Honouring a Guru

BKS Iyengar Quote

I awoke this morning with a plan in mind, something I thought I would need to “get it all done”.  I had a full calendar, two appointments in the morning followed by a meeting in the afternoon, a workout, housework, errands and then teaching yoga tonight.

As is often the case, my day didn’t go according to plan (or it hasn’t thus far anyway).  My first appointment was a no-show and my second one was cancelled, and I found myself with a whole morning on my hands.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my business is “stuck” right now… and for a little while I sat here in front of the computer playing around… trying to come up with a blog post, a newsletter, some events… something, ANYTHING to get things moving again.

This wheel-spinning lasted for about 30 mins, my brain bouncing around from thought to thought, idea to idea.

That is when I remembered that I have a BODY.  I know, a radical discovery, right?

Well, it actually IS radical.  Maybe not the fact that we have one (which I actually do think of as quite miraculous), but the fact that most of us spend ABSOLUTELY NO TIME IN OUR BODIES WHATSOEVER!  What I am referring to here is awareness.  Consciousness.  We spent most of our time (like 99.9% of it) in our minds, allowing our consciousness to float from thought to thought, idea to idea, just like I was doing this morning.

The thing is, our minds are so very limited as compared to our bodies.  One of the metaphors used in my coach training program was to think of the information processing potential of our minds as a golfball, compared with that of our bodies which would be the size of a football stadium.  I don’t know about you, but I think I would rather listen to the part of me that has access to a stadium full of information rather than a puny little white ball.

Basically, our bodies are connected to the field.  The oh-so-mysterious field of energy that makes up all that is, all that ever was and all that ever will be… that field.  Actually, our bodies are a part of the field.  Our minds on the other hand are trying to filter the information that the body is receiving from the field.  The mind literally sees its own version of reality according to the belief system of the person perceiving/thinking.  In other words, its job is to limit the amount of information that the thinker is receiving.

Are you with me so far?  Good.

Here is what I have come to believe: because our bodies are connected to the field (ahem, ARE the field), they are the true connection to our soul (or highest self).

Going back to my “your body is a vessel guiding you on your journey through life” metaphor, who would you rather have driving the vessel, the brand-new sailor with the shaky legs (aka the mind) or the ancient way finder who has been charting your course for lifetimes (aka the soul)?  I don’t know about you, but I am picking the ancient guy(gal).

Now, what the heck does this body stuff have to do with honouring a guru?

Good question, and I’m gonna tell you.

Back to my story about this morning.  Once I realized I was spinning the wheels of my mind, I climbed into my body and I opened up to what wanted to be.  What this means to me is to let go and allow myself to step into the flow of life. To listen to what my body wants to do/feel/experience and then follow these desires.

Turns out my body wanted to first look for inspiring images on the internet… I believe I googled the term “tribal art”… and then, pretty much instantly I was upstairs digging out my painting supplies, lighting a candle and putting on the music.

After smudging the paper with a blessing, an intention and a happy dose of Agua de Florida, I was off and running.  The above picture is what wanted to be.

About halfway through the painting, I realized that this painting is my way of honouring the late master yoga teacher, BKS Iyengar.  I had the blessed opportunity to spend a month of my yoga teacher training with one of Iyengar’s students, Victor Oppenheimer, who studied directly under the yoga master for over 20 years.  Although I never got the chance to visit India and meet Mr. Iyengar before he passed, I feel humbled and honoured to be a part of this teaching lineage.

Once the painting was completed, I found this quote to go with it… which of course tied into the whole body thing that led me to paint this in the first place… TA DA!  We have come full circle… and I also saw that this could be a blog post.  No forcing.  No head bashing.  No staring at a blank word document.  Instead there was flow, music, candles, art, quotes and reflection.

Mmmmm….. my body definitely knows best.

On that note, it is with a deep bow of Gratitude that I honour BKS Iyengar’s life and the light that he shone on this planet.  He played a huge role in bringing yoga to the West and for that I am forever indebted and grateful.  Yoga has profoundly changed my life for the better, and it continues to beckon me deeper and deeper into my body, into myself.

Om Shanti Mr. Iyengar.  May your blessed body rest in peace and your soul fly free.

 

 

 

Daily Practice

For years I have had a daily spiritual practice, although I never recognized it as such until recently.  I used to think that a daily practice needed to involve sitting in meditation for “x” amount of time and more specifically, that it HAD to be first thing in the morning.  Again and again I would resolve to get up an extra half-hour early and hit the cushion as it were, and I would, sometimes making it there daily for weeks at a time, but inevitably something would get in the way and I would stop.  Each failed attempt would result in weeks of berating myself and beating myself over the head with negative thoughts and affirmations… basically undoing any benefits that I had managed to gain from those times that I did make it to my cushion.  Sigh.

