Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Join Me On My New Blog!

Dear friends,

I have moved my blog to my new website at Parvati.TV/blog. Please join me there!


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Production Mode, Book Excerpt: On Seeing Our Vasanas

Dear friends,
I am in full on production mode as we get ready to go live with my new website. I look forward to sharing it with you! It will feature fresh content and a new community portal.

In the meantime, here is another excerpt from my book Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie. This is the opening of the chapter entitled The Dirty Work.

Image courtesy of Erwin Plug

Amma speaks of how, when we sweep a floor, we may think it is clean, but then upon washing it, we find more dirt. We go through a similar process in purifying our minds. We may feel that we have “gotten somewhere” and no longer have a certain tendency, only to discover that it still exists within us in a subtler form. We may even feel that our negative tendencies have increased after we have been doing spiritual practice for a while. As we cultivate inner light, our vasanas will arise to be witnessed, understood and released.

We do not need to be discouraged when we discover that there is yet more to be done in the process of purification. Our attachments will naturally be brought to our attention in subtler and subtler ways as we continue along the path.

To avoid becoming a yoga junkie, we must be willing to accept that we are imperfect beings in an evolutionary process. We don’t have it all figured out. Byron Katie has the wonderful remark, “Don’t pretend yourself beyond your evolution.” When we try to hide the dirt of our tendencies from our self and others, we only create suffering and greater complication.

This section and the three following are an invitation to begin to wade into the muddy areas of our psyches, roll up our sleeves and start the “dirty work” of unearthing our tendencies, understanding them for what they are. Once we see them clearly, we can practice witnessing them as they arise on a moment-to-moment basis, so we may ultimately release them.

Until we become fully enlightened, we all tend to resist the moment in some way. Throughout the day, our minds are busily working out creative ways to keep the illusion of separateness alive, so that we may feel temporarily important, in control and powerful. Our ego loves to build and sustain the mirage of divisiveness to keep itself alive. But the fullness, perfection and beauty of life is unfolding all the while beyond our self-sustained delusions.

There are four primary ways we resist the moment: defending, holding onto, justifying or relishing in “mine”. Some of these we do passively, other aggressively, while others through stasis. Each will yield the same result: temporarily supporting the illusion of being separate from this moment and from our true divine nature.

Anger is easily seen as an active defense of “mine”. When we get angry, we mark our territory and defend what we feel is ours with vigour.

We passively hold onto “mine” in various ways. When we resent, for example, we hold onto the idea that life is “happening to me”. We feel victimized and powerless by a situation or a person. Resentment passively incubates the feeling of “mine” more deeply into our psyche.

Similarly, when we feel jealous, we hold onto the self-perception of “mine”, because it feels threatened and unfulfilled. We are convinced that someone else has what we feel we lack.

In shame, we are attached to our shadowy self, as though it were our identity. We passively hold onto the shadow, which we feel we deserve, eclipsing the truth that we are divine light.

When we are depressed, we feel helpless beneath the weight of our identity. We hold onto it, listlessly afraid of letting it go, because we are attached to it being who we are.

Both justifying “mine” and relishing in “mine” are driven by the same static energy, that is, by the desire to keep things unmoving. When we judge, we justify “mine”. We maintain a divisive perception by either putting our self above or below another.

We relish in “mine” when we are proud. Through pride, we attempt to maintain a lavish, over-inflated self-perception, which we feel we need to boast about to uphold. This keeps us ultimately feeling alone in our ivory tower.

Whether we are defending, holding onto, justifying or relishing in “mine”, each is a way we keep unhappiness alive in our lives. These tendencies, when left unchecked, can even develop into addictions, in which we find it very difficult to renounce certain behaviours – or even realize they are a problem - because we have a deeply ingrained sense of our self as flawed, dirty, incomplete, incapable or bad, and in need of something external to take away the pain of it all. It is only through the willingness to to bring these tendencies to the light that we free the energy stuck there within. In so doing, we find the fulfillment we have been wanting all along.

The second edition of Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie will be available soon. To add your name to the pre-orders list, click here
Wishing you peace and joy on your journey,

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Parvati Magazine - Play

Hello Friends,

This week, I share with you the August edition of Parvati Magazine. The topic is perfect for the summer: play! 

Here is my introductory Letter from the Editor:

Here is my article  on Positive Possibilities Living, entitled "Life’s Play: Immersing Yourself In the Mysteries of 'Lila'"
Please share these links with anyone you feel may be interested.
Also, enjoy the rest of the articles by a talented group of writers who are dedicated to a better world.
Big thanks to the Managing Editor, Pranada Devi, who tirelessly works hard each month to make sure these articles get to you to enjoy.
Have fun!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Yoga of The Will

The Egos Will

The common use of the word "will" conjures the notion of determination and focus to initiate an action. It is associated with the idea of pushing to get what we want and making extra effort to have things go our way. As such, when we feel that our will has been beaten by others or thwarted by the universe itself, we can often feel like a pile of roadkill pushed off to the side of our lifes path.

We can easily find many examples of this ego-driven understanding of the word "will". It is praised in boardrooms, at schools, in sports, in entertainment even in yoga classes, as I explore in my new book Confessions of a Yoga Junkie. This use of willfulness exists in most areas of life in which we wish to excel. But do we really understand the true meaning of will and the value it has along the spiritual path?

