Sunday, December 25, 2011

Innocence, Humility and Purity: The Birth of the Divine

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, happy solstice and happy Sunday! May this day be full of beautiful things for you.


Though I was raised in a Christian home and go to church from time to time and on most high holidays, what I love about this time of year is the rich imagery about light that we can see when we are open to various spiritual traditions.


The winter solstice has just passed. We are now moving into longer days, which to me is a welcome relief. As one who loves to jump around on stage singing "I am a flower", I have an affinity with warmer weather and lots of sunlight! The solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of year, when the sun's greatest height in the sky is at an all time low, a phenomenon most affecting northern countries. The turn towards longer days was celebrated by our ancestors as it meant that the challenges of winter, that often brought death and starvation, were soon to be lessened.


At this time of year, Jewish people celebrate the miracle of light through the eight days of Hanukkah, a festival also known as The Festival of Lights. Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabean Revolt and reclaiming of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, which under the rule of Roman Emperor Antiochus IV (2nd century BCE), Jews were forbidden to attend. When the victorious Maccabees found a small jug of uncontaminated oil in the temple, only enough to light the Menorah for one day, the oil miraculously lasted for eight days, by which time more oil could be made. This holiday reminds us that light comes when we turn our hearts towards the Divine and enter the world of the sacred, the temple of worship. I enjoyed listening to the song "Miracle" performed by the Maccabeats (originally by Matisyahu), for those of you who are into pop versions of spiritual wisdom, which does it for me. The song is featured on the group's home page:


In the present day, Santa Claus, aka Saint Nicholas, a gift-giving character originating in Greek and Byzantine folklore, by far takes the stage for this day in North America. It is interesting to know that December 25th was historically marked by Julius Caesar (around 50BCE) as the date for the annual winter solstice celebrations in Rome. Early Christians (around 350AD) later appropriated the pagan solstice festival as the date to celebrate newfound light their way, this time as embodied by the birth of the Christ child.


When we move beyond Christmas folklore and settle into the spiritual meanings it brings, we notice that the light of the Divine, as symbolized in the birth Jesus, was born in a manger in and among shepherds and animals. This reminds us that the Divine is born through the innocence of a child, in purity and humility as one among us. Over the course of my blog entries, I have shared how I feel that the foundation for spiritual practice is humility, the simple, grounded, non-resistant acknowledgement that what is, is. No fancy excuses. No big stories. Just what is. The Christmas story reminds me of this simple and profound wisdom.


We are here, on this planet, amidst the beauty and imperfections of it all. We each carry inner light that can shine and cast shadows on the ground. As the little child who was born in a manger shows us, when we humbly surrender to the immensity of this human experience, we see that we are one with it all: the animals, the shepherds, the wise, the angels, the earth, and the stars. When we are willing to live with the innocence of a child and open to our purity with sincerity in our being, we enter the realm of the Divine. The Christmas story tells us that through the gateway of innocence, purity and humility we find the Divine.


Today, on this Christmas day, no matter what tradition you do or do not celebrate, consider the birth of light in your life. Consider cultivating innocence, experiencing things with openness and freshness rather than with anticipation, expectation and pre-judged ideas. Consider softening to life, rather than hardening to it. Consider being receptive, as a child is receptive to the newness and wonder of life. Consider the interconnections between yourself and all things, the way we are all in the mess of it all and guided by the shining light in the heavens, a light that reflects our inner light. Today, this Christmas, consider finding the light within yourself and through all things. I offer a guided meditation in Parvati Magazine on how to do just that.


When we are willing to open to this moment with innocence, purity and humility, we find the Divine Light of pure consciousness. There we meet the child of God that we all are. We enter into our temple of prayer and reclaim the miracle of lasting light, our birthright. Then we experience the fullness of light in every moment, and everyday, through all things.


May you enjoy this day and every day. Happy illuminating!




PS: Please go to Parvati Magazine for more juicy articles by people who live, love and serve in their various fields to help you live a life in the positive possibilities. Lots of jewels there! My next post will be next Sunday. Have a wonderful week.






Sunday, December 18, 2011

Latest Issue of Parvati Magazine

Dear friends,

This month, I offer you an extra juicy Parvati Magazine issue, with twice the amount of usual goodness and inspired articles to support your path. Please go to to find the January issue now live. Enjoy!

I will be posting here again next Sunday. Feel free to send in your questions to in the meantime.

