in that which was intended to help us stay in control? (If I had a personal favorite book on time management, it would be Stephen R. Covey's book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” for its principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity.)

History colours our figures of speech. We speak commonly of Father Time, a mythical figure who keeps tabs on our every action. Father Time is historically derived from Chronos, the Lord of time in Greek mythology and is usually depicted carrying a scythe and an hourglass or other timekeeping devices, representing the idea that time is a constant, one-way movement.

Interestingly enough, the Greek language has two different words for time, Chronos and Kairos. Chronos refers to chronological time. It is about quantity. Kairos, which is qualitative, divine time, literally means "the right or opportune moment. I love that the word Kairos also means weather in both ancient and modern Greek. To me this points towards the mystical power of Nature that exists both within chronological time and also expresses the eternal.

It is part of our human nature to feel safer when we think of life in absolutes. It helps us feel in control of ourselves and of our surroundings. The 17th century physicist Sir Isaac Newton believed time to be an absolute. His views of the universe dominated science for over three centuries.

Yet others believe that time is an illusion, not at all linear or absolute. Albert Einstein proved time to be relative, not absolute as Newton believed. Einstein concluded in his later years that the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously. He wrote in a letter to a friend: “the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one."

The idea that time is an illusion was not born through modern physics. In the 5th century BC, the Greek philosopher Antiphon believed that: "Time is not a reality, but a concept." Parmenides, also a Greek philosopher at that time, went further, maintaining that time, motion, and change were illusions.

The notion that time is an illusion existed even well before the early Greeks contemplated it. It is a common theme in ancient Buddhist and Hindu thought. Both of these religions explain that what we see as fixed and solid is only a temporal illusion, masking the underlying reality of timelessness.

I have seen repeatedly in my life that what exists as real and meaningful is not bound by time, though it may be expressed through time. Time may give us a sense of temporary structure as a common reference point on our route towards enlightenment. As we evolve, we move beyond dependence on time as solid and absolute and begin to flow within a much larger, conscious picture of reality.

As I grow, I begin to experience the space between objects as palpable and tangible, not at all empty and meaningless. I begin to sense in my whole being that what I see as solid is no more solid than the space between objects. All is pure consciousness arising. Everything is dancing and I am part of it all, no more and no less important than anything else. I am part of the whole and the whole is that which I am.

I enjoy the way the author Gevin Giorbran of “Everything Forever: Learning To See Timelessness - Seeing Beyond Time into the Realm of All Possibilities", speaks of the illusion of time:

“In my explorations of timelessness I reveal that ordinary space is not merely full of other empty spaces, but empty space is actually the whole of all physical realities; all the universes of the many worlds theory. Profound as it may be, if the theories I propose are correct, space is full, rather than empty. Material things are less than the fullness of space. In fact, it may be that space must include all possibilities in order to seem empty to us. So in summary, the universe we see is just a fragment nested in a timeless (everything) whole, rather than a single material world magically arisen above some primordial nothing. All universes exist without beginning or end in the ultimate arena of time, and each moment we experience exists forever.”

(Continues tomorrow with “The Perfect Now”)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ask Parvati 17: Standing Your Ground, Part 4: Yoga, Ground, Rebound

PART FOUR: Yoga, Ground, Rebound


(Continued from: Witness, Release)


The practice of yoga has been one of my great teachers. Through various yogic techniques, I have been shown how to be more comfortable within my body, more present in the moment and more aware of how this sense of individual self is one within a greater whole.


Each yoga asana (pose) offers a precise and unique way to learn how energy flows through our body/being. Specifically designed to encourage the flow of vital, life-force energy in certain directions, yoga asana can teach us how to live rooted, vital and expansive, meeting what is with grace and ease.


As we allow ourselves to relax, our body settles into the ground and our vital energy naturally moves downward toward the Earth. If we are quietly watching at that time, we begin to realize that there is an equally strong presence that meets and supports us, rising up under our feet, moving energy upward and into our body. It is as if when we ground, there is an energy rebound. I first came into contact with this concept thanks to wonderful yoga teaching of the late Esther Myers and her teacher Vanda Scaravelli. The insights they shared pointed to elements in what would later become my yogic expression, YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine.


For me, there are two zero points in yoga, one horizontal, one vertical. They are the foundations upon which other poses are build, points of reference we can consider as we move through more complex physical sequences. The horizontal zero point is called in Sanskrit savasana or corpse pose. It consists of lying on your back, feet about one foot apart and arms alongside the body.


The vertical zero point is called tadasana or the mountain pose. Let’s give it a try. Standing erect, feet hip width apart, which means you have the distance of one of your feet between your feet. Your knees are neither locked nor bent, simply relaxed. Let your navel move gently back towards the spine. The tailbone tilts slightly inward towards the front of your body so that it releases like a plumb line towards the Earth. Your eyes are fixed on a point in front of you, as the crown of the head broadens and floats gently upward towards the sky. Shoulders are relaxed.


Breathe in. Breathe out. Allow your awareness of your breath to deepen, allowing your breath to be natural, not forced. Notice what you feel in your body. Imagine that your spine is the central channel of energy that runs through your body/being. It connects the sky and the earth through you.


Scan your body. Where do you hold tension in your body? Where do you feel relaxed? Can you allow yourself to continue to open, to release, to feel a flow within a whole? Let your feet root and settle into the ground. Feel the energy move downward, towards the core of the Earth. Feel your feet.


