Monday, September 25, 2017

Barriers to Enlightenment

Today's blog will focus on barriers to 'enlightenment'. 

First of all many people perceive the word 'enlightenment' differently and have different inner definitions or understandings of this word according to their own readings, discussions with others, inner points of view or perspectives and so on.  So what does 'enlightenment' mean to you?  Not the topic for today... I am addressing a question I received which I have been asked so many times I decided to write a bit about it... it will be addressed more deeply in my next book. 

My book is in print... so it's coming... thanks for asking and waiting!!

So... this is why old stories of teachers agreeing with the various views students would have might seem a little strange.  It isn't... you will perceive things according to your own level of being...whether it is right or wrong.  It could be right for you because of the level of being you are currently at and so therefore you may be unwilling and/or unable to perceive it any other it is the right way for where you are at... but not necessarily the right way in the larger view... or what some call the 'Greater Reality.'

So here are some barriers to 'enlightenment' ... by the way, they are the same for attaining 'Mastery'... (again something many may define differently)....

Imagining there is no such things as various 'levels of being' and that we can 'work' to evolve in a certain way....

Some individuals feel that to talk about 'levels of being' implies then that certain people are then 'better than' others and so therefore their view they hold within them is that we are all exactly the same inside.  This is ego talking...  popular clichés .... misunderstanding at best... lack of direct experience as well.

This view suppresses and disputes the very necessary fact that in order to grow and evolve spiritually it takes WORK and that something very real takes place when we do 'certain work'.  It also reveals that one does not really understand what we are made up in 'Essence' and how that can be worked with.


"I know better... I already know these things... I have nothing to learn from you... you are wrong... this is not the right way to do things"   ...and on and on...many fancy, humorous even, distorted, 'political' ... views which one is unwilling or unable to let go of or even see clearly how one is...

In self-importance one's ego is very rigid, stiff, inflexible and difficult to penetrate .... one keeps going in the same way imagining one will get the results one is seeking which have not been coming... and yet one is not willing to open up to what would work...

It is very difficult for one in self-importance to see this, as it is highly unconscious and often would shatter the person's cherished view of themselves and likely the reality around them... something very difficult and fearful for them.

Imagining one has nothing to learn ... or that one is at a certain place internally or spiritually when one is not... not being able to take the ego shattering and so holding on to one's idea of oneself  discounting any feedback which may show one where one really is.


Rather than seeking out new ways, one stays where one is and cycles around with the same 'ways' without truly shifting... on the outside things may appear to be altering when they are not...

It may take years for some of us to even realize we have been going around in circles... ending up in the same place again and again...

'knowledge' with a small k

One has more 'knowledge' than Knowledge... more information and thoughts than direct practical experience....

We have supported information and knowledge over true Knowing, Wisdom and experience...

Lack of discernment

We truly desire to grow yet are unable to tell the difference between the myriad of things offered today in a society which sees the need for personal/spiritual growth and yet is full of places which work with us on the surface only. 

This is fine at the beginning... to go deeper we must find deeper...if we can't perceive deeper then we stay surface.


We are creatures of comfort, pattern and habits... and tend to migrate towards things which do not push us, challenge us, shatter our illusions and encourage us to be our true potential.  Many of us do not want to work hard... in the various ways we may have to in order to get to where we may want to... both personally and spiritually.

Self-doubt or doubt that there is a 'Way' to get there... or something called a 'Way' at all...

Doesn't this explain itself?


Some people who have experienced trauma do not do the work or seek out the assistance they could to embark on their own journey ... trauma is a sad reality... we speak so much of it these days and it is a real barrier for some of us who do not take the necessary steps to seek out assistance...

Trauma creates so many inner barriers to things which could help us... I feel so much compassion and empathy for those who have experienced various traumas, but I encourage those who do to seek out the right place for them to work through these things.

You can do it... you have to see it for what it is and then desire to do it first.  I speak from experience.  I have been through various traumas myself.  Facing these things were the only way I ever got to where I am today... so this isn't lip service... I have been there... more than once...  There and Back again... like the hobbit story in the Lord of the Rings.

 To be brave you do not have to actually feel like you are brave... remember that. You can feel scared as hell and yet take the steps you have to take to get to where you want to go.

There are other barriers to 'enlightenment' ... or to experience the 'Greater Reality'... these are the ones I find most challenging ... one's that have kept many capable people from moving forward in ways they claim to desire.

Another Question....

I am adding the answer to this question because it is simple and I do not want to write a blog topic about it... although it could be a good one...

Question:   Are you saying there is only one 'Way'.... or that the way you were taught is the only 'Way'?

No.... I am laughing now... why?  I once asked the same thing...  remember I have had more than one teacher...Spiritual guide...Master...whatever you want to call intent was to look more deeply into human nature and the psyche and spiritual paths ... religions... healing... enlightenment etc. etc...

True... as one of my teachers once said to me: 'Some paths will not take people where they want to go. Some do not know this.'  ..... but my note on this is that this is not for me to decide for you...

I studied various paths.  My 'Way' I walk is not the only 'Way' ... it is the only 'Way' I know because it is the 'Way' I walk and it has worked for me. 

What I did learn...walking in the 'Way' I have and experiencing various paths and teachers, is that there are certain core teachings...methods... ways of doing things that work... all these teachers and paths did these things...a few in slightly different ways... but in essence they were the same principles at work.  These are what I do myself ... they work for me... and I teach them to others now. 

If you walk a 'Way' and it works for you... keep doing it!  If not, seek...

Monday, August 28, 2017

Balance and Harmony

"In contrast to rigidity, tension is not good or bad. It has to be present at the right time and in the right amount. There is nothing in the world where yogis say there should be no tension at all.  The right amount will keep all of your energy in your body.  Too much tension is aggression.  Injuries come by aggression... aggressive movements... too little tension is weakness."  BKS Iyengar

I like this quote by Iyengar because it is balanced. 

I find that we sometimes misunderstand balance when it comes to the principle of yin and yang... whether in movement or in our own personality and lives.  Working at balance and harmony is a true journey in itself!

We often take philosophical gems or personal/spiritual teachings and quotes and warp or distort them unknowingly.  Today, I want to stress the importance of reflection on ideas and concepts and working to really get a feel for when we do warp or distort.  This, of course, is hard to see at times due to our own internal buffers to seeing things as they really are.  Having said that, it is up to us to discover where or when we may be distorting something... I will use the example of yin and yang as one idea we tend to misunderstand.  Perhaps, as an exercise, you can reflect on other ways we distort, misinterpret, take out of context and misapply certain teachings.

While we are working to reduce the excess amount of tension in our bodies, minds and emotions ... we would not be well advised to release any and ALL tension, when that is not really the point.  Similar to body tension, in the way the above quote mentions, I have also found that there are often various misunderstandings about how the energies of yin or yang manifest and play out in our lives ... feminine or masculine tendencies ... excess or deficiency of these energies... and our ability to learn how to effectively work with these. 

 People in certain circles tend to promote certain energies ... one over the other.  Some tend to veer towards the yang side... others to the yin. We, as individuals, have a tendency towards one side more than the other as well.  When we reflect on ourselves, we can initially find this in differences between the two sides of our bodies... but this can show up in a variety of ways... including in our personality tendencies, thoughts/emotions, food choices and internal meridian system.