From Unconscious to Spiritual Awakening

When we live unconscious lives, we feel we must make our lives happen. Oblivious to being part of anything beyond our little selves, we imagine that we are the universe. In this limited perspective, our willpower is our tool for survival. It is our identity. The stronger our attachment to that identity, the more chances we believe we have to get ahead.

But once we wake up to a spiritual reality, we start to contemplate the right use of will. We hear prayers that include phrases like "Thy will be done" that encourage the release of our singular way. We begin to consciously participate in a force greater than our limited will.

As spiritual aspirants, we seek to understand how we fit within the greater whole. We begin to question the absolute intelligence of our own personal will, and wonder if it is in alignment with divine will. We contemplate what divine will may be for our self.

We may have experienced first hand being led blindly by our ego into painful situations and ending up hurt. Perhaps because of this, as we evolve spiritually, we begin to feel less attached to things being "my" way and open instead to other possibilities. The notion of opposites starts to dissolve. The sense of you/me, us/them, yours/mine dissipates in exchange for a deeper sense of our innate interconnection. The possibility germinates, and eventually flowers in our hearts and minds, that God/the divine/the universe may just have a better plan than we may yet see. As we learn to live beyond our ego, our lives become bigger, richer and fuller.

In so doing, we open to divine will. Yet we are often left numb and floundering as to what that could possibly be. We may have let go of overly driven uses of our will, but perhaps only in exchange for becoming Mr. or Mrs. Nice, or Oh-So-Spiritual, unclear as to who we are. We have not yet found how our will fits into a spiritually focused life, and wonder if it does at all.

Effortless Will

I have personally spent years in this quandary. I have shared in previous blog entries how I have been undergoing the death of my "feisty girl" who could conjure immense force to do the seemingly impossible, fueled unconsciously by the notion of being alone. Once she started to dissolve, I found myself questioning the right use of will.

This Mercury Retrograde, I have been going through a sort of personal recalibration, a period of greater introversion. I have found myself drawn to longer periods of meditation and contemplation. Something within me has been growing, seeking to emerge, as something else needed to fall away.

Through this period, I have experienced moments of exquisite effortlessness, as though finally, in my every cell, I was getting out of my own way and allowing my flower-like nature to simply bloom, each breath, one moment at a time. I could feel a hard shell around me, my ego watching to stake out an ambush, trying hard to hold on strong. The schism between my effortless, natural, unbridled self and the constriction of the ego would become painfully clear, and then, something would dissolve into absolute ease.

As I have ridden the waves between these two, a-ha moments would arise. In one such epiphany, I experienced how flowers exist effortlessly and are complete in their magnificence. Flowers never question. They simply are. In that state of beingness, they are everything and nothing. I witnessed how I question God's will for me, as though it were outside myself, a distant, elusive, all-powerful thing separate from me, judging me from on high. Then something started to soften and I would experience myself as that flower again and God's will was simply effortless joy.

The Yoga of Will

It has become clear through this process that the right use of will is neither forceful nor road kill. It is neither tense, nor soft. It is yoga, balanced, present, surrendered, and in flow. I realized that the right use of will is simply a complete and absolute YES! in my every cell to my soul's joy, a total release of all thoughts of anything else being my purpose. Joy is my purpose. Joy is God's will for me. So by focusing unequivocally on my joy, I align myself with universal, divine will. As I say YES! with each breath to my deepest soul joy, my life becomes a living prayer.

It is not up to me to then say, I will make it happen. That is the universes role. My job is simply to continually say yes, one moment after the next, and keep getting out of the way. From that place, clarity arises and I effortlessly breathe into my next step. I do not forcefully make anything happen. I am a dynamic co-creator, in divine conversation, in flow with the universes cosmic play.

Joy is not wanting. Wanting feels constrictive in some way. Joy is always rooted, vital and expansive. Joy is our connection to the divine within us. When I am in joy, I am in a state of receptivity. In that state, I am in abundance. When I am in abundance, I am in flow and all is already manifest. The universe knows my deepest joy, because within my deepest joy is the universe. They are not two, but one. God's Will and my joy are not two, but one.

Ask yourself, What is my deepest joy? Open to your joy as you would a flower. That joy reflects your divine nature. It is the divine in you. Take three long, deep breaths and see if you can open to the possibility that your joy is the universes joy. Repeat: My joy is the universes joy! Repeat it until you feel it tingling in every cell of your being. Effortless joy is who you truly are. All you need do is believe it and get out of the way so it may flower and become your entire life.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Finding Compassion For Those Who Hate

When you put yourself out there, share your heart and voice with the world, there will inevitably be those who love you, those who hate you and those who just don’t care. Being on the spiritual path, I find this to be an excellent teacher and a perfect ego grinder, because whatever people think of me, it does not matter. Of course, my ego says, I would love everyone to like me. But I have no control over what people think and do, or how people judge. I can only do my best, love as best I can and humbly continue to open to each moment and learn the lessons each one brings. In the end, what matters most is my relationship with the divine, which affects how I treat others and myself. What is essential, lasting and true is that I practice seeing the divine in all, even in those who may not like me.

