Messages from the soul...
|Posted on 29 December, 2015 at 19:55|
Today was my last Yoga class taught for 2015. Throughout this year I have taught a little over 500 classes. Teaching Yoga is my full-time profession and I am lucky enough to be able to be of service every day of my life.
Being a Yoga teacher was never in the plans of life, or say a career. Life evolved in many different ways, and I took the leap. And what a leap it has been.
In reflection of this past year as it is coming to a close I look forward to a long break that I am about to take which will bring me into the New Year. I’ll still be on holiday awhile after the celebrations of resolutions made and glasses cheered.
Today, in this moment as I am writing this, I am on Day One of holiday. I am incredibly happy for this break because I am also incredibly tired.
So a nice long break to rejuvenate my batteries has commenced. You see being a Yoga Teacher is more than I could ever have dreamed of and when I say I teach professional I mean full-time, and when I say full-time I mean all day long. Every day. All day. All the time.
This is an aspect I didn’t realize when I decided to be a Yoga Teacher.
I am sure that every teacher has a different experience but this note is a story of my journey. I never realized how much effort, work and knowledge it has taken me to be a Yoga Teacher, and I’m still learning. When I sat in that very first Yoga Teacher Training, I had no idea of the door I was knocking on. And I love it ALL! STILL!
Now, after almost ten years of teaching, four Yoga Teacher Trainings and endless workshops completed, plus thousands of hours of teaching behind me, and might I add the expense of a University degree of Yoga along the way, it feels remarkable to reflect on the accumulative efforts invested to achieve all of this.
Approximately 10,000 kilometres have been added to my vehicle from teaching Yoga this year alone (for laughs to give a perspective of distance driven, it’s approximately from Windsor, Ontario to somewhere in the Middle East). The piles of emails/texts/Facebook messages that I receive and answer for students sharing their journeys of awakening is overwhelming. How did I get so lucky to be in this position? To do this work – hard work – I never realized how hard, you see, because it is the work of the soul. It’s not about financial gains or I would have stayed with my old career. This is work, this Yoga career, is endlessly rewarding – for me.
Each class is prepared, studied, the sequences of the asanas (poses) arranged, playlists built, quotes or notes of inspiration to add during the class, physical benefits of certain poses taught, topics of the soul, the mind, God, love, compassion etc., written – each day.
Listening to podcasts, reading books, ancient texts to modern, poetry, articles, medical journals, meditation techniques, etc. to better my teachings of the Yoga practice to and share with the students. Always on the hunt for a new piece of inspiration to inspire me, therefore to inspire the student.
All so that I can be of service. And it’s worth every bit of it! You see, being of service also feeds my soul. Heals me and heals the world at the same time. I’m not sure where I heard the expression, “when we change our vibration, we change the world, by the smallest act of kindness and goodness.”
I remember my first Yoga Teacher and listening to his words and being in his sequences. I literally felt like I was inside a new body because I never knew who or what I was until I knocked on the door of Yoga. So it was like walking into a new house and discovering all the beauty of a unique home and all the cracks too.
My first teacher was grace and made it all seem so easy and natural. I had no idea of the time and energy he put into each class. It was as though he was born of this gift. I only hoped to be as graceful as he was and still is, as it has taken many hours to find that grace in my Yoga of teaching.
In almost every class I speak of going on the journey within and listening with curiosity, and to rest.
Rest is what is needed now for me, the Professional Yoga Teacher. Rest, to just listen for awhile. I never realized how much energy was given throughout these classes until the end of this year, and I realize that I have given well, with my whole heart and soul. With deep compassion and love for the students and the practice, both that I adore so much, I hope they know.
I am grateful for this incredible work I get to do everyday of my life. I can remember a silent prayer where I asked God to crack open my heart and let me learn all about love. There have been many ups and downs in asking for that. I have seen intense highs and devastating lows. But I asked. And I have received. Fully.
Time to replenish the cup of a Yoga Teacher. Wow, what an amazing ride. I still want to get back on the ride again and again…. but need to sit for awhile. Take it all in. Listen for awhile more….
See you in 2016, but not right away. Xo
(*editor Michelle Van Lare)
|Posted on 13 October, 2015 at 0:00|
Recently I celebrated my 45th birthday. I love birthdays not for the celebration but for what the significance of the celebration of the day and what it means, and this one was a big one to me – epic!
I couldn’t help but realize that I am half way through my journey on this earth, in this physical body. Daily I am struck with how fantastic life is. In reflection, I am in awe by all the little and big accomplishments made along the way. I am proud to say that I could write a pretty good list of those achievements, travels and discoveries. I have a constant desire to learn and grow as an individual. I feel as though I cannot read enough about faith, spirituality, yoga, God, love and relationships. I feel I am forever the student.
I recently read a book by Neil Peart (the drummer from Rush) called Ghost Rider. This book was fascinating with such deep vulnerability expressed. Such detail of one man’s darkest moments to climbing back into the world, most of that discovery on a motorcycle. The moment I closed Neil’s book, I said to myself "I no longer want to be the passenger in life anymore."