Have an excellent week.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ask Parvati 39: Overcoming Stage Fright and Performance Anxiety - Part 5: Taking Up Space


When I posted my blog Ask Parvati 23: The Voice - To Speak or Be Silent?, I
received a comment requesting more detailed information about the topic. The question was: "I am sometimes struggling with finding that right balance and express what is in my heart with authenticity and respect and not just blurting it out. Can you please say a little more about how to find that balance, if not in this blog, then perhaps in the next?" I feel, while we conclude the topic of stage fright, it is important to explore a little about how to find balance and flow when we take up more space. We live in a society with rules of conduct that help us to flow and not go bumping up against each other continually. But when the rules get out of hand and squelch the flow, then we need to take a step back and reassess the rules. Oppressive rules are a bit like having an overactive inner critique or judge inside our head.

It is easy to think that the pain and discomfort we feel is because of something that is happening "out there". Just like the thought, "it's happening to me", leads us into a place of victimhood and powerlessness, so too, the idea that others are the source of our pain will keep us from growing.

Playing it small is like an inner prison that once kept us feeling safe, but now keeps us trapped. We can free ourselves from this inner world of hiding when we learn to disarm our beliefs that the outside world is against us (happening "to" us). We tend to take things personally until we realize they are not about us. Our parents' bad day, when they yelled at us and had no time to hear our funny joke or new story, or see the drawing we made at school, becomes a reflection of us not being loved. But that is not true. Our parents, at that moment, were disconnected and did not feel love from themselves. So from an empty well of love, how could they share love with us?

But we do take things personally. The world then becomes an antagonistic place, where we unconsciously fear we will be judged for speaking up, or we will be taking up too much space or somehow upsetting the apple cart by giving voice to how we feel. But nothing could be further from the truth.

The universe moves towards greater expansion. We are called to be our fullest selves, the greatest expression of who we are and share our inner light with the world. In doing so, we need to overcome our "old stories", the limiting beliefs that we hold on to, out of fear that if we let them go, we will not be loved.

When we learn to take up our rightful space in the world, we find our power and life flows. When we keep ourselves small, hiding from life, from our selves, from our voice, our life becomes a mere shadow of who we are. In every given moment, there is an opportunity for balanced living. We get so hung up on trying to do things to please or dart from others, we lose ourselves.

Stage fright can be seen as a gift from our soul calling us back to wholeness. It is something that, in my opinion, should not generally be medically treated, but inwardly and psychologically explored. The proverbial skeletons in our closet are clamouring to come out to be shaken and dusted… and perhaps thrown into the trash bin. Time for spring cleaning of our psyche!

My suggestion is embrace the call to overcome stage fright, not by thinking of it as wrong or a problem, but a voice from your soul saying it needs more room to breathe. I believe that in each moment there is an opportunity for perfect balance. We can have the room we need, and give to others what is rightfully theirs. We can feel joyful, inspired, energized and relaxed. There is a flow that is an expression of our soul. It looks different for each one of us. Each one of us is the guardian of its care. Only we can bring it out of the shadow, love it, and give it the soul food it needs. Please consider stage fright as a call from your soul to shake off old thinking patterns and embrace taking up more space. Your soul needs it.

I will be posting again next Sunday on a new topic. Don't forget today is the last day to send in your questions to be answered next week. Please send yours to

Enjoy the rest of the week,

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ask Parvati 39: Overcoming Stage Fright and Performance Anxiety - Part 4: The Inner Critique and Self-Love

(Continued from To Risk Speaking Up And Saying What You Feel)

I have a saying that gets me through every show. If there are three people in a room, one person will hate what I do; another will love it; while another will not care. I find this very helpful. Everyone will have their own, personal experience and opinion of what I do. My job is not to worry about what others think, but to do the best job I feel I can do and have fun while I do it.

People may not like what we say, and react to it. But that is their stuff and is no reflection of who we are. Our job is not to try to fix or change anyone, but get on and do what we are each here to do. We do not need to try to convince someone we are worthy of love, because we already are worthy, simply by being.

If we look deeply into the root of stage fright, we will find that we may need to cultivate a bit more self-love. Self-love is different from self-confidence. Self-confidence can get us to the stage. Self-love will help us enjoy delivering the show. If we don't have self-love, our self-confidence becomes bravado - thick on the outside and hollow within. Once the test comes, we crack.

When we face the risk to give voice and overcome stage fright, we must face our inner critique. It is my understanding that the inner critique is a summary of our limiting beliefs that were sealed into our psyche as children. The louder the inner critique, the lower the self-esteem, the more afraid we feel of being who we are. Self-love is closely linked to self-esteem. Self-esteem comes when we have a strong
sense of self-love. I looked at how to cultivate self-esteem and self-love in more depth than I will do here, in my previous blog entry I Suck, Please Love Me. It is important to understand how to cultivate self-love when we wish to overcome performance anxiety and stage fright. So please take a look at it.