It is hard to understand the motivation of hate, but in essence, we all have the capacity for it. No one is immune to its seduction. When I am lucidly honest with myself, I can openly say that I have felt it rise in me and take me over. I have felt its burn singe my heart. I have fallen into the indulging thrill and delusional self-importance that it conveniently provides. I have felt pumped up, important and proud through it. And I have also felt immensely alone and in pain because of it.

It is hard when we fall out with someone we once called a friend. It is extra hard to see someone close turn into someone who expresses hatred toward us. Hopefully, we do our best to understand each other, talk about the misunderstandings, heal, make amends and return to love. But without both parties being willing to return to a place of humility, little healing can take place. Walls are built, misunderstandings grow and pain festers. Whether friends or strangers, people who do not like us are still our valuable teachers. They teach us what Amma asks us to embody: “Progress is being made when you can retain evenness of mind in the face of praise and shame, honor and dishonor.”

I recall an encounter that reminds me of this. As I watched spiteful venom come my way from people I had considered friends, I had to take pause and witness the propulsion of pain. I noticed that I did not feel hatred towards them. After I worked through my initial shock and hurt at meeting this kind of dark energy, I found myself watching others hold onto their pain as they seemed to wish it upon others. I noticed that ultimately, it seemed they just wanted to feel loved, but were going about it in an upside-down manner. They were indirectly asking for love through hate, which simultaneously was pushing love away.

In that moment, I understood their suffering. By holding onto and identifying with their pain, the people they were hurting most was themselves. Amma says, “When you harm anyone, you harm everyone, especially your own self.” It was clear they were just in pain, and no amount of painful thoughts from me projected their way was going to help them, or me. I did not want to add more pain to the fabulous job they were already doing to themselves.

Amma advises, “Communication begins when you fully understand the other person's point of view.” What was the other people’s point of view? They were hurting and felt I was the source of that hurt. No apology was helping, no reaching out was received, no healing was of interest. They seemed attached to feeling “right”, hard done by, and wanted to hold onto their sense of hurt. With one party unwilling, there could be no discussion. So their pain continued. But I did not need to hold on. So I walked away and still wish them well. Amma says, “If you cannot speak with love and respect, wait until you can.” In the case of haters, the best option is silence.

The exchange was ultimately a gift, another piece along my path. Whether I am at the top of the electronic charts (where I now have been for many weeks, thank you for your generous support!) or whether people love or hate me, I cannot rest my happiness on other’s opinions. My job is to love, understand and serve each moment as best I can with a sense of receptivity to what it brings.

The deeper gift in that exchange for me is found in Amma’s wise words: “If someone is doing something that you find really offensive, check to see whether you are doing something similar to someone else or to yourself.” People who direct ill will our way can be divine mirrors to ways we may be relating to others or ourselves. In my case, I was reminded of how hard I am on myself, which I have been in the midst of seeing more clearly these past months. I don’t always speak to myself with kindness. I don’t always treat myself with love. I don’t always offer myself compassionate understanding. I can allow my self-confidence to be undermined by an old habit of self-doubt. Through that exchange, further contents of my psyche were stirred for me to see and ultimately release. So thank you, even to those who hate me, because you bring me back to the divine and teach me to love.

This day opens with a clear intention to continue to practice feeling ok being me, regardless of what others think. Because ultimately, I will only love others as well as I love myself. Amma says, “Don't just apologize for hurting someone; make the firm resolve that you will never again do that painful act to anyone.” So my sincere prayer is to continue to learn to care for, befriend, honour, love and be gentle with myself. May I have a rich relationship with the divine and may this inform a loving relationship with self and all beings.

When my grandmother was on her deathbed, I asked her what was the meaning of life. She said to me so wisely: “It is all about being yourself. It is so simple, most people miss it.” I can miss it, get caught up in thinking I “should” be/do/think/act in some other way than what feels most relaxed and myself. My true nature is love. So I learn to relax more deeply into trusting that divine truth. I go continue to allow it to flower within me and simply be, no second-guessing. Trust the arising.

The divine love that Amma shows us is within us all. It is our true nature. The rest is just temporary clouds passing through the pure and vast sky. Sometimes the clouds are dark thunderclouds, like when we meet the energy of hatred. But that has no real lasting power. Pain is perpetuated when we hold on and won’t come back to the reality that our true nature is love. I cannot make someone who is attached to pain treat me with love and respect. But I can love and respect myself and learn to treat everyone that way, without condition. That will bring me the joy and lasting happiness I seek and create the best offering I can bring to the world.

May we all know our divine nature and love!

Jai Ma,


Sunday, June 16, 2013

THE POWER OF THE MALE PRINCIPLE: Shine Your Light Into The World

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.

As eternal, divine beings having a temporal, human experience, we ultimately are each a reflection of the divine, which is beyond the dual notion of male or female. So within each one of us is a sublime blend of male and female energies, to varying degrees. So today, I celebrate father’s day for everyone by sharing thoughts about the role of the father in our lives. I have shared some of this in past blogs, but also add new insights.

If our mothers are like the lunar presence in our lives, teaching us about our inner world of intuition and emotions and showing us how to feel safe and loved just as we are, fathers are like our personal solar force. They lead us out into the world, ensuring we have the confidence and ability to shine within society.

