In the Flow

This morning I walked through my City of Sydney, drinking in the sights with these eyes for the last time before heading off for a month long adventure. In nine years, this will be the longest I have left this city and I am sitting here somewhere between being nervous and excited. It is a bit like going on a first date with someone who you’ve had your eye on for a while and you know it’s going to be a game changer. I am leaving my home, my cat, my students and my community but this is the next chapter of a story that started a long time ago. Finally, after three years of dreaming of it, I am hopping on a plane to undertake a 200 Hour Prana Flow Teacher Training with Shiva Rea in Greece.

It feels like I am standing here on the edge of change – ready to let go of what was, honouring what is and completely open to what will happen.

My first 200 Hour Teacher Training was done locally, with BodyMindLife in 2012. It was no doubt a life altering experience. So much changed for me during this time including a shedding of a long-term relationship and a huge change in career. I’m glad I had opted to do it part time to allow me the chance for slow integration into all aspects of my life. This time however, I am taking the plunge. I am immersing myself completely in the experience, limiting my contact to the outer world to a minimum.

Every time I go deeper into this path something of what I was, is stripped away so that I can become more of what I was meant to be both as a person and as a teacher. These events are magical even though they might not always be easy. They have a way of releasing an old way of being, a way of thinking that no longer serves us and sometimes even old relationships. Leading into this, I have been very careful not to make big commitments as I know that these are very personal journeys and it would not be fair to make a promise that I am not sure I will be able to keep.

There is so much to experience and so much to learn within yoga and we are lucky to be in Australia at this time as the tribe is continuously growing. We have had an influx of great international teachers including Ana Forrest, Maty Ezraty and Bryan Kest, each bringing with them a wealth of knowledge that has fed my own practice and my teaching.

Prana Flow however, has always been close to my heart.

This was a style that was introduced to me more than two years ago by Chanel Luck and Simon Park. Being an ex traditional dancer, something about the ritual and ceremony in combination with discipline, intelligent sequencing and the freedom of flow spoke to me. It was like the practice was telling a story and my body opened to participating in this tale that was being spun.

I am in love with how elements including the weather, the cycle of the moon and the energy of the students in the class are all welcomed into the space to create a complete experience. I am fascinated by how the more Tantric philosophies that honour the feminine are involved.   The way the flow is taught has given my body and soul a freedom that can only be found when my mind can get out of the way. There is an intuitive intelligence to it that can only be felt. There is a fullness and wholeness to it that feeds the soul.

And so we unfold.

When I decided to become a yoga teacher, it also meant that I had committed to a lifetime of learning. It meant a dedication to self-enquiry. Yoga is a lifelong process, a loop that keeps looping. We learn and we practice so that we can keep teaching. Sometimes we have to go back to our own lessons in life and in practice to be able to give. If the day ever comes when I don’t want to practice and feel that I have nothing more to learn, then it is probably a sign that I should stop teaching.

For now, the path is taking me deeper into knowledge of myself as a person. This is the knowledge that informs me as a teacher to be able to offer more to my students on their own paths and I am so grateful to the teachers and life lessons, hard as they may have been, that have brought me here.

So here I head into the next leg of this journey. It’s hard to be away from loved ones and the support that I’ve come to cherish from my community but we are in continuous flow and sometimes, the river has to take us in a solitary direction before we can come back to the sea. I look forward to returning to my city and my community with a new way of seeing things, more to share and so much more compassion.

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My Yoga, Your Yoga

Thirteen years ago I stumbled into my very first yoga practice. It was at my local gym in Malaysia where the room was air-conditioned to be almost freezing and the teacher was jumping from one pose to another. In my second class with her, she got us to do drop-backs with a wall. The next day, my lower back felt really tweaky and uncomfortable. Needless to say, I never went back to her and resigned myself to the gym.

I am of the hyper mobile, super flexible variety of human being, whose primary physical activity in my youth started with dancing and cheerleading. I have sprained my left ankle about four times, my right one three times and have a dodgy right knee. Anyone who performs or does competitive sports would know that the nature is, if it’s in season and you get injured, you keep going. As a result my left leg is still prone to injury and my right knee has days of protest. It didn’t get easier as I got older. By my late twenties, I had a pretty back lower back and my right shoulder was pretty mangled.