Notice the crown of your head. Let it float, effortlessly, upward. Feel your connection to the cosmos, the whole. As your feet release into the ground, the Earth meets you and a wave of energy flows up through your body towards the crown of your head.


Allow the connection between your feet and your head become a whole, so that you are rooted in the awareness of your physical sensations, the energy the flows through your body and you are aware more globally of you sense of place within the whole. Feel within. Feel without. Feel the flow between the inner and the outer and let these become one.


Practice this when you are standing in line at the supermarket, at the bus stop. Whenever you are standing, you can practice finding your sacred ground. That way, the next time you feel you have to stand your ground, you will be rooted both within yourself and within the whole. You will feel your own sense of worth from your connection to the eternal cosmos, rather than willfully from your finite ego. You will see the temptation to react as a teaching from the divine, offering you lessons to deepen your awareness as the infinite being that you are.


May you dance in the infinite upon sacred ground.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ask Parvati 17: Standing Your Ground, Part 3: Witness, Release




(Continued from: Standing Sacred Ground)


When we feel rooted, vital and expansive, our feet are like magnets that anchor us to the Earth, which in turn feeds us, supports us and gives us the foundation we need to build our lives. We then can receive the support we need to remain present, within ourselves, sensing our inner being for what we feel, what we need, how to move in each moment. We are connected.


From this vantage point, the person with whom we felt we needed to stand our ground becomes an opportunity to let go of feeling attacked, of feeling separate, of feeling unloved and unsupported. They become our teacher.


By practicing three simple steps when we feel attacked, scared or triggered, we can unwind our reactive tendency to defend, and learn to retrain our brain to see life from a whole new perspective.


Step One: Understanding


Understanding is our first step in moving from a fear-driven life to a life rooted in love and trust. When we understand the nature of the impossibilities, we understand that our reactivity and our defensiveness come from a limited sense of reality. When we react and are defensive, we are not seeing the whole picture. By having a limited perspective, we are short-changing ourselves of the fullness of this moment. We understand that what we see is a sort of mirage or illusion, like reflected light upon the sand looking like water. When a cloud covers the sun, we may only see the cloud, but we still know that the sun is still there, shining as bright as ever.


Step Two: Witness


Our second step in letting go of reactivity and defensiveness is learning to witness what is. When we learn to see things as they are without attaching an additional story over it, we free ourselves from becoming dramatically wrapped up in our perceptions and those of others. We begin to free ourselves of the grip of the ego and live in service to the flow.


Step Three: Release


Step three, release, happens as a result of step two. When we begin to see things as they are, we experience a letting go of the tendency to want to defend, to control, to see ourselves as separate. We realign ourselves with a much greater whole, of which we are a part.


Next time you find yourself feeling reactive, or having your buttons pushed, see if you can practice these three simple steps to keep you feeling rooted, vital and expansive:


1) Understanding

2) Witness

3) Release


(Concludes tomorrow: Yoga, Ground, Rebound)


Monday, June 20, 2011

Ask Parvati 17: Standing Your Ground, Part 2: Standing Sacred Ground


Fathers teach us how to make the lives we want. Our mothers teach us how to feel. The feminine principle teaches us surrendered receptivity, learning to flow within the whole. Cradled within the big picture and the spiritual presence of the cosmos, we learn that our own voice is a valuable and integral part of the whole.

The male principle teaches us surrendered action, learning the whole within the flow. Rooted in a healthy sense self, our fathers must teach us about the whole, the way we fit into the universe. But what is that whole? From a worldly perspective, it is institutions, organized religions, big business, government and corporations. From a spiritual perspective, it is the notion that we are not temporal beings, but one with eternal consciousness temporarily living within finite form.

When we feel attacked, we tend to defend, because we feel attached to the idea of mine. Yet, the idea of mine only exists when we feel separate from the whole. I am not suggesting that healthy boundaries should not exist. On the contrary, it is only from the vantage point of a healthy sense of self that we can begin to feel the confidence to let go of the grip of our ego, the tendency of our mind to divide. Healthy self-esteem, self-love and self-confidence are not born out of feeling separate, but from a sense of our sacred place within the whole.

When we stand our ground, we are not asked to defend our sense of attacked self. In truth, there is no-thing to defend. When we truly stand our ground, we are rooted in the sacred. We are aware of the flow within the whole and the whole within the flow. We are rooted in our truth. We see our truth within the context of the situation. We are open to the wisdom of the whole that arises from within our gut, in our hearts, in our being in each moment.

Let’s look again at the relationship between our feet and the ground. If we were asked how we walk, we would say, likely that we don’t know and give a quick answer that we just put one foot in front of the other. We again, could all agree that is how walking happens. Or is it? What is it that walks? What is it that creates the impulse to move? What force moves through us to walk, to stand, to breathe, to speak, to think, to be?

All that is exists because of grace. All that transpires and continues on does so because of grace. Our job is to stop trying to control, to distort things to suit our ego and get out of the way so that we may witness our interconnection within the divine play. In this, profound joy arises and we experience freedom beyond anything we could possible conjure or buy.

We are attached to “mine” at the expense of our fuller, truer self. We are attached to feeling attacked at the expense of what is. I learned from experience, with a little help years ago from the Opossum card I kept pulling from David Carson’s medicine deck, that sometimes the best defense is no defense. In this way, we avoid getting caught up in the drama of life and learn to deepen our practice witnessing, in non-resistance, what is.