Our fathers show us how to equip ourselves with a strong sense of capability so that we are able build the lives we want. Their strength, support and guidance give us the tools and skills so that we can achieve what we put our minds to accomplish.

The feminine principle teaches us surrendered receptivity, learning how feel our own personal flow within the greater whole. Cradling us within the big picture and the spiritual presence of the cosmos, our mothers help us learn that our unique soul voice is a valuable and integral part of the whole. They help us to be receptive to and honour it, as a reflection of the divine.

The male principle teaches us surrendered action, showing us how to be aligned with the greater whole, as we follow our personal flow. Feeling rooted in a healthy sense self due to our maternal guidance, fathers teach us about the whole, inspiring us to fit into the universe. Helping us find and be aligned with our divine, spiritual purpose, fathers ensure that as we move out from the introverted, lunar and soulful female nest, we know how to let our soul shine and merge into spiritual light.

From a worldly perspective, the whole could be seen is institutions, organizations, religions, big business, government and corporations. But from a spiritual perspective, the whole is the notion that we are not temporal beings, but one with eternal consciousness, temporarily living within finite form.

We do not necessarily need to find the guidance from the male principle from our dad. Whether or not we had the parents we wanted, we learn to internalize the positive attributes of both the male and female energies as we live, grow and evolve, so that we may live in fulfilled balance.

So today, on father’s day, consider the way you are aligned and inspire by the male principle so that you may continue to shine your unique light into the world.

Blessings to you,

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Gift in Adversity


I just returned from being in England over the past few weeks. On a professional level, it was an excellent, full on time performing and teaching, moving my projects forward, meeting great people and finding out more about the world and myself. But what I learned was beyond all of this.

The day after my first show at the Mind Body Spirit Festival in London, I developed severe laryngitis. This may seem like a tragedy for one who uses her voice to perform and teach. But for one who has made a promise to the spiritual path, I know that the universe has an amazing way of keeping us honest and on path. Adversity is nothing other than a gift in disguise.

As I allowed myself to soften into the physical and emotional discomfort I felt having absolutely no voice, I found myself inundated with memories from what seemed to be a past life memory in London dying of consumption (tuberculosis). At that time, my lungs were full of fluid. I could not breathe, and I felt silent in my ability to voice feelings of powerlessness. In the present, what lingered was resentment of having died in a state of sorrow. So I welcomed these feelings as part of healing my laryngitis.

However, my memories did not stop there. As we toured through England, I was also reminded of another time in the UK when water filled my lungs. I had stones tied to my feet and was being drowned for my beliefs, likely when I was a healer, accused of being a witch. In that lifetime, I also died with water-filled lungs, with unspoken beliefs.

As my laryngitis moved into bronchitis, I had every opportunity to meet these emotions and send myself love and understanding so that I could deeply heal. In the bustle of the full on 18 hour a day schedule I had there, there was little room for formal sitting meditation practice, which I believe if I had had, I would not have fallen ill. I needed the inner space to process what was arising. Release through my body was the only way it could be expressed, due to my busy-body schedule. 

Being in England with fever and illness was an opportunity for me to forgive and let go at a deep, soul level. In the present, my business meetings were fruitful, people supportive, shows and workshops excellent (one was even sold out) and products sold. Spiritually, I was being asked to come more fully into the present. The fears I carried from those past experiences were colouring the here and now.

As I walked through the British streets, rode the London tube, watched the people come and go, I consciously had to remind myself it was 2013 and I was physically free and breathing freely and had the freedom to say what and how I felt.

I understand time to be like Russian dolls, each moment inside the other, not linear like we think time to be. There is no past or future, but an eternal now in which all unfolds simultaneously.

Whatever arises for us in the moment, as we practice mindful awareness, is exactly where we need to be. For me, it was in healing the past to be fully present and allow myself to grieve and heal.

Who knows what my next trip to the UK will bring. For that matter, who knows what the next moment will bring. That does not matter. I feel grateful for the opportunities I did experience and am open to what unfolds.

May we each have the courage in each moment to meet it as it is, without reservation, without judgment so that we may shine the eternal light we truly are.

Enjoy each moment,

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hello from York, UK

Dear friends,

Hello from England, where I have just given a YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine workshop at York Yoga Studio. It was a beautiful space, beautiful people and a beautiful city. I look forward to returning in November!

While I'm busy in England, here is another excerpt from my new book Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie

There is no true high without being grounded. High for the sake of high makes us into yoga junkies, where we chase the proverbial carrot in front of us like a distant, unattainable mirage, catapulting out of our bodies and out of this moment, just as we might with a drug. Such experiences do not bring us lasting happiness any more than would a new fancy sports car, a toke of pot, the feeling of being at the top of our class or career, or meeting the person we think is the answer to our sense of loneliness.

Siddhis, the manifestation of psychic skills along the path to enlightenment, are just as much a distraction to full realization as anything can be. It is easy to get caught up in thinking that their powers are the goal. Making us feel special, they can trick us into feeling spiritually enlightened and above it all. Like fool’s gold, shimmer does not make something valuable.

What matters along the spiritual path is not how bendy our body is, how loftily we speak, how “gifted” we are or how high we get, but the integrity in our actions and how relaxed, alert and integrated we are. Are we kind? Do we love well? Are we at peace? Are we happy? These are the questions that we must ask to ensure our spiritual quest is not driven by being an overt or covert yoga junkie. At the end of the day, true yogis want nothing, expect nothing and selflessly serve the highest good of all.

