Roaring Waters

4232319679_eb513404d9

The water is roaring. The riverbed can’t hold her in. She’s rushing… flooding… running… trickling way past her usual edges. Like a delirious child, madly colouring outside the lines. Her container is no longer suitable. It’s too constricted. But here’s the beauty – she doesn’t try to fit into it. She just builds a new one.

I put one foot in front of the other. I can’t tell if my hair is made of snakes. I’m not sure if that’s the sound of my heart, or the wild thumping of the core of the earth. And I don’t want to know. My skin feels soft and loose, yet I’m bursting at the seams. There is rage, and power, and excitement. There is magic, unbridled joy, and the deepest trust in all the things. There is mourning also. Sadness. Disappointment. Fear, trying to hold me back. But the current is tenacious; it’s way too strong now. My vessel is too small. It’s time to build a new one…

tumblr_o4m5v9Yqlx1txfen3o1_500

Advertisements

Inhale, exhale

enhanced-12976-1406888884-1

Inhalation, exhalation.
Bridges and rubble. Tall spiraling staircases and the after-math of bombings. Light so bright it hurts my eyes and dark, moldy, terrifying corners.

Transformation. Death and birth and death and birth and birth and death again. The full moon is in Taurus. Remember to remember, they say. Let that shit go, they say.
It’s the last super-moon of the year. Harness that creativity, they say.

Tap in or tap out. And it feels like chaos.
Inspiration, expiration.
Inhale, exhale.

It’s a whirlwind of destruction. It’s a fertilizing, a readying for the planting, a preparing to receive. Brush the dry skin off. There is beauty in the particles floating in the sunlight…and it is skin – old, dry, decomposing debris. I’ve got one foot (and perhaps half of the other) out the door. I’ve got two hands hanging onto the windowsill, trying to pull myself back in. I can hear the pitter-patter, I can hear the thump-thump-thumping, I can hear the unbridled-almost-ferocious-roaring of my heart.

Inspire, expire.
Space and sweetness. And gasping too. And just a hint of fear. Fear is good, they say. It keeps you moving forward. Fear is bad, they say. It freezes you in your tracks.

And then there are the trees, breathing and reaching, simultaneously shedding and quieting and getting ready to sleep. Earth and metal. Salts and ores and quiet streams. Water so powerful it’s about to break the dam.

Don’t you dare hold back, they say. Be wild and true. Create a container, they say. It’s not polite to be who you are.
Inhalation, exhalation.
Inspiration, expiration.
This room is too cramped. The walls are too tall.
tumblr_mgioixA41c1qitxhxo1_1280

(top photo by Christopher McKenney, bottom one here)

It’s not always light and love…

(This post was spurred by an intelligent and thoughtful discussion with a fellow yogini and friend following the unbearable news about what happened in Charleston and why/how it’s important to talk about it. What follows has been modified from my response to her)

There is a lack of conversation in the yoga community (and elsewhere) about the racism and discrimination we are experiencing in North America. I believe is it linked to the distorted (and, if we are being transparent here, appropriated) culture of yoga, guided by the beautiful wishes to always be inclusive, to move toward oneness, to continue to walk in (seemingly) constant peace and love – or at the very least to project that image. It is misguided, unfortunately, and based in fear of being rejected or labeled as being too harsh, too abrasive or non-inclusive. It is a product of a culture that, at least in the parts of Canada and the United States I have witnessed, is dominated mostly by white people (and, lets be honest here: it is, in my experience, still dominated more accurately by white men – though I admit this is changing. Slowly).

In the last few years, I have been working with what it means to be authentic – truly authentic. The yoga world is a very easy place to hide behind one-love-paradigms, too-sweet-too-accepting facades that, as practitioners and warriors of love, we end up believing are true, even when they are not. I have seen myself convinced (truly believing – not in denial, but honestly convinced) that I wasn’t stress, wasn’t hurt, wasn’t frustrated/angry/lonely/insert-whatever-‘challenging’-emotion-here because I was (and still am, though working on it) so practiced in gracefully being yogic, knowing the “appropriate” way to act or to respond. Instead, after years of hiding behind the yoga mask, I am allowing myself to speak in honour of my true voice, my true feelings, my true thoughts.  And I am also learning to speak in honour of the truth of the world as it is right now.

