Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ask Parvati 37: Feeling Under Attack - Part 4: Giving Voice and Making Changes

(Continued from "Understanding and Compassion")


I woke up this morning with the words in my head: "Illness and injury are a call for needed change."  I have been going through some big personal changes this year, and clearly this was a voice from my soul reminding me to keep on that path of transformation.


We don't need to experience painful situations in order to grow, but often, we do end up going there. When we get colds, we know we need to slow down and take better care of ourselves. The same with physical accidents. But so too with personal injury.


When we face difficult people, it is important to not take another's state of mind personally. We have no control over what others think or do, or how they behave. All we can do is let people know how we feel and ask kindly for them to stop if what they are doing is hurting us.


But if healthy dialogue is not possible and changes do not happen, we may need to look at deeper changes we may need to make in our life.


Perhaps, when we face challenging people and situations, we are reminded to make changes in our life. Perhaps the toxic supervisor reminds us that we really don't like the work we are doing anyway and we had best move on from there. Perhaps the nasty boss is helping to push us out the door because really, that is where we belong, in another job. The universe has a way of making sure we learn our lessons.


Changing deep patterns in our self and in our life is not easy, because we tend to be attached to things and often live in fear. We need to learn to be ok with these shadow aspects of ourselves, and make sure we do not add insult to injury by beating ourselves up for not knowing better or doing better. I mentioned last week that change begins with acceptance. We need to accept where we are at so that we can change. We can accept the hurt, the discomfort, the rage, the desire to run towards and beat someone up or run away in fear for our lives. These are all part of the fullness of the human experience. When we watch and "stay with" the emotional flux, eventually they settle and greater wisdom arises.


When we are injured emotionally or physically by a difficult person, we may need to ask ourselves what is balanced action in response to this. The answer to this question will only arise once our reactive nature has settled. And with this, time is a great healer.


We may need to give voice and let the other person know that we found what they did hurtful. But if we are attached to the other person hearing us, or changing, inevitably we will get caught up in the the same rage-filled cycle of feeling hard done by.


Others don't like to change any more than you do, so expecting them to see your point of view may only lead to frustration. If they do, then you can discuss ways to work together in good spirit. If they don't, you may need to consider a different work environment.


Our lives are very short. I don't believe we are meant to be unhappy. If you find yourself in a work or living environment with people who are unwilling to treat you with the respect you deserve, you may need to change your whereabouts, relationships, or job.


Change is part of life. All things in nature come, go and are reborn. We must not be afraid of change as it is quite literally natural. We can understand our resistance to change and where it comes from. But we must ultimately soften and embrace change.


Thank you for sending in this question about dealing with feeling attacked.

Enjoy the rest of the week and see you again on Sunday!



Reminder: Tomorrow is the last day to send in your questions for next week's blog entries. Please send to

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ask Parvati 37: Feeling Under Attack - Part 3: Understanding and Compassion


(Continued from "The Big Picture: It's Not Personal")


Here are some powerful thoughts I ask you to consider. Find a quiet place and allow yourself to go deeper with these:


"Everyone wants to be loved."











"Everyone wants to be loved. And everyone fears they will not be loved."




Think about that.






Think about that some more. Breathe it in. Let it resonate.


"Everyone wants to be loved and everyone fears they will not be."





Apply that thought to your boss. Think of him that way, just wanting love, fearing he will not be. Think of how you want to feel loved. Perhaps, you two are not that different.




Think of your mother that way, just wanting love, fearing she will not be. Try to feel the fear your mother has, and know you too feel the same. Perhaps, you are not so different. The love you seek is also the love she wants. The fear you have that you won't find love, is also the very same fear she has.




Think of your friends and other family members that same way. See the way they hope for love, the way they feel disconnected from love, the way they do love. Where is the love in all these relationships? In which way do you love? It may not be so much, perhaps, about how much love you get, but about what you give. When  you see yourself, the fears, the hopes, the desires you have for love in others, when you see you are not that different, then perhaps love blossoms, like a flower in the mud. We are left full, feeling connected, loved, even in the face of adversity.




Now think of yourself. Touch that place of "I just want to be loved, and I fear I will not be." It is deep stuff. It has been there likely a very long time. Perhaps it was exacerbated by your mother, or your father or someone else. But it is a wound you carry. No one made it. It is yours. If it is yours, then you can heal it. Since you are the one holding on to it, you can let it go. We hold onto wounds, feeling almost precious about them, as they form our identities and create who we are. As we grow, we must let go and move beyond these divisive states so we may emerge into wholeness. But this only happens as we understand the wounds we have, how they are born from ignorance, just as when another hurts us, their actions are born from ignorance. When we understand and have compassion for our ignorance, we will feel more understanding and compassion for the ignorance in others.


In my experience, we all have a deep place within where we fear that we will not be loved. Sometimes, around that raw and fragile feeling, is the feeling of vacant hopelessness. But this will not last. Beyond all these painful, dry, and desolate places is a fountain of unending love. The goodness of life is within even the most desolate times if we allow ourselves to settle in and open, patiently, to the flowering spring. The force of life emerges again and again, without compromise. It simply is. Beyond our fear of not being loved, is love. In our fear of not being loved, is love. Around our fear of not being loved, is love. The fear itself is love, as it shows us our very humanity, our potential for openness, receptivity to that which I would simply call Grace… the force that is beyond our ego's grasp and comprehension.


When we are willing to rest, in stillness, quietly, without fighting, with this fear of not being loved, we find tremendous creativity. It is in some ways the linchpin of the psyche that moves us from the grip of the ego into a place of oneness and compassion. Rest there and you will find love and all will change.


(Continued tomorrow with "Giving Voice and Making Changes")

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ask Parvati 37: Feeling Under Attack - Part 2: The Big Picture/ It's Not Personal

(Continued from "The Power of Patience")


We tend to take people's bad moods, emotional reactions, judgment, criticism and attacks personally. Of course, toxic energy directed towards us hurts. But it does not have to.There is tremendous power in not taking things personally. In doing so, we peel away the dramatic story that masks the moment to reveal deeper truths. When we let go of taking things personally, we ultimately see that everyone is wounded, everyone needs love and everyone is doing the best they can at any given moment.