Then someone suggested I try yoga. Due to my fear of chiropractors, physiotherapists and doctors in general, I gave it a go. It was a bit of a shop around to find something I could stick with. I tried Bikram, and although I loved the heat, hyper-extending legs did not work with my ankles and knee. Not only that, my fiery personality seemed to get even more so, which really doesn’t bode well when work requires you to interact with people a lot.

It was only by chance that I looked on Google and found a different studio near where I worked. It started with an Introductory Pass, which at the time was $25 for two weeks. It blew my mind! There was still the element of heat but being told not to hyper-extend anything made everything about a hundred times harder. I would go into this place with carpet that smelled horrible and big classes, and by the end of the classes I wouldn’t know which way was up and which was down. Shavasana came as a relief. By the end of two weeks, I was hooked.

This was Vinyasa.

It was in no way easy and every time I got one move down there was something else to learn. Then there were these teachers who would give me the shits by asking me to get out of ‘my spot,’ and on occasion move me to the front. Sometimes I would even cry in class. For the first time in ages though, my body felt good. I loved that no two classes and no two teachers were the same. There was personality in the practice. There was heart.

At first I practiced like a mad woman. The harder and hotter the class, the more chaturangas, the more I would push myself through it. What happens however, is when you get tired you lose form. I was tired in every way possible and one of the teachers sat me down and told me to take a break.

So I did, and went to do a week of Iyengar.

It was hellish! Sitting still was not my forte and I got really impatient with all the props involved. I would get into a pose and fidget like someone coming off hard drugs, but the precision of Iyengar is amazing! After a week my back felt fabulous and I went back to Vinyasa with all the new alignment points I’d learned.

Then three years ago something called me to do my first 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. All I wanted to do was know more about this practice but the seven months of training were priceless and surprisingly, I came out wanting to teach. In December 2012 I finished Teacher Training, in January 2013 my father passed away and by February I had boxed my high heels and left the corporate world.

On the 12th of April 2013 (my 33rd birthday), I taught my first Community Class in BodyMindLife.  Two years later, I am still there.

It was in no way the ending of a journey, but a beginning. In a world of blond, 6’ handstanding vegan yoginis who like kale smoothies I am most definitely different. Being more mobile than strong means that arm balances come very slow and one moment of not being aware means an injury. Flexibility is a great thing, but needs to be balanced with strength. My continuous work is in not going all the way into bendy poses just because I can and not to practice injured as it brings about other injuries. It is a lesson I seem to have to keep learning again and again. As I type this, I am recovering from two displaced ribs, and a hamstring and a wrist injury. Note, trying to lift a scooter is probably a bad idea on any day.  After all my resistance, I am working a physio and have magically found the most amazing CrossFit coaches at CrossFit Black to help my strength conditioning.

Yet yoga continues to be my first love and as I teach and learn, I’ve discovered that yoga is not just asana. My practice has changed through the years. I still love those hot sweaty classes with 50 students breathing together, but I also love waking up in the morning and losing myself in an hour of ground based, deep Yin. Just about a year ago, I started meditating and even within that it keeps changing.

This practice has taught me compassion and love, and being peaceful in joy and sorrow.  It has taught me acceptance and that it is OK to not be strong all the time.  It has taught me that drama is just a distraction and a good life can be lead without the fluff.  It has taught me that the tendencies I have on the mat are often the same ones I have in my daily life.  It has taught me that things end but that doesn’t mean you discount what happened, and that new beginnings happen.  We are ever changing beings and more than learning poses or how to sit still, we are constantly learning about ourselves.  Within this practice I have found family, community and connection, and the realisation that between the blacks and whites of wrong and right, there are they greys of the in between.

I’ve realised now that it doesn’t need to be any one way. Some days you need that practice that challenges you physically and other days you just need to do the simple stuff and reconnect with your breath. Some days practice is easy and without resistance, and other days you go in with all this stuff and practice is a nightmare. Some days you go into practice and you’re laughing all the way and other days, you are a ball of sweat and tears at the end of the practice.  But you don’t have to be any one way to practice, not a certain body type, or weight or age.  You come as yourself on that day, in that moment and whatever you do is perfect.

More than the teacher, my practice is based on how I am on that given day.