In a short time frame, I wrote my beginners, bought a motorcycle, took a course and now ride daily, if I can. That prior sentence made it sound easy, by all means it wasn't, as it shouldn't be for obvious reasons. Words escape me to describe the feeling(s) I have riding. I feel exhilarated, excited, in awe, gratitude and also fear. Fear is a good thing on a bike though, it keeps one aware.
The one thing that struck me profoundly as I ride, is the direct correlation to yoga and meditation. This, this motorcycling, has become my new yoga, my meditation. When I ride, I practice, just as I do in yoga. With each time I ride/practice my form gets better and better. The flow is easier with each turn I move into. As I understand the bike and how it works. Some days my ride/practice may be long or short, as each day is different. Our body has moods just like our minds. Honour that – always!
Riding has increased my meditation to a level of astonishment. When I ride there is only one place to be “in the present moment.” Honestly, you can’t be anywhere else. And there is this unbelievable sense of freedom because the mind is fully and completely present. I now understand why so many bikers would express their joy for riding and they couldn’t explain it, the freedom. They are in meditatation!
They are practicing their “yoga” at that time!
When I ride I have this grand feeling of thankfulness. Seeing and having the honour of feeling the sensations that arise. The sky to me appears extra blue and gorgeous as I head out to the county roads. Watching the trees move and sway as I pass them by. Getting in sync with the other vehicles, that we are all practicing mindfulness as we share the space. Making room for one another.
I am grateful for the encouragement from so many as I embarked on this journey of motorcycling. To let go of fear was a big leap. There were many moments of fear that kept trying to pull me back, even some naysayers who would express all their concerns of riding a motorcycle. Fear tries to sneak in at every moment it can muster, it uses and manipulates. However, moving to the other side of fear has been a breath of ease, in retrospect.
Every time I sit down on the mat to meditate, fear walks around me a few times, marks it territory and tries to claim a corner of my mind. Even when I first swing my leg over that bike, fear starts talking to me. Fear can keep us in our homes, isolated, afraid of love, scared to share, to be vulnerable and keep us small and closed off. But everything you want is on the other side of fear.
There is so much to see and do in this life. So much to discover. Never stop wondering and wandering.
….and p.s…..thank you Mr. Peart for inspiring me – you have no idea how you inspired me!
|Posted on 6 September, 2015 at 11:00|
As many of you know, Dr. Wayne Dyer passed away. His body of work speaks for itself and we are blessed to have so many teachings of his, as he had written countless books. He was always so generous with his teachings, as he wanted to spread love to every being on this earth. I was fortunate enough to attend one of his talks in Detroit, MI in 2012 and to meet him. When he spoke it was as if Divinity was channeled through him, he could talk endlessly for hours, no notes, no papers, it just poured out of him as an endless stream of consciousness and he wanted us to receive it with an open soul.
What Wayne Dryer's teachings did for me is open my mind to new ways of thinking, and to be open to teachers appearing in my life. Teachers arrive everyday showing us, guiding us, nudging us this way and that. But the true teaching is….are we open to receive it???
If we close our hearts from our pain and suffering and retell our victim stories over and over again. If we stay the victim and stay in the story, we miss the lesson. Sometimes the teaching isn’t always in the easiest and gentlest ways. Teachings appear in the hard and the soft of life.
Some of my own biggest lessons or teachings were in the hardest moments. Even to this day, as I look back, I am still extracting beautiful lessons for those experiences. And the strangest thing about the hardships is that during the most difficult of times, a new teacher would appear in my life, reach their hand out to me, and lift me up and help me dust myself off. Some teachers have still stayed with me and others had to leave as they were being called to do other work.
Teachings can appear in a book, in a moment with our children and grandchildren. Or with a group of friends when we are laughing our heads off and realizing that their love, which they have freely given as friendship, is the greatest teaching we will know, because in that moment we feel loved and we know it in our souls.
You see Wayne Dyer taught me that teachers and teachings are all around us. Everywhere we look, in nature, at work, with our loved ones, in books, in doing the dishes, in everything….only if we are open to see. Thank you Wayne Dyer for helping me and many others to ‘see’. Your teachings live within me now and so many more I have yet to learn. ~ Namaste ~
|Posted on 22 August, 2015 at 16:35|
So I was speaking to a friend and they were sharing with me a story of their own personal suffering. The dark wounds of their pain were vivid and appeared on the outside and inside as she shared this immense story of struggle. The passion in which her story was told was if it was happening right there in that moment as she gave every heartbreaking truth of it all.
I watched my friend tell her story with such clarity of every detail and how it felt and how it affected herself and many in her life. She spoke of the details surrounding her pain and how it all came to be and the roads that lead her there. She detailed every turn for me so that I had a full vision of her suffering.
During this time as I listened and held the space knowing that I need not ask a single question as she would tell it all in her time and space, as she replayed the story, actually with such elegance for me. But I wondered ‘is this story for me, or is it for her to hear her own words?’