When there is an imbalance with too much of a yin tendency, we might experience things like apathy, depression and/or internal weaknesses of various sorts which can also show up in various behaviours.   Aggression can show up here, but it would be more subtle ... passive-aggressive and manipulative for example... our energy can be too open and we leak it out everywhere.  We may find it more challenging to have healthy boundaries placed up or we allow in so much of what is around us in fear of judging or labelling that we can absorb energies which can be detrimental to our well-being over time.   This, of course, can be quite unconscious.

On the other hand, if we are imbalanced with too much yang, we hold ourselves from opening where it may be beneficial to doing so and it may appear as various forms of outward aggression or an overly-external or forceful focus.  This can show up in posture, tone and other outward behaviours.  People find it easier to see and label a more yang form of aggression as compared to the yin form which expresses aggression in other ways.  A person who hits a wall or expresses/swears loudly (more yang) is just as aggressive as someone who is subtly passive-aggressive, negative and manipulative or quietly discounting (more yin).  The point here, is that like the above quote on tension, where people tend to misunderstand 'tension' ... and can either experience too much or too little, we also do the same with the terms 'yin' and 'yang'.

Some practitioners of various movement Arts believe that things like squats, jogging (if you do jog, please do so on sand or in the woods ... concrete is known to be too hard on our joints over time), push ups, martial arts (punches, kicking and fast movement) etc. involve or promote too much tension (or that they are excessively yang) and that Arts such as 'marital arts' of various sorts are aggressive.  Well... they can be... and many are ... but they are not all always taught that way... it depends on the school and then on the individual and how they apply the teachings. 

In the style of Kung fu and Chi Kung I learned, balance and harmony and working with yin and yang was always taught as one the keys as well.  Moving fast or moderate or slow... punches...kicks and forms performed at various speeds need the proper balance of tension and relaxation... and all at the right time!  Life is like this too... we don't always experience the same energies; life is fluid, shifting and changing like the wind and other forces in nature/universe and within ourselves.  This is inner work ... and no matter what Art you do, it takes time to understand and then learn how to apply these things in the 'dojo' and then in life itself wherever we are.

Like the above quote on tension, Yin and Yang are truly deeper teachings with multi-layers of application to life and are often misunderstood.  Sometimes, due to the fact that so much in our world has tended toward the more Yang side, we overthink it and move to extremes in Yin (we even do this with foods... eating too much yin food can create an excessive yin condition).  This will not assist us in balance.  Yin or Yang are not good or bad in themselves... like tension is not good or bad... it depends on what we mean when we are talking about it.  

We even do this with the two hemispheres of our brain (left and right).  Due to the heavy focus on the rational and thinking processes, some circles put down the rational and thinking 'mind' in favour of the intuitive, creative and spontaneous 'aspect of our mind'.  This leads to various imbalances too!  We have both sides and there are benefits to developing both...working towards this balance is directly related to how we work to balance yin and yang and the two sides of our body in movement arts as well.  They are related!  When we are skewed towards one side more than the other, it is up to us to seek out ways to develop the other aspect of ourselves; and yes, this is possible.  We can develop more skills this way and have at our disposal more ways of responding to ourselves, those close to us and the world around us.   In balance and harmony, we use the appropriate energies at the appropriate times ... as well as combinations of the two when required. 

Mastery is being able to work well with balance and harmony (which is always shifting and moving like the symbol up above... it is not a destination where things will become perfect or static... so we are in training to learn how to master the ability to flow with shifts and changes while maintaining the highest integrity of balance and harmony we can... don't label it - just keep working with it).  It's more about  developing the ability to work well with these energies ... one...or the other... as needed. It is not about one rigid method/mode of being ... as the above quote suggests... rigidity and tension are two different things. 

Kung fu, in the style and teaching I learned, was taught as a balanced Art.  As well as being a Spiritual Path, if that is what one is desiring to pursue, it contains both soft and hard style of training... it is both internal and external.  It teaches how we can, with proper application and dedication over time, balance our polarities... our bodies ... our internal organs and various systems.  It contains healing tools, breath work, fitness, cardiovascular training, strength training, flexibility and moves the body in all aspects.  It is not completely linear or imbalanced in its focus. 

Aggression is not meant to be a part of these teachings; however, various individuals can take a teaching of this sort and bring their own aggressiveness or imbalance(s) into it.  I wrote a blog some time ago on anger which has a good story about a snake in it. We sometimes imagine that anger itself is 'bad'...anger is an energy... it is neither good or is what we do with the energy that counts.  "Using your big voice', as I am known to say, can be the thing to do ... depending on the situation. 

Kung fu, Chi Kung and Yoga ... taught in 'traditional' ways were always about balance of our lives reflected in our energies ... balance of our two aspects... two sides... yin and yang again.  There are also various phases of our lives where we may find ourselves spending more time in one aspect or another.  We may also find various imbalances come up when we swing too far into one way or another.  Sometimes we experience more of one energy than another... eventually we (hopefully) find or discover that we have to work at balance on a new level or in a new way.  It is a dance ...   yin...yang... seeking and playing with balance and harmony in our Personal/Spiritual Arts and within our own lives... inside and out. 

In the arena of health and well-being the principles of yin and yang are used as well.  Acupressure, diet via food choices ... as well as working with our internal psyche ... working with any of these things involves the same look at the balance or imbalances of these energies. 

As always, seek to Know Thyself better.  The next step is to work at developing areas you are weaker in... develop skills which can assist you to balance out your life in a more whole way.  This can be applied in so many ways!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Two Stories About Mastery

Feminine symbols... what do these images
 suggest to you?  What do you know of these
images?  Imagine entering this scene ...
 spend some time there...
how do you feel?

I had a question this month about feminine energies, feminine power and symbols.  This picture is for you.  Reflect on it and then we will discuss it further...send me your ideas and feelings and then we will speak directly.

This month's topic will be two stories which came from some questions and an interesting conversation I had recently.

I also heard a statement a young yoga teacher made and I cringed silently.  The comment she made was that there is no 'advanced' level ... movement ... or practitioner.  There is a strange 'movement' out there.  I am not sure who started these misconceptions, but there seems to be a lot of these sorts of ideas in mainstream schools. 

Many teachers with beginner or intermediate levels of understanding and experience say things which they either have no experience of themselves or that are simply not true at all.  I know they are repeating ideas or things others have either taught them or they have heard, but some of these things are rather ignorant.  We must see these things as they really are if we will have the opportunity to truly evolve in these Arts.  This is why, in the past, individuals at these levels never taught... we are soooo diluted today in the Spiritual Arts.  I'm known to be one who tries to spread the word that 'physical arts' and 'Spiritual Arts' are very different from one another.  This is the same whether it is in Karate, Kung fu, Chi Kung, Tai Chi and Yoga today.

Let's not take away the physical benefits they do teach well.  Some of these teachers teach great 'physical therapy' accurate movements and it's great for recovery from injury, general relaxation etc... 'Spiritual Movement Arts' are something else entirely... and they use movement too.

But here, today, I am speaking about a 'Spiritual Art'.

Yes, there is such a thing as a beginner, an intermediate and an advanced, and mastery level practitioner, teacher etc.  Anyone who teaches you otherwise is misinforming you and supporting your ego that you are in the 'same place' as an advanced practitioner or seasoned artist (if they are in fact still engaged with the work themselves...always) of whatever path, occupation, or movement art you may be involved with.

