Wednesday, May 20, 2015

" Expiration Date ... "

“ … It’s an emergency
But I'm a say it clear and loud
I bet you care and hear me now

The expiration date that I gave to you
Has now come and gone so I have to move
It's too late for me to hold on

The expiration date that I gave to you
Has now come and gone so I have to move
It's too late for me to hold on … “

~ Jhene Aiko ~ Expiration Date ~ 


About five years ago I was told of my expiry date.  If I didn’t follow the treatment protocol advised, I would be lucky to live another 5 years at best.  The diagnosis was stage 2b, grade III with prescribed treatment was mastectomy, radiation and chemotherapy.  The surgeon provided no other option.  And alternative treatments were not even to be considered.

As the story goes, I didn’t follow their advice.  
And so far, I’ve outlived my expiry date.  
So far, So good.

Living with an illness means coming face to face with death every day.  Not a clue what you are going to get, when it is going to happen and how.  So you live your life with what you got.

I no longer fear death.  It is a natural process.  It is inevitable.  
I have the awareness of my mortality at any moment.

And it is not about being extraordinary or special.  We all have the ability to decide how we are going to live our lives.  No health crisis necessary to shift.

On a large scale, our lives are an infinitesimal dot between two infinite spans.  On a personal scale, a lifetime is long enough to do amazing things.  To pursue and master your passion.  To build and future relationships.  To love and lose and love again.  To chase your dreams and working hard enough to reach them.  To have an exciting, fulfilling, meaningful, awesome life.  

At times when life gets really really tough, I remind my self that 
“ … this body is on loan from the Universe.  It is an incredibly fortunate collection of atoms forged in stellar furnaces … pulled together by gravity or some deeper hidden force … “.  Once we are finished here, the atoms will recycle to further serve spirit along its upward journey towards ever more complex and useful forms.  Perhaps we can just take a moment to celebrate our participation in such a beautiful process.

Most of us don’t like to think about mortality, fearing that it renders life meaningless.  Yet the transience of life renders the urgent search for meaning.  Live your life urgently.  Once your live your ideal life, you’ll love every day.  

The practice is not ruminating on your mortality … it is how this awareness affects your behaviour.  It is how your live by cultivating gratitude, compassion, selflessness, health, boldness, presence, and meaning.

Monday, May 18, 2015

" Nothing Else Matters ... "

So close no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
And nothing else matters

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don't just say
And nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters

~ Metallica ~ Nothing Else Matters ~


Never treat someone like a priority when they treat you like an option ... 

How many times have you seen this phrase and told yourself that will never be me.  Think again.  A priority is when you mark a date off in your calendar, cancel your other plans and commit.  A priority is when you presume that what is planned is going to happen.  Pretty simple.  Yet here is the catch ... you also presume that the other person(s) are treating you like a priority too.  

An option, on the other hand is much more flexible.  An option is simply the possibility of doing something, with real plans to be announced.  And they are emotionally driven – we will meet up when it feels right ... we will do what we feel like doing at that time.  Any plans are really only guidelines for what is going to be an emotionally driven activity.

The thing about taking the “option” approach is that there is low-pressure  ... and it makes you look easygoing and not to bothered by much.  By treating others like options, you prevent the logistics of the situation from interfering with the emotions of the situation.  Easy come, easy go ... easy to reschedule.

Think again.  When you treat another like an option, not caring if you reschedule, change plans or cancel, you send a message with clarity.  You are simply unavailable and they don’t matter.  They are not a priority. Period.

Those that treat you like an option are okay with disappointing you by failing to meet their commitments, plans or promises they have made.  And the treatment is selective as you see they will ensure not to disappoint others.  

If you are prone to internalizing these experiences and inclined to correlate them to your worth, you are heading towards a very slippery slope.  The biggest disappointments in our lives are often the result of misplaced expectations. 

Don’t ever forget your worth.  Spend time with those who value you, not tolerate you.  Loving and respecting others mean allowing them to be themselves.  When you stop expecting people to be a certain way, you begin to appreciate who they are, not who you want them to be.  

