Song for a Heart Felt Night (The Queen)
The Queen took Centre Stage in Her own Life.
Once she began to Embrace her true Self,
her intrinsic qualities, she came to know herself
and the World came to know Her, too.
For how can anyone truly Know
someone who does not Know themselves?
Reclaiming piece by piece,
shadow by shadow,
Releasing the Torture of her daily existence.
The Queen had been tied in her own shackles:
the steely grip of repressing Truth
of submitting her will to others.
of her self-attack,
laid them down and looked at them cold
after her long, sweaty, dark battle.
The handcuffs fell off
and the doors to Freedom Opened.
Light poured in where darkness no longer reigned.
Fruit trees bloomed where once there was shade.
She got up from the floor,
out of the corner she’d been crouched in
and stood Tall.
Suddenly she could see the Horizon,
the Vista of possibility within and without.
Suddenly her shoulders dropped down
and she saw for the first time
the Light she Always knew was hers,
the Divine Light of Ancestral Teachings.
“Glamazon,” they said when they saw her standing,
“Royal,” they said with a glint in their eye.
“Place that Crown upon your head,
we need you to serve us dear Queen.
We’ve been waiting for you to Speak Your Truth,
to Quench our thirst.
And so she went in, deep within and took a long
slow deep inhale like a pull off a sacred plant and said
“My children I have been asleep so long
and only awoken just now.
I have had and now have many guides to lead me
through the labyrinth maze back to the Nature of Myself.
I have come so far yet travelled only into the darkest places
of my psyche, my Soul,
now reborn on this Solstice of Summer.
I vow to Root my feet on this Earth.
To arrive here fully
in this body, knowing she is my home,
my Earth temple and I embrace her.
I vow to Speak my Truth and listen deeply to my Heart.
I vow to grow in my own Empowerment
and aid in the True Empowerment of others.
I now embrace
the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine within Myself.
I Honour Myself fully.
I strive to Honour the other fully,
knowing the other is a Reflection of Myself.
Reverence, to be seen, is True Power, True Healing.
I vow to hold space for you, to be there for you
and to do the same for myself.
I vow to empty my cup or fill it
or take a bath
or an Ocean Walk
Embracing the Bounty that is self-care, self-love.
By Loving myself, may I Love the other.
It is only now with the release of shame,
that I reclaim
My Whole Deep Truth.
And from this Death, a new Beginning.
Now I am FREE to move forward.
No longer stuck, no longer shamed.
I stand in my Truth, my Fullness, my completeness.
The Queen, the Goddess she Reigns.
What if we were completely Honest and Real with Ourselves?
Practiced Radical and Compassionate Acceptance of Ourselves?
Embraced who we are, whatever colour or flavour.
What if our own Magic was more than enough?
Imagine you "came out to yourself."
What would that look like? What would Express through you?
A deep breath into my full belly and no self conscious containing.
A full belly extension. Happy Buddha Belly. Soft belly.
What if our Humanity was Beautiful and rescued from the Shadows of Shame?
I feel a softening and a release already as I let go the Breath.
Was I caught in an inhale or and exhale or was I just caught, stuck?
What if we unfolded and unpacked and held up to the Light our Everything, our Truths, the way that we feel? ...All of the ways we feel and how we feel, starting with one self?
I express my longings for you with the long blonde hair and breasts.
I tell the world, yeah, I dated a man twice my age from Rwanda.
I am honest about my Dreams, I am going to California and India again...
I feel a growing sadness about the Earth each and every day and my sadness is growing.
I hold up to the Light that we Live in a Magical World and so I am pained by the chopping down of Trees and the staring into screens thinking we will all find Life there.
Life is not there. Life is Here.
I cry the pain of Emptiness and Isolation.
I cry the pain of seeing the closed and tired faces on the Subway day in and day out.
I cry the pain of feeling lost in a society full of people.
I laugh wildly in the Abundance as I find in my Heart connection in a night sky,
witnessed solely by myself, the trees, and my puppy friends.
There are times when I feel so uncomfortable in my body. This often happens after I have spent much time in the country and then am suddenly back in the city. I miss the generous energy of the trees soothing my entire being; I miss the sound of the trees swaying and the leaves speaking to me with the wind; I miss hearing the water talk and her coolness enveloping my entire body when I swim in her embracing curves.