To imagine you are at the same place as someone who has walked a path two or three times longer than you have only feeds your ego!  To imagine you are a Master of energy work because a certificate given to you after two, three or several years of study says so is only another ego feeder.  These Spiritual Arts take work, time, effort, reflection, experience, study and then one day one works with 'Mastery'...which even then means a whole new realm of things to learn has now opened up and one is a beginner all over again!

Let's use the Art of Carpentry as a way to look at this deeper...

If we begin to learn about Carpentry, we are truly a beginner.  After several years of study... even if we are pretty quick to pick things up, we still do not have the experience of a seasoned Carpenter... a true 'Master of the Art of Carpentry'.  We may be an amazing quick study, but we are still a beginner.  After some time, with continued work, we may become an intermediate Carpenter...with some experience and perhaps deeper sets of skills; however, we are not reaching 'Mastery' yet... 

Is there such a thing as 'Mastery'?  Absolutely.  After much time and experience, and an open mind to continue to learn and evolve and expand... even learning from beginners and others in various similar trades.... learning from our customers and our work created to date, we may reach a certain level of 'Mastery' in the Art of Carpentry... if we are able to self-reflect, see clearly and refine ourselves.   We can now look back and feel humble yet proud of our journey and accomplishments... without self-importance or egoic pride.

At a 'Mastery' level, we realize that we have skill; yet our humbleness enables us to realize that we have not 'arrived...' and we continue to work, cultivate ourselves and evolve even further.  At this point along our path (if we are one who continues to work at it... always learning...), it would be absolutely ridiculous to compare our self to a beginner or an intermediate student or teacher of carpentry... but WAIT... we all have things to learn from ANYONE... and this is the place where this idea comes from.  We are NOT all at the same level... however, we do all have things we can learn from ANYONE.  A Master can learn something from a beginner; however, this does not mean that the beginner or the Master are at the same 'level of being' or 'place' in their evolution of their

One things is sure...some carpenters do not grow or expand or evolve... they learn their initial work and then get to a point where they do not grow or learn from there.  This 'Master' is not the same as one who is open, fluid, shifting, changing, evolving and continues to learn from others (even beginners!).  So even teachers and 'Masters' are at different 'levels'.  This is a very in-depth topic and I will leave these thoughts here for you.

One last idea and question for you... does every student interested in carpentry have a 'master within' that they only need to connect with in order to attain 'mastery'? What do you think this is all about????  To imagine that this does not require 'hard work over time' for most every single one of us is one of the greatest lies out there. And no... it is not the same time for all of us to attain this 'level'.

Comparing a spiritual path to a physical one.... walking and evolving on a path of this sort...wondering about Mastery... is easier to understand if you use the metaphor of a skill such as Carpentry.   In essence the 'walk' to 'Mastery' is similar no matter what you work to 'master' in your lifetime.  Some people are a quick study... or can create or move well pretty quickly... this does not equate 'Mastery'... as it was referred to in the older Spiritual Arts.  Sadly, much is lost and has been obscured in this arena.   

What you imagine 'Mastery' means and your internal definition you use for this word affects your perception.  What does it mean to you?  Can you expand your ideas on it? 

It is the same for many things.  Our ideas and definitions...beliefs...attitudes...egos... affect our perceptions and control them.

So I promised two stories...

Master Beginner 1

A practitioner of Kung fu felt he had attained Mastery (a lot of these old stories are of men...isn't that interesting...but that's another topic)... There are older stories of women but these come from our patriarchal recent history...even though they are centuries old......

This man could do anything his teacher could show him and then eventually he began to teach others.  After many years, winning trophies in tournaments and teaching others to high level of skill, he began to fall into apathy and felt despondent about his Art. 

He had heard many stories of attaining spiritual heights and the supposed 'gifts' this path would illuminate and 'enlighten' the student with at 'Mastery'.  These things seemed to elude him.  He felt his teacher was holding him back and that he was not progressing there any more.  When he left his teacher, he remembered that the old man shook his head and complained that he had not yet reached the point of travelling alone... but he did not agree ... nor did he understand why.... he was insulted and left... thinking his old teacher to be a fool looking to grasp onto him for a lifetime.

He began to fall back on his old ways... ways he imagined he had been done with since his early life as a very young adult.  One day, in deep despair, he decided to search out another teacher.  He travelled far and came across an old man who was known to be a 'Master' and asked him to teach him how to progress more in his Art because he felt despondent and had fallen away from his path. 

One day he  finally found the old teacher.  The old man took him in and asked him his story and what led him to search out deeper teachings.   After the old man heard the story, he took him in and made him promise to stay for a year. 

Every day the teacher beat him with a bamboo stick across his limbs as the man practiced and showed him what he could do.  All the teacher kept saying was ''.  He cursed to himself every day...wondering why he bothered to stay and put up with such abuse.  In his mind he cursed the teacher and imagined he was crazy himself to be doing this and putting up with these things. 

One day, after the usual routine of being insulted and beaten... and being told he had learned nothing and was doing everything wrong, he felt as though he was on the verge of either beating this old man or slipping into insanity and walking away from his path completely.  Suddenly his mind went blank and all thoughts disappeared completely.  For the first time he saw this old man with joy in his heart and an open mind.  The old man smiled, put him in horse stance and walked away.  He did not return for four hours. 

This went on every day for over six months.  Sometimes when the old teacher returned, he would get the usual beating with the bamboo stick.  He struck him the same way and in the same exact places each time.  The old man never spoke to him...only placed him in his stance and walked away.  One day he came and sat to watch for the entire time.  At the end of the four hours the man was shaking, crying, coming in and out of his stance and drenched in sweat.  He smiled and said to him 'Now, you may begin.  Return to your teacher you told me about and tell him you are finally ready to learn.'

 My note... There are several subtle gems in this story.  Most people discount these types of stories' deeper meanings.

Master Beginner 2

There was once a school of Kung fu led by two Masters.  These masters travelled around the local village to collect potential students.  After picking out their group, training began for many years.  There was a young man in this group who fell in love with the Art very deeply.  This man was taken aside and trained separately from most of the others... there were only a few of them who were worked with in this way. 

Over time, they began to discuss amongst themselves why this was happening.  One of the students spoke up and said "Haven't you noticed? We are the smaller ones.  We are not as muscular nor as accomplished as the others.  Look at how they are practicing and the things they are being taught.  They kick better, smash trees and leap higher than us.  They are being taught special things that we are not.  We are the failed ones.  We will never be as good as them."  The young man, passionate about the Art, fell into depression.  Though he kept coming, he secretly struggled to do so.

Due to his love for the Art, the young man persisted in his training and never quit, but his heart was heavy and his dreams crushed.  One day, many years later, the two teachers called upon him and his group to join the other students.  They were asked to do certain things all in the group together. While the athletic group excelled at many of the things asked of them, the young man finally got his answer to why they had been separated from the start... the other group was athletic, strong, physically inclined and external practitioners... his group had been learning about the deeper aspects of the Internal Art along with the External ...and were able to do certain things the others could not.  Seeing these things for himself for the first time made his heart leap with joy.  He never questioned his training again. 