And this in itself has been a journey. It is discovering that yoga is not one thing. I’ve had the privilege of learning and practicing with some of the best teachers in Australia and Internationally, and at the end of it, yoga is a journey of self-discovery. You learn from the different teachers but the magic is in finding your yoga. As a teacher I have learned that what I do and what I offer might vary. It is not my place to tell students about their practices, bodies or beliefs but to share what I know so they can explore. All we can do is try as much as we can to meet students where they are and move with them to wherever we can go together.

I still believe that there is magic in the practice and it is still my first love, but the journey continues and is ever evolving. As I teach, I am also learning and as students are learning in my classes, they are also teaching me. I am ever grateful to my teachers and to the students who light up my classes, and most of all my community for being there. I’m hoping that my learning never ends.

Next stop, Prana Flow in Greece, June 2015.

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Just Dance – Life is Well Enough as it is

When I went to yoga teacher school, part of the process was self-study. In fact the niyamas, part of the eight limbs of yoga includes the practice of svadhyaya which is a study of your inner realm. Yoga, after all is more than a physical practice. It is the life long practice of looking at yourself, finding your issues and working on them in the quest to becoming an enlightened being. With practice and time, the layers are peeled back to find our atma or higher self.

 

Now, as a teacher, I find myself in constant self-study and to add to it, I am surrounded by healers. It is great in a way, but in another, not so much. You see healers can sometimes see problems everywhere. There is always something that deserves a deeper look at, always something that needs to be fixed. Sometimes, it can go too far, like a person who enrols you in dance classes in a style you hate because you can’t get your steps in time with everyone else. It creates pressure and you end up resenting the dance even more. The thing too is that healers can be broken, and sometimes, in not wanting to be broken alone, there is projection, making their stories the stories of others, but it is not the case. It is never the same.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and one of the things I decided in my 30s was that I would only surround myself with people I actually like, but some days, I grow wary of the digging. Being female, I am good enough at breaking myself down so having an army of people turning every action or non-action into an issue doesn’t really help matters. Sometimes all the digging is a bit like reading those useless ‘how to’ articles in female magazines, you know the ones, ‘how to meet prince charming,’ ‘how to live an awesome life,’ and ‘how to make a man love you,’ etc. If you actually just put the articles down, you might realise that your life is pretty awesome and that you are, in fact a shining star.  All these things that are there to ‘help’ sometimes just creates is this sense of not being enough or not doing enough.

 

The thing is, not everything needs to become an issue and every issue should definitely not be made into an excuse. We all carry scars from our childhoods and our youths. In their own way, they not only shape who we are but have also brought us to this space here and now. My heart carries the scratches and bruises of being my father’s daughter and the unhealthy relationships I have had in my life, with self, with people, with addictions. My heart might always wear these scars and perhaps, although she may never fully heal, it is fine, she can move forward and with time, she will get where she’s going.

 

All this poking and prodding and digging, how much does it really help? The emotional body is not quite like the physical body. My right hip flexor is sore and that can directly be traced back to my torn hamstring and how I compensated for that by doing things differently. The emotional things however, the deeper things, well, perhaps they are fine as they are. Perhaps, although there is a deeper story it is not for us to know yet. I am tired of how my being single becomes a dissection of how I am either not manifesting, setting intentions, putting it our there or the opposite, putting it out there too much. I am tired of how caring for someone means that I am not taking care of myself while they get what they want.

 

Life and yoga to me, is this great amazing dance. You dance on your own, figuring out your own steps, you dance in a group, finding ways of how that works and you dance with a single other at different times, in different ways, friend, sister, lover. You can help someone if they’re dancing with an injured foot, but who are we to say that people are not dancing the right way or to question their steps.

 

You might see two people dancing at opposite ends of the room with this amazing chemistry between them – she with just the right amount of softness to compliment his strength. Occasionally they dance close to each other but they move away again. Sometimes you just want to make them dance together, and when they don’t you start handing them pamphlets of dance schools that can help. I’ve learned that some dances, like the dance I dance when I’m alone, are not made to be shared. They are my steps to my tune. It is the same with a dance between two people. They each come to it with their own breaths, steps, backgrounds, rhythms and sometimes, it takes time to figure out how to dance together. They lose count, step on each other’s toes (sometimes on purpose) and they might even drop each other, but nothing is broken, nothing needs to be fixed. It is their own dance, to dance for themselves, not for you. And if you are the dancer on the floor, this is your dance, not for the world.