As she stepped into the deep heart of her story, tears were shared and the devastation of her words seemed to fill every square inch of her, myself, the space and everything in between the space. I thought of the yoga practice and how we have to remind ourselves to breathe through the hard parts and not to hold our breath as each pose reveals all our “junk” to us that we brought onto the mat. And as we settle in the breath, as the observer rather than the judge, we allow compassion and observation to come in, and we breathe out what we no longer need.
So in that moment, I was breathing not only for myself, but for my friend. As she was doing her greatest yoga I could ever get to witness in front of me.
Her story was of pain and suffering, but in that suffering there were these grand moments. These moments her heart was wide open and vulnerable to life and the experience. I could only think how blessed I was to be the one to see her soul wide open and a gift to me and to herself.
Then as the story of pain started to wind down, the juiciest part was yet to be revealed.
She spoke of gratitude for her suffering and all that her pain has shown her. She conveyed gratefulness of these obstacles that had so many layers of growth for herself and that through the pain she found herself and a new “her” was rebirthed. And the old self was left behind hoping never to revisit again, but knew with certainty that if she didn’t pay attention, from then on and continue on growing, that her old self would once again be knocking on her door ready to step back into her heart house again. Like an old friend that you know that you need to shake off but has a way of manipulating themselves over again for tea.
|Posted on 9 August, 2015 at 18:45|
I am an avid reader, I always have a book on the go. I am endlessly interested in books on the journey of the human spirit. I recently finished reading Neil Peart’s book (drummer from Rush) called, ‘Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road’. This book of his personal journey (I don’t want to spoil it if you happen to pick it up) got me thinking in new ways, as all books do.
That is the beauty of reading. After you put the book down you have this evolution of the mind. All the knowledge you have taken in page by page, is now within your soul and spirit. Forever changed. Sometimes on a grand level and sometimes just slight. Alas, never the same.
From the ideas that began to take form in my mind, during the journey of Neil Peart’s beautifully written book of vulnerability. That age old question popped in my mind, you know the one that is somewhat morbid, but gets us thinking about our life. “What would you do if you were going to die in a year?”
This question in my mind started to change and grow into…
“What would you do if someone told you that you only had a year to LIVE!” Flipping the question to LIFE, not death.
How often do we sit with our friends, and discuss all the things we would do. With the following words attached to our sentence, “If only ‘this’, and “if only ‘that’. Why is it that we sometimes think that we would change things if this question really did enter into our lives?
What if, as of today, you truly gave up something that is no longer serving you, rather than waiting for the question to roll around in your life?
Take a moment and think of the one thought that takes up so much mental space in your mind, day in and day out. Is it the thoughts of your body, how it looks, if it’s good enough, etc. (this is just one example, as this question could apply to whatever you need it to be).
Imagine if this was the day that you decided that your body is perfect just as it is and you are going to love it every day. That today you will let go of worrying about what you ate and drank but started caring for your body. To enjoy food and drink in moderation, so to breathe each breath of this life with gratitude for the gift that it is!
Because technically if you only had one year to LIVE, you would change your whole mindset and realize that worrying is redundant. To realize that the mental space it took up (whatever it is that you may stress or worry about) no longer has a place, because there is so much LIVING to do.
What would you let go of, what would you stop spending time thinking about, talking about, watching on TV, worrying about, gossiping about, habitually doing every day?
Now what would you do with that year? How would you LIVE?
Would you get your motorcycle license?
Would you go on a meditation / yoga retreat?
Would you take a pottery class?
Would you learn how to play the drums?
Would you plant a garden?
Would you take a yoga class?
Would you start exercising mindfully?
Would you learn a new language?
Would you sit quietly every day and read?
Would you go for a walk every day?
Would you turn the TV off and listen to your favorite music?
Would you take a dance class?
Would you go on a trip all by yourself and discover a new country you always wanted to see?
Would you open yourself up to fall in love?
Would you talk to a stranger?
Would you look for the good rather than put someone else down, and each time you caught yourself doing it, smile quietly to yourself, because you realized in that moment that the old you is long gone, or almost gone, and the new you is mindful and emerging?
Would you listen rather than always talking?
Would you be kind instead of right?
Would you lay beside your dog every day and just pet him / her?
Would you write a book?
Would you tell that someone who changed your life forever, how much they touched your soul?
Who would you forgive?
Would you forgive yourself?
Would you go into therapy to learn to forgive?
Would you let go of an old story that you have told way too many times to count?
Would you wave to your neighbour rather than look away?
You see, it doesn’t have to take some life altering moment to make us sit up and stop our behaviours (however sometimes it does because we aren’t listening to our own soul – and that is the only way to ‘wake us up’;). It doesn’t have to wait until New Year’s Eve. It can be this very moment. The moment you decide.
What would you do if you had one year to LIVE? And then another year? And then another?
How do you want to spend your life?
|Posted on 4 August, 2015 at 0:30|
I recently went to see Rob Bell speak in Cleveland, OH. I found Rob teaching through YouTube of all things a year or so ago, and kept following him. Now in retrospect, our teacher(s) will appear just when we need them, when we call upon the Universe/God for the teachings.
Are we listening?
