Stepping Through the Fire – My Story

When people ask me if anything changed in my life when I decided to do my Yoga Teacher Training, I answer by saying, “my whole life fell apart.”

And it did.

I had my first taste of Teacher Training in August 2011.  Little did I know that it would be the catalyst to tremendous change in my life.  It was when I finally decided that I wanted to do the first 200 Hour Teacher Training, and although I thought I could go on with life as it was through this process, the universe had other plans.  Three weeks after that, the relationship I was in fell apart.  There was a bit of toing and froing, but in the grand scheme of things, it dissolved rather quickly.

A few months after that, I gave up smoking, which truth be told was even more difficult as my relationship with cigarettes had spanned about 14 years by then.  However, I thought that since I was grieving a relationship, why not go through withdrawals at the same time.  Needless to say, the last part of 2011 was pretty much time spent rolling around in the muck.

As the sun rose on New Year’s Day 2012, in Byron Bay however, I realised that that part of life was behind me and there was nowhere I could go but forward.

That was not the end of it.

The week before I went for the first Teacher Training retreat, I packed up everything I owned to move to a new place.  Then off we went on retreat, beginning the most intense journey of self-discovery that I had gone on my entire life.  There was a lot of laughter, but also a lot of tears as we slowly went through those months of exploration.  Never had I stopped to look inside and question myself so deeply, and never had I written down in detail the life that I wanted.

Through all of this I had also decided that if I really wanted to know myself, I needed to just be by myself and therefore had decided to adopt the yogic yama of brahmacharya (celibacy).  It was a difficult choice as when going through a breakup, sometimes you want to stick a band aid on the pain by jumping into a new relationship.  However, as I was going through big changes in my life, I was just not in the right space for it.

Time came, time went and in December my first teacher training was completed. 2012 had been a crazy year and I thought I could spend some time just finding my ground.  Again, I was wrong.  On the 29th of January 2013, my father passed away.  Two weeks later, my full time corporate stint ended, and soon after that, my life got suspended between two worlds.

Something had to give.  The world of yoga beckoned me more and more, and by the second half of 2013, I had completely transitioned into this life.

Things were happening, and layers were being unpeeled.

After seven years of being in Australia, I finally received my Permanent Resident status, and it was during these times of challenge that I found out who my true friends are.  It was during this time also that I adopted beautiful Portia, a rescue cat who has become the queen of my house. In a land where I am in essence alone, I found community, and I found family.

I’ve had glimpses of what my life could have been like had I stayed where I was.  Perhaps I would have started a family.  Perhaps I would have climbed the corporate ladder.  It seems a pretty picture and yet, I have no regrets at not being there.  I know now that that frame was never mine to fit into.

And so here I am, far far away from where my life was two years ago, or rather, seven years ago, when this journey truly began.

I am altered, and yet I sit more comfortably in my skin than I have ever sat before.

Now I know that everything had to fall apart.

I had to fall apart.

Transformation begins when you take that first step into the fire and when it is right the universe helps you.  Sometimes the help comes in a scary way where the doors you could have walked through to return to where you were close with a force that you can’t fight – a breakup, a death, the loss of a job, the loss of a dream that you once held so dear, an idea that had to change, a perspective that needed to be altered, a love that needed to be severed.  You crawl through the mud, and sometimes you just want to say, “fuck it all to hell! I want to go back to where I was,” but something won’t let you, and so, you just keep going.

It is not always without pain.  In fact, most of the time, it is with a lot of pain and the journey forward might not be smooth either, but you go on, one step at a time, towards the place you were meant to be.

The world breaks down to be rebuilt.

As we stand here, at the horizon of a new year, know, without a doubt, that this is exactly where you were meant to be.

Happy 2014.



A New Year Wish from Me to You for 2013

New Year’s Eve 2013.