Every human being is a remarkable and beautiful person ... it just takes a patient set of eyes to see it ... others rarely behave they way you want them to.  Accept it.

Friday, May 8, 2015

" Pause ... "

“ ... As the world bears down on my shoulders
I find the fear doesn't subside ... 
I don't know how I've lasted this long

I wish to pause this moment
'Cause as I cry I start to realize ... 

You give me strength
You take away my fear
There was a void in my heart that only you could fill ... “

~ Kjwan ~ Pause ~

Ever observe the reaction of people when you tell them you meditate.  Just take notice ... either they are curious, stay clear of you ... or think you may just be a flake.  

Regardless, mindfulness has changed the way I live.  

Just three years ago, I was in the middle of the intense Gerson Therapy, working hard to rebuild my body and get healthy.  My practitioner spoke to me about meditation.  I remember my response ... oh yes, I meditate already ... yup, total and complete bullshit.  I was operating from a level of conditioning  that I no longer strive for.  

A basic quietness, practiced for minutes in a day ... to help cope, deal and manage life.  At the deepest level available.  A connection within.  Listening to your higher self.  
I still get anxious, I still get scared, but I am aware of this new level of training.  Helping me become present, centered and more mindful than imagined.  

With such a glowing review, you would think that the meditation bandwagon would be full.  Not so much.  From believing that meditation isn’t for “me”, not having enough time, expectation to “clear the mind” of thoughts, reach nirvana and having to “do” meditation ... what we resist the most, we simply need the most.  

In the beginning, the idea of sitting in silence, doing nothing was terrifying.  I told my teacher that I could not observe my thoughts.  The ones that were dark and full of despair.  My teacher told me that those were the ones I would learn the most from.  Three plus years later ... it is still an enormous process.

Mindfulness isn’t for the hippies and tree hugger only.  Or for certain races or types of people.  It isn’t in your DNA or you have to be “good at it”.  It is about trying.  Our monkey minds will distract, destroy and delete information.  Yet with the use of breath work, visualizations and mantras, you notice your thoughts, without judgement and ... stillness arises.  The pauses between the thoughts become greater.  

And in that pause ... PEACE ~ CLARITY ~ CALM ... 

Forget the candles, chant, hums and incense.  
Pause and quiet the mind.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

" I'll Meet You ... "

“Yeah these windows are crying
And this train is dying
To meet you

This train is filled with emotions
They all make me think about you
When we pass these old desert stations
I want to go there with you meet you
... to meet you”

~ Teitur ~ I’ll Meet You ~

Having been immersed in yoga teacher training for the last few months, I have faced the majesty mess of life.  Our matt is a reflection of everything we have endured to date.  The good, the bad, the ugly ... and the injuries.  

... similar to life, the state of yoga is flexibility, strength, consistency, practice and patience ...

Sharing space with like-minded yogi’s has been educational.  Our combined cheer for mental, physical and emotional health.  However like anything we tackle in life, you decide your intentions.  Some gravitate towards competition, the rest of us, towards health.  

And there are plenty of mistakes to be made when learning something new.  Within the excitement a beautifully layered cake of anxiety, nervousness and fear, stepping into the unknown takes courage.  So being aware of your ego traps can help you navigate situations more smoothly.  So what are ego traps???  ... when you get stuck by comparing yourself with others, comparing your body to how it was years prior, pushing your body too hard without awareness, inconsistency in your practice and getting impatient with your body.

... at this moment, 
this is where I am ... with this breath and this body ...

It is about getting over yourself and how you think it should be.  The image, the experience, the interaction, the communication ... may not match your ideal vision, but what does occur, what comes up is an opportunity for exploration.

From experience, this discovery can bring to light the things you’ve buried, avoided and had great resistance with.  Some may find it odd to compare an Asana to what is occurring in your life.  Yet the posture you resist the most, you need the most.  Much like life.  Our soul knows and channels us through these moments to get us to the other side.  The other side of fear.

