Between oversimplifying and overcomplicating there is balance

I think that whether or not we realise this, we are all seeking balance. Some go to extremes to find a bit of peace, while others go through peace to find the extremities of the world.

There is much to say about acceptance and finding this place where as our own Self we can finally just Be. In fact, if I might suggest, it is a fine balance between over simplification and over complication !

Caught in constant questioning and turmoil I had figured that the best way to Be, was to accept things as they were and be content with how Life was presenting itself. Only, I was not respecting Life’s course rather I was closing my eyes to what it was telling me, to what it kept offering me.

Realising this a few years down the road was destabilizing: how could it be that after finding what I thought was peace I had instead being burying my head in the sand? And knowing this now, how do I go about Life understanding that what I may see as reality may in fact be the result of the full construct of my mind wanting me to see it this way?!

Heavy eh?! I know… but I think I’ve figured it out!!

Don’t stop questionning yourself, and here I don’t mean doubting, always move in constant awareness, open to Life, open to new opportunities. Take the time to recognize what it is you feel and how it makes you feel. Trust yourself, your gut feeling but above all, know that you are worth every little bit of “it” and that who ever you choose to surround yourself with, will also see “it”.

Trust your heart. Love, feel, heal, give, receive, be compassionate. Believe that you have what it takes to be you.

Namaste.

Five-word Meditation

This morning I am sharing these with you. I wrote them at the beginning of June for myself and they became my Mantra over the weeks. In reading these over again today, I thought some of you may also appreciate them and perhaps make you reflect on your words.

Presence – by being the observer, the witness. I become present here and Now in everything that I say and do – walking, doing the dishes, making coffee, writing, breathing, talking, etc. I am also present in the sense that I am not projecting myself in the future, expecting, wishing, hoping, imagining. I am living here and Now. I am present.

Determination – by sticking with it. I follow my path, I continue moving forward, I move over and around obstacles that I face. I am determined to achieve my goal of being more happy, being Me and by not giving up. I have determination.

Courage – by keeping my eyes opened in the midst of the storm, by facing what I have come to see. I have courage to go through with my decisions, to face the conflict it may bring, leaving fears, guilt and the unknown aside. I have the courage to do what I know is necessary and I believe in myself. I have courage.

Patience – by not trying to force things to go faster than they should. In each situations, I have poise and balance and I am able to see the bigger picture. I do not jump to conclusions or make irrational, emotional decision based on fear or anger. I recognize the Ego in action, trying to hide the truth from me, trying to shield and protect itself. I have patience.

Faith – by believing that all is the way it should be. I know that Life has my back! I strongly believe that all happens for a reason : learning. I understand that to learn, I must be opened to change and not have fear to let go of the control I think I have over any situation. Instead, I simply go with the flow, letting it carry me as a stream carries a flower. I have faith.

Namaste.

Meeting the Dalai-Lama

Where do I start? As I walked down to my seat I was already moved by the simple fact of being there! What an amazing experience. You can find out more about this event at www.tibet.ca/2012 and read his Teachings on compassion (click here!), and the speech he made in Ottawa yesterday here.

As his Holiness the Dalai Lama made his way to the stage, the crowd stood up to welcome and greet him with the utmost respect. Fortunately, I had already taken out a tissue as a precautionary measure for uncontrollable eye wateriness!!

It is with great modesty and an attaching personality that the Dalai Lama delivered messages of peace and compassion. He emphasized on the demilitarization of the world and the use of these large monetary resources towards education and the eradication of poverty. He explained and suggested ideas on how to bring more compassion into our lives and the importance to make decisions based on everyone’s interests and well-being for the future of our planet.

Smiling and laughing throughout the Teachings he shared with us this weekend, he spoke about the fear and anxiety that arises from individualistic behaviors. When we decide to take on an attitude of self-centeredness, we become weary of the others around us, resulting in further isolation. And so, although some actions may seem advantageous at the time, they may not be beneficial to us in the long run. This is why intention is key: are we doing so only for our own personal advancement, or are we thinking of the impact this will have on others around us?

He spoke about the advances in technology and the interest of science in spirituality, looking at the effects of meditation on the neurones and the body’s health. He shared his opinion on our current education system, suggesting that it should focus more on the development of the mind and on human relationships than on acquiring material goods. Although money is necessary, it is the use we make of it that could have a greater social impact.

Environmental consciousness and the need to protect our planet and consume more responsibly was also discussed at length. He emphasized on the reality of the relationship we have with the Earth, the fact that by destroying it we are bringing harm to all living things. That we must recognize our oneness, our unity with all life.

Sitting down after sharing his thoughts with us, he answered questions sent in prior to this event. On a question about parenting, he reiterated the necessity for the presence and demonstration of affection by both parent’s in the child’s development, this affection being the seed of compassion. That in order to create a better world for tomorrow we must start now by teaching our children compassion, by showing them the importance of others and the necessity to respect them and to let go of our self-centeredness and fears.