 

Life is a process.

 

Yes, we want to get there, wherever there is. We want that perfect handstand, we want to be loved, and we have so much love to give, but some things, the good things, no matter how you dissect or tear apart, you just can’t rush. Perhaps, there is nothing wrong with being fine with how things are not exactly how you want them to be. Perhaps, not liking having my feet of the ground is not some big character flaw that I have to fix and perhaps giving love not knowing if it is returned is not something that means I’ll spend my life pining while the ones loved just take.

 

There are always a million things that can be wrong, that can be fixed, but there comes a time when everything is just fine the way it is. Les Leventhal reminded me that a flower opens when it is time. If you pull the petals open, they break. It is the same with most things – your body in practice, your life in its journey and your heart. When it is time, nothing you can do can stop what is going to happen from happening.

 

So relax.

 

Live, love, cry, break.

 

Listen to the music and dance. This track might be shit but the next track might be fucking awesome.  What you do at that exact time is always the right thing, and if you decide that you want to change your dance, slow it down, take a partner, change the pace – there is always space for that too. Remember that in a dance, there is that strength, but also that ultimate surrender to the music. Most of the time, you don’t really know what music is going to start playing.

 

 

My Soul Mate is a Fucking Unicorn

Just like a lot of people, I have spent my life searching for a soul mate.  Well probably not my entire life, but a significant amount of time. Somewhere in my mind, I thought that I would not be a complete person until I had found this magical being.  This was the person who was meant to love me unconditionally, and from that love prompt me to become a better person. To borrow from Jerry MaGuire this person was meant to, “complete me,” so from the age of 21 until the age of 31, I was either in constant pursuit of, trying to turn the person I was with into this special being or trying to transform myself to fit in with this individual.  Not to say that my time was completely wasted.  I met many special persons.  I didn’t however, find the man equivalent of a magical unicorn as the stories said I would.

There was a major flaw in this big plan of mine. Actually there were many major flaws but the biggest one was that I had been looking for something external in order to justify my life.  Nothing had been fixed and instead of being complete, I was like a jigsaw puzzle that had been scattered to the four winds. A change of tactics was needed, an exploration into the unknown and unfamiliar.  So from the end of 2011 until present time, for the first time in over 10 years I had chosen to hang up my stilettos and take myself completely out of THE equation.  That’s right, a complete Man Ban.  Of course my family thinks I’m insane because you know, the clock is ticking and all that jazz, and my friends have spent the year holding their breaths waiting for me to either combust or explode from lack of “yang.”

It was time that I created some space.  You see, I’m slightly insane in that I tend to gravitate to people who are going through a hard time or people who can shift any conversation to being about them. Of course it’s because I care, but there is also a part of it that stems from me having no idea of how to talk about my stuff and finding it easier to focus on other people’s stuff.  And yes, I did only find this out after I had created said space.  For the first time, in well, ever, I spent most of the year focused on me. I’m pretty sure the universe was working with me on this one as there were minimal family visits and dramas, and minimal crisis friend support needed.

What I didn’t realise was that once I had taken myself out of THE equation my attention would be focused solely on MY equation.

You know how sometimes, you just put things off because dealing with them would be too hard? Like when you hold on to a relationship that’s sunk deeper than the Titanic because it’s less time consuming and messy than dealing with a breakup.  Think that, except I was dealing with residual rubbish from my parents’ breakup and other shit that I had been carrying around for ages. Also I was busy chasing THE Dream as I’ve written about before: https://azphoenix.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/living-the-dream/. Yup, I have become quite the expert in making myself very busy.

The year turned out to be a personally very interesting one to say the least. Lacking any other person or structure to hold up, (I had also decided that keeping the company running was not my personal duty and that I could go home and have a life) I spent a lot of time working on my personal journey.  Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. In fact, most of it was not.  It was an amazing ride, and starting over from square one was exactly how one of my teachers would describe an essentials (beginners for non-yogis) yoga class – simple, but not easy.

There was a considerable lot of time spent dealing with the shit under the bridge, except it wasn’t really under the bridge.  Some of the shit I am still working with, some wounds I have just left alone knowing they will heal when they are ready, and some others I have just let go of.  We all have shit under the bridge, which at some point we will have to look at before it actually drowns the entire fucking bridge, so good thing this year happened or I would be drowned in shit while crossing over.  Worse still, I could have had children and drowned them in shit.  Sadly, I don’t agree with my parents that one should have children because time is running out and all else will take care of itself.  It is a responsibility and one that should be taken seriously.  The world has enough fucked up people.

