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.

New-Moon

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Yes

The third eclipse in this short span of time comes to us with the next full moon, and with it, is a time to say “goodbye,’ – a time to release, and perhaps even let a whole section of yourself die.  Most of us are uncomfortable with endings and a lot more of us don’t like talking about death.  It is the final end. The place where you can’t go back to what once was.  It is that place where your footprints get washed away by the sea and all that is left is to go forward, into the unknown.

There is comfort in the old, a familiarity, a certain safety, and to hold on is so much easier than to let go and step towards the future.  We might say that we don’t believe in these things, but sometimes, something greater just moves us in this direction.  Without ever intending to, we leave the past and head towards the future.  Something closes, something else opens.  Like my teacher Mel would say of a backbend, “it is like everything in the past pushing you forward from your heart.”  There is a beautiful sadness but also an excitement of what is to come.

It can be comforting having just that one string so that we can hold on to the past, but sometimes that string needs to be cut.  In that space where there was left the faintest of connections, there needs to be just emptiness.  The faint imprint left by a former lover is wiped away by the rain, allowing the glow of a new sun to spread it’s warmth on a clean foundation. Sometimes a lover becomes a friend, other times, even the friendship can’t be salvaged and the lover becomes a stranger.  A friend or even a stranger becomes a lover.

You think your heart died the last time it broke.

Going back into that space where you allow things to enter seems crazy.

But something stirs again – Perhaps the tiny flickering flame of affection, growing into desire and in the future, who knows?

You died once when your last life ended.

And you are reborn into this new life.

The heart beats.

It lives.

It wants to soar.

It wants to go into the unknown.

You’ve found your centre and don’t want to lose it, but your heart, the centre of it all is ready to bring you off your axis.

It is time. 

The final goodbye led to the first hello.  And the darkness makes the light seem so much brighter.  Something different, someone different, is scary.  It is the possibility of your universe being flipped upside down in a way that is beyond your control. It is two movements in one – allowing something unknown into this comfortable and familiar space that you have painstakingly built while you yourself move into an unknown dimension.  It is a doorway to another part of yourself, yet undiscovered.  How do you know that you will like this undiscovered self?  How do you know that you won’t?

Right now the questions are being asked and not answering is no longer an option.

Will you let go?

Will you let the past rest where it belongs?

Are you going to release fear and step over a threshold into a new life?

Can you allow a glance to become a lingering look?

When someone reaches out their hand to you will you take it?

Are you ready to immerse yourself into the unfamiliarity of the future?

A million questions, and the only answer that will make a difference is…

Yes

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Disconnected Connections

Earlier this month, as some people or all people I know would know, I had issues with my debit card, https://azphoenix.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/from-light-to-dark-and-back-again-a-trip-through-the-gunas/. Long story short on that one, no the disputes have not yet been settled, and no, I don’t really know what’s going on. In fact, judging by the daily phone calls I’m getting about how I owe them money, it seems like they don’t know what’s going on either.  It almost feels to me, that as a customer, I am chopped up into different pieces instead of being seen as a whole person.

This whole situation along with a conference I ran earlier this week however, have got me thinking.  Yes, we know that organisations exist to make a profit.  I mean, no organisation exists just to be there and pay employees money.  You make a profit, you grow, you take over other markets.  It’s sort of like collonisation, only it’s done through commerce. There is a status quo to achieve, to be in the top 500 or whatever list there is in the world.  Don’t get me wrong, I know organisations play a part in ensuring that economies run, and people have jobs.  I do wonder however, about the role of organisations in wealth distribution, and how many people are trampled in their run to become the top whatever company, for God knows what reason.

Smaller organisations might be more ethical because one customer can make the difference between this year’s profit and next year’s profit.  Often, one act of kindness now, although it might cause you a loss, will be the thing that generates good word to ensure a bigger profit in coming times.  Of course, the more customers you have, the harder it is to keep track of all the small acts of kindness, and lets be honest, there comes a point where as a corporation you weigh up the costs and benefits, and think, “hey, losing one customer who in terms of cash is really a small stakeholder, won’t make much of a difference to our future.”

One thing we seem to forget however, it that corporations are made of people.  Boards are made of people. Policies are made by people. And as people, at which point do we start thinking that hiding behind a corporate name makes what we’re doing alright? Did we just let go of the responsibility of making a choice by saying things like, “our policy is….” Yes, I know you can’t just walk away from your job, as I can’t walk away from my job even when I don’t agree with what people are doing.  The reality is that we need the money we make to live, pay rent, put food on the table, buy things.  I like money because it gets me a roof over my head, food to eat, clothes over my body, and some things that are not a necessity, but really nice to have, like my yoga mat.

Coming back to what makes an organisation (duh people), how often in the day do you stop to think if what you’re doing is ethical?  Well, yes, it might be legal, but legal might not always be ethical.  As a Muslim, you might want to stop and think if the money you make is halal.  People seem to think that halal only refers to having food slaughtered a certain way, but it is so much bigger than that.  Sure you can say that someone working in a company that makes a non-halal product like alcohol is not making halal money, but is it that simple?  Is it halal if you are part of an organisation making more than 50% of profit on a single thing? Is it halal if you got your contract through the people you know because they can’t be bothered to sit through tenders and actually assess if someone else might be better for the job?  And the chicken that you eat, sure it’s meant to be slaughtered in a way that causes the least suffering (very sharp knife ensuring that it dies with a single cut), but what about the way it lived? Does it matter that it was living in a chicken coup with 1000 other chickens in the worst condition, actually suffering through its life?

Of course, of course, if we thought about all these things we would never eat, or work for a corporation, but maybe by starting to think about these things we can start questioning.  Without questions, we wouldn’t be looking for answers would we?  I am one person. What I say in a blog won’t really change much and for every person who agrees with me, about 10 will think I’m mad or have too much time on my hands (i.e not doing what I should do in that race to become the Manager or Director of such and such) to be thinking about all these things.

We all think we’re individuals, and we do things to benefit ourselves, which makes sense of course, but the truth is we are not really separate.  When a bomb hits or a tsunami hits, are the policy makers separate from the homeless?  When a fire burns down a village, will it choose to burn down one race over another? If a large earthquake hits can we only feel the tremors in one country? Every person definitely has every right to be the centre of their own universe, but does being in an ivory tower, or holding the biggest weapons of mass destruction makes you the centre of THE world?  News flash, the world is a globe.

What happens here, affects there. Burn your neighbour’s house and the smoke might come your way.  And no matter how different we are, there are the four relationships we have in our lives:

Our relationships with ourselves

Our relationships with God (or any higher power)

Our relationships with others

And our relationships with our environment and nature

It’s easy to think that someone else is worrying about these things, but who’s worrying about these things if everyone i thinking that way? And the truth is, no matter how big we think we look in the mirror, in the grand scheme of things, we’re really not.