It is often the case that those with low self-esteem project their inner critique onto the world. Those with a strong inner critique tend to have a tougher time with stage fright and performance anxiety. The inner critique is an extension of our childhood patterns that kept us ducking how we really felt in an effort to placate our caregivers. We began to overwrite our natural impulses, which soon felt wrong. When the inner critique is in overdrive, we can become compulsively afraid that we will displease, even simply by being. The inner critique is an inner voice that repeatedly lets us know what we "should" and "should not" do in order to measure up, and ultimately, be loved. But listening to this voice will not bring us happiness. We cannot find the love we truly seek through self-effacing acts. We must be naturally ourselves and cultivate a rich life in a world we feel welcomes us wholly to blossom into our fullest being.

We all have a voice. We all are called to speak up and say how we feel daily. It takes a certain self-confidence, and healthy self-esteem to do so. These come from understanding our own inherent worth. We all likely have had some experience of stage fright, from the more obvious situations like office presentations and public speaking, to the subtler, when we are asked how we feel and clam up. When we don't show up for ourselves and our lives, we rob life of the richness of who we are. We need to be rooted in our own inherent personal value to live life fully.

There is no doubt that there are mean-spirited and negative people out there who are toxic to be around. It is best to move on should we find ourself engaging with such people. But at a more psychological level, the criticisms we feel from others hurt because we are good at criticizing ourselves. If we really stop and think about it, if we were truly rooted in LOVE, and I mean self-love, love for others - love, not wanting - then would we not just see the person criticizing us as doing just that - criticizing? It would not feel like a personal attack, because we would see them in their own pain, their own suffering. Is a person who criticizes feeling loved and fulfilled themselves? No. Remember that when you next feel criticized.

Criticizing is not okay. I am not condoning it. I am simply saying that when you feel criticized, remember that it comes from someone who is distorted, and not rooted in love.

Feedback is different from criticism. Feedback gives us a clear idea where we excel and where we can grow. It provides information about a specific task with specific details. Criticism directly attacks a person's nature, not a specific task. When we criticize, we indicate that a person is bad or is not worthy. When we give feedback, we indicate how a specific tasks does not work for us and suggest possible ways a person may improve that specific task, if they so choose. Criticism is toxic and erodes our self-esteem, whereas feedback supports our growth.

As you learn to overcome stage fright and performance anxiety, focus on developing a loving relationship with your own self, and letting go of the voice of your inner critique. Understand that the inner critique comes from a wounded place that does not see the world in wholeness or balance, but from a place of fear and disconnect. When we understand that the inner critique really is a wounded place looking to create more wounded experiences, it no longer has power over us and loses its grip over our mind. Once we let go of attachment to our inner critique, the criticisms we may experience from others will roll off our back. We will be rooted in self-love, where distorted perceptions like criticism will have no meaning and will not be able to take root. We can get on with enjoying and sharing the light we are in a fertile world that fully receives our whole self.

(Continued tomorrow with "Taking Up Space: The Co-Creative Flow")

PS: Tomorrow is the last day to send your questions to be answered next
week. Please send yours to

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ask Parvati 39: Overcoming Stage Fright and Performance Anxiety - Part 3: To Risk Speaking Up


Hiding, not speaking up and playing it small may feel like a safe option. But in most situations we face throughout the day, when we hide and silence ourselves, we lose touch with the voice of our soul and our true source of power. When we hide and remain mute when we are inwardly called to express, we are acting from a place that believes that the world does not want us. We are acting from a place that
believes that love does not exist. When we act from a place rooted in those beliefs, we strengthen them.

To overcome our deep core beliefs takes humility, determination, and a self-kindness so that we may look within, understand our inner patterning and make different choices. When we go within and embrace change, we are taking a risk. We are moving away from the familiar into the unknown and new. We must admit to ourselves that this is scary and treat ourselves with appropriate patience and tenderness.

When we go deeper into what holds us back from growth, we face the grips of fear. When we touch that fear with gentleness, and begin to accept it being there with love and attention, we notice that what we deeply fear, ultimately, is that we will not be loved just as we are. This quickly transforms from our unconscious thoughts into a physical experience when we are called to express ourselves in public. We fear,
deeply, that when we express what we want to express, we will not be loved. We can say, we fear that we will be judged, not accepted, and ridiculed. But all of these are part of the same fear of not being loved. When we are judged, we don't feel loved. When we are ridiculed, we don't feel loved. When we feel cast out, we don't feel loved. If we can remember that this deep fear of not being loved stems from our
past and has no bearing on the present moment, we begin to free up our voice and overcome stage fright.