Many years went by.  As he progressed, he realized where the real training was and began to quietly apply the gems he realized he had been given... things he did not even realize he had been taught all along.  Although many were already considering him a 'Master', he secretly felt like a beginner all over again, but was grateful for being given the chance to see what that had the potential to mean for him.

 My note: There are several gems in this story.... one to keep in mind is that many things may look the same on the outside and be something else entirely.  Both groups trained in the same Art... depending on how one is taught, and how one is on the inside, one will walk away with something else entirely...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Can/Do People Change? Is change really possible?

If change were impossible,
 butterflies would not exist.
Source: unknown


I have heard and seen a few things recently which triggered my interest in writing this month's blog topic.    These things related to change... how people can change... how people never change... what is change?...can people change? 

I received a question about change recently as well.  When I decide on a blog topic, it is usually because of questions I am asked or I experience a similar theme that keeps popping up in conversations etc.  This month it was all about change.

The first thing I came across was a discussion I overheard while out one day.  Two people were talking about someone they knew.  This conversation was about a potential relationship.  One of the people were talking about how much the person of their interest had changed.  The other one was warning the first person ... saying they ought to stay away from this individual because of past issues they both knew of.

The first person came back with a question: "Don't you believe that people deserve the benefit of the doubt?"  "After all", they continued on, "people can change."  The second person came back with: "Well, that may be what you believe but I think that the more people say they change, the more they show how much they are still the same... just give it time.  If you get involved with so-and-so, you will regret it."  Their conversation went back and forth like this for a bit and then they moved on.

I found myself reflecting on this conversation.  Of course, I did not know who they were talking about.  But something about the whole conversation bothered me.  After some reflecting I realized it was because I felt they were both right and yet they were both stuck on their one view only.

I have worked with many people over the years in relation to personal shifts and changes... both inner and outer.  The theme of transformation, transmutation and change has also been something I have worked with in my own life.  I have found both things to be true: people change AND people cycle around attempting to change or claiming to be changed when, in fact, they are still doing the same or similar things (which end up producing similar results in their own lives and in the lives of those around them).  Well, then, which is true for us?  Can we change?  If the one person was right, why would we ever bother to try?  If the other was right, perhaps we would see more people around us actually transformed in more clearly obvious ways.

The second thing relating to this topic was a bumper sticker I saw that claimed everyone changes all the time ... and it was suggesting that this change is always for the better.  I found that sticker too cliché for me.  I do not like clichés ... we sputter out one-liners with smug illusions of actually being able to apply these things ourselves... or we offer a one-liner to someone in transition, pain or grief when what they may really need in that moment is space to feel what they feel... or some actual physical comfort and empathy... or maybe a kick in the pants if they have been wallowing in emotions for too long without allowing them to flow out.... or maybe advice to seek out assistance if they are unable to get out of a difficult place.  A one-liner can come at the right time (so don't take what I am saying too literally... it simply depends on the situation and the one-liner as well) ... but for the most part we can do nothing with one-liners but agree with them and then walk away in the exact same psychic space we were in before we heard it.  Most of the time nothing changes. 

One-liners won't change us... attending classes or spiritual places won't change us (though they can inspire us, encourage us to self-reflect, model things to us etc.)...neither will reading a book... no matter how good it is... APPLYING things to our lives in very direct and practical ways CONSISTENTLY can assist us in change and transformation/transmutation.

The common metaphor for transformation and change is the butterfly.  When we reflect on the actual process of this transformation; however, we see that the butterfly does not appear the same afterwards, yet it does have an element of its former self in its new appearance when we observe it closely.  There are distinct stages that the 'now butterfly' has gone through before it actually emerged so different than what it started out as from day one.  These stages involve 'cocooning' and intense bio-chemical alterations which occur on the inside.  It is not a simple process at all.  It is very natural...not simple.  The kind of transformation or change the caterpillar experiences is unique and dramatic... having very little to do with what we normally mean when we use the word 'change' so loosely.

Using our words loosely (the way we do for the most part)...  using cliché one-liners.... imagining we have changed when in fact we may only be in a new day doing pretty much similar things we have always done ... none of these things equate to the change or transformation we are talking about here.  Deep meanings and spiritual truths become common day expressions we may use ... losing the depth of what these things can really mean for us on a totally different level.  But then, many things we say are like this.

So if one-liners and illusions that we are actually changing don't work, what does? Reflect on these things for yourself and see what sorts of ideas arise for you.  The bolded points are things I have heard about change recently.  Use your own life as a reflection...

"Haven't I changed already?  Every day and every moment is new and so I am not the same as I was even yesterday."

Of course this is true... physically and even superficial mental/emotional shifts have occurred without you doing very much at all.  The real question is what type of change are you really referring to? 

"All of my life experiences have led to how I am today. I have really changed so much and we all do.  We all grow and learn so much from life and become better people from our experiences.  We naturally evolve.  Change is inevitable."

What I have experienced working as long as I have in my field and listening to people's histories, family histories and stories is that the real question to ask is... Have these changes been for the better?  Perhaps they are and perhaps they aren't... or maybe a little of both...  Are the changes you feel you have made truly there or is it simply that your situations have shifted and you still carry your patterns with you?  Look at your journey to date and make your own observations. 

Within individuals, it is true that sometimes... some things... remain the same...always.  It could be a behaviour, a thought pattern etc.

Sometimes, due to prolonged stress, abuse, traumas etc. some people 'shut down', develop chronic anger patterns, internalize negative emotions and chronic negative thinking patterns, get ill and stay chronically ill most of their adult life... sometimes you would not recognize someone because they were so open, friendly and excited about life BEFORE they became an adult.  Sometimes people's dreams die ... apathy, depression and feelings of futility crush their hopes for better times.  Hopefully, something triggers a person in this state to 'wake up' and embark on a journey out of this sort of place.  It can and does happen ... people can change ... do change ... and have changed.  And no... not everyone 'changes' out of this sort of state of being... but the potential is always there.

Other times, due to prolonged stress, traumas and other challenging steps along our journey in life, people open up more... work at altering lifestyle habits or mindsets or perspectives.  Sometimes individuals work hard ...cocoon ... undergo intense shifts ... and engage with challenging process of transformation...emerging like the butterfly... brilliant and new.

The whole idea of 'change' is a vast topic with much depth.  Many books have been written about this idea of change... and how to change ... and why people do or do not change etc.  Today's topic is intended to stir up some of your own reflections on this... my experiences have led me to see that 'change' is a very individual thing.

Change is possible... and yes, inevitable in every moment.  We are changing... in many ways.  Consider what 'change' might mean to you in your life right now. Do more than read about it or pass on clichés.  Engaging with change requires action, self-reflection and diligent consistent application of things that work.  One thing is certain... change involves work.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Subtleties of Addiction ... and a note about Adversity and Trauma

Balance and Control

When we reflect on addictions and how they affect us in our lives, it is useful to use the images of balance and control.

I like to remind people that the use of the word 'control' here is not to be interpreted as control over anything but the various energies moving within our own self... even then, the word 'directing' is likely a less perceptually loaded one!

Today's blog, as a result of some really great questions from some of you, will look at this in greater detail.

'Control' has taken a real beating in our language ... most of the time, when we hear this word, we imagine things like controlling others or attempting to control everything around us.  However, to place our energies into either of these things is a waste of our own opportunities for growth ... we often find it is futile to focus so much on these external things as compared to working from within our own self.