Sometimes the leap from where we are and where we want to be is to great. My meditation teacher advised that I make friends with it, that leap, that gap, rather than be in resistance to it.  A simple philosophy, hard to apply at times.

So we start over.  We meet ourselves all over, again.  And realize that when we meet ourselves where we are, whether it be on a yoga matt, or in a place of transition ... we are a work in progress.  And a beautiful one at that.  

Saturday, April 18, 2015

" Breathe ... "

“ ... A blue-black shade of love.
Sent from above.
My hands are tied, two worlds alone,
And this I know.
Your breath's like wine,
And just like clouds, my skin crawls.
It's so divine, the sky it glows with fields of light.

Did you know that I love you?
Come and lay with me.
I love you.
And on this day, I love you.
You make me feel alive,
And I'll love you
Until the end of time ... “

~ Angels & Airwaves ~ Breathe ~

The beauty of unifying breath and movement is truly majestic ... with the breathing techniques of Ujjayi pranayama, we can open a gateway, melt snow or ride the waves like a surfer.  What a wonderful visualization regarding prana (energy).  

Our familiarity with meditation and yoga, provides us a better insight on how the body, mind and breath connect.  Ujjayi Pranayama, or ocean breathing, links the physical and energetic universe.  This type of breathing technique, when applied correctly, can open you to unlimited energy.  Superficial breathe will carry you, but the depth you are looking for comes from the deep audible breathes.  The rhythm set by your inner waves.  

Breathing through the nose humidifies the inhaled air, tempers it and removes dust particles ... cleansing as you inhale.  Like a surfer who rides the waves of a real ocean, your inner surf carries from asana to asana.  And the quality of your breath is your guide.  

“ ... The murmuring Ujjayi sound causes the bronchi to vibrate subtly, activating the ciliated epithelium. Dust particles will also be removed from the lungs in this way. During normal breathing, the pressure on the bronchi during exhalation is quite modest. Ujjayi pranayama maintains steady pressure inside the bronchi, even during exhalation. This counteracts the collapsing of the smaller bronchi, allowing the exhalation to be expanded and the amount of residual air in the lungs to be reduced. This breathing technique is especially useful for people who suffer from chronic obstructive lung conditions or asthma ... “

practicing Ujjayi Pranayama (beginners)

  • Sit down with your spine upright and close your eyes. 
  • Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
  • When exhaling, produce the sound ‘HHHHHAAAA’.
  • From now on, keep your mouth closed while exhaling. 
  • Generate the same sound as before but this time with your mouth closed. 
  • The position of your throat is unchanged and natural. 
  • Make sure the sound originates from your throat and not from your nose.
  • Now maintain the same throat position while inhaling, producing the same murmuring sound.
  • Begin to balance your inhalation with your exhalation. 
  • Balance the sound, quality and length of your breath. 
  • You’ll probably notice that your exhalation is longer and stronger. 
  • Therefore, expand and emphasize your inhalation. 
  • This is the first way to expand your breath.
  • Feel your heartbeat. 
  • Inhale over approximately three to five heartbeats and exhale over the same amount. 
  • This is the second way to expand your breath during inhalation as well as exhalation.
  • Lift your arms while inhaling, and lower them while exhaling. 
  • The way your breath adjusts to the movement (Vinyasa) is the third way to expand your breath. 
  • Now let your hands rest in your lap while you let your breath flow. 
  • Experience the effect of your breathing. 
  • By expanding your breath, you absorb Prana (energy). 
  • You might even feel a delicate tingling in the back of your throat. 
  • As your practice becomes more refined and advanced, the quality of your breath will become more subtle and you will become more in touch with the Prana.
  • Concentrate on the turning point between inhalation and exhalation. 
  • Make sure you keep your breath flowing and your throat open. 
  • This is the basis for an ongoing flow of energy.
  • Now slowly open your breath and return to normal breathing.

“ life is a moving, breathing thing ...we have to be willing to constantly evolve ... perfection is constant transformation ... “