Hurtful exchange and nasty comments usually happen so quick, that we hardly know what really has gone on. When we practice patience and take a bit of breathing room from a volatile situation, we can slow down the tape of our reactive mind and see the subtler pathway of our knee-jerk reactions. We can move our awareness inward and ask ourselves, "What buttons of mine did this person push? What did I feel? Why did I react like that? What about this did I find hurtful? Is there something else I could see that am not seeing?"


It is my belief that most people are just trying to get through their day with, likely, a whole lot of mental fog, swirling unhappiness and unresolved desires. When we are unconscious, we are very selfish beings, consumed with our own wants and needs that tend to eclipse our ability to perceive the happenings in our environment and the needs of others. To become sensitive to the world beyond our ego, and the needs of others, is a skill that is cultivated through spiritual awakening. If we were all more sensitive to the needs of others, well, our world would not quite be in the mess it is in!


That being said, I believe it is a rare thing that someone is deliberately malicious. There is a lot of unconscious malice, but deliberate hurtfulness requires a certain mental instability or insanity that is not, thankfully, that common.


This week, I had an experience that reminded me to not take things personally. Soon after I woke up and before I started my morning meditation practice, I took a peek at my emails. I rarely do that as I prefer to keep my mind untouched by external things and dive directly into the deeper space of still thoughts. But for some reason, that day, I did. I had received an angry email from an acquaintance, a spiritually dedicated practitioner who was also a fan of my blogs. She had accused me of stealing one of her social media postings and writing a blog entry about it. Her words were sharp and hurtful, accusing me of being unspiritual and dishonest. I was shocked. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. I had not even seen any of her social media posts recently.


I went to my morning meditation practice, admittedly, a bit shaken. As my mind settled, I felt it best to simply reply to her and say that I had no idea what she was talking about. After my sit, with the calm of my practice still fresh, I went to my computer with a calm and honest reply. My message was sent only with the intention to clarify any possible confusion and assumption. However, what came back were further irrational accusations and a request that I stop the "childishness" and admit my fault. Again, I had no idea what this person was going on about.


For whatever reason, one that only that person can know, my blog clearly had pushed one of her buttons and she was reacting. She had made me the source of her injury, rather than owning her own reactivity and inner wounds. I did what I could by voicing my truth. Her decision to not believe me was entirely her own, something over which I had absolutely no control.


With hindsight, I now feel a sense of inward, open warmth at the folly of the human mind, the depths of our attachments that make coiled ropes look like snakes so that we go running. I now also chuckle at how I had best add a disclaimer to all my blog entries: "All characters, places and events appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental." LOL


What I have come to conclude is that every drama has a hero and antagonist. It is what makes dramatic stories move forward in plot. If we wish to be free of life's dramas, we must free ourselves from seeing ourselves as the hero and others as villains; or ourselves as victims seeking a hero.


So when you next meet an antagonist in life's drama, take a moment to ask yourself a few questions to avoid taking their misery personally. Is it possible, for example, that the supervisor who got angry at you during your presentation had an argument with his wife that morning? He perhaps left the house fuming and took it out on the next available person: you. Who knows what his reasons were for acting hurtfully or why he did what he did. It however has nothing to do with you. He may need to communicate something which may or may not have validity, but his choice to do so in a way that causes pain is a choice he made that reflects the person he is. His choices do not reflect who you are.


I have quoted this before, which I feel sums up life relationships so beautiful: "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.”


Everyone, like you, carries wounds around, deep childhood hurts that lay gaping until we inadvertently pour our own salty tears into them. We mean no harm. We bump into each other like diamonds in the rough, polished by life unfolding. It is healthy to try to see the good in others, that is, to see that each person is doing the best they can with the skills they have at this time. When we avoid taking things personally and rest in the bigger picture, our hearts will flower into the fullness of compassion and we will no longer hurt or feel hurt by our ignorance or the ignorance in others.


(Continued tomorrow with "Understanding and Compassion")

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ask Parvati 37: Feeling Under Attack - Part 1: The Power of Patience

Dear Parvati,

I am having difficulty managing angry feelings toward one of my supervisors. He criticized me harshly during a presentation I was giving in front of a crowd. I know that it was meant to be personal. What made me even more angry than the slag was that I couldn't fight back or defend myself in that moment. I felt powerless, and I had to swallow the anger that came up. I have been fuming over it for days. In my less angry moments, I absolutely recognize my role in this conflict and the attachments and distorted boundaries that I helped to build, which have led to this. I also know that what feels rooted, vital and expansive is if I were able to let go of these attachments, and with that, the anger and hurt. But my ego is still fuming, and I can't "get over it". I also feel some anxiety about having to work with him again, which I will have to do regularly. Help!

I think I need to re-build boundaries that were violated, but I feel so vulnerable right now. No doubt this kind of attack brings up feelings of being attacked by my mother when I was a child and feeling powerless and afraid. My question relates to handling these difficult feelings during circumstances that are less than ideal. Do you have suggestions or insight?



Dealing with difficult people is a skill that takes practice. Encountering a person that pushes our buttons can feel like running headlong into a wall. We end up with wounds and bruises until we learn to slow down, see more clearly and make different choices. Once we slow down and choose differently, we begin to see that others' hurtful choices have nothing to do with us. When we slow down and make different choices, we also open to the wisdom that arises as we care for ourselves. We get to know ourselves better as we nurse our long-standing wounds, that have been reopened inadvertently, back to health.


As we explore this week how to deal with difficult people, patience comes to my mind. Yet, when we hear the word "patience", we may subconsciously think that it only applies to wimps. We are in a society that does not necessarily praise patience, but tends to cheer us on as we roar into battle. We have all heard the phrase "patience is a virtue". It is a term that has stood the test of time. There must be a reason for such -- perhaps, because it is true.


Patience requires particular skill and spiritual evolution. Often falsely associated with passivity and resignation, patience provides a quiet power that helps us avoid getting caught up in life's dramas. It helps us see that behind the intensity of our experiences, there are eternal truths at play. It helps us to not take things so personally, and see more fully into what is really going on beyond our reactive ego.