When you next feel that you need to stand your ground, see if you can remain open, relaxed, rooted and expansive. From this vantage point, remember that things are not “happening to you”. You are no victim but are perfectly supported and are given all you need in each moment to perfectly learn. From this vantage point, watch your reactions rise and fall away.

If you feel confronted by someone, watch what that person is doing, as though you were watching a cloud move through the sky. “Yes. There it is. So it is.” See that person as he or she is. How is he tense, scared, honest, loving, brave? Can you feel the goodness within the other in this moment, speaking through him to you? Is he really against you or is he offering you an opportunity to see a much bigger picture and live rooted in that reality?

(Continues tomorrow: Witness, Release)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ask Parvati 17: Standing Your Ground, Part 1: Fathers Lead Us Into The World


Dear Parvati,

Lately the term “standing your ground” has been sounding in my ears a lot. I am trying to make sense of this, as I feel that it can connote a sort of defiance, which does not resonate with what I am discovering for myself in my yoga practice. What do you think when you hear the term “standing your ground”?


Happy Father’s Day! Today I celebrate the inner male within all, whether you are a man or a woman, whether you have children or not.

Our fathers teach us how to go out in the world, equipped with the sense of capability to make the lives we want. Their strength and confidence in us inspires us to believe that we can achieve what we put our minds to accomplish. If mothers teach us about our inner world, showing us how to feel safe and loved as we are, fathers lead us into the outer world, with the confidence and ability to flourish within society. Whether or not we had the parents we wanted, as we evolve, we learn to internalize the positive attributes of both the male and female energies so that we may live in fulfilled balance.

Commonly we see our ability to act in the world as a reflection of a strong sense of personal identity. We are encouraged to believe that we are capable, so that we can accomplish what we set out to do. We are told that if we are fixed strongly enough in our sense of self, like a mini Fort Knox, we are able to stay intact in the face of all external adversity. The notion of capability is essential for living a healthy, fulfilled life. But happiness rests on more than the sense that we can do what we want to do.


We stand on solid earth. The ground beneath us feels thick, deep and strong. We speak of standing our ground when we feel shaken by adversity or attack. We stand our ground to defend what feels like our own, to lay claim to territory and our sense of propriety.

Most of us take millions of steps every day. One foot goes automatically in front of the other as we go from point A to point B. Yet we tend to take each step for granted. Each step is a relationship between our body and our planet. If we paused for a moment and asked ourselves, we might describe that relationship as a force we apply into the ground so that we can stand.

When we go deeper and explore the relationship between our feet and the Earth, we see that there is a co-creative relationship at play. Go ahead. Give it a try. Leave your computer now and go for a slow walk around your room. See what you notice between your body, your feet and the ground. How do your feet contact the floor? What dynamic is at play? What is the relationship between your feet and the ground?

Did you do it? If yes, we likely could all agree that as you place your feet on the ground, there is a force that presses from the weight of your body into the ground.

Now give the exercise another go. This time, go deeper. What else is going on?

If you become quiet, you will see that there is also a force that arises from the ground to perfectly meet the weight you apply. It is like the force of the planet knows with calculated anticipation where you will step and what you need for each step to feel solid and complete. It is like there is a safety net under each step, rebounding your weight right back up through your legs, through your spine and up and out the crown of your head.

See if you can sense that perfection in each step. Go ahead. Give it another try. Slow down your walking and see what you feel. Do you feel the unconditional, loving embrace of the world in each step, offering perfect support? Breathe it in and know you are perfectly loved. You are love.

(Continues tomorrow: Standing Sacred Ground)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ask Parvati 16: Anger as an Ally, Part 6: The Angry Liver



So far this week, I have addressed emotional, ecological and spiritual effects of anger. Here, we take a look at some of the physical and energetic aspects.


If you are feeling irritable, frustrated or angry, you may have constricted liver energy and you may need a liver cleanse. As we move through spring and into summer, it is useful to know that there is a biological correlation to the tendency in summer for tempers to flare.


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) understands the liver and gallbladder as the seat of anger. Our common language reflects that when we say, “that galls me”. Anger is related to too much heat in the liver.


Traditional East Indian medicine known as Ayurveda associates liver with Pitta, the fiery element. The liver’s hot quality provides the fire of digestion, gets us up and going, and keeps us able to process and digest not just food, but information we take in in every moment.


The liver, as its name indicates, is associated with our will to live. In TCM, it relates to the wood element, which allows us to grow and expand. When the wood energy of the liver is in balance, it helps us work in balance with others. But when the flow becomes constricted, we experience something like an energy traffic jam, which makes us feel pent up and ready to blow.


Life is full of setbacks with things often not going as we want them to go. If your body and mind are in balance, you can go with the flow with greater ease. But when the liver is constricted, there is less room for energy to flow and heat begins to rise.


Losing one’s temper can feel like a release valve has just blown. For a bit, we can feel relief. But usually, we have to pick up debris and we find ourselves no further ahead than before the blowup. We have discharged the energy that has been blocked in the liver, but not solved the problem.


Everything that you ingest passes through your liver via the blood. Since the body does not know how to get rid of many of the unnatural toxins we ingest daily, such as chemicals, preservatives and additives, many toxic substances end up stored in the liver. Once overloaded, the liver begins to have trouble digesting and eliminating wastes from the body. This can then lead to a buildup of toxins in other organs and tissues.


Diet and exercise are essential for a healthy liver. A daily yoga practice that is balanced and well-rounded provides an excellent way to detoxify and tonify the liver, as well as all of the internal organs.