Then there was the reevaluating of what I wanted in life. Not surprisingly, what I wanted has changed, which is fine, but you also have to give yourself time to absorb that what you want has changed and learn to be ok with it.  It’s so easy to go into a long story of how time has been wasted and you’re getting old and whatever else, so having time to process is always a great thing, and then of course, time is needed to let go of the things that don’t serve this journey anymore.

It’s been a tough gig this business of dealing with myself. My views on myself were challenged, and somewhat altered.  One person saw right through every barrier I had and went for my heart.  A difficult thing if you’re used to shifting the focus to the person you’re with in order for them not to see you.  Strangely enough, this did not come from a lover, but someone I love.

Among other things, I’ve come to the realization that breaking down physical barriers is no longer enough when the emotional and mental barriers still stand.  For the simple minded – sex, on its own is no longer enough.  Pleasure need not be an expensive pursuit.  Simplicity is beautiful.  Hug as often as possible.  Being alive is no longer enough without living.  And this one from the beautiful Meriana, “there is a thin line between self awareness and self absorbtion,” so at some point, you need to get your head out of your ass and just be cool with things.  To need someone else to make you a better person is to just have a scape goat to blame should you fuck up. You’ll fuck up sometimes anyway, so just be ok with it. One doesn’t need a barrier of alcohol to just dance like hell is coming tomorrow.  Sometimes people see in you more than you see in yourself, and they are right.  The fact that I’m a certified yoga instructor says it all.

And soul mates? Well, these are the people who are just there for you.  They are the ones you can have a chat with and stop mid-conversation only to continue the conversation when you meet again no matter if it’s five minutes, five days, or five years in the future.  You get to know these people over and over and over again, but your real knowledge of them is eternal and buried under the hugs and the words.  These are the people you meet, family, friends, teachers and lovers, and in my case, yoga, on your way to your one eternal soul mate. Sometimes they stay in your lives forever, and sometimes they merely pay it a visit.

In my case, there never should have been a search for a soul mate.  All I needed to do was just stop and sit still – the one eternal soul mate is, and always will be the Self, because let’s deal with it; you’re a fucking unicorn, and so am I.

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Dancing at Your Edge

Life pushes us. Sometimes it feels like it doesn’t stop pushing us, one thing after another after another, and then more to come.  You break down, and just as you’re about to get yourself together again, something else happens, pushing you back down into the darkness. Just when you think that there are no more tears left inside you, there you are, in a heap of tears on the bedroom floor: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/06/why-being-broken-in-a-pile-on-your-bedroom-floor-is-a-good-idea-julie-jc-peters/.  Sometimes you want to scream at the cosmos, at God, at the fucker who broke your heart and the mother who brought him into the world, but you just don’t have the energy to even whisper.

From the bottom of your wine bottle all you see is the broken and ugly, and all you feel is that you are broken and ugly yourself.  Drinking keeps the pain away or rather it replaces it with a more physical pain, a pain that you can actually explain.  This, this pain in your heart, this you can’t explain.  There is nothing rational about this. It just doesn’t make sense to hate and love someone at the same time.  And how can you feel angry, sad and empty all at once?  It’s against everything that you think is true.

Then there are well meaning friends telling you that you should go out more, see people, when all you want to do is sit in the darkness and weep.  The thing is though, after so many heartbreaks that went un-mourned, it feels like you’re grieving for all of them now.  Maybe, just maybe it’s time to do something different. Maybe it’s time to tell the biological clock, and that timer that says you only have so and so months to mourn before you’re back out there to fuck off.  Maybe it’s time to honour this experience, and most of all, it’s time to honour yourself.

What the fuck is she talking about, you say?  Well, my story is that for 10 years, I was chasing an imagined clock.  Sometimes it seemed like even before the door completely closed after someone had stepped out, someone else was stepping in. So much so that I have spent entire relationships (especially the short ones, and I apologise greatly to the men involved) drunk to avoid facing the truth that my heart was not really in it.  To be honest, I have been in short relationships where I can hardly remember any of the conversations that we had.  It was too hard to mourn my relationships so I went out, got drunk, got into other relationships.  Avoided.