Rob Bell was voted one of the Top 10 Most Influential People of 2015 by Time Magazine, has written a hand full of books, is a pastor, a father, a husband, and inspirational speaker on spirit and toured with Oprah on the Live Your Best Life Tour in 2014. I am sure that I’m not even doing him justice in this short paragraph but you get that he is a teacher of something great happening! (www.robbell.com)
I had the honour of meeting Rob and asked a few questions about my own life path. He was extremely gracious in his response and took the time to answer honestly from his experiences. Later, I sat in a beautiful auditorium with hundreds of others, listening to his talk on his tour called, “Everything Is Spiritual”.
Ever have that feeling that everything someone is saying in a moment like this, is directed straight at you? I’ve had times when a student in yoga class will walk up to me afterwards and say, “I swear you said everything I needed to hear, you were speaking to me the whole time, how did you know such personal things about what I’m going through.” This same occurrence happened to me that night. Rob’s whole talk was about my private question to him, or perhaps that is what it felt like – TO ME!
I sat in my chair with an open heart and listened…
His reminded us that we are born of greatness (the stuff of stars – stardust – Google this, I am not kidding). Also that our darkest moments in our lives, the stories we want to stay away from, are the lessons or the awakenings that we need to keep sharing, to let go of shame around these stories and to talk about them, as they will help another perhaps in some way. That the work we are here to do on this earth is important to our soul’s breath/our life. When we are put up against obstacles, roadblocks, haters, naysayers of criticism – telling us we are wrong – and we want to turn back, hide, become reclusive, stay small, retreat inward. We must not do this!!! Because then we would be going backwards.
The Universe only conspires us to move forwards, just as the Universe has for millennia.
You see the Universe has been only designed to continuously move forward and we must do the same because that stardust is in us ALL! We only know how to do that as well – TO MOVE FORWARD. We have the Universe in us.
So when something doesn’t feel right, the “program or dogma” that’s been passed down to you starts to shift within you and a new road appears, keep following that path. That forward shift of the path is for YOU to keep walking on. Learning. Growing. Evolving.
Be open to the little voice inside of you pushing you to move forward. The teacher(s) that shows up in your life expressing words that speak to your heart of new ideas and thoughts, you know if when you read it, hear it, see it, you can’t get enough information into your being, you are filled with excitement and wonder.
As Rob Bell ends all his talks, I write the following to pay homage to his teaching, “May you my brothers and sisters never stop seeking your greatness and your path within you. You have the Universe inside of you. May you be filled with wonder and know that your greatness is needed.”
|Posted on 26 July, 2015 at 17:55|
None of us are shielded from the ups and down of life. We all experience those moments when the earth underneath our feet trembles and the comfortable position of our existence is changing or forever changed.
As I’ve grown I’ve often felt that this moment of change/or the shift, is the moment that we are moving into a new experience of the journey for our baby soul to keep evolving. That a new path is unfolding and our humanness will fight tooth and nail to not allow the change to occur but our evolving higher consciousness is ready and willing.
You might think as a full time Yoga Teacher that this does not happen often or when it does that I would have it all figured out. Not always the case because I am human just like you.
However, a wise teacher once told me that the great lessons in my own life have occurred and are occurring so that I can share them in my classes, or with people who come into my life. For our experiences are to help another get through, as well. As we cross over one mountain we can share what we learned with another as they are crossing over their mountain. We are all going to need help along the way.
The greatest teaching of them all - compassion.
You see I don’t speak of my downs much, or on my worst days you would never know it. As when I am with a student or acquaintance or even a co-worker, I feel that it is my work to hold the space for them. You have to know me very well for me to open that door. I am truly blessed with incredible friends in my life, and we share that piece of vulnerability with each other without judgement. Thank goodness for that or I would never be who I am today without those beautiful souls in my life.
As of recent I personally have been struggling with some inward battles and those battles seem to take a kicking of the self. As we all have a battle don't we.
So one morning as I was getting ready for my day, I usually at some point will turn my computer on. And this is what I found from my husband.
With his permission he has allowed me to share his words. I thought it was appropriate because we all need someone in our back corner reminding us of our higher self and cheering us on in life. A husband, a friend, a family member, a trusted collegue. Sometimes even a Yoga Teacher needs a reminder.
Never stop being the student in life. Teachers and growth are happening every moment of your life. There is much to learn. Let others help and lift you up on the days when the rain seems like its falling often.
The words below are of my thoughtful husband - Robert - my teacher....
“Tamm, you’re amazing, never have I met a person so incredible. Your energy is brighter than the shiniest star, your heart bigger than an entire nation of beautiful souls, and your energy that of a billion exploding suns.
Don’t ever let anyone ever dim that, cast a shadow - hold an umbrella to it. You are a beacon of beautiful amazing spiritual guidance, you’re the lighthouse calling to the people to show the way to the path they are destined to be on – be proud of that, because so many people need that from you.
You may not be Mahatma Gandhi, Oprah or Rob Bell to the world but if you are that to only a few people, then you have done your job as a shepherd to those that need you, that is God’s work that he has sent you, Tammy Blaze to do. And you have done the world a beautiful justice in completing it.