This morning was one such walk in the city where the harshness of the concrete, the noise of squeaking and aggressive buses and cars forcefully driving past me in a rush felt so stripping. The separateness of people I sometimes feel even though I am surrounded by them is unpleasant, actually makes me feel kind of sick. Sometimes I just want to hug them, to look at them deep and say 'hey, what's your Soul going through right now, and how is that espresso anyway?' as I stand in line, quietly beside them. Waiting.
Today after said espresso, I continued on my walk and felt this dis-ease in my body as I waited for the traffic light to change. I asked myself "what do you need right now?" and my Inner Voice said "Walk Holy."
So I embodied Holy; I saw myself on a pilgrimage as though I was walking amidst the Buddha's perhaps, like I was in some Holy Land, because indeed I am but the sleep in my eyes sometimes prevents me from Seeing. A blanket of peace rolled over me and my walk grounded. I was somehow more in myself and less hovering outside my body, trying to find a way out of the concrete disconnect. Lo and behold as I took just a few more steps my eyes, now wide open, came across a little sparrow, dead lying on the concrete. He had flown into the grocery store window and died just like that.
After saying a prayer to the Bird, I went into the grocery store and found the man who works there who had helped me to find an ingredient I was looking for about a week before. There was something about him I noticed that day-- he really Cared. So I found him again and I told him about the Bird and he said that he knew about it already and I asked him if the store could get some kind of decal and place it up on the window so that the birds knew not to fly there. And he understood and said that his parents had done that for the birds in England and that it works and I felt like he took it to Heart and will do something about it.
I then felt connected to others, to the plants and the birds because I feel like they know when a person is there for them, like they can hear it in your walk and in your vibration. And so this is why, partly, I do stop and smell the Roses (which I did this morning before my espresso) and ask the Lavender plants (yes, also before the espresso) if I may pick a bud or a leaf off their stem to hold and rub in my hands and smell and feel like the Earth is Enlightening me and Healing me if we would accept the Invitation to participate and act in ways that support Her and thus Ourselves.
And so today I continue on my Holy Walk, knowing that although it feels so Vulnerable and Full to connect to this Earth and All Her Inhabitants, I am Strong enough to do it. I am Soft enough to Listen. Raw as it may feel, this is what makes me Whole & Holy, a Human Being.
During my first several years of Yoga practice, I would think to myself and sometimes say out loud "blood, sweat and tears on the mat." Sometimes, you fall on your face and get a little scrape, other times I would break a toe nail from rolling over the toes so many times into upward dog back to downward dog, inciting a crack in the big toe nail and a small bleed. Obviously Astanga yoga is going to make you sweat-- building up all that internal heat and purging toxins through the sweat glands. Oh and then there are the tears, and they arise from a number of reasons: maybe something came up, and old emotion being released, or maybe you actually did fall on your face and you got frustrated or hurt (was that an actual injury or a bruised ego?).
The reason why I bring this up is because I taught a class this morning and there were tears, good tears, but tears none the less! Here's the story. Only two people in class this morning made me more aware of the details of the students' breath. I could hear choppy, rushed breathing, maybe half ujayyi breath and the rest I am not sure what! I changed the direction of the class in order to focus on the most important part of the practice: the Breath.
I sat between my students, the three of us facing the same direction, towards the windows and into the garden, the orange tiger lilies giving their best at the end of the summer season.
We started with how to breathe ujayyi style. Constrict the back of the throat. It's like you are fogging a mirror but do it with your mouth closed. In an out through the nose. There you go. Good job. Okay, now we are going to lengthen the Breath, in for five and out for five. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... Good. Again. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... and out 4, 3, 2, 1.... We did that for about ten rounds and then we added something. Well, we added two things: uddiyana bandha (pelvic floor energy lift/lock) and jalandhara banda (chin lock). Okay, now the breath with the bandhas. We did this several times. And I could see something shifting... And then I thought to myself-- I think she is crying, the student to my left. And sure enough, after about twenty steady, long inhales and exhales with two bandhas engaged, the her flood gates opened. It was the kind of floodgates that open and are simply not closing. That opening was a long time coming. Sri K Pattabhi Jois famously said "Practice and all is coming." And just like that, with some breath and some engagement through the body, the cleanse arrived and washed over her face.
I gave her some time, she went to the bathroom and came back but was still crying. I put her in a restorative pose, lying on her side, making sure to bolster her with whatever cosy props I had and she rested.