Photo by Jody Goodwin

Photo by Jody Goodwin

Today I approach my daily practice much differently.  I acknowledge that it is an extension of me – a living, breathing, flowing “thing”.  Instead of making rules for it, and trying to force myself to operate within the confines of those rules, I allow myself the freedom to re-create it daily.  As such, it changes frequently, with each different manifestation delivering exactly the medicine that I need in that moment.

Looking back, it has always been there in all of its forms… through journalling, sitting quietly in contemplation, moving intuitively on my yoga mat, formal prayer, ceremony, ritual, spiritual readings, and yes, sitting on my meditation cushion (whenever it calls me there).  It’s ALL part of my daily practice.

For the past few months, my daily practice has started each morning in my living room.  Drinking my coffee, watching and listening to the birds, doing my daily readings and writing in my journal.  The journalling practice is continuously changing and my practice right now is particularly fun so I wanted to share it with you (just in case you are feeling stuck).  It looks like this:

  1. Write down a minimum of three things I am grateful for (they have to be different each day)
  2. 24 hours of magic: write down all of the magical/synchronistic things that showed up in the past 24 hours
  3. Set an intention for the day (for example, today’s intention is to “Follow the JOY”)
  4. Pick a cool word for the day and use it often (today’s word is sagacity)
  5. Write down one random act of kindness or act of service that I gave or received in the past 24 hours

That’s it!

GRATITUDE – MAGIC – INTENTION – WORD – KINDNESS

Simple.

I challenge you to step into a daily practice.  One that feels delicious.  One that you can’t wait to do each day.  Good chance you’ve already got one going and don’t even know it ;)

Happy practicing,

xoxo Maren

Truman Show

Have you seen the movie the Truman Show?  If not, you are totally not going to get this post so feel free to return to your Facebook feed…

Remember that scene towards the end of the movie where he (Truman) is on the boat headed out to sea?  As viewers, we know that he is headed towards freedom, towards the truth, but he doesn’t know that.  All he knows is that he has had enough of the life that he knew… and he suspects that there might be something different awaiting him “out there”.

Before he reaches “the end” (or the truth as the case may be), he is tested… my oh my is he tested.  The waves!  The rain!  The lightning!  Never mind his deep fear of water.  But, in spite of all of this he perseveres… even lashing himself to his boat, determined to see his journey through.

A few moments ago, I came out of a meditation journey.  The intention for the journey was to “see what is next for my career”… and the first vision I saw was Truman, lashed to that boat and hanging on for dear life.

Ok, so this picture might be a tad bit dramatic...

Ok, so this picture might be a tad bit dramatic…

That is where I feel I am at right now – in nearly all areas of my life.

It has been more than two months since I posted on this blog.  It has been even longer since I have done anything to really promote my coaching practice or move it forward.  I know that by letting things “sit” for so long that I could potentially be committing “career suicide”, but I can’t seem to find the motivation, clarity, time, or energy to do anything about it!

I keep telling myself that it is okay because EVERYTHING in my life is still in transition.  But we are going on 10 months now.  TEN MONTHS.  And I am getting tired.  Oh soooo tired.

How much longer until the storm ends?  Until the waves settle down?  Until I reach dry land or wherever this journey is taking me?  I have no choice but to lash myself to the boat and ride it out.  I have long ago passed the point of no return.

What is next for Maren/Marebare Necessities/FIERCE Integrity?  I have no friggin’ clue.

Why am I writing all of this?  Because it’s the truth.  It’s my truth.  And while I might not have much else to offer you right now, I still have that.

Here’s to the journey and to knowing that “this too shall pass”.

Om Shanti,

Maren

Listen

This morning I awoke to static, playing loudly in my ears.

I started to spin in all directions, a girl getting lost in her fears.

The sun is shining but I don’t feel it, I don’t see the tall blades of grass.

Nor the dragonfly that stopped to rest, while I stay stuck in the past.

I hurts to know that I am missing it, the now of Divine Perfection.

I am so sick of living this illusion, I am ready for a new direction.

I awake each day and pray for clarity, for the courage to follow my heart.

I curse and wonder why oh why does my truth have to set me apart.

Would it hurt less to buy into the norm, and silence that voice from within?

It may or may not, but I’ll never know, because I came here to listen.