Love what you do, because it comes from your heart and only your heart, because baby ‘love is all that matters.’
Your ever loving, endearing and proud, devoted husband,
|Posted on 19 July, 2015 at 11:20|
Meditation has become a staple in my Yoga teachings and in my private practice but yet one of the most challenging of practices.
Sitting with the mind and observing what comes up and not attaching to the thoughts, labelling, judging, or shaming the self for the thought is a practice of taming the monkey mind. Some days, to me, it is harder than climbing a mountain physically. To sit with ones thoughts and all the crazy madness that it can conjure up – can be a downright scary place to be in.
I am grateful for my students that express their moments of fear or indulgence in their rapid thoughts and my response on occasion is – “me too.”
Our meditations can take different forms though. We can be the observer watching the thoughts pass. Or we can select a mantra or a phrase that grounds us, or reminds us of our true nature such as, “I am light, I am love.” And repeating that mantra over and over again as we sit in silence, with eyes closed. Because sometimes we need to sit and remind ourselves of who we truly are – repeating the words – a repetition until we feel the dark lift.
Or our meditation and can take the form of a prayer, speaking silently to our higher self, Divinity, our soul, or whatever your understanding of God is. A conversation of peace, of vulnerability of prayer.
Perhaps your meditation is digging in the dirt of your garden, or cycling, or sitting in your backyard watching a bird.
Our meditation can take the form of concentration on the breath, something so simple, just observing the inflow and outflow of breath.
There are numerous ways to sit. The way you determine to sit is up to you, it’s all ‘up to you’ really.
Within those moments a shift can happen and I believe it is the shift of listening to the whispers within our heart. Our truest of conversations within. This quiet conversation that happens without the thoughts, as everything starts to slow and settle – the Universe starts to speak within us. Making room in our lives to listen is the challenge. To listen to our heart song.
Those whispers are the answers to our deepest questions, and where we align ourselves with who we ‘are’. The hardest step is to quiet oneself and listen. To be still…and listen…softly.
Have you sat today in stillness?
|Posted on 8 July, 2015 at 10:55|
If you’ve ever met me, smiling is usually how I will greet you. I love to smile!
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, and author of several books, said these words “smiling is mouth yoga.” And this is my understanding of this valuable teaching…
When we greet someone with a smile it is welcoming and inviting. Right away when we smile it puts the other at ease. We seem to soften on the inside and outside. Smiling makes us more approachable.
It is said that it takes less muscles to smile than to frown. When we smile our eyes light up, it seems that laughter isn’t far behind a smile. A smile also has this ability to lighten our hearts. A smile can cross all languages and sorrow.
When we don’t smile to another we sense that we are not welcomed into the surroundings, or that the other person is too busy to acknowledge our presence, it stirs doubt of the environment or situation. A lack of a smile feels like a closed door. A closed heart. A closed moment.
Sometimes we have to smile to get through a day and the smile we give to another can aid in getting them through their day. I’ve had many arrive at the studio and say “no matter what, when I walk through that door, regardless of the day I’ve had, your smile greets me and I know that I am home.”
You see, when we smile we acknowledge another person’s soul. We are connecting our ‘beingness’ – our hearts – acknowledgement of the other person. And isn’t that what we all want - to be seen - to feel a form of love.
Have you ever walked past a person with a straight face and began to smile at them as they approached. You can see the person soften and a smile on their face begins to take shape. Perhaps that person hasn’t had anyone even acknowledge them all day long or for days.
I believe this teaching is extremely beneficial – giving a smile is one the easiest form of a gift we can give to another. You never know how another’s day has been and a smile can make all the difference in the world to the one that never receives a smile.
In a perfect world I think Thich Nhat Hanh would prescribe hugging everyone but since that isn’t always welcomed, I believe his teaching of smiling - is the next best thing. The Yoga of the Heart.
~ Smile often ~
|Posted on 3 July, 2015 at 18:00|
Over the years hearing stories of why people practice yoga can be inspiring, courageous, disappointing, shocking, thought provoking, illuminating and downright funny. I’ve heard stories of how yoga makes one have a ‘yoga butt’, or they just like buying the clothes and being part of the new fad, something hip. Stories of how it’s helped with rage, grief, abuse, depression. Helped with sobriety, disease, and my favorite one, it has helped them find a friend as they were lonely in their life wandering, and that friend was themselves.
Yoga can have this spiritual theme to it, it seems that most arrive on their mat without it, but somewhere along the line it creeps in. Because yoga is not religious, but it is spiritual. Yoga has this way of connecting us to the God of our own understanding – whatever that might be. It allows us to tap into the source of our strength and courage and look inside and find that a vast sea of love is there. Is this love, God, source, our truest self, Mother Nature?
This looking inward can surprise and shake us to the core as there is much to sort through. When I first found yoga I felt like I was dancing back into my own heart. A part of myself that was there all this time, waiting to reopen. I still struggle with finding the words to describe what yoga and meditation has brought me personally. I feel as the years pass in my practice - asana (poses) - are becoming less and less, as it is an ever changing evolution and more is revealing itself as my practice is growing deeper - this part to me is the scariest I've ever ventured into of recent. So many questions!