During the winter, we tend to eat heavier foods to keep up the internal heat and keep us warm. In the spring, we must change our diet to help the liver flush out toxins and meet the challenge of the summer heat. We need to start eating more raw foods, lighter foods. If we enjoy fried foods, we must let go of this till next winter. Include lots of fresh, leafy greens in your diet. Avoid red meats, fatty foods, alcohol and congesting foods like cheeses. Your liver will love you for it.


Some indications you may benefit from a liver cleanse are frequent irritability and temper flares, a tendency to get headaches, sinus issues, feeling groggy in the morning, or feeling easily flushed in the face.


There are many herbal tonics for keeping your liver humming, most easily available at your local health food store. Spring is the ideal time for the cleanse, letting go of excess fat from the winter, making room for the extra heat of the summer.


It is optimal to consult a health care practitioner prior to a deep cleanse. There are however over-the-counter cleanse kits and herbal tea preparations that are generally safe for those of sound health. If you are in the market to pick up a cleanse kit or tea, you want to look for herbal preparations that include one of the following herbs known to support liver health: black radish, burdock root, dandelion root, dandelion leaf, nettle, sarsaparilla, ginger, parsley, yellow dock, peppermint, rosemary, rose hips, kelp, milk thistle.


Happy cleansing!


May we all feel light and in the co-creative flow.

May we all feel the cool support of love.

May we all rest in the richness of our true nature.

May we all be free of the ignorant heat of anger.






Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ask Parvati 16: Anger As An Ally, Part 5: Anger Is Natural, But Never Justified



(Continued from Anger, What a Pain!)

There is a wonderful story that illustrates the effects of anger.


There once was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and said every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail in the fence.


The first day the boy had pounded over fifty nails into the fence. As the days went on, the number of nails driven into the fence became fewer. The boy grew tired and began to realize that it was easier to let go of his temper than to drive nails into the fence.


Finally one day, the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He proudly told his father about his success. The father quietly asked that the boy now pull out one nail for each day he was able to curb his temper.


The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father then took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. The father said:


"Son, you have done well. Look now at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You may say cutting, hurtful words to someone. You may even throw punches. But no won't matter how many times you say 'I'm sorry', the wound from your actions will still be there."


If we could all see the effects of our ignorant and hurtful actions, our hearts surely would burst into sincere remorse with the desire to be forgiven and act only in compassion. Anger is natural, but it is not enough to leave it there. Part of our call on this human journey is to embody wisdom-compassion as the saints and sages did. When we see a bigger picture, we see that anger is always born out of ignorance.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama reminds us of the power of our emotions: “Hatred can be the greatest stumbling block to the development of compassion and happiness. If you learn to develop patience and tolerance towards your enemies, then everything becomes much easier–your compassion towards all others begins to flow naturally. Happiness cannot come from hatred or anger. Nobody can say, ‘Today I am happy because this morning I was angry.’ On the contrary, people feel uneasy and sad and say, ‘Today I am not very happy, because I lost my temper this morning.’”


Anger can become addictive, like a bad habit on overdrive. Seduced by its surging heat, for a moment we feel like kings. But we will not find there the happiness we deeply seek. The Buddha says, "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."


When the heat of anger arises, it takes a humble willingness and profound courage to release the notion of againstness, feeling hard done by, feeling life is happening to me; and open to love. We must truly understand that there is no health or evolution or good that comes from blame or judgment. When we truly understand this, anger looses its attractiveness. We see life from a broader vantage point, as a bigger picture, one that is rooted in love, trust and interconnection. When we live in this, we become truly wealthy. In the Bible, Psalm 37: 14-16 reads:


"The angry ones draw their swords, the angry ones aim their bows

To put down the poor and the weakened and to kill those who walk on the path of righteousness.

But their sword hits their own heart, their bows will be broken.

With his poverty, the righteous one is richer than all the angry ones in their abundance."


(More tomorrow: The Angry Liver: How to Make Your Liver Hum)


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ask Parvati 16: Anger As An Ally, Part 4: Anger, What A Pain!



(Continued from The Irony Of Anger)

I have a particular soft spot for the short little green guy, the master Jedi knight known as Yoda. (Ok, now you know I am a big time Star Wars and sci-fi fan.) The enlightened teacher skillfully sums up the role anger plays in our demise. He says, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”


If we are to learn to meet anger as an ally, we must learn to touch its gems by undoing the painful grip of anger. Anger hurts us when we feel it. Withheld anger causes headaches, ulcers and cancers. Unbridled anger puts ourselves, others and those we love in harm’s way. We have only one healthy option when we feel anger: understand that it is caused by not seeing reality clearly, and committing to seeing a bigger, more accurate picture of what is. In so doing we let go of its seductive grip and we learn to embody the courage of love through compassionate understanding.


I love the Longfellow quote: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”


As we learn to undo the pain of anger, we see that when we are angry, we are in judgment, we are blaming, and we are afraid. When we unravel the judgment we feel of others, we learn to see their frailties, their need for love and their ignorance with understanding, love and acceptance. We can do this because we know that all of those painful emotions are also emotions we too can feel.


Feeling anger is a natural, human thing. It is a teacher, showing us the power of the mind’s projections and the innate power of consciousness. We have the ability to either destroy or create. The choice is ours.


Just as we learn that our tendency to become angry is born out of a judgmental, divisive mind, we learn to not be angry or judgmental of ourselves for being angry. We need to be kind to ourselves when we feel the heat of anger rise. We need to learn healthy ways to self-soothe and remain rooted in the reality that all is perfect in this moment, that we are love, that we are loved. In that safety, we can find the courage to relax, look deeper within and get to the source of what we are really feeling. When we express our true heart, everybody wins.