Patience, however, is not easily cultivated and often grows through adversity. When we feel like life is a battering ram directed straight at our hearts and things are just not going our way, we are called to soften, surrender and cultivate patience. When we get all out of sorts because life throws us curve balls, we inevitably suffer. Our reactions add fuel to an already raging fire. Patience helps quell any excess heat and keeps our hearts warm and open, while our minds remain cool and calm. With this internal balance, we can meet the present moment more fully.


The dictionary defines the quality of being patient as "the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like; an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner; quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast."


When we read "to have patience with a slow learner", we may immediately think that the slow learner we are asked to have patience for is "that fool over there who hurt me". It is true that patiences teaches us to see all beings as evolving, however rough, unsteady, prone to err and imperfect they may be. However, is it possible that the slow learning we are being asked to have patience for is also our own? Here we are again, faced with adversity and getting all bent out of shape. We know there is a more balanced way to live. We want to be free of suffering. We have come this far on our spiritual path. Too often, when we face adversity, we add insult to injury by criticizing ourselves for events over which we have no control. Not only have we felt criticized by another, we may criticize ourselves with thoughts like, "How could I have reacted again? When will I transcend these emotional reactions and live with greater steadiness?"


Though we may experience hurtful judgements and moods in others, the way we judge ourselves in reaction to them also hurts. If we truly loved ourselves and rested in a place of wholeness, the ups and downs of others moods would pass over us like changing weather patterns. But we are attached to what others think of us and to approval and praise we hope to receive. So criticism hurts doubly.


When we face adversity and in life in general, we need humility and patience for our own folly. We all tend to point fingers at "that person over there" who is behaving "so badly". But we too have a tendency to act hurtfully. We know we can hurt someone, because likely we are masters at criticizing ourselves. Perhaps, as someone pours negativity towards us, we reactively pour it right back at them. We tend to treat others the way we treat ourselves. As we practice patience for our own humanity, the way we err, the way we hurt, the way we buy into others' miseries and take them on as our own, we evolve and have greater patience and understanding of the very same in others.


Spiritual texts of all world religions praise patience. It is a quality we must learn as we evolve spiritually. Here are some quotes from the "big books" that may inspire:


"The patient man shows much good sense, but the quick-tempered man displays folly at its height." (Proverbs 14:29, NAB)

"An ill-tempered man stirs up strife, but a patient man allays discord." (Proverbs 15:18, NAB)

"A patient man is better than a warrior, and he who rules his temper, than he who takes a city." (Proverbs 16:32).

"Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:21-23, NIV)

"No one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune." (Quran, 41:35).


When we face a challenging person, our knee-jerk reaction may be to fight back. But this often gets us pulled into dramas and away from our centre. We find ourselves putting fuel on an existing fire of anger or hate by acting vengefully or impulsively. The need for fight and flight exists as a primal instinct that kept us out of harm's way when we were in the jungle. But we no longer live in that jungle.


When we cultivate patience, we give ourselves the space to find the cool waters of wisdom-compassion. We see a much fuller picture of what is going on beyond our knee-jerk reactions when our buttons get pushed. Patience's steadiness teaches us resilience when we face adversity. Patience shows us how to become quiet in the face of hardship and remain rooted in a bigger picture. From that point of view, we see that life is not happening "to me", but perfectly teaching us how to grow into the compassionate beings we are meant to be.


(Continued tomorrow with "The Big Picture: It's Not Personal")

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Update: Ask Parvati returns on Sunday

Dear Friends,

My apologies for the delay in this week's postings. There was a medical emergency in my family yesterday that has taken and continues to take all my attention. As such I will not be posting this week's blog entries until next Sunday.

In the meantime, there are four juicy articles I wrote for Parvati Magazine that were just posted, so please go to There you will find all you need to fill you this week and beyond. With Grace, I will post this Sunday, as usual, and throughout next week.


PS: The first section of my answer to this week's question is on patience. I suppose, as fate would have it, that the delay in my posts this week helps us all practice just that. How amazing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ask Parvati coming tomorrow - and Parvati Magazine December Issue is live!

Dear Friends,

I am at a photoshoot today and will not have a chance to post this week's "Ask Parvati" until tomorrow. In the meantime, I invite you to check out the latest issue of Parvati Magazine, which just went live Friday evening. This month's theme, for the holiday season, is "light and dark". The articles remind us to find balance during the festive season.

Wishing you much peace,


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ask Parvati 36: Compromise, Acceptance and Getting the Love You Want - Part 5: Getting The Love You Need


(Continued from Getting The Love You Want)



Relationships are a path for personal growth. In my opinion, they can be a fast track way for spiritual growth. Perhaps some of you have had the experience of feeling great when you are on your own, but when you get into a relationship, all of a sudden you find out all sorts of areas for personal growth as your shadow gets provoked. None of that seemed to exist when you were on your own. So where did it come from? The ego assumes it must be your partner, so you conclude you're with the wrong partner. Truth is, these vasanas (or negative tendencies) were within you all along and have been simply triggered by the relationship.


Of course, it is healthy to be in a relationship where you find the support and safety you need to explore and ultimately release these vasanas. This is why a healthy relationship is more like a co-creative workshop for spiritual growth than a walk in the park. They amplify our shadow and our potential. They bring out hidden tendencies and show us who we truly are. When we are willing to accept the fuel for growth and let our ego guard down, the workshop begins to feel more like a walk in the park, as we become more spiritually fit.


I have had my fair share of a range of relationship experiences, some painfully scary and others tender and divine. In hindsight, I can see in that all the while, I was being taught exactly what I needed to learn in exactly the way I needed to learn it. Sometimes when we resist lessons, life heats up the teachings and we find ourselves in painful situations. The intensity of the lesson may be a measure of our resistance to learning and the hardness of our ego. If we meet a relationship with humility, these tough lessons soften and our learning and evolution increases.


I have found when I am willing to let go of the grip of my ego and live in service to the creative flow, this moment as it is right now, I touch a level of love and joy that is not conditional upon circumstance. This is something I can choose. I can tap into that flow at any time.


Our partners may push our buttons, but the buttons are ours. Our old patterns exist within ourselves. They are not found inside the other person.