My teacher Seane Corn once said, “Never put down any form of yoga, as you never know why one has come to the mat.” As I grow older I feel this applies with most forms of faith as well. Our culture seems to differ, as many want to state which form, faith or religion is better and why, and yoga seems to be no different.
The call to spirit is an individual journey and not one for debate. A courageous step to the unknown of self – the discovery. No matter how one decides to practice - be it yoga, singing, playing music, painting, going to church, travelling the globe, helping the poor, donating their money to some charity etc., spirit of source is there.
Who is to say that anyone is wrong?
Starting with one step – is all it takes – perhaps we stay in that one step for years and years until we have the courage to take the next step. No one is to say. We must have faith in our own step though, and to stay as long as needed. Some will join you, some you may have to walk away from and some will encourage you and even light a torch along the way.
“We could never learn to be brave if there were only joy in the world. ~ Helen Keller
|Posted on 25 June, 2015 at 16:20|
Speaking one’s own truth is part of many spiritual teachings and also one of modern society. However one of the hardest to attain.
We are taught many different truths along the way of life. Some cultural within our own family tribe, some within our faith, and schools, some through our friends and our workplaces. These truths change and shift as we grow on our path and evolve. Some truths we believe so strongly and hold close to our hearts, and some as we grow, we begin to question the foundation on which these truths are designed.
That is where the big ‘ahh-ha’ lightbulb moment takes place! Where the big stuff of the journey lies. When we realize and know our own truth we can’t look away from it. Or it seems to reappear again and again in our lives until we take hold of our truth.
Sometimes saying “no thank you” can be the beginning of speaking our own truth. It sounds so simple but so hard to conjure up those three little words. It’s somewhat a revolution to say something so boldly but with kindness to oneself. Also, there are times when not uttering a single word is appropriate as we realize that there is something we need to walk away from that is no longer serving us. It almost feels uncomfortable to utter words of truth to ourselves and others, but within our words healthy boundaries are created. A breaking of old patterns, habitual patterns to new awareness of love.
Finding your own truth can be found in many different ways. Never stop seeking, never stop asking the questions, and never stop evaluating and standing up to the questions within. That little voice inside is the Universe, God, the soul, right knowing, whatever is your own understanding of within. But the soul is never wrong, it is pushing us to be better versions of ourselves. Our highest self. However, most of the time it is somewhat an unraveling of the soul, of an old self, a courageous journey of discovery to step into the true self.
Are you working on your own truths?
|Posted on 19 June, 2015 at 17:40|
I have been teaching for almost 10 years now. Have met thousands of people and listened to so many stories of the journeys on and off the mat. Hearing the stories is my most humbling moment of yoga. Within those stories I am honoured to get a glimpse into someone’s life, their soul, not just hearing their words but through their eyes they tell me the story. I guess the window to the soul is through the eyes, as the expression goes.
However, what I have learned from hearing all the stories and also acknowledging and accepting my own story, is that “the work” is always a private journey. We can go to the studio, go to therapy, get in the program, run marathons, and sit in hours and hours of meditation, hike a mountain, but the work is of ONE.
Yoga is a wonderful tool to dig in the dirt of the soul but it is a private digging. To look at each morsel, of each grain of our life is a courageous acceptance to say to the soul, the mind, the heart, “I’m going to look at this situation with an open loving heart.” Yoga is a modality of many tools that can be used to inquire. Self-study is necessary so that we can continue on the path of being whole, for the cracks in our lives, is the light trying to break through.
Never stop digging!
|Posted on 11 June, 2015 at 15:55|
Our bodies are amazing, beautiful and intelligent. Our bodies can repair themselves, tell us that something is wrong within. Our bodies feel a million different emotions. Through our physical form we get to experience all sorts of adventures outside and inside. Then why do we struggle so much and shame these bodies? For this body is a gift!
Every day when I teach Yoga, a student will tell me what they “can’t” do. That they aren’t flexible, can’t bend in certain ways, that they have this injury and that injury, or that they are too old, and the list goes on and on. I actually love hearing these stories of the “I can’t”, I find it fascinating each and every time. And on most days I feel deep compassion and empathy because I struggle with the “I can’t” too sometimes. So I completely understand where they are coming from.
However, my favorite moment is when they come and unroll their mat and begin the process of unraveling all that they bring with them on the yoga mat. Their bodies start to move, their breath deepens, and their facial expression starts to change from intensity to a softening. I get to witness almost a rebirthing of their spirit. A dance of getting back into their bodies and checking out the view differently. Their excuses start to drop away one by one and an opening appears.
You see a Yoga Teacher only gets to spend a small amount of time with a student, but hopefully the teachings will last with them. That the mind is the one that “can’t” do certain things, but the body CAN. It’s the mind that might have the injury or is too old. The mind is the inflexible one. But this beautiful body is perfect and whole.