(Continues tomorrow: Anger Is Natural, But Never Justified)


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ask Parvati 16: Anger As An Ally, Part 3: The Irony of Anger


(Continued from Look Behind The Anger To Act Awake)


“Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath.” - Eckhart Tolle

Anger is a hot emotion. As it courses through our veins, we feel the surge of adrenaline. We feel powerful! Blinded by that power, we feel we can leap buildings, take on an army, even conquer the world. Anger can be a tremendous motivator, providing raw energy to make big changes. As primitive man living in the wild, we needed that energy surge in order to survive because we lived in the fear of constant attack. But as we evolve, we understand that to live with the constant fear of attack comes at a great cost to our health and to our well-being.

When we react in anger – blow up, yell, call names, slam doors, road rage – our primal circuitry is on overdrive. Unconsciously, we have convinced ourselves that we are displaying how terrifying and powerful we are. But when we look deeply into anger, we can hear in it a soulful cry for help. Anger shows us not that we feel powerful, but that we feel terrified, overwhelmed, out of control, incapable and powerless.

Is it not true, that when we feel angry, immersed in a boiling, surging moment, we are completely convinced that the problem is “out there”? When we feel angry, we blame. We judge. We attack. We do so because we feel attacked. We feel unsafe. We feel threatened. We don’t feel in balance. We don’t feel loved and safe.

Whatever it is that triggered our anger has shown us how we feel unloved. Because of that, we want to push feeling so exposed away. We want to stop that feeling, destroy it, and get rid of it! When we are angry, we react unconsciously. We have lost the fullness of the moment. Those primal instincts have kicked in. Tunnel vision is all we know, telling us how to get out of perceived danger - fast.

When we are willing to be humble, we learn to slow down. We learn to drop our weaponry, open to what is and greet anger as our teacher. Anger shows us where we have lost our connection to the fullness of the moment, which is always love.

Let’s go back to our roommate with the noisy TV who was disturbing our sleep. When we allow the anger to get the better of us, we will throw off our bed covers, storm out of our room and do something rash like just go turn off the TV without saying a word, or yell at our roommate for being so insensitive.

When we take a moment to calm down, take a few deep breaths and look within, we see that likely the roommate meant no harm. Even if he was annoying us intentionally, that would be an expression of his ignorance and his own feeling of being unloved. His actions and choices are no reflection of us. Likely his actions were a simple oversight, nothing more. By calmly saying what we are feeling and what we need, the problem can likely be resolved.

When we look at the moment and meet it as it is, we need to remember that our baggage distorts the lens through which we see the world. Perhaps we had a controlling or absent parent who was insensitive to our needs. Perhaps we grew up feeling unsafe expressing what we needed, so we don’t really know how to do it as adults.

When we meet seemingly straightforward life situations that set us off for apparently no reason, we can be assured that we have touched some of our personal baggage. The roommate inadvertently pushed our unconscious button and before we know we it, we are not going to talk to some neutral guy sitting in our shared living room, but we are on a crusade to confront an insensitive parent who never gave us the love we needed.

Taking the time to calm down helps us see clearly the moment as it is. When we see the roommate for the roommate, we begin to see him as a gift to learn greater discernment and act with greater compassion. He also just provided us with an opportunity to lighten our baggage load and live more freely within ourselves.

(Continues tomorrow: Anger, What a Pain!)



Monday, June 13, 2011

Ask Parvati 16: Anger As An Ally, Part 2: Look Behind The Anger To Act Awake



(Continued from Knowing What You Feel Gives You Power)

We receive powerful information when we listen to our emotions. What we do with that information separates the wise from the foolish. The challenge with anger is that, like fire, it is quick, sharp and potentially destructive. When we feel angry, we must learn to take time to cool down before we act.

We must learn to read the early signs of anger in our emotional landscape. Usually we first will feel uneasy, restless and tense. Then we may feel irritated. This leads to feeling annoyed, then angry. The movement towards feeling angry can be surprisingly slow, even over a long period of time. But once we become angry, our mood can quickly escalate into feeling irate, raging, wrathful, violent and hateful.

Once we feel anger, we have awakened the beast within. We have become the lion that roars, the gorilla that thumps its chest, and the shark that attacks. All we see is the need to defend. Just like many animals, we instinctively attack when we feel attacked. But the difference between animals and humans is our ability to act with awakened consciousness.

When we react in anger, we usually create pain for ourselves and for others. We say things we later regret. We destroy things we later wish we had kept. We break trust we later wish we still had. Following the impulse of anger rarely serves the greatest good.

When we go deeper, we learn to touch what is really driving our anger. In my experience, at the root, we always end up touching fear. In the case of the roommate with the noisy TV, we could say simply, we were afraid that we were not going to get enough sleep. At one level, surely that is true.

Perhaps, deeper still, our roommate with his noisy TV has given us an opportunity to realize that in fact, we never really feel safe. Perhaps we have felt a low-grade anxiety all of our lives, a pulse that moves us to feeling separate and unsafe. When we touch that pulse, we see that our deepest fear is our fear of not being loved.

Our anger shows us the ways we believe we are separate; the ways we don’t feel loved or supported; the ways we don’t believe love exists.

In Marianne Williamson’s words, “What is not love is fear. Anger is one of fear's most potent faces. It does exactly what fear wants it to do: It keeps us from receiving love at exactly the moment when we need it the most.”