My intention in sharing the ups and downs of my path to wholeness is to support your courageous steps to live your deepest joy and your fullest potential. May you let go of hiding in the dark in whatever way you may be doing so. May you stop living for other people’s dreams and grab onto what makes your soul zing. May you freely shine your beautiful light into the world and call this moment home.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mind Body Spirit Festival and Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie

Dear friends,
I leave early Monday morning for London, UK where I will be performing and teaching at the Mind Body Spirit Festival. Waiting for me in London will be the freshly printed copies of my new book Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie. I thought you might like to read another sneak preview:
In the yoga community, we have come to a place that is like spiritual adolescence. We know the basics and we are out in the world. Wal-Mart sells yoga mats and Costco sells Eckhart Tolle’s books. We can express lofty ideas and speak beautiful things. But in order to grow, we must go deeper. We know how to fool our parents, as many teenagers do. But we cannot fool nature. Eventually the teenager realizes that to be responsible means to understand the consequences of his actions, just as the junkie needs to discover the wanting at the root of their addiction in order to heal. If we are to address the pervasiveness of greed and wanting in our lives, we need to start talking about and becoming aware of our shadowy habits that support them, including the ones lurking in our yoga practice.
We need to mature as yogis and as people. We are not being truly honest with ourselves if we say we are yogis because we go to a stretch class once a week, but feel unable to find that center at any other time. We are not being the best we can be if we feel we are conscious because we watch Oprah or tweet the words of wisdom of the latest pop guru, but then become immediately impatient and yell at our spouse, friends, co-worker or children.

Yoga was surely not designed 5000 years ago by the ancient rishis (sages) to be the next fad after the 80’s aerobics of Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda. Yet it seems to have been co-opted as such in an attempt to fulfill our desire for perfection by consuming something “out there”. We need to embrace yoga in its totality, rather than just appropriating aspects of the practice that suit our ego. We must take pause and learn to move from stillness by going within and meeting this moment as it is. Until we do so, no matter what kind of bendy exercise we may do, our lives will continue to be driven by an unconscious desire to resist the now and keep our personal sorry stories alive. By letting go of the story and of the feeling that the world is somehow against us, we release the attachment to feeling separate from life. We let go of our perceived need to carry around the weight of our illusionary self. We begin to experience yoga, that is, union, or oneness with all that is.

We need to talk about the pitfalls on the yogic path and the shadows of spirituality, because they are our shadows. They will show us where we are stuck so that we may return to our true home. When we find the self-love and courage to do so, we move, in a more grounded, humble manner, into the fullness of life, and become the unaffected beings of light that we most naturally are.
Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie will be available for purchase at Mind Body Spirit Expo in London next weekend. It will be available in Canada soon after.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Coming Soon: Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie

Dear friends,

Today I am busy at work finalizing my upcoming book "Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie", about the pitfalls I experienced on the yogic path and how you can avoid them. The book will make its debut at the Mind Body Spirit Festival in the UK later this month. In the meantime, though, here is a teaser for you to enjoy:

We use the word “junkie” loosely. You can hear it uttered with enthusiasm when someone expresses particular zeal for something. They may be addicted to that thing. But the offhand use of the word can easily mask what may be a shady underbelly lying in the darker recesses of their psyche.

The word “junkie” ultimately refers to someone who is an addict. As such, it points painfully to a human being who erroneously identifies with some elusive external substance, person, place or thing as his or her source of permanent happiness. There are many forms of addiction deeply interwoven into the fabric of our culture. Addiction is somehow a part of the modern, human psyche. The popular, casual use of the word “junkie” seems to give us unspoken permission to broadcast our compulsions in a way that does not ask us to look more deeply at them. Inadvertently, the word illustrates how we culturally enable repeated choices that do not bring us lasting joy.

We can see these cultural shadows easily if we look at the prevalent, and often socially accepted (or at least tolerated), addictions rampant today, such as, alcohol, cigarettes, shopping, sex, food, overworking, and overworking out. We encourage this fight and flight to perfection - the perfect house, the perfect mate, the perfect body, the ideal sublime - through a deep-seated, often unconscious distorted relationship to our self, to each other and to the divine. This in turn, feeds our sense of dissatisfaction and attachment to the perfect something out there that we “need” to make us – finally – feel happy.

When I was in architecture school, some of my fellow competitive, rise to the top, type-A classmates seemed to exhibit a fascination with insanity and compulsive behaviour. Somehow, the weirder, wilder and more off your rocker you were, the cooler, more avant-garde, edgy and creative you had become. This fascination was not born in a freshman architecture studio. It may have come to the forefront there. But in each student who showed those characteristics, a previous tendency for such already existed in their personality. It could have been incubated at home, at school, in institutions, through the media, in society at large or perhaps with friends. Wherever it had been fed, the drive and work ethic that my classmates and I shared illustrated a tendency that is socially prevalent and highly encouraged, yet whose shadow is seldom discussed.