Everything is not light and love. Some of it is, yes. And if we want to walk truthfully and authentically into light and love, we have to openly, loudly, fearlessly denounce darkness and hatred.

AND we have to own our part of the responsibility.
I think that, right there, is the hardest (because it’s fucking hard) part…

I have no idea what it means to be African-American living in the States right now (or even to have black skin in most parts of the world for that matter), and I’m not going to pretend I ever could understand what that means. But I do know, from my own sheltered experience, that it is hard to have a ‘different’ last name and to be discriminated against because of it… I do know that it feels pretty shitty that 95% of the time i walk into a yoga class (as a teacher or as a student), I am the only non-white body in the room…. I do know how awful it is to feel restricted or judged or singled out or called a terrorist (!!) because of my appearance or because of the letters that form the words that were given to me, meant to define me as ‘who I am’… I do know what if feels like to be in a place where I feel unsafe because of the colour of my skin… (and i’m not even talking here about being in a homosexual relationship or simply about being a woman)

But here’s the thing. I have lived, for the most part, a privileged life in which I have been loved and cared for and provided for and accepted. So my experience cannot even begin to be compared to what millions of people are suffering now because of the colour of their skin or because of where they were born. And so it is not only my choice, but my obligation (and i believe it is also the obligations of all privileged people – especially yogis and even more so, white yogis) to acknowledge and speak out about what is going on in the world. It is our responsibility to ask for forgiveness for our mistakes, and with humility, to ask what, precisely, is needed to even begin to heal the deep wounds (and then to respect what is offered to us as guidance and answers, without trying to take the stage).

So. Thank you, each of you who have chosen to, or are choosing to step in. Thank you for the courage it takes to tell the truth of where you are at. Thank you for not shying away, for not hiding behind false pretences (like the hashtag ‘alllivesmatter’ – read more here), for acknowledging your capacity – whatever it currently is at this point, and for the strength it takes to show up and to learn and to move forward. #blacklivesmatter

photo by Blair Ryan Photography(photo by Blair Ryan photography)

I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You


There is something I have been meaning to tell you. If I say it out loud, you’ll know. It won’t be a secret anymore. The hear-me-roar of the tiger’s teeth I’ve learned to wear around my neck won’t deceive you any longer. I’ve taught myself how to trick you, you see. I’ve tricked you into thinking I am strong beyond belief. I’ve fooled you into thinking I’ve got it under control, I’m not easily bruised. I am stillness on the lake at dusk, undisturbed beauty and calm, a three hundred year old cedar.

It’s true. Sometimes it’s not an illusion at all. Sometimes I walk in the skin of a panther. I feel my hips sway to the rhythm of my cool, powerful strut. It’s true. Some days I am fragile like dew dropping blossoms in the morning sun.

I know you understand. I can see your thoughts spill out of your sensitive eyes. You don’t always know you are sharing your joys and your pain. You do it all at once in technicolour codes. I’ve learned how to speak that same love language. Some days I am a crow feasting on your leftovers. Don’t turn away. It is still me, I promise. Don’t be fooled. I am the owl, only my wings have been tied down for a while.
tumblr_n5f0y5ugLB1sa7aoko1_500
Perhaps, if you and I no longer hide, we will meet by the riverbed and drink the lovetruth serum. We’ll see our intimate fears transformed into the filaments of gold that they are, pulled up into the vastness by the moon of our eyes. We’ll know that we already are our magnificent selves. We’ll understand that our brokenness is a magic carpet ride that leads us back home to the light.

I am preparing to lose a piece of my body. The puss will be drained, the tissue will be cut out. There will be bleeding and pain and scars.

I will be forced to rest.
And I will be reminded I am not these bones.

I will be asked to choose. I could wrestle myself into un-wholeness. Instead I will step fully into my altered casing. I will learn and relearn and learn again. I am not my breasts or my curves or my sex or my organs. I will know, from the depth of my darkness, from the heart of my heart, from the fire of my belly, I am the universe inside this skin. I will see what I already see. My light cannot exist without my shadow.

And I will continue to try, by and by. I will coax myself into letting you see my fragility. I will ask you to let me in to your secret hiding places, to invite me to play and sing and dance by your side.