(Continues tomorrow: The Irony Of Anger)


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ask Parvati 16: Anger As An Ally, Part 1: Knowing What You Feel Gives You Power

Dear friends,
Thank you for reading this blog. This week, I’m going to try something different. Rather than posting one long blog entry to answer the week’s question, I am going to post shorter entries daily throughout the week. Each entry will explore one facet of the question, and build on what has already been posted. By the end of the week, I hope you will have a more comprehensive view of the question. I will provide specific tips you can implement in your life, as well as a broader understanding of the topic.
This week’s blog entries will explore the yoga of dealing with anger.
Let’s see how this goes. Enjoy!


Dear Parvati,
I used to think I was pretty easy going until I started to notice that I can get really irritated with people, even get angry and blow up. I have tried to get a handle on why I get angry, but can’t seem to get to the bottom of my negative emotions. I know I am not supposed to feel so angry, but I do. Do you have any words on what to do with anger?


It sounds like a healthy first step to know that you are feeling angry and that you want to do something more creative with that energy than blow up. Too often we take out unresolved emotions on those around us, usually on those we love the most, instead of having the courage to go deeper and understand the root of what we really feel. The first thing I would do is to pat yourself on the back for understanding that you have a problem and that you want change. Yes!

I don’t know if I agree with the use of the term “negative” emotion. I know it is commonly used, but the word does not resonate for me. I prefer saying “painful” emotions. Is that not more accurate? We call an emotion negative because it hurts.

Because of the pain certain emotions create, we to try to push them away and judge them as bad. The problem with that is when we judge, we feel separate from the thing we are judging. To feel separate creates a push/pull dynamic within us that perpetuates suffering. So to judge the emotion as negative weakens our ability to learn from it and be present in the moment.
All emotions offer us intelligent information and a greater opportunity to act with discernment. For example, we may feel irritated by a noise in our environment. Perhaps our roommate is watching TV and we are trying to sleep. We may not care at first about the noise, but as it continues, we begin to feel annoyed.

Feeling irritated by the noisy TV tells us that we value our rest and that we prefer doing so in silence. It may also signal that we don’t yet have good communication with our roommate and that we need to spend more time working towards greater understanding. Or it may be letting us know that this roommate may not be appropriate for us and we may need to change our living arrangement.

When we reactively direct anger towards something we don’t like, we cause harm to ourselves and to others. As the Buddha says, “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” Anger does not feel good for anyone. But when we look more deeply into the anger, behind the heat, beyond the knee-jerk reaction to attack, we find a gem there: a guardian of our truth that can keep us honest and on our path. The wisdom found there within can motivate change, help us hold healthy boundaries and provide a safe space for us to grow and evolve.

By noticing what we are truly feeling, we understand ourselves better. In understanding ourselves better, we can act with greater clarity so that we may take better care of our needs and feel happier, more fulfilled. When we take better care of ourselves, we can participate with greater balanced joy in the world. When we respect ourselves, we are more likely to be kind and respectful of others.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ask Parvati 15: Listen To Your Body Talk

Listen To Your Body Talk

Dear Parvati,
I have been experiencing repeated physical symptoms that the doctors are having a tough time diagnosing. Part of me thinks it is all in my head. The other part of me feels there must be something my body is trying to tell me, but I don’t know what it is. What do you have to say about the way our body talks to us through illness, whether that is true or if it is all in my head?


Thank you for the question. It means a lot to me because my body has been and continues to be a great teacher.

The term ‘body talk’ was likely brought to the spotlight with Olivia Newton-John’s “Let’s Get Physical” hit single in the 80’s, and has recently experienced a revival through electro-pop diva Robyn’s new album by that name. (If you don’t know Robyn, check her out.) For me, the term has come about organically through learning to listen to what my body communicates, be it through impulses to move, sing, dance, express; or impulses to move away from, set boundaries and cut ties. Whether I am feeling healthy or poorly, signals from my body help me to stay true to who I am and to reach my fullest potential.

Several years ago, at the end of teaching a yoga class in my Montreal studio, a student came up to me and asked, “Who is your yoga guru?” My immediate answer arose spontaneously. “My body,” I replied. I went on to explain that by listening to the wisdom within my body, I was able to go deeply into my yoga practice by allowing knowledge from within to rise into consciousness. I found learning by respecting my body’s innate voice much more potent than externally imposed, cerebral or textbook learning.

As a practicing yogini and meditator, I know that the body is intelligent. If we try to move into a yoga pose “from the outside in”, thinking of what it looks like and trying to replicate “over here” what we see “out there”, we can experience inner resistance in the form of tension, discomfort or even pain. But when we allow a yoga pose to flower from the inside out, we learn to honour an already present, natural intelligence.

The same is true for meditation. When practicing, we learn to quietly and lovingly witness where our body holds tension, which becomes our humble teacher showing us where we store unconscious thoughts and energies that no longer serve. When we give our body intelligence the respectful space it needs to be heard, we let go of the illusion that our egos are in control. We become guided by a most potent, natural, divine force, which then has the room to express itself through us.

If we are willing to listen, we will see that our bodies talk. We hold memories within our cells of past experiences, unfulfilled desires, painful events, wishful hopes and soul-directed dreams. Our bodies are like archeological sites that reveal the stories of our lives. When we listen, we can see that our bodies are full of hidden treasures, stories that are held from the past or yet to be born in the future.