Because of a deeper, spiritual malaise, our lives are driven by restless wanting. They seem to go on and on, as though we were helplessly tied to a merry-go-round built on fa├žade and temporary pleasures. We may be too numbed out to willfully pause, take stock and embrace positive change, until something dramatic happens that shakes us from complacency and wakes us up from the spell. We conveniently float in a stew of short-term getting by above a dark underbelly, until our lives come to a crashing halt due to illness, injury, failed marriages, job losses, even death of a loved one. It is only once we have been knocked to our knees and are closer to the ground, that we can see the shadows we have carried with us all along.

I have seen overt addiction destroy marriages, ravage careers and occasionally take a life. But I have also seen covert addiction to an ideal sublime wiggle its way into the lives of spiritual aspirants, who have shifted the focus of their driven personalities from social or cultural success, to a spiritual drive for what is perceived as “good” or spiritual. In the same spell-like state, they too may feel above it all, but the same shadows still lurk below.

Whether or not one is an addict, in the spiritual community it is surprisingly easy to make a lateral move and appropriate a spiritual identity in exchange for one we deem less desirable, all the while sidestepping our shadow. I know, because I did just that.    

Enjoy the gift of this day,

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!


I will not be posting the conclusion to “From Resentment to Forgiveness” this week, but instead encourage you to please read and enjoy the May edition of Parvati Magazine that is now live. It is created and sustained with love by volunteers who care about you and our Earth.


Please take a moment on Monday, Earth Day 2013, to consider your relationship with the planet. Not only in terms of the little things you can do to support its health, such as recycling, buying local, organic produce, and reducing your carbon footprint.


Think too of your personal relationship with the planet. Go deeper into how you feel on this Earth, like how you would consider a friendship and your role in it. See if you can tap into the biological sense of interconnection with all that is. You literally are the very same stuff – the same carbon molecules – that makes up all of nature. There is not one thought, breath, action that you do that does not affect the whole, precisely because you are part of the whole and the whole is you.


So when you allow yourself to buy into negative voices in your head that say you are not good enough in some way or another, you also allow that vibration to grow on the planet. When you choose to love yourself, you come closer to finding the joy you have always wanted. And you are closer to serving all beings and feeling a vibrant part of life.


So today, Earth Day, consider what your relationship is with the Earth, how you can love it better, like a living organism, and in so doing, love yourself and all beings.

Let a healthy earth relationship become the foundation of a healthy, happy and prosperous tomorrow, since you are a vital member of this one earth family.


Jai Ma,


Sunday, April 14, 2013

From Resentment to Forgiveness - Part 3: Painful Experiences As An Opportunity

We have been exploring the topic of resentment and how we can begin to heal deeply held emotions. Last week we touched upon the idea that we tend to project onto others what we want to see in them, rather than see actually what is. When we feel hurt by another person’s actions, in some way we have not seen them clearly, and have lost sight of our connection to the divine.


The great news is, another person’s actions are their choice. Our response to their actions is our own choice. Through my meditation practice, I saw how I lost myself in taking another person’s choices personally and in wanting them to be other than they are. There is tremendous power in these realizations. In seeing them, we reclaim the energy we have lost in being attached to incorrect perceptions of reality.


Rather than seeing painful happenings as a punishment that could build resentment, what my quiet meditation sit showed me was that a hurtful experience was an opportunity to recalibrate around deeper truths, greater clarity and fuller wisdom. It was the universe’s love showing me to be bigger, to let go of wanting, to let go of hoping someone would be the way I wanted them to be and that they would be my source of unconditional love. The universe was giving me an opportunity to develop a deeper sense of self-love, self-respect and self-care. 


What I saw was that this experience was ultimately an opportunity for me to connect to a deeper source of love than one that comes through someone else’s flawed and temporal personality. Everyone is flawed. Relying on another human, rather than the divine, to be the source of love is like relying on a weathervane to guide me. It will constantly change direction. 


But if I rely on a deeper source of love and tap into the divine in every moment, then all that which changes over time, the temporal, becomes fuel for my personal growth. The temporal is the way the eternal is teaching me how to return to the One. Through daily experiences, I can move from the personal to the transpersonal, from the conditional to the unconditional. 


I look forward to sharing more here next week with the final entry on this topic, “Part 4: Awakening Unconditional Love and Forgiveness”.


Until then, keep having fun and seeing life as an opportunity, even the uncomfortable stuff. This life is a gift!



Sunday, April 7, 2013

From Resentment to Forgiveness - Part 2: Unveiling Resentment


Last week, I shared how I touched in my meditation practice a place of resentment I had not been aware was there. 

As I continued my meditation practice, what I saw, as I opened gently and lovingly to my uncomfortable feelings, was that I was ultimately hurt because the other person was not who I wanted them to be. I had projected my expectations onto another. What happened did not measure up to my idea of how they “should” behave.

We want others to be the way we want them to be, because in some way we are attached to the idea that they are the source of our love. But to do so, is to not see the other person clearly. It is an unfair expectation that we have created and imposed upon another. 

There is a story of a Buddhist master who receives a gift from his student of a glass vase. They admire the beauty and enjoy it. Until one day, the vase breaks and it is no longer. The student was distraught, whereas the master was undisturbed. The student thought perhaps that his teacher did not like the vase. He inquired, asking his teacher, “Master, did you not like the vase? Why were you not disappointed when it broke?” 