10371620_10152049332912890_1553303944329522981_n

The Universe Inside Our Heart

tumblr_mri6t5UPXF1sy911xo1_500
We sat in a circle.
Ten souls new to each other,
As old as the world.
The tears of the world flooded our eyes and our mouths.
We became a conduit for the suffering, and in turn,
The healing of the earth.
We sat in the darkness,
The rain challenging us to step up to the task.
And they came
By the thousands, they came
Checking us out,
Wanting to be a part of the conversation.
We let them in.
We held each other through the storm.
We lifted the curtains and
Entered beyond the veils.
We tasted immense beauty
And knew that our love was not enough
We can always (always!) love more.
So we sat with ourselves and each other.
We struggled with feeling alone and small.
We marvelled at our bigness.
We became immeasurable.
And we knew.
Beyond words, we understood.
It is our darkness that allows the light.
It is our light that stirs us to the knowing.
The entire universe is inside our heart.

We don’t know how lovely we are.
tumblr_myl2vcQWjt1sr22dlo1_500

In Between

tumblr_n25svshqut1sjjiano1_500

Sometimes you sit in sadness.
Sometimes the lines get blurred and you don’t know the difference between your own tears
and someone else’s.
Sometimes the bleeding wound you’ve been running from is exactly where you need to be.
Sometimes the blistering is what points you to the tenderness of your own
breaking heart.
Sometimes it is your aloneness that shows you kinship,
your pain that teaches you gratitude,
your defeat that guides you to the light you’d forgotten.
Sometimes, something gives you the courage to step out of yourself,
and into your self.
And you find your way to the centre of your centre,
to the heart of your heart.
And there you are once more, returning home
fragile and tender and broken.
There you are again,
strong and magnificent, a wild horse running.
There you are,
the universe inside the universe.

Love-d.

tumblr_mvcxs9uIkj1qcoylpo1_500

Learning to Listen

tumblr_mzsc2hwD641t32vpko1_500
I got to bed late last night.
This morning I am up before the sun.
It is bitter and crisp and dark outside, my breath a cloud of smoke.
I feel sorry for myself, tired and irritated and chilled to the marrow of my bones.
As dawn rises, it paints the sky a thousand shades of yellow and pink. Without trying, I look up to see her staring back at me. She is shining in her majestic grace, half of her face cloaked by the growing sun’s shadow, the two so perfectly mismatched and yet unconditionally entwined. She shows her sectioned self, and in an instant I know she is preparing to rest a while. Her wisdom is in the repose that allows her to return again, as she always does, fierce, bold and clairvoyant.

Now that I’ve gotten to know her, she is impossible to forget. She keeps me a (consenting) prisoner of her subtle changes. Inevitably, I find myself riding the waves of her tide. From time to time when I forget to let her in, she knocks me to the ground, a reminder of her strength and her unrelenting vigilance and love. She doesn’t speak much, not in the way you or I do. But she is constantly teaching me, tirelessly (and oh so patiently) waiting for me to get it. Sometimes I do, and other times it takes a few repeat lessons. She faithfully becomes my tutor and through her compassionate command, she shows me again… and again… and again.

tumblr_mzj0ra4IeU1qmjc0fo1_500And so this morning, in one quick, impressive glint, she summons me to rest.
She whispers: “Rest, my sweet child. Wrap yourself in warmth. Be with stillness. Immerse yourself in the ritual of running a bath, making a cup of tea, cuddling with the dogs.” She sings in her moon-shine language: “Be with your irritable, sullen self without judgment. Hold her until she thoroughly understands what love means. Warm yourself by the fire of your own heart. Listen to it’s rhythmic cadence and let it’s tenderness bundle you with unblemished goodness.”

tumblr_mzs35jUjr41r7we67o1_500
Half of my face is veiled too, a childish mimicking of hers. Part of me wanting to push and fight and run and do; the other, an undeniable knowing, a fountainhead of wisdom.

This morning, I choose to listen. I choose to let myself be moved by the current. I choose to give in to her stream, the moon’s tempo, and be carried toward a mending, a healing that can only happen in the belly of the quiet, in the place where the dark turns to light.