191

**We interrupt this very melodramatic poem because the author has temporarily left the building… We will return with our scheduled programming when she returns.

I move to get quiet, I get into my body, I know that this might sound weird.

This is my way to turn down the static, it takes me beyond the noise and the fears.

Today it was biking, and I became one with the Earth as I pedalled amongst the hills.

This is my medicine, my pathway to freedom, healing without any pills.

Of the elements present, Air was the loudest, my teacher for the day.

Hawks, eagles and songbirds, ducks and seagulls, surround me to show me the way.

In my mind’s eye, a clear vision appears, a feather flying high on the breeze.

I am that feather, and the message you ask?  It is simple: fly high and release.

And this is how I listen, how I return to myself, whenever I can’t seem to hear.

I take to my breath and I move in my body, until things once again become clear.

 

Photo by Nathan Jones

Photo by Nathan Jones

 

 

Don’t let anyone take away your dreams!!!

Me at my desk, loving the space I am in!

Me at my desk, loving the space I am in!

I would say that I am settling into my new home, that I am adjusting… but it wouldn’t be true.

It’s not true because from the first morning I woke up here it felt like home.  It felt like ME.

On some level, this isn’t a surprise.  After all, I have been “floating” between other people’s homes for the past six months, but more significantly I think is the fact that this is the first time in my life that I have chosen the house/dwelling/structure that I call home.

This house is very different from any of the houses that I have lived in while I was growing up, or even as an adult.  It’s quite a bit older and a whole lot smaller.  In fact, I hosted a community dinner here this past Sunday and the 7 adults in attendance ate dinner with their plates on their laps :)  It might not sound appealing to you, but the character that often comes with an older home and the fact that it isn’t very big are the things that I love most about this house.  Old houses also mean old neighbourhoods: big trees and big yards.  Lots to love I tell you!

I have always known this about myself too.  In fact, a few years ago, Trent and I went looking to buy a house.  We stopped in at an open house not far from here, about a block away.  It is a little yellow house, not much bigger than the TLC (aka “The Little Cutie” – my nickname for my house).  Well let me tell you, it was love at first showing!  In that moment I just knew that it was the perfect house for me.

In the end, we decided to go a different direction and we ended up in a brand new, luxuriously big house in a different part of town.  It is a lovely house, but it never did feel like home to me.  It just didn’t.

What I remember about the conversation around the little yellow house, and also about my decision to move into the TLC, was this: other people didn’t think it was right for me.

Turns out that other people have NO IDEA what is best for me.  Only I know that.

Before I published my book FIERCE Integrity with Difference Press, I had submitted it to a publishing house contest (put on by Balboa Press which is the self-publishing house affiliated with Hay House — arguably the biggest self-help publishing house in the world).  I knew, I just knew, that it would be selected as a finalist!  Inside I had high hopes that it would even win the top prize of a publishing contract with Hay House.  Oh yes, this book was going to be my ticket to the stage…

(One of my dreams is to reach a larger audience and travel/speak my message around the world).

Well, that’s not exactly what happened.

My book didn’t even make it as a finalist in the contest.

Ouchie.

A had tea with a brilliant friend of mine today (yes you Karie Nothof).  She reminded me of a fundamental teaching: “There is no such thing as failure, only feedback”.  Tweet that.  Write it on your forehead.  Put it on your fridge.  Really, because it’s a gem.  (This is an NLP teaching btw, click here to read more).

The truth is that I wasn’t ready to claim FIERCE Integrity.  I wasn’t ready to reach/teach a large audience.  When will I be?  I don’t know.  But I do know that I am not going to stop showing up in this world.  I am not going to let other people’s opinions of me/my work define the outcome.

I am not going to let anyone take away my dreams!  Consider this an invitation to do the same.

Booyah.

Oh, and because tomorrow is Friday, and Friday’s are funny, this:

Here is what I would look like as a space alien.

Here is what I would look like as a space alien.

Fill ‘er up!

I often ask myself, what kind of partner am I being to my business.  Lately the response that comes to mind has been a very vivid picture.  It looks something like this:

"Clam Digger" photo by Michael Reinhart.  Click image for link.

“Clam Digger” photo by Michael Reinhart. Click image for link.