In the end, it is hard to describe this encounter with words that appropriately reflect the feelings I felt, but I will start with these: moved, inspired, relieved, joyful, unity, peace, calm, at ease, and many more. It was a lot to take in and I am glad, honoured even, to have met such a remarkable human being.

Namaste.

The Power of Practice

Whether you meditate, do yoga, run, climb, train or dance (or do any other activity that makes you feel good really), no matter how many times you fall off the wagon, you notice the difference. You become more irritable, cranky, and you just don’t feel all that good about yourself.

Having an activity that both engages body and mind, that makes you think or stop thinking, I think is very beneficial to our health and our well-being. I believe that by engaging in such actions, we are able to live more fully into the present moment. Taking climbing for example, for me, it totally puts me right there in the moment for if I don’t give all my attention to what it is I am doing, I’ll fall off! It’s as simple as that.

In practicing yoga and meditation, I find that I can bring this focus and calm to other parts of my life whether it is while climbing or at work, these practices not only make me more fit but they also enable me to take a step back and see the bigger picture.

A lot of the times, I think that many of us need just that: taking a step back. By doing so, by engaging in these types of activities, we allow our creativity, our focus and our conscious awareness to emerge. We come to understand the flow of life and see the beauty of it all. We realize that we were overwhelmed and preoccupied by events happening outside of us forgetting that the stability and peace we seek is inside of us.

And so, by taking this step back, by taking care of ourselves, we slow down time and we truly enjoy every moment. Jivan mukti ~ fully living here and now in a state of self-realization and liberation. I hope you find your own “practice” or way of taking time for yourself, reflecting on where you are now. Only by knowing where you stand can you move forward.

Namaste.

Stilling the Mind and Body

Everyday, thoughts fill our mind in a chaotic back and forth, churning ideas and obsessions. We think of things we could have done better or differently. We ask ourselves why we said this while we could have said that. We live in the past or in anticipation of the future, missing out on the present. So just stop here for a moment and breathe. Just Be.

I am discovering the practice of Yin Yoga and the benefits it brings to both mind and body. As we settle into a posture, the chatter slows down, bringing our attention to our breath, bringing our gaze inward. Eventually, as the body becomes still the mind follows and allows us to experience great inner peace and calm.

As time passes, our mind is absorbed deeper into stillness, creating space in the body. With every breath we observe an increased space between each inhale and each exhale. The incessant thought process slowly coming to a halt, we now notice and experience our body in its surrounding to the rhythm of our heart beat.

The practice of Yin Yoga not only takes the stretch into our deeper connective tissues, it brings our awareness of Self, mind and body in sync, deeper into the multiple layers of thoughts. There, there is stillness. Here, there is peace. Om Shanti.

The Gayatri Mantra

Somewhere in the world, monks are singing for peace and the end of suffering. This mantra is repeated by thousands of them 24-hours per day. This is the first mantra I have learned.

Taken from the Rig Veda, the Gayatri Mantra is “one of the most highly revered mantras in Hinduism. The  most popular translation and recording in the West are from Deva Premal (click here to listen):

Om bhur bhuvah svah

Tat savitur varenyam

Bhargo devasya dhimahi

Dhiyo yonah prachodayat

Which can be translated to:

Through the coming, going, and the balance of life

The essential nature illuminating existence is the adorable one

May all perceive through subtle intellect

The brilliance of enlightenment” ~ Mark Stephens (Teaching Yoga – Essential Foundations and Techniques).

Om Shanti.

Surrender

Last night I attended one of my favorite yoga class. I felt very focused and grounded throughout my practice. It was great. In fact, I hadn’t felt at peace and this calm for a while. Perhaps I had been searching for it too much. When I spoke with a friend after class, he told me: “but you just have to surrender”. He was right. The difficulty is that you cannot try to surrender or force yourself to do so, it just has to happen…

Some definitions suggest “To relinquish possession or control of” while others indicate “To give up“. Surrendering, in the sense explored here, means that you accept things and people the way they are. That you no longer choose to battle life rather, you enjoy it as it comes. Easy when life is good and everything is falling into place. Not so much when we are faced with difficult situations that are imposed upon us. Yet, I believe that we can still make a choice.

Before I explain these choices, lets take a ridiculous but concrete example. Falling snow. Some people would rather run around with a lighter melting every single snowflake then see them covering the ground. Sounds exhausting doesn’t it?! Another approach could be to stick out your tongue and catch as many snowflakes as you can! Much more fun if you ask me. Now think about the emotions that would arise, the energy that would be expanded running around melting snowflakes. And as many more fall, frustration builds and a greater feeling of lack of control mounts, leaving you to feel vulnerable and incapable, victimized and helpless…

And so, back to the choices you can make, based on Fear or based on Love.  In all life’s situations you can decide to fight against the flow and live angry and constantly disappointed or, you can see what will happen and surrender to what life is offering you. One thing for sure, I can guarantee you that you will struggle with life and have a hard time just being happy in the first scenario, while in the latter, you might just have some great moments filled with laughter, peace and happiness.

So surrender. Give up the fight. Enjoy life as it manifests itself to you. Reach out to others. Breathe. Simply Be. Namaste.

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