'Control' in the realm of addiction is also a myth.  People attempt to control their addictions when they begin to realize that they are, in fact, addicted... only to eventually (hopefully) come to see that this is not possible.   Lack of true inner conscious choice and control is at the root of what an addiction is all about... and when we realize this, it is a great place to begin to understand our inner motivations, conditioning and deeply rooted addiction patterns... as well as our many behaviours that go along with these things.

I like to look at the lighter side of the word 'control'. For example, we are often told to 'control' ourselves.  If we feel angry, for example, and feel the inner urge to call someone an insulting name but consciously choose not to... we could say that we are controlling the inner urge to do that.  In this way, we can see that 'control' is not used here in its 'darker' sense. 

If we have the awareness of our inner urges and 'direct' them into other healthier forms of expression (consciously), then we are learning to 'control our selves'... I like to say that we are then learning to 'direct the various aspects and energies within our self'.  'Consciously' is the word here.  Many of us are conditioned to behave in 'nice' or 'socially acceptable' ways.... however, when the pressure builds we often find that this leads to an outburst or a quiet rebellion of some sort (for quiet people this is often some sort of unconscious passive aggressive behaviour)... addiction is not far behind this.  So in this case, there is no true 'control' or 'direction of inner energy' because all behaviours are unconscious, conditioned and pretty predictable when you get to know the person well enough.

Recall, as well, that I have stressed the point about the myriad forms of addictions in our world today (see list below for potential forms of addictions).

It is useful to consider how to define addiction.  Here is one way: 

Any activity or behaviour which removes one from the 'Reality' in the here and now and the ability to confront and engage with that 'Reality' in accordance to one's own true nature. 

One's life becomes 'unmanageable' in an extreme case of addiction ... which is usually the form we are most familiar with.  Addictions do not always lead to this severity and yet can still be an addiction.

An addiction leads one to suffer, eventually, in some way and/or can potentially (and usually does) contribute to the suffering of others around them.  Many times this is due to the fact that the person is simply 'not available' to their significant others when they are, in fact, involved with them in everyday life.   For example, an addict may not be 'present' emotionally or mentally around others in their significant relationships - this is especially vital in situations where people rely on them for support, household contributions (doing their part in various ways), and nurturing (energy exchange and intimacy are two examples here).  Children, family members and spouses are often the most affected by addictive behaviours and patterns. 

An addiction prevents one from being 'fully present' with whatever is before one... it is usually the first thing an individual turns to when adversity is present... and family patterns, trauma and/or stress and adversity are usually at the root of how an addiction pattern is initially started.

Some individuals avoid family members, certain people, places or groups not because of their own addictions, avoidance or dysfunction but to avoid the addictions, dramas, negativity and unhealthy patterns within these people or places.  Remaining involved in toxic or dysfunctional environments can be draining and individuals in these environments are often not interested in real growth, clarity or self-reflection.  The veils of illusions to clarity of self-reflection are quite thick in our world. 

Expecting perfection is not the road to take... expecting a willingness, and an openness to self-reflect is.

Potential forms of addiction:

Various food groups ... meat, carbs, sugar etc.

Drugs... esp. prescription drugs these days... a very sad reality


Tech .. excessive use of tech...gaming etc.

Relationships and groups (here including various religious, spiritual or even political belief systems etc. when they are warped) ..... and the various unhealthy patterns within them (ex. Co-dependency in families and relationships .. or even groups). 

Sex ... and any related things to this when out of balance and harmony.

Sports and addictions to 'working out' ... due to this socially acceptable potential addiction it is useful to return to the above definition.  There are many athletes and active people who would not fit this category... it can becomes an addiction when the criteria above are met.  These individuals use working out as an escape from delving into feeling what they are feeling... they tend to have a 'hard shell' around them and feel very little...with very rigid belief systems to back up their behaviour.  This is not to be confused with individuals who work out or engage in activities/behaviours for healthier reasons and are surrounded by unconscious, ill and negative people who do not support their growth and development...or their own.

Various behavioural patterns can also become addictions.  For example, avoidance patterns, anger, distancing, lack of intimacy etc.  In these examples, an individual is 'not available' when their addiction is triggered, they are simply 'not there' even when 'physically' they show up all the time.

Note:  There are many things which others may consider an addiction and which may NOT be one.  We have to be careful when judging or making an assumption about someone and what he/she may be doing.  Unless we can gather all the information and understand the 'story' and know the bigger picture, we may either dismiss a true addiction pattern or assume that one is there when it may not.  

Like the old saying goes: 'Unless you have walked 1,000 miles in someone's moccasins, you know them not'.  This is a great way to remind ourselves about judgment and assumptions when it comes to others... and ourselves.

Adversity and Trauma

I wanted to make a note about adversity in our lives.  There were a few questions around adversity and addiction.  You were RIGHT!  Adversity and addiction are definitely related in various ways.  Trauma and addiction... even more so.

Stress is a common factor in this fast-paced, techy world we live in.  Stress has been present in our lives throughout history... in different ways according to the times... it is the same with trauma and adversity.  We have not seen times where any of these things were not present in one form or another. 

'Trauma' is a word we have been hearing a lot about lately.  We are looking more deeply into personal trauma and how it affects our lives and so it shows up everywhere these days.  We experience various traumas in our lives... on multiple levels... but most particularly in our families of origin.  We also experience adversity in many different ways in our lives.  We gain and lose relationships.  We change jobs and have various educational concerns.  Many feel the stress of attempting to stay current in a world full of fast-paced changes and newness. Illness, traumas, death, cancer, inheritance issues ... political, financial and housing situations... I have heard it all.  Within these situations, an individual is faced with various forms of adversity. 

Here comes the words for today's blog ... balance and control... When we are not battling with addictions, we tend to find it easier to access or to feel this inner place of power (we are empowered) to cope with adversity in life.  We feel the balance and control we have over our own inner moving energies and aspects of our self and are able to either bring forward the needed inner skills and resources to cope with adversity or seek out assistance in order to do so.  We may feel tired, sad, overwhelmed, angry or even defeated in various moments; however, these feelings are acknowledged and faced as we continue to move forward.  These feelings are not something we get stuck in for long periods of time... or deny... or repress... they are felt and 'worked with'.  On the other side, when we are addicted ... stress, adversity and other challenges we encounter along our many journeys in life trigger us into addictive patterns.  The feelings which are present within us are often denied, repressed, suppressed or wallowed in for long periods of time like a negative feedback loop.

Addiction, adversity, trauma, stress and the many ways in which we can cope with these things... this blog topic is soooo enormous it could be a book in itself.  There ARE books on this!  You can either seek out some great reading material on this to further your understanding or to have a support resource ... and/or seek out the counsel you may realize could benefit you in moving forward in your life when addiction or coping with adversity is something you can see is creating chaos and havoc in your life.  Reading alone is only a step along the way... it can assist you in many ways... true change; however, involves inner work.

Blessings, light and love along your journey...