The other student continued to sit in meditation and something deep occurred to me. It is a well-known concept in Buddhism that we are all Buddha's, that is we are Enlightened underneath it all-- it is just that we have this veil over our eyes and we can not see it. We are asleep, and we practice to Wake Up! "Buddha" means One Who Is Awake! After the breath and the bandhas, this student, who normally has a bit of a furrowed brow, and a very piercing gaze during her practice, was sitting in meditation and it was as if a Light has washed over her and through her. Her face softened and a glow permeated her being. Her own light washed through her entire reality and mine. I could see the Buddha in this woman. I could see the Beautiful and Serene Face replace and shine through the face of striving, grasping and resistance.
Such a profound class. I have been struggling with my own practice for some time now. But now, somehow, through these students, I have the Peace to get back on the mat. Hallelujah.
I can feel almost exactly what is under her see-through shield and it is Everything.
It is green grass shredded by bike tires and bails.
It is surf-ridden Ocean spray and it's rainbow.
It is summer; it is winter avalanche silence.
It is airplanes taking off in exploration, anticipation, adventure.
It is tea or jack daniels, quiet on the porch or loud in a party respectively usually.
And yet nothing is usual except for Everything.
I smell campfire and dirty jeans, and the quiet that comes between the words.
I hear beautiful humility and acceptance of the rawness of one's beauty and nature.
Reflecting each other, like the jewels on Indra's net, she reflects the light, the shadows, my Wholeness back to me.
There is a common view or assumption that when a baby is young, so young that it does not speak, it simply does not understand or is unaware of that which is going on in it's environment. My recent studies and experiences have shown me that a young child, a baby, is completely aware of what is going on. It has an Understanding that is deeper and empathic; words are inconsequential. The baby feels Everything. The child is especially connected on the deepest and most internal level to that which the Mother is experiencing and also the Father, and the emotional intricacies of their relationship.
The Body is also equally sensitive and responsive to the thoughts of the being that inhabits it. All of the thoughts, traumas and feelings, the body senses and feels. It takes it's cues from you.
Look into the deeper and most subtle and subconscious messages that you are sending and speaking to your body. Speak to your body the way that you might speak to your plants, telling your body that it is Beautiful and an oustanding and extraordinarily blessed creation of Nature and is perfect and Love it. Find a way.
Here I am in Kensington Market, in Toronto, Ontario in a quaint and favourite Tibetan restaurant. A patron walks in, orders a juice and says to the Tibetan waitress: "I have seen the Dalai Lama speak before. As soon as he walked onto the stage, I began to cry. He is a special person and just has that effect." She went on, "Just one single being who is enlightened like Buddha, Jesus, or the Dalai Lama can have a very powerful effect on millions of people. That's some energy." She then took her juice and went on her merry way. Her statement came at an interesting time...
I have been living the last few months in Toronto, four to be exact. I have been cramming myself into living spaces that are too small for my being. I have also taken on adventurous yet sometimes fleeting work situations which I have found at times to be stressful.
I require feeling calm, peaceful and centered. I have not been providing these necessities for myself as of late, but things are changing.
I feel in my heart that there is something new that is happening and I am on the precipice of a stronger path and trajectory. It is not that the path is completely new, but rather the things that I have been working on have solidified and now I am opening up to the next level. I suddenly have this very visceral and intuitive feeling that life is really important now, that time is really important, that I have much to accomplish and that this time is incredibly precious-- even though sometimes I feel that I do not know where I am going. At least I know that I am going to India; it is a very exciting time. If Toronto had been overly comfortable and 'perfect' then I would have no impulse to leave. I must be thankful for these discomforts which fundamentally keep me growing, keep me walking my Path.
The attendant here, who made the soup I am now enjoying is singing. I feel like I understand her singing and that it is a song about family and home. I feel like all Tibetans who share the same plight as her can hear her now, just as I can hear her now. She is moving me to tears with her Love. Her singing is peaceful and strong. The news that is passing and seemingly constant on the tv above is akin to clouds passing through the sky, past the great mountain top, or like waves crashing against the shore and rolling back out into the Ocean. Her singing sounds like the wind, constant and present since beginning-less time. I feel like once I get to Dharamsala I will not want to leave. I will have found my space. I will be able to truly be.