Sometimes I can’t believe how fast time flies. Sometimes I think that time doesn’t move quick enough.  You know some years you think that you’ve done nothing, not left the country, not fallen in love or got a new job or anything BIG, and you start feeling a bit down? Well, I’ll be honest.  A couple of days ago, that’s where I was.  I had fallen into that trap again. What trap say you? The trap that sets a standard on what you do or where you go in order for it to matter. Again, I was measuring myself against the general standard. And then of course, there was the full moon, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

And then, I went back and read a letter I wrote myself on New Year’s Eve 2012.  You see, I’m quite done with resolutions. In my experience, resolutions are a bit shallow. Instead, I was taught to set intentions, and better still, to paint them within a bigger picture. In this letter I wrote myself, I had painted a picture of what I wanted my life to be like, and in doing so, there were of course steps that had to be taken in that direction.  You think about where you want to be, and it also prompts you to think about the things that don’t really fit into your lifestyle anymore.  It can be anything from a bad eating habit to a whole person that you decide to move away from.

I’ll share a little yogi secret here:

Writing things down is a very strong way of affirming them.  It takes things from an internal environment and actually puts it out there. Better yet if you can write it, seal it and get a trusted friend to mail it to you at their discretion.  No matter when this letter comes to you, it will be the right time.  With resolutions, we tend to hang on to them they stick in our minds and sometimes can become quite rigid and stuck. Writing things down and releasing them into the ether can be a great way to let it go. If you’re not a writer, then make mind maps.

When I read this letter, it made me think of what this year has been about for me.  Sure I didn’t get a new job, buy a house, or car, or have a baby, or or or… any of those things that society holds as a milestone.  Some years are just not like that. Yes, yes, I know in our society it’s all about making things happen, but without the right foundation, how will we know it the things that we make happen will take root?

Sometimes, you just have to take a year, or two, or four, or however long you need to unlearn the things that you’ve learned and do a bit of detox from the past so that you can make space for the future.  Sometimes, you just have to let yourself break and rebuild from the ground up.  Life is such a journey. Just when you’re dancing with Lakshmi Ma, Kali Ma can come a crashing in with her necklace of ears and her skirt of arms:  And you know what? Sometimes you just can’t tell that kind of force to “fuck off.” You can try, and before you know it, your ear will be right there hanging around the lady’s neck.  The only thing you can do sometimes is surrender (not give up, just surrender).

The truth is, although I felt like I was moving nowhere, I did move forward from where I was yesterday, and I did get what I wanted out of this year.  Although I am always going to be a work in progress, the work has started. I’ve heard that the biggest journey you make is between your head and your heart, and perhaps this year for me, that journey has begun.  There are no good years, or bad years, they are just different.  There is no “there” to get because as Heather would say, “It is all already inside you.”

So tonight, loved ones, before you go out into the hustle and bustle of celebration, take some time to celebrate yourselves.  A few moments of silence to find your centre, and when you write, write for yourself.  This is your journey. Nobody else’s.  Think about it. Will 2013 be a year of setting foundations? Will it be a year of healing? Or growth?  Making things happen? Moving on? Sit with yourself, and set YOUR intention.  Perhaps instead of thinking about the things you “have to” do or achieve, go into it thinking of what you need for yourself, for your health, for your growth, and what you can do about it.  Sometimes, the BIG journey is the one that happens within.

Happy New Year dear ones. May the light shine on you, and for you, and may it not shine so bright it blinds you, but bright enough to lighten your darkest days.  My love is with you, wherever you are.

With honour and with love

With honour and with love

On a personal note from me, a wish of gratitude to family and amazing friends, mentors and teachers both formal and informal, my exes, even the ones who broke my heart, the horrible bosses and managers who encourage their staff to shine, to lovers and acquaintances, past, present and future.  And you, whoever you are who I am meant to meet. There is a lesson in every meeting and in your way, you are my teachers and you all touch my life, so thank you.

