Each day is a gift.

One of my favourite poet’s, John O’Donohue, writes in To Bless the Space Between Us, “Each new day is a path of wonder, a new invitation.   Days are where our lives gradually become visible.”[1]

I’ve recently started a new practice of walking down to the water every morning before breakfast.  Growing up in Ontario, lakes are my home – the places where I feel safe, relaxed and free.  And now each morning I walk down the steps, past the prayer rooms to the beach.  The pebbles crunch under my feet, the waves lap against the shore and my world opens up as I reach the edge of the lake and suddenly I can see for miles in each direction.

I live in the mountains now, far away from rolling hills of my Ontario home, but nature does not mind what side of the country it is on.  The fall still passes into winter, the dawn lifts into morning.  As I stand beside the shore I connect to the rhythms that I know well.  The waves lap, the wind blows, the sky opens up and I remember that I am a part of life.

I pause to take it all in and then turn to walk back towards my community where I face the responsibilities, joys, and challenges of working with others towards a shared vision that I care deeply for.

These precious morning moments are brief but they are not lost when I enter into our main building or sit down at a community meeting.  The remembering stays and helps me to navigate my life.

O’Donohue writes, “No day belongs to us.  Each day is a gift.”[2]

Early morning drawing of Kootenay Lake
Early morning drawing of Kootenay Lake

[1] Donohue, John. To Bless the Space Between Us. New York: Doubleday, 2008, p.189.
[2] Donohue, John. To Bless the Space Between Us. New York: Doubleday, 2008, p.190.

Maya, Illusion and Blogging

14 Days. 10 Posts. 454 Views. 23 Likes. 6 Comments.  16 Followers.

Stats that reveal I am officially a ‘blogger.’

Pioneer in bringing Yoga to the West, Swami Radha writes, “Maya [or illusion] is seeing the form without the essence.”[1]

When I get caught up in my Stats page – reading about how many people “like” my blog – that’s where I get caught, in illusion.  I see the form without the essence.  I get caught up in the details and forget the purpose.

I started the blog to learn how to become who I want to be, to learn to live my ideals.  And so as long as I’m learning I’m connected.  So I can step back from worrying about Likes, Followers, Marketing My Message and relax into the process.

Maybe one day I will have dazzling internet fame – and maybe I won’t – but that is not my purpose.

I am learning already.  The victory is already won.


[1] Radha, Swami Sivananda.  Light and Vibration. Kootenay Bay: timeless books, 2007: p. 59.

Burn Pile

Bhajans and burning grudges,
Sacred dance
In the woods
In the dark.

As the crowd fell away the music took off.
Using harmony and sounds.

Stripping the songs bare and then building them back up.
Taking each song to its edges but keeping the essence.
And somehow at the same time finding the essence.

The fire dances,
The trees stand tall,
The last song fades into the night,
And there is stillness.

A Different Kind of Love Poem

July 21, 2011

I love you.

And I’m not talking about that head-over-heels, butterflies in my stomach kind of love.
I’m not talking about the kind of love you see in the movies.

My love is based in action.

When I say that I love you I am promising to treat you with respect,
I am promising to be honest,
With you and myself.
I am saying that I care for you and will give you my love freely and openly.

My love is not blind,
It sees your beauty.

My love is grateful for all of the gifts that you bring to this world.

And my love is not a one way street,
When I say that I love and you and that I am promising to treat you with respect and honesty and care,
I am also promising to open to receive your respect, your honesty, your care.

I am opening to receive your love.

You see – this is not that “can’t eat, can’t sleep” kind of love.
With this love we share beautiful meals and sleep deeply at night.

In this love we love not only each other but also ourselves.

But don’t get me wrong – this kind of love is not always easy.
I’m not talking about that “happily-ever-after” kind of love either.

No – this love is full of challenges.
In this love we open ourselves up and become vulnerable.

No, this love is not always easy,
But it is always beautiful.

This love is real.
It’s far from perfect,
It’s full of laughter,
It’s full of tears,
And lessons that come out of nowhere.

And sometimes we still sit, giggling,
Watching some ridiculous romantic comedy where Julia Roberts finds the man of her dreams…

But you know,
That I’m talking about something very different,
When I say,

I love you.

The Rule Book

I used to believe
That my rule book would keep me safe
And when things got bad
I would grip it tighter

Knuckles white,
Shoulders tensed,
Don’t. Let. Go.

And when things were painful,
I would write more rules

#737 Never call a friend more than twice before they call back.