Kino MacGregor manifested her divine and very physical being at Ashtanga Yoga Toronto a few weeks back. I was delighted to spend a few hours in her presence and the small group of Yoga practitioners and gathered to listen to Kino talk.
Kino's talk was so relevant to my life journey at this time, and likely to the lives of most others in the room. It is amazing how when the student is ready, the teacher appears. And appear she did. Her diminutive yet strong physical manifestation is shiny and bright and her words softly cut to the essence of the matter at hand. She is truly talented, skilled and very present.
In my view, the most important thing that Kino shared with us is how the practice of Yoga puts you face to face with your very own life, emotions, challenges and all that good stuff. Things are going to come up in your practice, and in your life, things that are light and things that are dark. The goal of the asana practice is to have the mind become so big that it can embrace both the light and the dark.
Alrighty, mind embraces light and dark. So how do we go about doing that? In order to allow the mind to become big enough to embrace both light and dark, we have to crack the Heart open.
Roger that. Crack the Heart open. How do we accomplish this? Don't turn away from the pain, the sensation both in life and in the poses. Go deep, breathe deep and allow it to break you open so your mind can expand.
To clarify, the pose itself is not going to bring about Enlightenment or an enlightened state of mind per se. Kino spoke about how, for example, when you bind Marychiasana D for the first time (a tough pose to bind for most), it's not as though the Buddha is going to walk in and you are suddenly Enlightened! Kino explains that you face your life, yourself, your inner shadows and meet your true divine self while practicing the poses. She says that when the mind can be big enough to contain all of the light and all of the dark, all of these emotions and sensations you find on your mat and in your life day after day, then you have truly opened yourself up to experience now, without running towards something pleasureable or away from something uncomfortable.
Here are a few out takes from Kino's Instagram account to clarify:
"Yoga is an inner journey that takes you deep down into the unexplored territory of your own mind, body and spirit. It is a personal practice aimed at giving you a direct experience of the true self within."
"What you do when you meet your body's limit will show you exactly who you are in the face of stressful or challenging life situations. Each time you rise up and meet the obstacle with a clear mind and an accepting heart you are stronger regardless of how deep you go into the posture."
"Let your whole life be a grand harmony that reflects the magnitude of your soul. Then sing the song of your own happiness with so much joy that everyone around you just has to smile."
"Delve into the inner body in search of enlightenment and discover your true self. The body itself is the subconscious mind, the emotional reservoir of everything that seems hidden. Through the microscopic lens of yoga you can see through layers of thoughts into the vulnerable space of your authenticity. Reveal all your beauty, power and greatness simply by experiencing the essential nature of your self and saying yes to everything that you already are."
Inhale, reach your arms up: the glowing Sun rises at dawn.
Exhale and fold deeply: the blazing Sun swan dives into the Ocean at dusk.
Inhale and lengthen your spine lifting up just half way. You are the Sun perfectly half risen in the morning. (Perhaps your sky is pink, orange or purple...)
Exhale and lower yourself; trustingly dip into the horizon of the water.
Breathe in as you arch upward for air filling your lungs and belly with life robust.
Exhale to your downward dog, that home, that safe resting place and gaze to the centre of your microcosmic universe.
Take time. Breathe. Feel. Find steadiness and explore. Let it go.
Exhale it all and then float forward to tease us into your half lift sunrise; as you breathe in the life force allow it to travel along your spine, purifying the energetic ley lines of your divine terrain.
Breathe out and as you fold and close, open to an inner field of an infinitely starry and clear sky.
Rise up strong, inhaling while rooting down, connecting deeply with the Earth while reaching up to the stars and become your fullest and your greatest. Open yourself to the Universal Spirit that is within and without all things.
Exhale to release your wings to your sides. Now stand tall and solid. Glow radiant like a mountain.
Today in less than 24 hours I will be sitting in a pod (plexiglass sphere) in order to Meditate on Queen Street West in the middle of Downtown Toronto on a Saturday night as part of an installation/street art contribution to the annual Nuit Blanche.
This installation was created in tandem by Lululemon and the brilliant Emily Ridout, co-founder of 889 Yoga. It is an honour to be a part of it, to plant the seeds of meditation in the mind-stream of those who witness the event, to ripple the mantras vibrationally throughout the city and beyond, and to have the experience of meditating solo in public and holding the energy in high-vibration stillness while people pass by like white clouds in the sky. I look forward to that space in time designated to just Be within the hustle of this bustling city.