I believe it is humbling and healthy to know that we will be triggered at some point or another until we reach enlightenment. The triggers persist because they are part of our attachments to “mine”, the part of the human psyche that divides and individuates. Similarly our partner has the same tendencies. When we understand this, we can soften to what may seem intense, unfair, or "against me" in the moment and open to a bigger picture. We can laugh more at our tendency to grasp and push. We can let go and flow with greater joy.


No one person, no matter how perfect, could fill up a hole in our psyche. In some sense, it is not even really fair to ask that of anyone. No one person could make our distorted perceptions right. Maybe by their not giving us what we feel we want in the moment, we go inside and find it from our capacity for self-love and from our relationship with the Divine. Maybe by not being given the exact right response that we feel we want in this moment to make life seem perfectly shiny, maybe we are being given the greatest gift we could get. In that moment, we see our attachments to how we want life to be, rather than how life is. In that moment, our “me-ness” cracks a little, and a fissure of light slips in. We can see, in perfect reflection, our wanting, how our ego wants things to be a certain way to feel temporarily loved.


In truth, we are always loved. Our perception of such gets eclipsed, and we forget. That is ok. When we don’t get what we want, we have a chance to see what we really need. We have an opportunity to turn our awareness to the reality that we are already whole, loved, connected and interconnected to an intelligent whole that is far greater than our limited ego or will. We just temporarily got caught up, in the smallness of “me” and forgot the expanse of “I Am”. Our partner too is part of that intelligent whole. And whether our partner knows it or not, he/she just gave us a gift back home, to the One undivided state of continual bliss. Not bad for a relationship, huh?


Today is the last day to submit your question to be answered for next week's blog. Please send yours to

I will post a new blog topic in answer to one of your questions throughout next week starting this Sunday.

Thanks for reading!

Be well till then,


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ask Parvati 36: Compromise, Acceptance and Getting the Love You Want - Part 4: Getting The Love You Want


(Continued from Acceptance and Insight)


Intimate relationships can be complex. We say we want to find love, yet we are often attracted to people from whom we find it hard to get what we feel we need. Some psychotherapists suggest that unconsciously, we seek to fix the wounds of our childhood through our intimate partners. It is like we want our mummy or we want our daddy through them. In fact, certain theories suggest that our unseen wounds help us find our "perfect" match. The problem is, the person we find at first to be "perfect", turns out to re-enact the very pains we experienced as a child. One morning, we wake up to find that we are not in relationship with our ideal mate, but with a replica of our clingy mother or our aggressive father. Then we ask, how did we get here? Unhappy, we push against what we see and inadvertently move into power struggles, trying to fix the other person, who once seemed to fill us up just the way we needed. We think of breaking up and may even choose to do so. Or we choose silent resignation, because, unwilling to risk change, we sum up that this is just the way relationships are - tough.


We are told we cannot change the other person, but can only change ourselves. Then what are we to do when we find our partner is not who we thought them to be? Do we break up, time and time again, until we find the one perfect person, with whom we interact perfectly? In search for the ideal, life could soon feel like a never-ending chase for Mr. Perfect or Miss Right. So we ask ourselves, do we stay unhappy in power struggles or in silent resignation, saying this is just what couples do?


In the absence of what we feel we want from our significant other, we are offered a tremendous gift to find what we may truly need to become whole. We are offered something that does not exist outside of ourselves in another person, to touch something that comes uniquely from the infinite. We cannot find this perfection from another person, who is limited and not whole. We can find it through inner awakening, when we embrace the perfection of this moment, and reside in the expansive experience of being the very fabric of life itself: love.


"Okay," you say. "What does that mean? My partner still drives me crazy!"

I say, You are love.

You say, "But I don’t feel loved."

I say, How can you feel loved when you don’t experience yourself as love itself? How can something broken, truly feel whole? It is only in the receptivity to and the realization of wholeness that we can feel whole. One who feels he/she wants to be filled up, because he/she feels broken, will not be filled up, but will only find temporary fixes that soften the pain of separation from the One source of infinite love.


When we realize that what we think is love is not love but wanting, we start to find the love we always hoped to find. What we call love is often attachments to forms of emotional bartering. They are more like contractual arrangements to suit our limited ego perception of reality. As such, they are bound to leave us empty and wanting more.


When we don't find the love we want, we are called to remember that we are to return to the One, the permanent, undivided state with the source of life. When we don't find the love we want, we are called to remember that we are love. It is our attachment to illusion that makes us think anything else.


These illusions are part of psychological distortions we carry from previous incarnations. We then attract the perfect family to exacerbate our disconnected tendency, to help us see it, so we may release our attachment to it and return to love. As children, we were dependent on our imperfect parents for our needs. But they were not one with the pure source of love, so they were bound to err. We then take that personally as a sign that love is imperfect. So we seek to fix that in our intimate relationships, seeking a fix for a disconnected wound we have from childhood (and previous incarnations). This is why we unconsciously look for mummy or daddy in our partners, so we can fix that deep wound.


But ultimately, we come to see that mom and dad were imperfect and so are all humans. Our source of love cannot depend on others, because everyone is flawed. Everyone will let us down at some point or another, if we expect them to be perfect. We are imperfect. So are others. This is why we are called through intimate relationships to tap into the source of love we are, not try to "get love" from outside.


So at some point our "perfect" partner will not give us what we want and let us down. We could keep looking for someone who will. And maybe that next relationship would be good -- up until we face our own feeling of inner lack.


Relationships are not meant to bring us infinite happiness. Only we can give that to ourselves. They are not meant to give us all the love we need. Only we can tap into that ourselves. So then why be in a relationship?


We will look at that question in Getting the Love you Need in tomorrow's entry.

See you then,



PS: Don't forget tomorrow is the last day to submit your question to be answered for next week's blog. Please send yours to

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ask Parvati 36: Compromise, Acceptance and Getting the Love You Want - Part 3: Acceptance and Insight


(Continued from Acceptance Versus Resignation)


Let's look at a simple relationship example, perhaps one you have experienced before. Your partner wants to go to the movies. You really want to stay home and tackle some unfinished household chores you both have left lingering that weigh on you. You don't get how he/she could want to go to the movies when these chores are pending. He/she does not get why you are so fixated on chores when there is fun to be had.