To which the teacher replied, “The broken vase always existed within the vase.” The master was not disappointed when the vase broke. He was present for the gift when it came to him. He was present for the gift when it broke and was no longer in that form. 

When people behave in ways we don’t like, they show us aspects of themselves we have not yet seen, or perhaps have seen but not yet accepted. We may see their bright, sunny parts. But we may not want to see their broken bits. When we allow their shadow to hurt us, it is because we have not yet accepted those aspects of that person. When someone acts hurtfully, and when we get hurt by them, both we and they have forgotten, in that moment, our connection to eternal love.

I will continue next week with: “Part 3: Painful Experiences as an Opportunity”. In the meantime, consider where you lose your power in resenting people and not accepting them the way they are. I look forward to sharing more here on this topic next Sunday.

Until then, be well!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

From Resentment to Forgiveness - Part 1: Touching Painful Emotion



Happy Easter! 


At this time of year, as winter begins to thaw, we become aware of new beginnings, renewals, rebirths, and the return of life through spring. However, as the blanket of snow melts and disappears, we may not quite yet see the hope of budding new flowers. Usually we first see murky mud that was hidden just below our frozen sight. 


As spring energy moves through us, our bodies begin to crave more cleansing foods like bitter greens and salads. Our psyches too go through a cleanse. Spring energy invites us to see more clearly aspects of ourselves that were hidden from view.


As you may know if you have been reading my blog, I am an avid meditation practitioner. My daily practice is a time of insight and personal integration. It is a way I see deeper without attachment and let go of that which no longer serves. It is a sort of daily spring cleanse and renewal for my body and soul.




This week, I touched some deeper parts of my psychological basement that I feel were brought to the light of spring so that they could undergo their own process of rebirth and renewal. What arose, as my mind grew quiet, was the awareness of a field of resentment that had been hiding from my sight. So I gently welcomed it, and went deeper into it. After my meditation practice, I wrote in my diary:


“Resentment is a choice that only hurts myself. It does not change the circumstances or the other person whom I may resent. It festers in me like an uncovered wound that swells with rot.”


During my practice, I was present for these emotions. I became aware of a painful incident in my life I had not yet fully integrated. The event had hurt my feelings. So through the process of meditation, I was able to go back to that scene and learn to see the event as it was, without narrative, without attachment, without judgment, and integrate the teachings it had for me all along. 


There is no doubt that in this incident, I had not been treated kindly. That was not the question that left me feeling resentful. Instead, I was left wondering what was I to do about the feelings of being hurt. I felt powerless and hard done by and that made me feel resentful. 


I will share next Sunday, in “Part 2: Unveiling Resentment: Seeing Clearly”, how I began to deal with these feelings.


Until then, consider some of the resentments you may carry. 


Have a great week and enjoy!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

It Is Up To Me: Cultivating Self-Love

From Self-Betrayal To Self-Love: Steadiness and Gratitude On The Path

Part 3: It Is Up To Me

Over the last few weeks, I have been sharing here what I learned when I recently found that I was being unkind to myself. My last post was during the first period of Lent, as Christians prepare for Easter. Today I post this blog entry as we enter into the week of Passover, a Jewish festival that celebrates the miraculous release from slavery.

To some extent, we all have parts of ourselves that feel enslaved, whether we are conscious of them or not. It is also a tendency for most of us to want others to free us from these painful places.

But as I was reminded in my recent experience, when I saw that I was turning myself black and blue, it is not for anyone else to “save” me, take away my pain or fix my perceived broken bits. I need to face my inner demons just as you do, just as the next person does – on my own, in my own time, in my own way.

It is a kind of miracle to realize that we have the ability to free ourselves in this way. By turning on our inner light, we invite grace, transformation and spiritual expansion into our lives.

Just as I don’t like to be judged for the pace of my own growth, I cannot judge the way another chooses to evolve. My shadow, after all, is exactly that: my own. It hurts me when my shadow’s energy squeaks through my body, as it would for anyone. Perhaps the shadow is backlogged emotions, or painful thoughts that are trying to move through my system. But they are moving through my system, no one else’s. So it is totally up to me to cultivate an unconditional self-love relationship at a pace and in a way that is true to myself.

More than ever, I see how this process begins by accepting where I am, right now. It does not come from wishing my life were different, or struggling against what is. By embracing this moment as it is, we inspire growth.

Maybe I don’t like what is. That is ok. All of it is a reflection of my choices and my karma. So to not like what is, is actually to not like myself. To not like myself is to cause harm to someone: myself. To turn negatively towards myself is like turning negatively towards anything in nature or the divine. The real pain lies there.

It would be easy to see this kind of pain if I were to act out against a flower. I would be able to see the petals wilt under the onslaught of my recriminations. Yet, I do this to myself! So I need to stop it, because it hurts me.

It does not matter how I ended up with the shadow stuff. I could spend a lot of time trying to figure it all out, finding it’s source, wanting to pin point blame, all of which would defer me making, in this moment, the sober choice to let painful thoughts go.

What matters most is to fully understand that my shadow is a conglomerate of my belief systems that works against the force of life, which is love. Feeding the shadow, and beating myself up through it, is like putting the brakes on feeling the love I ultimately desire.