Then I got on the mat, and there was no escaping the edge.   In the silence, you can’t run, hide or reach for a drink, as a kindly voice brings you to a place where you are a shaking (sometimes sobbing) mess, and then says, “stay for the exhale,” or “play at your edge.”  Believe you me, sometimes playing at your edge is not like playing at all.  Things come up while you’re standing there at the edge, and you have nothing but your breath to help you through.  You can only run for so long.  There comes a time when you have no choice but to honour your pain.  But you know what? It’s at the edge that the world starts to change.  It’s at the edge that you start to change, and once you live in it, breathe in it, and sometimes cry in it, the edge becomes your friend.  At the edge, you start looking at your samskaras, the patterns that are etched so deep in your life that you think they are a part of you.  The truth is, they are not.  They are just patterns. Changeable patterns.

You see, we are conditioned to avoid the edge.  To hide and distract from the pain and the anger, but Life, beautiful and complicated doesn’t just give up.  She takes us there time and again, and just when you think you’re going to go over, she pushes you just a little bit more, and that’s when you start to unfold, to find that jewel within your lotus flower https://azphoenix.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/jewel-in-the-lotus-flower/. She takes your hand and dances with you, only to fuck you over, this lady called life, and just when you think she’s done, she does it again.  The thing is she knows better. She knows your edge, and where you think you can’t go, she knows you can. It is her way of opening you to become the person you were meant to become.  It is her way of opening a door for you to start looking at you instead fo at others.  But like I can only invite you to your yoga mat, Life can only invite you to your edge.  The choice to play at your edge, to swear (under your breath or loudly) and just when you think you can’t take it anymore, to take three more breaths between the tears is yours and yours alone.  But if at some point you do, always, always stay for the exhale.

Come to the Edge

I have a confession to make.  It is very rare that I do something without being either pushed or goaded into it.  It might not really something that a yoga teacher wannabe should admit to (and really you won’t hear a lot of teacher type people admitting to things like this), but it is the truth. Almost everything that I have ever done in life has been the result of something or someone either pushing or blackmailing me into it.  Left to my own devices, I would sit comfortably where I was, not really moving, just going safely on my mediocre way.  Recently however, someone called me a commitment phobe, and that is exactly what I am.  If I could have my way, I would write everything down in pencil so that I could erase it in the future. I do however, make a semi-commitment in that I do write something down.  Somewhat like a long term relationship, but then jumping ship just when it’s time to put it in black and white.

Some people think I’m driven, that I would move to a different country, not be satisfied with a Bachelor’s Degree, leave an engagement and now go on to a yoga teacher training. I say, only about 10% of it was out of my own choice.  Life made the other 90% of the decision and decided that I wouldn’t be able to just slug my way around, comfortable in one mindset, one lover, one house, one country even. Life decided to make a mark on me, in pen, nonetheless!

This year, Michael Ross, my beloved friend and teacher sent me a card with the words;

Come to the edge, he said.
They said: We are afraid.

Come to the edge, he said.

They came,

             He pushed them…

                          And they flew.

 

Story of my existence. That has been the dialogue that I have had with life for as long as I can remember. Honestly, I would stay far away from the edge, safe and comfortable, but a breeze, a word, curiosity even, always gets the better of me and I take one step.  Then that one step turns into another, then another, and before I know it, I have stepped off the edge without really knowing how to fly, but having to anyway, just so that I don’t fall flat.

My yoga practice is the exact same story.  I went to one class, but signed up for a fortnight, so my name was signed, in pen. That was my first step of walking towards the edge.  After a fortnight, it was a month, then another month, getting closer and closer to the edge, then a permanent monthly membership, and before I knew what was going on, I had not only signed my name in pen, but also in blood, sweat and tears as I embark on a Teacher Training.  Over the weekend, while in a handstand (against a wall of course), pushing my body further than I’d pushed it in about 10 years, I came to the realization that I had, in fact, stepped over the edge. Handstands are a bit like that.  They force you to gain a different perspective, and make you see that you really are strong enough to carry your own weight.  And here I am again, flailing (instead of flying), between one place and another.