This pattern has been going on for some time in your relationship. In fact, when the topic of movies comes up, you feel resentment. In your eyes, your partner wants to "goof off" -- sigh! -- again. You want to be practical and move forward, unburden your lives by facing things that need attention. You don't want distractions. You want action.


From your partner's point of view, you don't have enough fun. You are too serious, wanting to plan for the future rather than live for the now and go out on the town and have fun. He/she feels you don't go out enough, and he/she needs more lightness in the relationship. Staying home and doing chores feels too confining.


If you were to give in, perhaps you would just go to the movie, telling yourself that it makes him/her happy. But then you begin to linger in resentment, because the house remains unattended and your needs are not met. This is not a win-win. To me, win-lose exchanges in a relationship are ultimately lose-lose. It is one of the poisons leading to eventual relationship demise. They are to be avoided.


If you were to quietly sit down and discuss together the options that make both of you happy and try to find a compromise, you may agree to do chores for part of the day, then take a break and go to the movies. If you feel good about that and so does he/she, then you have found a win-win.


Beyond compromise, is the notion of acceptance. If you are aware that your partner has a tendency to, in your opinion, want to "goof off", you must ask yourself what is really going on. Acceptance is your best friend. You must accept that your partner has this tendency, which is different than yours. You don't necessarily like this tendency, nor do you want to encourage it, but you accept it. Accepting it does not mean that you give in, and only go to the movies. Accepting means that you understand you have divergent tendencies and that in the co-creative flow, in a life-affirming relationship, in the state of balance there is room for both. Both of you are imperfect and evolving.


Different people with diverging tendencies often get together to help balance each other out and encourage personal growth. That may be the case in this example. If you feel rooted, vital and expansive when you go out to the movies a little more often than you usually would, and have a happy helper to tackle household chores, then your reality has expanded thanks to your relationship. We must strive for that kind of partnership, where our relationships help to broaden our sense of reality and our sense of self to include a bigger picture of life, to enrich who we are.


When you accept a tendency in your partner that is divergent from yours, you begin to see a bigger picture and feel less personally attacked when you partner does something that would not be your first choice. If you accept his/her tendency, you will see that likely, this weekend, the topic of a movie or going out on the town will come up. Rather than having your feathers ruffled, you will see your partner doing his/her thing, as it is. It may be an opportunity to see life through different eyes. It does not become a personal attack on your need to tend to household chores. In that place of acceptance, you can remain calm, understanding and ultimately loving for the need your partner is expressing. In that place of calm, you can also clearly express your needs: that even though you enjoy movies, and you would be open to that, you also want to make sure it does not eclipse the practical need for chores. By accepting your partner, you are also accepting yourself. In so doing you begin to see your partner more clearly and you also share yourself more fully.


If the need to go to the movies is all your partner ever wishes for and he/she does not want to do household chores, you need to vocalize this misbalance. If there is no budge, then perhaps you need to make a decision if this relationship is right for you. You may simply want different things, have different life priorities and personal goals. There is nothing wrong with that. People can part ways amicably. In fact, that is a sign that a breakup is the resolving of some unfinished karma. If you leave angry, judgmental or resentful, the likelihood is, you will meet similar patterns in your next partner until these patterns are clear in you.


When you start to accept a tendency in your partner, you begin to see beyond the need to go to the movies, for example, as an isolated issue. You begin to inquire into and ask yourself (or your partner, depending on how open he/she is), Where does this desire come from? Is it an expression of his/her joy? Is it a diversion? Does it help bring you out of your shell because you are scared to let loose? Is it actually a way he/she hides from his/her fear of making commitments and building for your future? Does the tendency come from hiding or opening?


Acceptance creates a seedbed for insight to grow. When we accept what is, our consciousness opens to meet it. We can then see the moment in fullness, for what it is and make wiser, more compassionate choices.


With greater compassion and understanding, the next time the topic of the movie comes up, you see the bigger picture. You see your flow, you see his/her flow. You also know that there is a whole, supporting each one of you together and individually. There is balance somewhere, waiting for you, that you can invite in.


Part of this week's question was when do you know if you should stay in a relationship. Tomorrow we will look at Getting The Love You Want.


Enjoy the day,


Monday, November 14, 2011

Ask Parvati 36: Relationships: Compromise, Acceptance and Getting the Love You Want - Part 2: Acceptance Versus Resignation


(Continued from Balanced Compromise)
Compromise is different from acceptance. After we make a compromise, we learn to accept our choices. If we choose not to compromise, we also must accept our choices. We can easily mistake acceptance for powerlessness, as though the word were synonymous with "throwing in the towel" and resignation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Acceptance is a powerful place. In fact, true change only begins once acceptance occurs. We may want to change our partner. We can try to push him/her into doing what we want over and over again. But that will only lead to two people feeling unhappy. If we want change, we must soberly look at what is and accept it, which means not trying to push our will into trying to change the way things are to suit our needs.

To accept is to be in non-resistance to what is. Acceptance is active in a non-forceful way. It is dynamic in a quiet way. Acceptance is alive, because when we are acceptant, we flow with the force of life. Think of nature. The flower is. It is in a state of acceptance of its flower nature. It is not trying to change things. It is in flow with the force of life.

Being passive is closer to being resigned. When we are passive, we could be very much in discord with what is, resistant to it, angry at it, hating it, resenting it. In this passive state, there is no acceptance. We are energetically against what is. In this, there is much unhappiness.

When we are acceptant of what is, we can meet the moment. We open. We can see more options, feel more joy, share more love, tap into the infinite source of love that is all around. When we are acceptant, we love.

Being acceptant does not mean that we like all this moment brings. Maybe this moment is full of horror and atrocities. If we are passive in the face of such, we immobilize ourselves and thwart the possibility of change. If we are aggressive in the face of such, we may implicate ourselves into the whirlwind of the horror. When we accept what is, without necessarily agreeing with it, we find tremendous creativity and possibility.

Intimate relationships are active, alive entities that exist between two people. It is part one person, part the other person and part something that is from neither. I do not think that relationship are two halves that make a whole, but two wholes that co-create possibility. We can find this kind of "positive possibilities" relationship only when we are willing to accept what is and be responsible to manage our own energies, not try to change others.