We live in a society that to me seems quite disconnected from the physical. Despite a general cultural focus on the material, we treat matter like a disposable commodity, rather than a partnership to be respected. We converse electronically though portable devices, able to go days without tactile, personal, human contact. Yet, through the noise created by a society that races time and fights to control nature, our bodies cry out with inescapable reminders of its importance in our lives. When we face illness, we are often abruptly reminded of our fallibility and mortality.

Times that our body brings us to our knees and we come to a grinding halt are usually seen as a nuisance, as an inconvenient interruption to our busy life plans – as though it were happening “to” us. But I have learned to understand that the voice of the soul speaks to us through the body. We must learn to welcome it as a lost part of ourselves. It reminds us of what we have forgotten, that is, our intricate connection with nature and the need to develop humility and awe at its power. As such, illness is a gift, not an obstacle, helping us along our path.

Our body is the very same stuff of which nature is made. Organic, imperfect yet completely wise, it exists within an intelligent whole, constantly seeking homeostasis and balance. In my song Sanctified Skin, which is all about the body sacred, I sing:

My body is my temple.
I play inside.
It is so peaceful and even quite sublime.
I am an earthly traveler making peace with my tribe.
I wear this human spacesuit where spirit can find
The light that shines within
Sanctified skin.
My body is no sin,
Sanctified skin.
I celebrate my sanctified skin.
Love emanates through my sanctified skin.
Life gyrates behind sanctified skin.
I breathe it all in.
And life begins!

To me, the body is a place where we can grow quiet and celebrate the divine. The body is a reflection of the divine. Like a “human space suit”, we borrow it briefly while we are here so it may house our soul’s voice and reminds us of our evolutionary path.

Illness comes as a knock at our consciousness door from the voice of our soul. It may be saying that we simply need more rest. Or perhaps, we need to be more honest with our self or with others, and need to make some life changes. Or perhaps our body has us in a total headlock and is showing us with no uncertain terms that we need to live a radically different life. Whatever the message may be, when we take the time to listen, our body will let us know in which way we are out of balance with nature and what steps we need to take to regain total health and happiness.


All that we see in physical form exists in a subtler form. But not all that has subtle form has physical form. The physical provides us with an amazing tool to tangibly see, feel, taste, touch, and sense the unseen. We tend to think of the physical as the root, the cause, but in fact, it is the effect of spiritual laws and our energy tendencies. The thoughts we think affect the feelings we have, which affect how events take shape and how we experience them. The subtle shapes the physical. As such, illnesses and body messages help us tap right into the divine.

Let us take, for example, the common cold. Stuffy, runny nose, fever, and scratchy throat – we have all been there. Some tend to feel defeated by it, as though it were happening “to me”, feeling sorry for oneself, numbing oneself out, switching oneself off until it passes, disinterested in any soul call. Others prefer to plow on through their work, still feeling at some level that the illness is happening “to me”, but feeling stronger and more feisty than nature itself so choosing to ignore the voice of their soul coming through their body as best they can until all symptoms leave.

Others will see illness as an opportunity to listen more closely. Those people will ask, feeling sincerely receptive to an answer, “What is my body saying? What is my soul trying to communicate?” When I have paused in that way, I have found that the common cold, for example, is usually an expression of unshed tears. The body needs to move excess energy somehow. A cold is one way to shed stored water energy and inner dampness. Should I feel like I am about to come down with a cold, I find that when I tune into what I am feeling in my heart and soul, soon tears start to flow. When I allow myself to release this stored energy in the manner it needs, the looming cold quickly disappears.

Illness is a means to reconnect with the voice of your soul. It comes as a message from your soul, designed to catch your attention. Dis-ease is to be ill-at-ease. It signals a way in which we are not at ease within ourselves; we are not in alignment with our truest selves. It signals a dis-balance in our relationship between our body, our soul, our spirit, our personality and the planet. In this way, illness is not some form of cosmic punishment, something happening “to me”. It is no sign of failure, but a sign of grace, the divine offering us an opportunity to reconnect more deeply and honestly to who we are.


A story that the famous channel Edgar Cayce recounts illustrates the connection between mind and body. Each day, a friend of his was asked how he was. Each day, his friend replied, “Never better!” One day, a series of people decided to let this man know on his way to work that he was looking pale and ill, to see what would happen to his feeling “never better”. As the man came across each one of those people that morning, he gave his usual, “Never better” reply when asked how he was. But this time, the people that questioned him retorted, “Really? You are looking very unwell.” By lunchtime, the poor fellow had to go home, having suddenly come down with the flu.

What we say to ourselves and how we speak to others affects health and well-being. It is too simple, however, to suggest that physical symptoms are psychosomatic. Nor am I saying that all illnesses exist in our mind or that they are simply the results of our thoughts. What we think and feel plays a huge role in our health, just as our body reflects our thoughts and feelings back to us. If we are willing to hear what our body is saying, we have a powerful ally in our health and spiritual growth.

I do know from experience that there is nothing purely ‘physical’. Even things that seem just like physical accidents were part of a greater metaphysical picture. All things physical are an expression of the unseen. For example, why did you trip down the stairs? Were you feeling really in the flow, connected, alert? Or were you feeling down, doubtful, discouraged? What were you thinking when that car accident happened? Had you just received a raise, but at some level felt this was all just too good to be true? I feel we owe it to ourselves and to nature to listen, to tune into our body and let it talk to us.