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Souhl Center's Private Training and the Spiritual Arts of Kung fu, Chi Kung and Yoga

Happy Spring everyone!  As you all know by now, it is time to cleanse.  I hope you have already begun to do so, but in case you have not, you can begin now.  Your liver will be so happy as it regenerates and cleanses!
Soon our fruit trees in Ontario will blossom...what a beautiful sight!  Get out for some hiking, painting or photography.  Smell the fresh air ...visit the water ...
Update on book project: it's in the design phase at the publisher!  I know you have waited a long time but I did warn you that there have been other things on my priority list.  Thanks so much for all your interest and for hanging in there waiting for it to come out.  I am in no rush so I don't have a release date yet.  There will be another book after this one with a different focus...I have already been collecting my notes, ideas and thoughts for it for some time.
Blogging commitment...  I have decided to write once a month here in this blog until January 2018, so come back frequently and remember that there is so much material already on here... we all know how we tend to forget to apply things.  We read, say 'oh yeah,' and then we move on. Remind yourself of things by re-reading various topics and see how much you can apply directly to your life.  That's when the real magic is seen.

If you are considering private training here (or future classes/training), or want more info on how we differ in what we do here, this topic today is for you...  Stay tuned for our new location coming in 2018.

In all the sessions we do, private or group, we are working to free the flows of energy in the body... we are freeing our selves.   We Work on all aspects of our being and move into the areas that are challenging for us - whether it's mental/emotional, spiritual or physical.  Generally speaking, we are conditioned to move away from what is uncomfortable for us... physically, mentally/emotionally and spiritually.  This creates many splits within us ... we cut off vast amounts of our experiences in reality and all this avoidance leads us away from who and what we really are... not towards it.  We do the opposite!

Many people train in various Arts, work out, go to the gym, lead active lifestyles etc.  What is the difference between that and the Work we do here?   In many gyms, the focus is on the 'external only'.  Most of them, depending on what is going on in the particular gym,  pull people even more outside of themselves.  What do I mean by this?  

As one example,  look at the modern day gym ... there are T.V. screens set up for people to watch as they are working out, and sometimes there is a lot of conversation between people as they are moving their bodies.   This splits the body from the mind, rather than bring these things together with the spirit ... and moving as a 'whole'.

We Work to unite body, mind and spirit.  Distractions are minimized ... our attention is drawn inward ...  leading to different results.  These results will depend on the individual's level of being, and magnifies with consistent Work (done in a certain way) over time.  While we do use explanations, discuss philosophy and healing principles, and learn a great deal, we also spend time moving inwards quietly... which increases over time as one moves deeper into the Arts taught here.  That, being so very key, is also so very 'individual' ... in so many ways.   As many of you already know, I encourage people to set up a training routine on their own...

Going to a gym or training in a mainstream school and working externally can have some benefits physically, mentally/emotionally and so on ... it is certainly better than sitting most of the day.  What does this do for us overall as a human being?  It depends what we desire.  What is it you desire when you are seeking out a school or place to 'train'?

There are so many different types of training and moving Arts out there these days.  While these offer many benefits for the individual, we must use wisdom and discrimination in choosing what we wish to study and devote our life energy into.  If we want to work on ourselves and improve our energy levels and physical appearance and general mental/emotional stress, there are many things we can engage in which will certainly assist us with these things.  When we wish to study an ancient system and delve into its spiritual richness ...  now we are talking about something else entirely.   This is what was originally meant by body, mind/emotion and spirit balance... there are keys to this.

Many martial arts schools, yoga studios and other arts are available today for the public to choose from.    There is, due to a dilution factor, fewer schools which engage one in a way which will bring one deeply into traditional internal training or Spiritual Work.  This is not to say that they hold no value ... one must simply be clear and aware about what one is really doing and what one desires to attain.  You are free to decide that for yourself... decide what you desire to attain and seek that out...

At Souhl Center, in your private training sessions, we Work deeply, set up your sessions according to your own level, and offer you the foundation tools with which you can continue to progress for the duration of your personal/spiritual journey.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fall Cleanse ... Energy Levels .... Walking the 'Way" or 'Path'

As the sun rises and sets during this fall season, the amount of light we experience during the day begins to diminish.  The leaves turn vibrant colours and will begin to fall soon.

As we experience changes in the seasons (which is obviously different depending on where we live in the world), we also can reflect on the inner shifts and changes in our lives during these specific times.

We reap the benefits of all we have harvested and it is a wonderful time to cleanse our system again to prepare for the winter months when many people tend to crave heavier foods; sometimes slow down more or experience energy shifts due to busy schedules and little "down time" ... or time for themselves... I'll talk more about our changing 'physical energy levels' at the end of this entry.

Some people spend less time outdoors in the winter, and we do all experience less light.   Many factors can affect our energy levels when we don't do anything to balance out. 

Many people tell me that their schedules get busier - or feel busier and heavier in the fall and winter.  In many ways we do not ebb and flow with the natural rhythms around us.  If you do notice lowering shifts in your energy levels over the fall and into the winter, there are things you can do:

1.     Spend more time outdoors this fall - when the weather permits, get out and enjoy the fresh air, changing scents and vibrant colours.  BREATHE

When you can, go barefoot on the earth for awhile to enjoy the grounding and clearing effects before it's too cold.  There are many benefits to doing this.  We have had a very hot, dry and humid summer here; if the fall brings cooler yet calm weather, getting outside will refresh you.  

2.    Fall is also a good time to boost your movement practices.  Movement and breathwork will  assist you in clearing out your entire system and give your immune system a boost ... remember that to allow these benefits to work, your emotional/mental state is also vital.  Check in with yourself and ask:

What have I harvested in my inner and outer world this year as a result of all my thoughts, words, and actions?

Where might I place my attention and energy in my life now in order to cultivate a richer 'harvest' next year?

What's working well for me right now?

What isn't working so well for me in my life right now?  Name some steps you can take to address this area.