I have never understood the term "agree to disagree". It just does not make sense. Where is the co-creation in that? To me, that is resignation said politely. To me, that is relationship death. I believe in every moment there is a place of golden resonance, where two people can expand and tap into vitality. If both people are not willing to go there, it can be harder to find together. But it does not mean that you cannot find that place of expansion and beauty. Perhaps, once you have tapped into that bounty, your partner will be more inspired to go there as well, without you trying to make that decision for him/her.

When we are fixated on trying to choose between an either/or, we tend to feel unhappy with both. I am sure you have been there. You are caught in a dilemma. You feel you have to choose between option A or option B. Neither feels right. But you cannot see any other option. You feel pressure to make a decision. From my experience, if A and B both feel off, then you must choose C. The thing is, we often cannot see C so we don't know how to choose it.

The third option is born out of acceptance and non-resistance. It is often somewhere between two extremes. Our mind tends to work in opposites. We think good/bad, ugly/beautiful, happy/sad… It is part of our human nature to think in extremes.

The Buddha, thousands of years ago called his path "The Middle Way". The expansive, enlightened choice often is the third option, the middle way, somewhere between A and B. Not necessarily as a literal cutting down the middle, but a third option that feels balanced between two. Acceptance opens us to the middle way so that we do not get stuck with A or B. When we are not stuck on either, C may arise. C was always there. We were just too busy thinking only A or B existed to see it.

There is a wonderful story in traditional yogic teachings of the monkey and the banana. How do you trap a monkey? You place a banana in a metal cage and wait for the monkey to come and grab it. When it does, it cannot pull the long thin banana through the cage bars. Its mind so fixated on wanting that banana, it does not see if it turned the banana sideways, its arm would slip right through the bars. We are often like that, because we are busy fighting what is, due to our attachments. When we practice acceptance, we gain insight and option C opens to us.

Tomorrow I will look at what finding insight through acceptance looks like with a real life example in Acceptance and Insight.

Till then,

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ask Parvati 36: Compromise, Acceptance and Getting the Love You Want - Part 1: Balanced Compromise

Dear Parvati,

I'm in a long-term relationship with someone I love, but I find my partner challenging at times, which makes me sometimes doubt whether I'm in the right relationship. Some people tell me I give too much -- others tell me I need to give more! I'm confused. How do you know if you're in the right relationship? When is compromise and acceptance letting yourself get walked all over, and when are they part of spiritual growth and learning to truly love? Thanks for your insight.




Thank you for these questions. Whether you are in a long term relationship or simply moving through the day interacting with people around you, learning how to compromise, when to accept and when to move on, are skills we all must learn along our path to wholeness.


We have all met people who do not like to compromise and resist doing so. They somehow manage to manipulate situations to get their way, either through twisted charm, temper tantrums, dramatic diversions, guilt strategies, bullying techniques or passive denial. Even if these people are supposedly "getting what they want", I don't believe that they truly are happy if they behave that way.


In each moment, there is perfect balance. When we give more than what is in rightful balance, another person is taking more than what is their fair share. If you feel taken advantage of, or left with more than what is rightfully yours, then something is out of balance. These kind of energy exchanges happen every day of our lives. We pay the ticketed price for a purchase. We thank people for their hard work or we get a pay cheque for the hours we have put in. We take what is rightfully ours and give what feels sincere. Acting this way keeps our lives in balance and keeps us whole, spiritual beings.


In each moment, we are individuals held within a perfect whole. So though we are here, living our lives on this earth, there is also a huge, expansive intelligence which is within us and surrounds us. In fact, we are part of a vast universe, never alone. We are always part of that wholeness, loved, supported, complete. It is our habit to see ourselves as separate.


Being able to compromise is a skill that comes from understanding this bigger picture, beyond what is just before us. When we are rooted in the bigger picture, we can tap into the fullness of abundance, rather than grasping at scarcity. The bully, the one who always gets his or her way, is in scarcity, not in abundance, even if they seem to always get what they want and may even live in the lap of luxury. When we look at life from the vantage point of wholeness, any given situation becomes less about "you" and "me" and more about balanced flow within a greater whole. When we are simultaneously aware of our flow and the greater whole, we feel balanced, loved and alive. From this perspective, compromise must feel balanced in order for it to be rooted in dharmic (righteous) spiritual alignment. True compromise is not born from feeling "less than".


When we think, eat, speak and do things that are not in alignment with our highest good, we lose our vital energy. If you tune in, you will see that when you are out of alignment, you start to feel spaced out, listless, weak or ungrounded. When you are in flow, in your centre, you will feel rooted, vital and expansive. To make compromises that are in alignment, that are both personally  empowering and win-win, we must understand what alignment feels like.


Each person, in every situation, will have different responses. No two people are alike. But I believe we all feel aligned when we feel energized and as though we are growing. Not forcibly, but through feeling tapped into life's immense river. Sure, there are growing pains at times, but when we are in alignment with evolution, the expansion we experience brings us energy, fullness, not depletion. So compromise must feel ultimately rooted, vital and expansive for it to be in alignment.


Next time you begin to make a compromise, ask yourself this simple question: "Does this make me feel rooted, vital and expansive?" If your answer is no, you need to go deeper and find a different solution. If your answer is yes, go ahead and make that choice.


Compromise is different than acceptance, though they are closely linked. Tomorrow we will look at the nature of acceptance, and how that differs from resignation in Acceptance Versus Resignation.


Thanks again for this question. I look forward to answering it throughout the week.



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ask Parvati 35: The Gift in Gossip - Part 4: Discernment


(Continued from Gossip Hurts)


You ask, "Is there a way to know when someone is truly practicing satya or they just talk a good game?" We need to learn discernment along the spiritual path.


I originally wrote the text below for my Seeing Past the Shimmer blog entry, but feel it applies here too, so I share it with some slight modification:

I believe we are all a lot more alike than different. I would say that the light you see in your friend is a reflection of the light you see in yourself. Conversely, the shadow you sense in him/her is a reflection of your own discomfort with your own inner shadow.

Whether you are acquaintances or are best of friends, whether you hang out every day for the rest of your life or never see the person again, is secondary to the opportunity to grow from any encounter and deepen your own spiritual awareness. I would see this person as a gift from the universe for you to learn greater discernment, practice tuning into what you are feeling in the moment and act in a way that honours your inner voice.