Moving Spaces

Enter chaos to find peace, Enter silence to find answers, Enter solitude to find connection, Enter my world to find yourself

Yesterday, we said goodbye to our old yoga studio as they were moving to a new space. The last yoga session in that space was a beautiful two hour session complete with tabla drumming and a very moving chanting session.  By the end of the two hours, the studio was filled with this very calm energy where the tears that were shed were just really peaceful and beautiful.

For me personally, 55 Foveaux Street was the place I had found when I was at a very low point in life.  In the last two years, that studio has held many memories for me.  That room has known my laughter, tears, joys and fears.  It was there that I got the first call from my (then) partner after a long separation. It was there after an emotional Tuesday evening class that I came out to get the call that my grandmother had passed away.  That studio was the place I met a few amazing people who until this day play an integral part of my life.  It was in the silence, safety and sanctuary of that space that I started knowing who I am and exploring the space within me.   That was the place where I learned to forgive.

Yesterday made me think of the attachment we hold for places.  By places, I don’t just mean physical places like an address, but places including a juncture in a relationship or a certain mindset.  What is it that makes us hold on?  Change in inevitable in life but part of us always seems to hold some attachment to something from the past.  Sometimes, to hold on to a space, and how things are, we lose people.

How many times have you heard the line “if you love someone, you have to let them go?” What does letting go mean to you?  Does it mean you take all your love away by pushing yourself into a place of anger and hate?  Change is everywhere.  People are organically and constantly growing, and when people grow, the dynamics of our relationships with them change. Is change so daunting that you would rather lose a person than move to a different space with them?  How many people are you willing to lose in order to hold on to how things are?

When we love someone or something, we have often built a present comfort zone and a future with them in our heads, of how things will be in five, ten, however many years.  Unfortunately, when we build these futures, the only variables that are included are the variables of now.  Then when this person changes, it puts us off balance a bit, and our vision of the future is challenged.  What do we do then? Some people just adapt and grow with it, and their relationship just grows stronger.  Some people flounder.  Some people let go of the person they are with in order to maintain the current “place”.  Some people allow space for growth while being there should their support be needed. Some people just don’t know what to do.

The thing is, space is something we outgrow when we expand.  Just like the yoga centre had outgrown the Foveaux Street studio, sometimes our lives just don’t fit into the neat little areas we have built.  Sometimes, the people we love don’t fit into the space we have made for them anymore either, and when we resist change and growth, walls tumble, foundations shake and things fall apart. Just like a couple wanting to start a family, sometimes it is just time to move to a bigger place, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Everything in life is made of relationships, and the beginning of all relationships is the relationship we have with ourselves.  So maybe, to accept that other people change and spaces move, we must first make the space for change, to accept and to adept within ourselves.  Just like trees, the ones that stand strong and erect are often the ones to break when strong winds blow, but the ones that surrender and move with the winds often survive.

So as of yesterday, the sanctuary and home that has been there for 10 years has closed its doors.  I will miss it but in two weeks the doors will open again, in a new place, which we will feed with our love and our energy.  Just like relationships, sometimes you just have to let go for a while to allow growth, knowing that although some things will change, the essence of the person will stay the same, and knowing that a new place will only give you more space to feed love and energy into.

Sometimes, you need to be able to say “see you later,” in order to not say “goodbye”.  Sometimes you need to honour the current space, and shed a tear, knowing that it has served its purpose and that it is time to grow. Sometimes, you need to surrender in order to say strong.  Nothing is ending. Nobody is going away. You are still mine and I am still yours.  The tides of change are just moving us to a new space in order to allow for more room to grow.  The choice to hold on or to allow expansion is ours and ours alone.

Namaste to Nicole, Phil, Heather, Ingrid, Andrew, Michael, Muzzy, Beth, Belinda, Mel and the rest of the Body Mind Life team.  Thank you for the last two years and thank you for teaching me the strength in softness and surrender.  Thank you for teaching me that letting go does not mean saying goodbye.