Life is just like that.  You think you can play it safe and just stay there, then these voices, guides, teachers, whatever you wish to call them, move you.  They just do. They grab you, and throw you out of your comfortable space.  In my case, when it was someone who ruthlessly pushed me towards the edge (papa, mum, exes), it was the push off the edge that gave me no choice but to fly.  But on the way, life has handed me from one loving pair of hands to another.  At this juncture, I went in looking for an instructor, but life gave me teachers instead.  The choice life gives us is to either go with it, or to resist it.

So yeah, some days it does feel like you’re being flung off the edge of the cliff, often with a broken heart to go with it. But you know what? A happy story is not really worth writing about, and a life without a broken heart is like plain porridge.  And I’ve found, the best teachers are the ones who have suffered themselves, be it a broken heart (or five), an addiction (or five), a broken bone, or a broken life.  The great stories give them an added dimension both as human beings, and as teachers.  Even though they don’t share their stories, they are the ones whose arms you want to be flung into when you’re thrown off the edge of the cliff.  As for your story, you could travel the world and it would mean nothing if you don’t step off the edge of your own heart.  And at the end of the day do you want your tombstone to say, “she had porridge, every day,” or do you want it to say, “her life was a mixture of different colours and flavours. She had the sweet, the bitter, occasionally burned her tongue on the hot, and cried when things got too spicy, but she did take a big bite out of life?”

The Birthday Card I Received from Michael

Dancing with Goddesses

Dedicated with love to my Athiest Goddess Guru, Dr. Heather Moritz.  See, I was paying attention 🙂

Kali Ma came into my life last year. She wanted to make herself known, and make herself known she did. The consort of Shiva, she came, and destroyed.  Breaking down dreams, desires, walls and my heart, leaving the vision I had for the future in ashes. I saw her as being ugly, hard and dark.

Kali Ma treading on Shiva when he threw himself at her feet to stop her from destroying all

There she was laughing in my face, taunting my tears, standing there, sticking her tongue out at me, with her necklace of skulls and her skirt of arms. Oh how she enjoyed my destruction. Lying broken on the floor, I saw Kali Ma as being the epitome of evil. Oh how I hated her for leaving my world in pieces blow by blow. I begged her to stop but she kept dancing her dance of destruction, leaving nothing but dust and ashes.

Then as I was lying there, came Saraswati Ma. She opened the window to let the light in, and sang in my ear.  With her music, I slowly began to move, to sit up, to walk, and then step by step to dance again. She encouraged me to sing, and sing I did, in my way.  She asked me to tell my story, and tell my story I did, picking up my pen, and letting it dance on the page.

Saraswati Ma creating her music

Songs of sorrow, emptiness, anger, tears, and hate; singing themselves through my fingers onto an empty page. Through the darkness, she danced with me, slowly, slowly letting in the light.  Saraswati Ma kept singing through my fingers, and a tapestry of feelings flowed. And the songs changed from darkness into light.  Anger and hate gave way to contentment, and flowed to love, to joy, to hope. Nightmares turned to dreams, and sleep turned to wakefulness.

From the creation of something from nothing, Saraswati Ma then handed my life over to Lakshimi Ma, the protector, the one who sustains, and maintains with her dance.  And we danced together – Stories flowing, rivers into oceans, and days into nights.  My life story unraveling in her security.  And for a while we danced, and danced some more.

Lakshmi Ma

Then came Kali Ma again, dancing and destroying, but this time, she looked different. She looked a lot like me. Dark, angry and twisted, she comes, like the shadows in my dreams.  When she left my world in ashes, she was creating for me an empty space, a transition from which to rebuild, moving from one chapter to another.  And though her song was sad and dark, it charmed nonetheless. It was a song that gave prettiness the depth to turn into beauty.

And so the goddesses dance.  Creating. Sustaining. Destroying. And so the goddesses stand there, outside of you and inside of you. From nothing, Saraswati Ma creates the song, to be fed and sustained by Lakshmi Ma for a while before Kali Ma comes to destroy.  There is a bit of them in the earth, and there is a bit of them in you.  But in the darkest part of you, or the most joyful, there is always a little space where peace sits.  And while you surrender to the dance with your goddesses, it is that part of you that stays still, just watching, observing and waiting.  Always knowing that a time will come for the next dance. Knowing that dark and terrible, soft and gentle, and always beautiful – it is only life, and yourself  you are dancing with.