It is not that I have been intentionally sticking my head in the sand, but as I have alluded to in prior posts, I am still in the midst of a major life transition.  Part of this transition has involved moving into my own space – a cute little rental house which I have dubbed “The Little Cutie” or TLC for short.  It already feels like home…

First morning in the TLC

First morning in the TLC

Anyway, in order to be able to afford said TLC, I have had to take on some extra work (a big high five to the Universe for having my back on that one!)  Currently I am putting my M.Ed. degree to use by doing some contract work.  Mostly this has involved doing research and writing papers.  Very heavy stuff… a lot different than the writing that I have become used to.  Actually, come to think of it, I haven’t had to do this type of work since I was in University so it is definitely a big change for me.  As a result of these projects, I am finding that my stress levels are much higher than usual.  In other words, I am depleting my energy faster than I can re-fill it.

I see this all of the time with my coaching clients.  So often we think we need to give and give and give and give… we do this until we are completely exhausted.  And if we don’t listen at that point, well, we get sick.  It really is that simple.  How do you avoid this ingrained pattern?  Fill your cup.  Fill ‘er up so full that she overflows.  The overflow is what will nourish everyone around you.

Now, I will admit, sometimes there are times where there just isn’t a gas station.  Like for me, right now, no stations in sight.  I have two papers to write, one due at the end of April, one at the end of May.  The reality of the situation is I simply don’t have time to completely fill my cup in the ways that I have been accustomed to (time outside, time with friends, reading for pleasure, writing for pleasure, working on my business, dreaming up amazing events in my community, working on my magazine).  Sigh.  I acknowledge that this indeed simply the truth about the situation.  It is fact.

BUT, that doesn’t mean that I can’t sneak some mini fill-ups in between now and the next gas station which I know is coming at the end of May.  I like to think of these mini fill-ups as little red jerry cans.

"Vintage Jerry Cans" photo by Fated Snowfox.  Click photo for link.

“Vintage Jerry Cans” photo by Fated Snowfox. Click photo for link.

What the heck do I mean?  Well, these aren’t necessarily tank-fillers, but they are mini-energizers or fillers that can range from taking as little as a few seconds, say, up to 30 minutes.  I made a list of these little jerry can ideas and stuck it up next to my desk to remind me to put some in the tank throughout each and every day.  My list looks something like this, but I would encourage you to make your own:

Only have a few seconds?

  • Close your eyes and take three deep breaths
  • Ground and bubble your energy
  • Stop and take a look out the window or at something beautiful at or near your desk
  • Light (or re-light) a candle
  • Get a drink of water
  • Stand up and take a big stretch – right up to your tippy toes
  • Stand up and shake: arms, legs, your whole body.  Laugh while you’re doing it because yes, you do look a bit goofy :)
  • Pet your pet (if you have one)

Only have a few minutes?

  • Step outside.  Breathe in deeply.  Listen to the sounds around you.  Notice what you smell.  Feel the elements on your skin.
  • Do a short meditation — away from your desk
  • Do a quick angel card reading
  • Turn on a song – a fast one and get up and MOVE!
  • Roll out your yoga mat and move for 5 minutes
  • Make a cup of tea or a healthy snack
  • Text someone that you love, just to tell them that!
  • Write in your journal – 5 mins, max!

Up to 30 minutes?

  • Write a blog post :)
  • Take a luxurious shower — stay present!
  • Go for a short walk
  • Make a healthy meal (salads are good!)
  • Make a healthy smoothie
  • Read just for fun
  • Draw or doodle
  • Call a friend that you are dying to connect with
  • Write a poem
  • Play — through movement, outside in the yard, on your yoga mat
  • Make music
  • Do a longer meditation or journey

One of the keys is to sprinkle these throughout your day.  If you are like me and you find this tricky, set your timer.  Every 55 minutes, take a 5 minute jerry can break.  Trust me.  Your work will improve.  Your kids and partner will thank you.  You will have more to give the world in the long run.

These are just some ideas.  As I said, it will work best of you make your own!

Well, my 30 minutes are up.  Go forth and fill ‘er up!!!

Much love always and all ways!

Maren

Beach Dancer

beach dancerThe invitation into my heart centre, into the truth that lies there couldn’t be more clear.

The ocean is glittering, shining, foaming, swirling… she is showing up in all of her glory.

Unapologizing for her spirit and beauty… asking, no, begging for me to do the same.

I face her with my whole body – my whole being.  The music in my ears kindly offering to become a bridge to expressing my truth as movement.

I give in.  I close my eyes and begin to move.

The world around me falls away and I dance for her.  I dance with her… celebrating her beauty with my body.

I lose myself in the dance.  In this Divine Connection.

The song ends and I come back to myself.

I look up – strangers smile as I walk away.  My head held high.

Shameless.  Free.