3.   Eat food which will contribute to cleansing your system.... many local organic farmers will still be providing fresh greens and veggies into the late fall and early winter at your local market.
4.   Make changes in your schedule when you can ... as the light diminishes and winter sets in, rest a bit more in order not to exhaust your inner resources.  Even the animals shift their activities when there is less light - they rest more.  
5.   Include energy-building activities into your life ... if you already do, continue them.  Movement Arts with breathwork are great for energy-building.  Avoid stressful situations by learning how to engage in less dramatic and more calm and focussed ways. Energy-building is an Art in itself.
A little more about energy gains and losses and the seasons:
So what do our energy levels and the seasons have in common?  Why do some people have 'more energy' than others during various times of the year?  
Energy (general physical and mental/emotional) levels depend on many things.  We have to consider our lifestyles, relationships, drama patterns, health and energy blockages, our personal perspectives, food and drink, local environmental factors, household and work environments, personal 'types and constitutions' etc..
Soooo....  in the spring, for example, with no other factors considered, someone may feel a general surge in energy.    Many people do ... for various reasons ... perhaps they are happy to know spring will bring more light, colour, outdoor time and better weather; perhaps they personally enjoy spring more than winter.   It is easier to work outdoors in more moderate weather too.   If they overdo it and expend more energy in the spring than they are building up, they may find themselves going into a 'summer exhaustion.'   With no other factors considered (which one ought to consider as well - in order to be more thorough), one could say that they have exhausted energy supplies by 'overdoing' and not 'refilling' and remaining more balanced.
This is the same now... in the early fall (particularly after a very hot, dry and humid summer).  Many people report a surge in energy in the early fall.  Refreshed by cooler breezes, more moderate temperatures and the lovely colours and scents, they may engage in a real increase in activity.   If they 'over-do' they may find that they get more flus that winter and may go into a 'winter exhaustion.'
So, once again, our friend BALANCE comes up.  When we balance activity ... physical ... mental/emotional etc. with rest and regenerative activities, our 'batteries' will remain charged and we will have the inner resources we need to go through the extremes we often find in the winter .... cold, wind, ice, less light and so on.
As I mentioned before in one of my blog topics, wellness and balance ... personal and spiritual development and evolution have keys... many of these keys are very simple ... others require dedicated real Work over time.  We do have all the keys available to us ... once we seek them out and find them, we have to use them in order to 'open those doors.'
My Tai Chi teacher once said:  "Now that you Know, you must Do."    Another teacher once said to me "The clothes do not make the monk." 
Knowledge or 'keeping up appearances' alone is not the real WAY ... we may say we already 'know' this ... until we examine our lives and find that there is plenty we 'know' which we may not apply directly to our own lives.  Isn't that the real point of all this Work?  My favourite example is the 'study and knowledge of things' ... a favourite in our world ... without the direct experience of doing and applying the things we can philosophize about, talk about and 'apparently know' to our lives in real and meaningful ways.    Examine this for yourself.  
Here are some steps along the  'Way' ....we may find ourselves on ...0r may eventually experience:
We feel the 'Call' ... a deep feeling that there is more to Life and to who or what we are than what we have known or have been experiencing or living.
We find a True Path or a Way ...  ... a genuine teaching 
We engage with it ... it truly becomes a 'Path with Heart' to us ... we commit
We 'Walk this Path' ... experience challenges (some call tests)
We work through these challenges and steps along our 'Path' or Way ...  grow and evolve
We walk our talk ... or as one of my teacher said ... "We become a Wise One who follows the Path'
We master ourselves and dedicate to walking the Path always in Life ... our abilities are developed and refined ... we continue to Work and develop as we come to realize that once the door is opened, the things we can discover and learn continue .....


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Things are not always as they appear to be

We know this too... right?  How many of us have heard this expression:  "Things are not always as they appear to be."

Our perceptions are dependent upon our 'level of being' or 'personal and spiritual development' ...
perception is clouded by distortion, illusion, traumas, expectations, denial,
'internal buffers' ... and so on.    We first have to be willing
to see a clear reflection of ourselves as we really are.

One of my teachers told me this story many years ago:  A man was searching for a spiritual path.  He had struggled with many challenges over his life and told my teacher that he knew there was more to life than what he had been experiencing on many levels.  He was already a person who had an interest in this style of movement art as well as spiritual approaches to enlightenment, healing and personal/soul development.  This Art, then, seemed to be exactly what he was looking for - at least according to what he said.  His story shows how this can also mean very little when it comes to the truth of how one really is inside.

My teacher's style was a combination of internal and external practices (of course philosophy and other teachings were taught over time) - which externally presents itself as a body-centered approach to spiritual development and evolution.   The student expressed his enthusiasm at finding my teacher and a path of this sort and began to attend classes.  After some time, my teacher said that he observed this man one day and had a sense that something had changed in his attitude and approach to the classes.  Flinging his legs up in the air, he examined his muscles and looked around the room ... obviously not engaged nor inside himself in the least.  Later, this person said he was looking for something more 'spiritual'!  He also started to put down the Art in the change room and some of the students complained. 

My teacher told me how many other people he had taught over the years, with similar stories to his - some even worse, had obtained amazing results while others had not.  Why?  He stressed that first of all, not everyone is interested in this type of a spiritual path, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Also, some students were ready and some were not - though they may have claimed to be.  My teacher taught me how to learn to See the deeper aspects of what he was teaching by doing my own Work in reflection, study and going deeper within myself over time... nothing would be 'given to me' ... I had to Work for it and attain it myself ... a path walked for a lifetime ... I 'Knew' it was a true 'spiritual path' due to the personal results I got over time.   He gave me nothing but the keys ... I walked up to the doors and worked the keys until I could get in ... and I continue to work and walk along this path today.

There are many examples of misconceptions of walking on a spiritual path.  Some people mistake Kung fu to be an ego-promoting art where people come to learn how to be tough fighters with big muscles and that practitioners can develop aggressive personalities.  While this can be true, it depends on the style of art and teacher ... but MORE SO on the personality and approach of the student.  One can be taught or shown the ''Way'; it is up to one to personally make the required efforts to learn the Way and then 'Walk the Way'. 

There are other students who imagine something will simply magically be 'given' to them by the teacher because they are the 'chosen one' or because they show up for a while!!  When it comes down to the real Work, teachers of these sort of arts find out what people are really made of inside.   I recently came across a saying that fits here: "You can lead a person to the door of Knowledge, but you can't make them think.''   This saying is similar to: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."  It's faulty thinking that leads people to illusions when it comes to spiritual development ... enlightenment ... or shamanic/magical paths of study.  The water is there ... it always has been.

Ego is a huge word with many meanings attached to it.  While it is true that many schools focus on the fighting aspects of the 'martial arts', or the 'physical prowess and external look of the movements and postures', it is also true that traditional spiritual teachings still exist today, where the benefits of training focus more on the spiritual development of the student ... with side benefits which include health, fitness, emotional/mental balance, philosophy and natural approaches to healing etc.

The media does no justice to the Arts of Kung fu or Karate when the story lines are so focussed on the combat applications.  This can also be due to the fact that one can train and study on one of these paths without it being taught as a spiritual path.  Some teachers' lineages are more 'martial' - meaning military and others are more fitness oriented, health oriented or spiritual.  While it is true that combat applications lie within the Art (as I was taught it), taught spiritually, they are like a fringe benefit!  We do not talk about a punch in order to punch someone ... we talk about how it is closing a channel of energy ... this is only one example. 

Many people have trained in Yoga, Karate, Kung fu etc... never learning about energy through their own experience of it at all (and there are many levels of this).  One reason is that these days many people become teachers of these arts prior to their own development reaching a high enough level for them to experience these things ... now they are teaching others ... how deep will that go?   People will get some benefits from doing these things; however,  if they are looking for something more, they will have to look deeper.   If one was not taught in this way, how can one bring others to this place?

My teacher told me that he was not surprised when the man we mention above never returned to class because he could not see the Art for what it was, and that this was OK.  One of my teacher's sayings was: "This Art is for everyone, but not everyone is for this Art."   Regardless of who comes, who leaves, and who gets 'what' out of it all, it will always be a personal thing.

While these arts are for everyone, not all people are ready to Work in the same way as we are on different levels of Being, and so we will only see what we are ready, willing and able to see.  This is one reason teachers of traditional arts would often pick their students personally and would be VERY picky.  One must be prepared to do the inner Work along with the aspects of the Art one is more inclined to enjoy; the foundation crumbles if one does not. 

 In any genuine path, internal Work is necessary in order to move forward - too many times people have developed other aspects of their being too soon only to become imbalanced and then what will they attract and create out in the world and inside themselves?  Avoid skipping over this point lightly.

Remember the saying: "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear?"   Well, ever wonder where this teacher magically appears from?  They were, perhaps, there all the time!!  Well ... they were always somewhere!  You can be sure that many 'teachers' are walking around day to day doing quite 'ordinary' things ... people who can walk you up to the door you are searching for ... question is, do YOU see them?