Next time you are around a person and you question their sincerity, ask yourself:

  • Do I feel expansive now? If not, how come? If yes, how come?
  • Do I feel safe now? If not, how come? If yes, how come?
  • What wonderful qualities do I see in this person? How are these aspects of myself?
  • What can I not stand in this person? How are those aspects of myself?
  • Can I allow myself to just be, and watch this person/situation as he/she/it is, without reacting?
  • Does it feel rooted, vital and expansive for me to stay with this person now? If yes, stay. If no, go.


As a tool to learn discernment and develop compassion, I mention above to ask yourself in the moment if it feels rooted, vital and expansive to stay with that person or move along. This question is a powerful litmus test to see if the "good game player" side in you (in your words) is in fact masking your own shadow, as you hang out with someone who may be doing the same.


If it does feel rooted, vital and expansive to stay, then do so and fully relax and meet the moment in all its wonder. If it does not feel rooted, vital and expansive to stay and you choose to stay, then you too would be playing a "good game" by remaining. It is far more honest and compassionate to all involved (which includes you!) to kindly choose to interact no longer, wish the other well, and move on.


The gift here is in the power to discern what feels expansive and supportive for you and learning to accept both yourself and others exactly where you each are at. We don’t need to hang out with everyone, but I believe we are called to learn to love everyone, equally. By “love” I don’t mean a sentimental attachment, but a commitment to be real, honest, open, humble and courageous in this moment. By “love” I mean developing the state of witness consciousness, to see all of life… the beautiful, the painful, the glorious, the ugly… unfold as it is.


Love is like a flower that blooms in the fertile soil of self-love. As we learn to love ourselves exactly as we are, we become able to love others as they are by seeing through appearances and being present for what is, without judgment, attachment, fear, guilt or trying to change the outside world to suit our needs. In every moment we have the choice to embrace our evolution or resist it in some way. By rooting our actions in self-love, by practicing discernment through non-attachment, we can learn to cultivate timeless love and see beyond temporal, manufactured sparkles into eternal, expansive light.


WIshing you much joy on your continued path.

My next post will be on Sunday.

Be well until then,



PS: Please send in your questions for this Sunday's post to Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ask Parvati 35: The Gift in Gossip - Part 3: Gossip Hurts

(Continued from Cultivating Compassion)

At the core of the practice of satya (truthfulness) is non-gossip. Non-gossip is also part of the five Buddhist precepts, rules by which to live. These precepts are analogous to the yogic Yamas and Niyamas and to the Ten Commandments. They are:

1. Do not kill (including non-harming, the absence of violence)
2. Do not steal (including taking that which is not rightfully yours)
3. Do not lie (including name calling and gossip)
4. Do not misuse sex (including adultery, harassment, exploitation; for renunciates, this means celibacy)
5. Do not consume intoxicants (including drugs, alcohol; for some this can even mean do not engage in mind-numbing activities such as movies and TV)

Gossip is idle talk or rumours, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. Gossip is prolific in our society, something we often take for granted. In extreme cases, it is considered a trustworthy source of information.

It seems gossip is practiced when we do not feel "enough". It comes from scarcity. It is not an expression of abundance, plenty, joy and fulfillment. We all have the capacity to gossip about what "they" did "over there", because that makes us feel temporarily better than "them". But we only do that for the temporary fix of feeling "better", because we fundamentally don't feel enough. If we knew truly that we were love, that each moment is perfection, we would understand our and others' shortcomings so that we could only experience compassion. Instead, we gossip.

I am guilty of gossip. Inadvertently, or in moments of spite, I have surely spread untruths. I have coveted that which "they have" out of feeling lack. These are poisons driven by our human ego. They cease only when we begin to notice them and understand that they are rooted in ignorance. Once we see the suffering they create, we chose to stop promoting pain. When we see the pain we cause in another through spreading untruths, our hearts break open to express our humanity, our capacity to love. No one wants to be subject to false accusations and lies.

I personally understand how gossip hurts. I have experienced it in various situations, even in groups that are supposedly spiritual. Despite the hurt I have felt, these painful times have also provided me with an unsurpassed opportunity to grow, evolve, learn and ultimately love.

Recently I was in a situation where a close friend of mine felt threatened by her next steps on her path and was not ready to face her problem with addiction. So she felt compelled to blame someone for her shadow, because she was too afraid and proud to hold herself accountable for her painful actions. This is natural and perhaps we have all done this to some degree or another. When we cannot deal with what we have done, it becomes someone else's fault. We all also tend to hurt the people closest to us. Since I was one of the people close to her, I was in her ego's line of fire and became the target of her hungry shadow. What followed was a gross misrepresentation of events, blaming me for her own choices.

I am sure that many can relate to the experience of a friend acting in ways that hurt or even betray us. These painful things happen. Likely too, many can relate to feeling inner turmoil as people harbour incorrect and unfavourable opinions about us. Our discomfort is part of our own shadow, driven by our own feeling of "I am not enough", that keeps us attached to feeling we need others’ approval in order to feel good. Part of satya is to find rooting in our truth that is not driven by approval from others, but only from our quiet, humble and unique connection with the divine.

In the case of my friend spreading gossip, it hurt my feelings deeply to feel judged and misrepresented. It hurt that she had made a radical about-face after the deep friendship we had shared. It hurt that others in our community took her word at face value, never checking in with me about how I was feeling or if any of what she said was true. In fact, the opposite occurred. When I reached out to people who had joined the gossip bandwagon to express how I was feeling, I received judgmental, finger-wagging "advice" back. There was no openness, humility, interest or receptivity.

The poison of this gossip extended to people who had been close friends with me for years as well as to acquaintances and spiritual renunciates that I greatly admired. It was as though a plague had spread. So I went into my heart, my soul, and inwardly called to my guru and asked, "How come? What am I to learn in this?"

It took me several months of tears, rage, inner processing, and deep soul searching to finally find the lotus flower blossoming in the proverbial mud. It had all felt like mud till then, layers of unclear complications created by someone who did not want to face her pain. Where was the flower that rises above the swamp? I could not see it.