Stage fright is normal. So cut yourself some slack when you feel it. Almost everyone would, when faced with putting themselves out there. It is true, that as a performer, I have had to look deeply into this, and overcome my own tendency to feel afraid. There is not one show I do that I don't feel nervous. I mean, let's think about it. I dress up in gold spandex, wear a crazy outfit, sing positive, electronic songs while dancing around on stage in an alternate universe… yes! I am afraid of being judged! But what I have come to find, is that my love for what I do, that my need to express who I am, is greater than the fear that would hold me back. I have also come to understand that the fear that causes stage fright, when I dial it down, also comes in part from a place that really values what I do. I do want to communicate effectively. I do want to be heard. I do want to reach out and touch others. I don't want to be randomly rhyming off gibberish on a soapbox on a street corner. I am here to communicate. So I value what I say and the fear keeps me alert to that. If I were to let that fear get the better of me, I would not perform and would lose contact with the voice of my soul. I would also not be a vehicle for the joy my shows bring to those who attend. So overcoming the fear is a win-win.

I believe we are all on this planet to shine and shine brightly. Remind yourself of this. Your light is your natural self. Sure, we cast a shadow. Being able to be humble and self-caring when we face our shadow helps us find a rooted strength. Being open to our light and humble faced with our shadow helps us to get out of our own way and enjoy the God-given talents and voice we each uniquely have. When we show up for life, life shows up for us. By playing it small, we give power to our small beliefs. By saying how we feel, and expressing ourself, we risk appearing a fool, we risk upsetting the status quo, but we find a freedom and honesty that transcends adversity. As I say in one of my songs "Love Is Real", "You find your wings when you risk the fall, and you see there never was a drop after all, 'cause love is real." Here is a quote that I really like that speaks of the value of risk:

To Laugh is to Risk Appearing the Fool

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental,
To reach out for another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self,
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure,
But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to
risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,

But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.

Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave;
He has forfeited freedom,
Only a person who risks is free.

-- William Arthur Ward, "To Risk"

(Continued tomorrow with "The Inner Critique And Self-Love")

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ask Parvati 39: Overcoming Stage Fright and Performance Anxiety - Part 2: The Fear of Being Seen

Playing It Small And Hiding

We all had coping strategies when we were children. No matter how loving our parents were, they were not perfect. No one is perfect. Everyone on this planet casts a shadow and is also somehow growing and evolving. We may have hoped to find the perfect love from these imperfect beings. But how can we find absolute love from people who were also learning to love? In the process of growing up, we tended to make unconscious compromises to try to get the love we needed. Most of
us ended up with contractual relationships with family members as a means to find some stability amidst the whirl of issues, synergies, conflicts and personalities that make up every family life.

Ideally, our caregivers were open to receive us like the budding, young flowers we were. Yet, they too likely felt thwarted and unloved in their own way, perhaps feeling stressed to pay rent, alone to put food on the table, isolated in an dysfunctional marriage, or unhappy without the space they needed to deal with their own unresolved childhood issues amidst the work of childrearing. Whatever the situation was, often family life can be less than ideal for finding the unconditional love we hope to find. So we develop coping strategies.

Most children tend to be perceptive and creative. When we were young, we may have observed that by not speaking up, we added less stress to mom and dad's busy lives. We may have figured out that by not saying what we needed, we kept the peace, perhaps even avoiding being yelled at. So we concluded that to give voice to our needs created some discord, or in extreme cases, attack. In our early years, giving voice could have felt like a risky thing. So we learned to bury what we felt deep inside in the silence of our inner world and plow forward towards growing up.

As children, we discovered that hiding was a way to keep ourselves feeling safe and protected amidst a turbulent world. Our parents were our source of food and shelter. Our very survival was keyed into making that relationship work. Our coping strategies worked for a while. Perhaps in the world of our imagination, we could safely play in our room, or escape watching TV or run free playing at school or with our friends. But when we grew up to be independent adults, the silence we once hid behind started to become deafening.

We must move through the playing it small and hiding if we wish to fulfill our dreams and find the love we wish to find. Though, as adults, we have long since left our parents' home, we may still live with and react to them in our unconscious mind. In some sense, we carry them with us and see them wherever we go, until we face our deeper childhood fears and speak up and risk not being loved for who we are.

We bring our unconscious childhood fears into the boardroom or out on stage when we step up to the plate to share our work. We in essence do not see our colleagues in front of us as we start to present our work, but our childhood environment, be it sisters, brothers, or caregivers who we wanted to love us the way we needed. We do not see our boss evaluating our performance, but our mom or dad. We needed our parents' approval as children to survive, so we equate that need to survive with our performance today.

The thoughts and beliefs that exist in our unconscious drive our lives. So in effect, that compromised child is really the one who wears the business suit as we go off to our jobs, or who sits in the chair across from our spouse as we try to make sense of an argument, or who stands on the stage as we get up to perform. We will continue to allow this child to drive our lives until we make friends with her, let her know she can be who she is, that we will take care of her as she needs. As adults, we need to learn to embrace and befriend our whole self, care for and accept who we are so we may feel safe, relaxed and loved in this world.

(Continues tomorrow with "To Risk Speaking Up and Saying How You Feel")