What’s holding you back on your path? Your body or your mind?
|Posted on 5 June, 2015 at 18:35|
Teaching meditation in every single one of my yoga classes is mandatory. I feel if the student doesn’t have the opportunity to learn and practice meditation I am performing a dis-service to them, to the practice, and also to myself – a vow of a yoga teacher.
My Yoga teacher Seane Corn once said, “Make your practice an offering, a meditation throughout the whole of the practice.” I never forgot her words, and after all these years, countless classes, thousands of hours of meditations taught, and in my private practice… I still have great meditations and awful practices, personally within.
I am inspired when a student comes to me explaining how their mind was all over the place. Like a crazed monkey swinging from branch to branch, with each a new thought. My only response is “Me too!!” With the biggest enthusiastic smile I can offer. Knowing that we are exactly the same no matter how many hours I/we have so called logged time on the cushion.
My favorite inquiry is concerning the statement or the idea of teaching oneself to blank out ones mind. I’m not sure where this false statement came from. The many teachers and books I have studied have written and instructed that the mind is beautiful and precious, but it also can be filled with hurt and anguish. It can also contain the craziest memories and old stories and conversations of years gone by. Within its beauty it is like a mad projection screen with a film that is never-ending, some beautiful visions and some so graphic and horrendous, it would never be allowed to show in public anywhere. So this practice of meditation is expansive, some use the breath to focus on, some use mantras or even a prayer to the God of their own understanding.
However, the place of peace lies in the breath or whichever form you are using, so that the thoughts are pushed back. As if, the movie projector is still running, and the images are still going, but there is this soft hum, this realization that the movie showing will always be there, but we can choose to look away, and to focus on the breath or technique used. So the voices, and the images get turned way down low, and the movie might become somewhat of a blur. A realizing that it’s ‘ok’. We can choose to stop playing the movie at any time, or perhaps just be a witness to it, observing the movie, without condemning self or fantasying about a certain moment in time. Being the observer. Allowing to choose to stop letting the thoughts control you. And within that moment, we are present. Realized perhaps for a brief moment. United within Grace. Peaceful.
|Posted on 31 May, 2015 at 15:05|
This experience we call life is a journey of the soul. We dress it up with clothes, education, movies, dancing, reading, writing, vacations, yoga classes, working out, the list goes on and on of the “doing” of life. However, the adventure of the doing and all the experiences are something to share with a partner, a friend, someone. Otherwise, the experience as I learn and grown might be taken into the body, the mind and heart but without the exchange of the experience with someone, it gets lost somewhere, as if knowing when we take in an experience singularly it feels almost loud.
So perhaps for a moment we can take into account that when we share our experience alongside someone or sharing the experience in words to someone, consciously on a higher level we are exchanging love. Being open to another soul, being vulnerable, sharing the occurances of the up’s and down’s, sharing the journey. Maybe that is why we are on our yoga mat in a community or even in our own home, or watching a concert or listening to music privately, we want to share the experience with another, we want to tell the story of the experience to inspire each other to have the “experience” too. To feel so deeply. To feel love.
I want to be in a world that is a pouring of love, exchanging words and experiences. Listening with an open heart and mind. How lucky are we to experience the journey together. We must create a world of love with our experiences and our words. So that means with each moment in my own life, it starts with me, with each experience to share it with love and give with love.
|Posted on 22 May, 2015 at 11:25|
I am struck with the awareness that when I teach a yoga class, I am not just taking the student on a physical journey but a journey of thought, inquiry and vulnerability. Of course, we get to partake in some lovely stretches that the body is quite thankful to engage in, and the benefits of those movements have endless health reasons. However, the inquiry is the part that inspires me each and every week.
The stories afterwards that the students share with me is the real yoga. Sometimes I receive hugs, or a gentle smile, or a quick 'thank you', and then sometimes someone will share a heartbreaking story of darkness. The ancient yogi's state that the physical movements have biochemical and philosophical releases and our hearts expand in the pose(s). With this the student arrives one way, but leaves another, connected to their truth, to their growth, to their God of their own understanding.
Through the stories I am honoured to hear, I am always in awe of the darkness. The stuff that brings us to our knees and upon the darkest hour the light (awareness) arrives. The small opening that tells the soul "yes, I want to learn and grow in this body and mind and heart."
The light always wins to me; it always arrives and lasts longer than the darkness. With each breath - renewed!
|Posted on 13 May, 2015 at 8:55|
I never said I'd be a yoga teacher, it just sort of happened without me really thinking about it. It was a slow beautiful journey. With each day, I took the steps toward it without realizing what was going to become my full time life of teaching all over the city.
However being a yoga teacher has been my greatest reward. I am honoured to meet the most incredible people that decide to take the huge leap of faith and unroll their mat in my class. I am blessed to hold the space for them as they crack their hearts open and some leave them on the floor when then leave. For some it is a journey of strength and sweat, for others it is a puddle of tears, for others it is pure bliss and smiles throughout, and for a few it a way to cope with incredible loss, anger, frustrations and heartbreak. You see, everyone comes to the mat for different reasons. Everyone. But the common thread is we are all doing our own work. Quietly, breath by breath.