Layers of subtle energies surround our bodies, moving away from our skin from the densest to the lightest frequencies, sounds and colours. Our physical bodies are the grossest expression of subtle energies. Subtler than the physical body is a sheath called the emotional body. Subtler still is the intellectual body followed by the spiritual body. As we listen to our physical body, following its cues given to us through discomfort, stresses and pain, we come into contact with messages from these subtler realms.

A woman came to me once for healing work. She had pelvic pain, and wanted relief. When I opened to her, I intuitively saw a rape that she had survived. I saw too the inflamed rage she still felt because of it. Her pain was letting her know she still had deep, unprocessed emotions. She had not moved through the horror of the incident, nor had she seen any possibility for forgiveness. Full of rage, blame, resentment and shame, she did not know how to deal with these emotions, so she packed them away and tried to move on. But her body pain was keeping her honest, letting her know she still had not healed, nor had she learned what she needed to learn through the incident.

Once she was willing to listen to messages within her body as the voice of her soul, she saw that she needed to confront her violator and the family members that were silently witness to the crime. Her soul was speaking through her body letting her clearly know that she had unfinished business on her personal healing and spiritual journey. Once she followed through what she needed to do to heal, her symptoms ceased. She also was free from the entangled, emotional grip of those who were involved, and was able to pursue with confidence a much happier life.

There are several wonderful authors and healers that offer guidance in understanding messages from the body, such as Louise Hay’s classic “You Can Heal Your Life” or her “Heal Your Body” or Caroline Myss’s “Anatomy of the Spirit”. Though I highly respect the guidance these teachers offer, I found for myself that they offered a point of view, rather than law written in stone. As I deepened my relationship with my body and learned to understand my body language, I developed and still am learning skills to understand a very rich, multidimensional language that has roots right to my soul, including everything I know and everything I could want to know. I encourage you to tune in and learn your own unique body language, the one only you know.


The body tends to work as an intelligent, multidimensional energy system that draws upon and stores information of similar nature within similar regions of the body. For example, earlier I spoke of violation memories in the pelvis. Why pelvis for violation? The pelvis tends to be the area of the body where we learn to have trusting relationship with others. If that developmental process is compromised in some way, we may recreate, attract and relive similar life patterns over and over until we learn new ways of being. So listening to our body talk is one of the most direct and powerful ways to spiritually grow. That was why I said to my yoga student that my body is my guru. Guru means one who leads you from the darkness of ignorance to the light of truth. By learning to listen to and honour what we carry in the dark recesses of our body, we learn to live in greater light and with greater freedom and ease.

The following are some common energy tendencies that I have found in listening to my body talk over the years. Perhaps they offer some starting points that may help your unique, archeological, body talk explorations.

ROOT: The root energy center is located at the base of the spine around the perineum. Illnesses that affect everything from the soles of feet to the base of the spine are governed by this energy center. This energy center tends to be about the self, one’s rooting in this world, how we are anchored, the foundations we stand on. It tends to relate to our feelings and our experiences with our tribe, our primary family, and issues of survival. The earth rules this energy center. An invocation we can embody for healthy root center is “I am”.

SACRUM: The sacrum energy center is located in the pelvis, just below the navel. It predominantly governs the sexual organs, the low back and the lower abdominal area. This energy center tends to be about our relationship between our self and another, how we relate to another person. This energy center is governed by our emotional fluidity and how we flow within life as a whole. It is ruled by water. An invocation we can embody for a healthy sacrum is “I am beauty”, not as in being physically beautiful, but that our essence is beauty, just as nature is beauty. We are called here to trust in the flow of life of which we are an integral part.

SOLAR PLEXUS: The solar plexus is located just above the navel. It governs the upper abdomen and the organs of digestion. As such it is governed by fire. This energy center relates to how we maintain our sense of self within a group and our ability to act in ways that honour who we are. Because of this, boundary issues are reflected here. An invocation we can embody for a healthy solar plexus center is “I can”.

HEART: The heart center is located in the front of the chest. Illnesses that are governed here are those of the heart, lungs, all organs, vertebrae and tissues that are in the chest area. This energy center is about learning to transcend our personal needs, already expressed in the first three energy centers, and tap into the transpersonal and unconditional. It is governed by ether. An invocation we can embody for a healthy heart is “I am joy”.

THROAT: The throat center is located at the base of the neck in the soft tissue above the clavicle. It is governed by sound. It is responsible for diseases in the area of the body that relates to sound through the neck and mouth area. This energy center relates to our speech, what we vocalize, our ability to be truthful and honest, and the actualization of our soul’s voice, our trust in divine guidance. An invocation we can embody for a healthy throat is “I am sound”.

THIRD EYE: The third eye is located just above the space between the eyebrows at the center of the forehead. It governs the organs of the head. The energy center relates to our ability to see clearly, to see through illusion to what is real. As such, it relates to our ability to see beyond our tendency to see the physical as finite and experience ourselves as beings of light. An invocation we can embody for a healthy third eye is “I am light”.

CROWN: The crown energy center is located at the top of our head, in the center of the crown. It oversees the way we flow between the cosmos and physical. As such, it affects our overall blueprint and architecture and how spirit manifests into form. The relationship between the physical and the metaphysical is expressed as the interplay between the bioelectrical field, the bio-chemical field and the tissue field as a biodynamic whole, within the whole. An invocation we can embody for a healthy crown energy center is “Isness”.

Happy exploring, listening to and honouring your own, unique body-talk!
May you feel rooted, vital and expansive as you enjoy the moment to moment unfolding and the eternal dance between spirit and matter.