Each one of us is a receptacle for universal love. Some receptacles are full of cracks, maybe even holes, so the love comes, goes and does not stay in. Others’ receptacles are strong vessels for the divine. These people can bathe in a mutually loving relationship, warmed by the loving rays of the sun, nurtured by the rain. Through them, I can see a wholeness, a humility and a state of gratitude for all that is. No resistance. Just love.

So this is my prayer for myself from now on:

May I stand rooted in this moment and feel at peace.
May I be in non-resistance to what is.
May I feel a divine, loving embrace in this moment, and feel supported and nurtured.
May I open to receive love and let go of that which does not serve love.
May I know that I am love, that I am loved.

So please, my friends, go to a mirror and say a few loving words to yourself. Or try my new personal prayer out for yourself. Treat yourself with the love you deserve and see how love begins to grow up in and around you. Begin a new life today, a life that is rooted in self-love. Why? For the very simply reason that you are absolutely worth it.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Parvati Magazine: Renewal

Hello friends,
The week a new Parvati Magazine issue comes out, I don't post a blog entry, but encourage you to read my article in the magazine, entitled "Relationships and Self-Renewal".
You will also find at Parvati Magazine various articles by talented friends who are committed to conscious living. Please tell your friends about Parvati Magazine to help spread the word about this wonderful, volunteer run, free resource and enjoy!
I look forward to seeing you here for more next Sunday.
Have a great week!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Transforming Pain into Love

From Self-Betrayal To Self-Love: Steadiness and Gratitude On The Path 
Part 2: Transforming Pain into Love

Today is Maha Sivaratri, an annual Hindu celebration in praise of Lord Siva who out of compassion drank poison and in so doing, saved the world. “Om Namah Sivaya!” to all those who honour this festival.

Every year this celebration happens during Lent, when Christians turn their hearts and prayers towards Easter. Though my spiritual teacher was born in the Hindu tradition, I grew up in a Christian home. I went to Sunday school every weekend, said grace at meals and was guided by parents who openly discussed their faith. My father had a daily morning contemplative practice and my grandmother was the first to introduce me to meditation and practiced for over 50 years. 

After a year living in India, having left my career as an architect to deepen my understanding of yoga and meditation, though circumstance I ended up working part time as a lay assistant minister (non-ordained) for the church where I was baptized in Montreal. I have felt a close relationship with this spiritual path and have felt very grateful for the guidance I received as a child to be open to spiritual “otherness”, no matter what spiritual path we may choose.

Yet, the whole Judas betraying Jesus thing never really made sense to me. In the Christian story, Jesus was betrayed the night before he was crucified, by one of his closest followers, Judas. So here is this wise master who can perform all sorts of miracles, who so happens to have in his closest entourage a guy that ends up betraying him. How could that be? And what is the supposed Grace in such a betrayal?

Last week, I shared how I watched myself turn myself “black and blue” though hurtful self-talk and by holding onto painful feelings. That incident guided me to contemplate self-love more deeply and has helped me understand more fully how we create our reality. 

What has transpired for me, since then, is a feeling of gratitude for the “toxic” people who have come and gone through my life over the years. And no, contrary to many popular “manifesting” manifestos, I am not planning on attracting more people like that into my life by feeling grateful for them. On the contrary, I feel that through gratitude and self-forgiveness, I am letting them go so that they no longer need to come back into my life and mirror back aspects of myself I do not see.

It is like the famous saying: “There but by the Grace of God go I.” We are far more similar than we realize, and all so inter-connected. What I see as painful in another person is potentially something I could do to myself, or maybe even something I am doing to myself or to another. By being witness to another person’s painful energy, I am given a gift: I can see my own shadows more clearly so I can accept them and let them go.

When I recently recorded this “aha” moment in my diary, I wrote the word “toxic” to describe the people that have hurt me in the past. I could feel a part of me want to judge them for being “bad” and “wrong”. But as my pen touched the page, the opposite flowered in my heart. I felt closer to them than I ever had. 

Then it came to me: I had a deeper understanding of Judas. His betrayal of Jesus was actually a part of how Jesus fulfilled his life’s work. Through Judas, Jesus transcended into eternal life. Because Judas “told on” Jesus, Jesus was crucified. And because Jesus was crucified, Jesus showed his followers that he was not limited to the body but was beyond. Similarly, on Maha Sivaratri, Siva drank poison and shows us that we are not limited by day and night, that is, time, but that our true nature is beyond all things and is eternal.

What crystallized in my cells in that moment is something that has floated around my thoughts before: there is NO-thing (nothing) that is not part of the greater whole. In other words, everything that happens has a purpose and is part of a greater whole. So how could I but feel gratitude? This whole is me. I am the whole. That other person is also the whole. We are the whole together.

Painful acts by others, and those that I have acted upon myself and others, have brought me face to face with my own shadow, so that I could forgive myself, let resentments go, and transcend into the fullness of love. 

By no means does this justify painful acts. But it reminds us that flowers grow out of manure and compost. The lotus, a symbol in the East for enlightenment, blooms in murky waters. I do not believe that pain is a pre-requisite for growth. After all, there are exquisite things that grow hydroponically! But if we meet painful things with openness and humility, they could become fuel for the most powerful expansion experiences we may ever have.

I look forward to sharing more about this “aha” moment next week when I take a look at cultivating self-love.

Until then, be well,