Eventually, I saw that the entire gossip train was the most perfect gift I could receive. The present came to me like the fresh fragrance wafting above pond scum. Close friends around me who were also hurt by the gossip began to have similar realizations. The gift in gossip was making itself seen.

Though the process was a very painful one, I learned some of the most valuable lessons in my life. I learned that any judgement I feel from others provides me with an opportunity to release self-judgement. It is a gift, a way I can cultivate more compassion, space, and support for myself through my unique connection with the divine. It is also a way I can learn to truly love others, witnessing them doing their thing in this moment, just as they are, which has absolutely nothing to do with me.

I also saw that the person who had betrayed me was a gift from my guru. She was inadvertently mirroring ways in which I was betraying myself. She turned her back on my heart and on our sacred bond of friendship. She twisted truths, making lies seem like a good thing. Is this not exactly what the ego does? There were parts of my ego that were busy doing this -- to myself! Through the painful experience, I saw the subtler ways I still was suppressing my soul voice, silencing it, or twisting it around to support an ego driven fear. This was really big, deep stuff! What Grace!

The gift in gossip became a fantastic lesson in the subtlety and potency of satya. My life-long commitment is to soulful evolution and spiritual growth. I now see that being at the centre of this gossip was a gift perfectly orchestrated by my guru to help me evolve and love. It strengthened my ability to stay true to my truth, not buying into other people's fears and perceptions, and to have compassion for all of our weaknesses. It has helped me love better by accepting the murkiness of the pond for what it is and focusing on the truth and eternal light of the lotus flower.

I still watch the hoo-ha go on around. Now this former friend of mine who started the gossip train is in a situation where she gets lots of attention, coddling, ego stroking and addiction enabling, which is exactly what she wanted all along. So in some way, she is temporarily happy. She still is in denial of what went on, of the gossip she spread and of the pain she caused. But that is ok. There is a far bigger picture than I can see. I cannot change her. I cannot change anyone. All I can do is learn from the situation and humbly grow. I am open to an honest, heart to heart discussion with her or anyone from the community we shared, should anyone be willing. Until such time, I practice accepting them all with all their varied colours, just as they are, not the way I want them to be. When life dishes you lemons, you make lemonade!

Gossip hurts. So next time you mechanically begin to propagate gossip, look within and notice in what way your ego is getting a boost. Drop it, immediately. There is no gain in false speech or in the support of illusory perceptions. That is not satya. Give thanks to the universe for noticing this tendency and let it go.

When you find yourself on the receiving end of gossip, give thanks for the gift of insight into your shadow and into the shadow of others. The ego only dies when it merges with the light. For this to happen, we must let go. Being on the receiving end of gossip shows you that you have something others fear and covet. It shows that their consciousness is rooted in scarcity. They cannot love or see you as you are because ultimately, they do not love themselves enough to do so.

We all know scarcity, so we all can find compassion for those who are mired in it. When others judge you, see it as a mirror for how you can judge yourself and may be holding yourself back. Being hurt by others’ small-mindedness mirrors an aspect of your small mind for you to see. Receive the gift. Give thanks and let it go.

Life is full of mud and flowers. Where we choose to focus is up to us. We can get mired in the mud by buying into it through spreading gossip or feeling the victim of it, or we can see it all as the illusion of scarcity and let it all go. The best choice we can make is to focus on the flowers and rise above the mud and merge with the pure light of undivided consciousness. It is that light that fuels the blossoming flower to grow from the mud. That light is our true nature, not the mud. May we all be the flowers we are!

There are no perfect humans, only people evolving. Even those wearing holy robes have foibles and can err, unless they are fully realized masters. Until we are fully realized, we will cause pain. How quickly we see our folly and how quickly we amend our ways makes the difference between the wise and the ignorant.

We will take a look at the final entry on gossip in part 4 tomorrow on Discernment.
Enjoy the rest of the day,

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ask Parvati 35: The Gift in Gossip - Part 2: Cultivating Compassion


(Continued from Honesty and Truthfulness)


You ask, "How do we practice satya when we encounter gossip - particularly if the gossip is taking place among people we respect, or even among people who claim to be practicing yogis?"


I finally saw the 1982 movie Gandhi last night. It was incredible. I was impressed by one of the things that the character Gandhi said in this regard. He said he could not act violently against anyone who was acting unrighteously, because he too had faults. Instead, he chose to humbly stand up to what he felt was right through an active resistance to partaking in that which was unrighteous. Very importantly, standing up to unrighteousness started within his own self. He held himself up to the same standards that he inspired the world to live by.


All of us, unless you are a fully realized being, have vasanas (negative tendencies). No one is "free from sin", so to speak. No one has the right to judge or criticize anyone, because likely they too likely possess the very traits (to some degree or another) that they tend to criticize.


As I said last week, to me, the foundation of yoga practice is humility. Spiritual evolution seems to start there. Through humility, we become receptive to that which is much greater than our ego; and we can allow ourselves to be guided by it.


No one is perfect. Part of our journey as an aspiring yogi is to understand that and practice compassion. Do you have a tendency to gossip? Yes, likely you do. Does your yoga teacher? Yes, likely they do too. So does everyone who is not realized. We all have that tendency. The difference between an aspiring yogi and one who is still completely unawake is the willingness to work that vasana muscle.


With regards to your ashtanga teacher, you can do a few things:


- You can choose to simply watch your teacher's tendency to gossip and understand that it is a mirror providing you with an opportunity to practice the release of your own tendency to do so.

- Upon this understanding and from the vantage point of interconnection (not from a place of judgment or self-righteousness), you can quietly speak with your teacher about how you feel uncomfortable about that tendency and ask for more information as to why he/she tends to do that. It is often through the understanding of tendencies, finding out the story behind the action, that we can quickly develop compassion for others' habits. As Longfellow said: "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." Through understanding, we build compassion.

- You can learn these lessons within yourself and move to find another teacher.


Remember that whatever you choose, it is likely that you will need to continue to practice satya yourself. Be humble enough to see that there is no one perfect and, as such, you have a million opportunities a day to let go of your own negative tendencies (vasanas) and practice compassion for all the ignorance and suffering you see within and around you.


Tomorrow, we will look a bit more at gossip and how it hurts in Gossip Hurts.

See you then,