This is the meaning of the old story in which someone is seeking for a teacher ... seeing and feeling that there must be more to life, this person goes out seeking for a place in which to learn ... to discover what healing potential and enlightenment is all about.  While out one day, this person crosses the path of a genuine teacher out in the daily world, doing daily things and not hopping about that they are special and important.  Over time, this person walks by this teacher many times ... one who can offer them exactly what they claim to be looking for ... never seeing this teacher for who they really are.  It can only be this way, due to the fact that we can only see where we are at ... to be able to see something higher or sense something higher ... requires us to BE higher. 

Things are not always as they appear to be to us.  We can all be in the same room and yet see things differently.  We call this 'point of perception' in some circles ... it is also called 'level of Being' in others.  The point being, once again, that we can only see what our current level of Being IS.  While this can shift a bit moment to moment or day to day, we have an average level we are at consistently.  This only changes with consistent Work over time.  In order to be new or to see, hear and feel newly, one must BE NEW. 

Be willing to see things as they really are.   Then ask yourself, are you really ready and able to do so?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Four Simple Keys For Kickstarting Personal Wellness

Don't we already know what to do?

Consider simple tools you can apply into your life in a practical way.  Everywhere I go, I see people looking for keys to wellness.  I am willing to bet that most of them already know these things!  Read the four keys below and ask yourself if you already know these things.

Often, we know exactly what to do; however, we lack the application of doing it... there are many factors that can contribute to this (ex. if I know what to do, why don't I simply do it?), but perhaps I will write about that another time ... it is also something you can read a little more about in my book (when it's ready, I'll let you know ... it's in a final edit). 

When we discover that we know things which we seem unable to apply ... or we are searching for a deeper understanding of ourselves during our personal and spiritual journeys and transitions in life, we can always seek out assistance.

Four Simple Keys for Wellness:

1.  Any and all impressions we receive on the inside and from all around us will impact us in various ways.  These 'impressions' take many forms... what we look at, touch, smell, experience ... most importantly, it also represents any and all mental/emotional experiences ... reactions etc.
Mental/Emotional personal reflection ... most of what plagues us on many levels originates in this realm, so honest self-reflection is a huge practical key to understanding our wellness ... or lack of
2.  ANYTHING we put into or on our bodies .... food, beverage, clothing, beauty products, soaps, laundry detergent, chemicals we are exposed to etc. etc.
3.  AIR   ... What is the quality of the air we are breathing in our everyday lives?   What are our breathing patterns like?  Do we breathe properly and do we know what that means?
4.  Proper movement ... Proper movement means I am moving in a way which liberates me from my chronic holding patterns, armouring and tensions .... it means I use certain moving arts which move my body in way that gets into and loosens up all the various 'dark places' in my form ... proper movement can heal and rejuvenate.  It can assist us in releasing traumas and we can experience more freedom in our bodies.

So... I am guessing that this is NOT new... most people know that each of these things I have mentioned makes sense ... and most people have heard of these things before.  The things to consider is ... how are we applying these things in our lives today?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Spring Cleanse and Practice Boost
We are in the midst of Spring.  Spring is a great time to cleanse our bodies and increase our levels of activity - especially if we have been more sedentary during the winter months.  
Sometimes, during a really harsh winter, we may hardly get much sunlight or time outdoors at all.   This past winter was fairy mild, so I am not talking about that one!   Regardless, spring is here, and we have an opportunity to cleanse deeper and to renew ourselves (on multiple levels) once again along with the return of the light in these warmer seasons.
In this region, given that we can often experience very cold and sometimes harsh winter conditions, many of us may feel that need to eat heavier root veggies in the colder months and maybe even a little more meat ... as well as teas and herbs which are more warming to our systems.  Now that the warmer weather is coming, it is a great time to cleanse from these heavier foods ... and lighten our loads on our digestive system. 
This is very individual, so I can't tell you how much to alter your diet ... or what, exactly, you 'should' be eating.  These days we have so many people with various allergies and different tolerances to so many foods ... and there are many different diet plans etc. out there.   I do feel that we over-do things like sugar, wheat, processed dairy products, processed foods, meat, pastas etc., but you likely know this if you have been looking into altering your diet and increasing your levels of wellness and energy levels. 
As we work in the moving Arts and on our own inner development, we can develop a higher level of sensitivity to our whole system ... we feel and sense what our bodies require, and so we become our own best advisor.  Rather than following a strict system of one sort or another (which is not necessarily 'bad' for you ... if that works for you), we can also listen to what our own body is telling us.  One of the best ways to develop this to a higher degree, is to cleanse enough to be able to sense exactly how you feel (and where you feel it), right after you eat or drink something.  The next step is actually listen to our inner wisdom!  We often know exactly what we need to be doing to get to that place we desire: higher level of wellness and energy ... but doing what we really know we could do is often the greater challenge.  Ask yourself:  What do I feel drawn to eat or drink and how/what am I feeling just before I feel that pull to do so?  You will learn something in that moment.
Most of us feel a natural increase in energy during the spring ... we feel like moving more and going out to do new things after the more inward-moving period of winter.  We also can gauge ourselves and listen to our bodies there too.  When active in your life in various ways (or in practice), engage fully and do your best.  When you feel tired, listen to the body and rest well too.  Allow your senses time to relax and let go of all the impressions they receive during the day.  Once again, you can find your own inner wisdom advising you by listening and feeling inside yourself when it's time to 'shut down'.  Balance and harmony is attainable.
End Your Spring with a Boost in Your Practice

From now until the Summer Solstice ... June 21 ... if you are not already doing so, make a commitment to yourself that you will end this Spring with a boost in your practice.  Practice every day until the arrival of Summer Solstice.  If you are not taking any formal classes, and you have some experience with a form of practice, do your own at home. 
If you feel tired ... or have not been practicing every day ... or are new to practice ... or have been away from it for some time, practice every day anyway.  Create a routine for yourself that challenges yourself ... wherever you are currently at.  You do not need to measure yourself against anyone else and what they may be doing.  Push yourself to your own edge of growth.  If you have a routine you like to do... do it... especially if it challenges you enough personally.
I am fond of saying that true growth and evolution ... on whatever level it might be: personally, spiritually, mentally/emotionally ... even financially, politically etc. ... usually occurs on the edge - not in 'status quo' or stagnant 'maintaining comfort and bliss.'  But this is for those who desire it ... it is not a judgment.  You do not 'have to grow or evolve' ... it's not a 'should', here.  Simply ask yourself:  Do I desire to grow from where or how I am right now in my life ... in any way?   It is a great question to ask in the spring during the time of renewal all around us ... just look at the new growth in the Natural World all around us.
If you DESIRE growth and evolving from where you are currently, then, it is a reminder that in order to do so, it comes from a place of 'being on the edge of your comfort zone'!
I encourage you to get 'curious about this edge' ... explore a 'willingness to engage with this edge' ... adopt an attitude of 'openness to learn new things'... new things about yourself.  While growth on the edge can come with its own set of challenges, we can learn to see this as a part of the path of a warrior ... and to be more at ease with the shifts and changes we experience inside and all around us. 
And ... please ... avoid extremes ... you do not have to hurt yourself to do what I am talking about!   Push... yes ... hurt yourself?   No!