Like I said, I never meant to be a yoga teacher. But being in that room, holding the space for the souls that embark on their journey, it fills me with such a humbling heart. I am grateful for each and everyone of you that venture into my class. For the love, the smiles and the tears. I am grateful for the stories that you share with me before and afterwards of your own personal stories of success, hardships and grace. I feel that with each story it gets embedded within me, like a precious jewel. Safe, secure, and held so precious within.
You are here inside my laughter.
Thoughts of you are on my mind and
wrapped around my heart.
You empower me to love with all I have,
and to enjoy all that is good.
As I embrace each day with the promise of you,
I can't imagine a day that is not filled
with your smiles.
My life has been kissed by many blessings,
and because of you each day is a gift
filled with grace, mercy and love.
I cherish the moments that bring us together,
and it is inside the space I realize I am home.
~ Lori Eberhardy
|Posted on 6 May, 2015 at 9:40|
I am in love with love. I have searched for it my whole life and no matter how many times I've bashed my nose up from it, I would continue to seek for it.
In my younger years I would go to limits of love that would expose my heart so drastically that I would forget who I was. This just doesn't mean with a man but even sometimes this would happen with friends and family. This has been one of the greatest lessons of life. Love is tricky; it is a dance of the heart, openness to vulnerability, an allowing of letting one in, inside your heart.
Through trusting myself and getting to know myself better was when I truly learned about love. Growing older is this marvelous gift of wisdom, but it takes hard work. Once I learned about loving me was then when I learned about honouring oneself. I had to go back to the beginning to learn about love. And it started at a Buddhist temple in Detroit, with that came going back to the greatest texts, The Bible, The Yoga Sutras, anything writing by Thich Nhat Hanh, even a book like Eat, Pray, Love, the amount of books I consumed on love and still read to remind myself continuously. All these teachers in my life showing me the ways of love.
You see, I realized that I had this ability to see the good in all people, even the ones that weren't the best for me. One day, I was at a workshop listening to my yoga teacher Seane Corn, and she said the simplest phrase, "send everyone love, be kind, but you don't have to go to lunch with them!" This statement was magnificent to me. As I practice and teach yoga full-time this teaching rolls around my head again and again, the simplest of teachings but the most profound, to me.
I've had to go back to this teaching again and again. Not everyone see's love the same way. We can love from a distance, and sometimes that means separation from a not so healthy person, or an abuser, or a manipulator, or a mean person, or an energy sucker, unhealthy workplace, the list can go on and on. We all have work to do. The teacher shows up, and it is up to us to listen to the message. But it is up to us when we want the seed to take root. To love oneself, to value oneself, to honour oneself. One of the hardest most beautiful lessons I've even learned. Thank you to all the teachers that keep showing up to help me learn this lesson.
|Posted on 29 April, 2015 at 8:55|
As I grow, learn and stumble upon my yoga journey or spiritual quest, I am reminded that the journey is a quiet one, an alone adventure. As I sift through all the media of yoga, the Facebook feeds, the yoga clothing stores and all the community that comes with it, I am delighted in many ways that yoga is so accessible for many. This is a wonderful thing that it is so mainstream now.
However, personally when I roll out my own mat in my quiet home, I am reminded of the inward journey of the quest. It truly is an individual journey of the soul, the inquiry, the questions of all the above. It is wonderful to have support and community, teachers and guides, but the real work is private, and somewhat "alone".
This is where growth and lessons are reaped. Into the valley of the wilderness, the unknown, and sometimes it isn't pretty at all. Sometimes it feels just that, a deep valley. And wading in the valley seems like forever until we start to climb back out and see the sun appearing on the mountain top again. But that courageous journey of oneself in the silence of the mind and soul is truly that - courageous!
And everyone’s "yoga" is different. Maybe it is in a yoga studio, or on your bike, maybe in a temple, or perhaps in your garden, or rebuilding a car, maybe it’s travelling around the globe finding oneself. The journey to source, to the sacred self, to God, to and through our personal lessons, is a private journey of one. A courageous leap!
|Posted on 22 April, 2015 at 11:45|
It took me many years to understand this teaching of yoga. "99% practice, 1% theory". When I first started on my yoga journey I thought that, that statement meant that I had to practice physical yoga all the time, and reading all the books, sutra's etc., was just a small part of understanding yoga. As if the teachings would flood my mind with all the theory as I did the physical practice. As if a cosmic occurance would happen while I was on my mat and "boom" knowledge would just pour into my mind.
As each day past, and all the highs and lows I have witnessed in my own life. I realized that yoga was a 24/7 practice, 365 days a year. The teachings happen off the mat, the experience of the journey. That is the 'practice', not the physical poses. It is hard to be "yoga-like" in the moment of upset, or when someone is pushing our buttons, or when there is death or awful things going on in the world.
The practice is 99%. It is our behaviour. Our love. Our understanding. Our kindnesses to each other. That is the practice! The practice is also self love to oneself. Treating the self with respect and love. Theory is 1%.
The practice is love!