And then somewhere along the way
In the messiness of life
I broke the rules and tasted the freedom of rule-book-less living.

I danced in the streets and things got better.

I thought I was totally free but then realized there was more.

 

I want to be free
The birds don’t carry around rule books,
They’d never make it off the ground.

So I’ve spent the last year editing,
Going back,
Finding what I’ve written,
Changing clauses,
Crossing out.

I don’t remember half of what’s in the book,
Or why it’s there.

And as I learn to relax my shoulders, my neck and jaw,
The rules begin to fall right off the pages.

As I learn how to dance,
Some pages fall right out.

And as I learn how to live,
I find a knowing that one day the entire book will drop.

A New Beginning

Today marks a new beginning.  I am just past the half-way mark of my time at Yasodhara Ashram.  I have lived here for a year and as of November 1st I have less then a year less than a year left of my current commitment.  As I pass this half way point I am beginning to take stock, and look at what I’ve learned.

One thing I have learned a lot about is the power of reflection – most recently through working on my Book Report project.  In this project, I see what amazing things can happen when I write and share my ideals, goals, challenges and victories.  I commit to them in a more powerful way  and they become more real.

One day – when I was trying to fit all of my insights into one book report to imbue them with this amazing power that I have experienced book reports to have – I realized, ‘This must not be the only way.’  And I don’t want it to be the only way!  I only have so many book reports left, I don’t want to lose this power when they’re all completed.  So I asked myself – what is the essence of a book report?  Where is does this power come from?

I saw three main components.  One – Writing down my ideals, goals and what I am learning.  Two – Refinement: editing and really clarifying what I want to express.  And Three – Sharing these refined insights.

And so my new beginning is a blog – a place where I can share what I am learning and tap into the mystical power of writing, refining and sharing.

Welcome!  In this past year I have also learned an amazing amount from listening to others tell their stories.  My hope is as I learn and grow through writing that those who read about my experiences can learn something from them too.

And an especially warm welcome to friends and family.  My other hope for this blog is for it to be a way of sharing my experiences with those who I care  deeply about but who live far away.  I have begun to post some poems and stories I have written this year which capture my experience and what I have learned – so feel free to explore!

This is my first step on a new journey – my very first post! And it is my first victory on a new adventure…

Om Namah Sivaya!

Bryn

Karma Yoga – the Yoga of Action

I recently started reading Rolling Thunder by Doug Boyd, a book my sister Renee gave me for Christmas last year.  This passage really struck me,

“It’s not very easy for you people to understand these things because understanding is not knowing the kind of facts that your books and teachers talk about. I can tell you that understanding begins with love and respect. It begins with respect for the Great Spirit, and the Great Spirit is the life that is in all things – all the creatures and the plants and even the rocks and minerals. All things – and I mean all things – have their own will and their own way and their own purpose; this is what is to be respected.”

“Such respect is not a feeling or an attitude only. It’s a way of life. Such respect means that we never stop realizing and never neglect to carry out our obligation to ourselves and our environment.”

Of all the teachings I have heard, these words are most important and the most valuable for the contemporary aspirant upon the path of Karma Yoga, the yoga of action. No teaching for the path of action could be more fundamental or primary than the teachings of love and respect- for oneself, for one’s world, and for the Great Spirit, which is all life in all things. The aspirant can perform no greater service for his world than to be mindful that his acts, even his thoughts and speech, become a part of the condition of the world.[1]

I’ve lived at Yasodhara Ashram for over a year doing Karma Yoga, selfless service, and in reading this passage I am able to better understand what Karma Yoga, the yoga of action, is all about.  Karma Yoga is right action.  It is every thought, every word, every interaction.

And I’m realizing that it’s a yogic practice I’ve been doing for a long time. As a child, I tried to “be a good person,” as an activist I was trying to make positive change in the world. And I my journey has been refining what Right Action really is. I have been learning that the word kindness doesn’t mean doing whatever the other person wants, or taking responsibility for another person’s pain. True kindness is supporting each other to take responsibility for ourselves.

And I have this warrior part of me and I am realizing that this warrior has to do Karma Yoga. This warrior must act. Right now my Karma Yoga is growing nutritious food for this community that I care about and being kind (using my new definition) to people who come into the garden. What’s next is not totally clear but it will definitely be Karma Yoga.

Thank you to all who have offered support – visible and invisible – that continues to allow me to become who I am meant to be.


[1] Boyd, Doug. Rolling Thunder. New York: Dell Publishing House, 1974. p. 51-52.