 

How you do anything is how you do everything

Photo Credit Jody Goodwin

Photo Credit Jody Goodwin

You want to know a secret? I’m actually kind of shy.

I know, I know… you’re thinking, YOU? SHY? Bahahahahaha!!!

But it’s true.

One of my sneaky tools, my defence mechanisms, the way in which I avoid true vulnerability at all costs, is what I call “smoke and mirrors”.

What this looks like is I offer up some really juicy personal information, like about 90% of the truth of my experience, so that it looks like I am being excruciatingly vulnerable and transparent, but in reality I get to hang on to the last 10%. I get to avoid being truly vulnerable.

As a whole, my life has changed pretty dramatically since I returned from Peru in October. My living situation, my relationships, my body, my work, even my habits. I have changed and therefore the way I do things has changed.  I have started to live and share from that 10%. The place where I feel oh-so-uncomfortable. The place that I usually keep hidden at all costs.  You have experienced this directly if you have been following and reading this blog.

How you do anything is how you do everything

How you do anything is how you do everything

I love the above quote, and I wanted to capture in a general sense, the change or movement that I have experienced in the past four months.  I have been reflecting on the ways in which I “do” things: make a meal, get ready in the morning, make love, workout, practice yoga, even coaching.

I need to be in control became I allow myself to surrender.
I “have to” became I “want to”.
I need to be in control of my pleasure became I am open to receiving pleasure.
What was once prescribed, regimented, expected, & predictable became wild, living, breathing, & evolving
I was closed & hidden and I became open & exposed
My masculine, dominant energy became balanced by my soft, feminine energy
An expectation of myself to know everything became getting comfortable with uncertainty
My need to navigate & lead became a willingness to follow & trust
Something that was once rushed became something that could take all day
There are rules became there are no rules
What was once “serious” became playful & fun

How do you “do” things?

Attack Thoughts BE GONE!

Imagine that you are on a journey.  It is a sea voyage, and you are in a beautiful vessel carrying you across the vast ocean into the unknown.  There will be storms along the way.  Big swells that carry you up and down, up and down.  There will be sunny days.  Rainy days.  Sunrises that take your breath away.  A moon that silently speaks to you on clear nights.  Stars that somehow feel familiar.  On this journey you have everything that you need.  In each moment, you are supported.

Photo taken by Christian (click on photo for link)

Photo taken by Christian (click on photo for link)

The vessel itself is unique.  There has never been nor will there ever be another one just like it.

That vessel is your body.

I want to ask you something.

How many times have you looked in the mirror and attacked your body?  I don’t mean attack as in physically, I am talking about having and thinking attack thoughts towards your body.

Go back to the boat, that beautiful vessel that is carrying you on your journey through the sea.  Can you imagine taking out a hammer and pounding holes in the floor?  Ripping off the awning that shields you from harsh weather?  What about abusing it out of sheer neglect?

When you think negatively about your body, when you judge it, criticize it or harshly think/talk about it any way, this is essentially what you are doing.  When you wish your body to be anything other than exactly how it is, make no mistake, that is an attack.  You are doing that.  No one else.  You.

If you are doing this, and for the record, I have spent much of my time in front of the mirror doing exactly that… I am simply inviting you to notice that you are.  Be accountable for it.

In my book I shared a bit about my own experience with healing the relationship I have with my body.  The attack thought that I was having over and over and over again was, are you ready for this? “I am gross”.

Looking back at the source of that belief, it turns out that I had a great deal of shame around my body, and particularly, my naked body.  Put another way; I was ashamed simply for having a body!  I was disgusted or at the very least uncomfortable about everything to do with my body.  The way it looked was only part of it.  What about those “bodily functions”?  Oh my God.  I was totally one of those people who would rather die of stomach pain than “pass gas” in public… ever.

Anyway, I am getting way off track here.  I had no idea that this post was going to lead to talking about farting.  (See, evidence of tremendous growth – I just said farting in a blog post.  Farting.  Farting.  Farting.)  Hahaha!  Funny stuff!

Ahem.

What I want to leave you with is this: by simply bringing consciousness to your thoughts (and your words) around your body (and maybe even your bodily functions!) you will be able to make a different choice for yourself.  And it is a choice.  You get to decide what you are telling yourself about your body.

Today?  I can honestly tell you that I LOVE my body.  Ohhhh do I love it.  Every single part of it.  Even all of the perfect imperfections.

shadow body

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. ~Mary Oliver

 

 

Coming Home

It only took a moment to forget who I am… and then I came home.

For months I lived and walked in darkness… and then I came home.

The amount of pain that I endured was at times unbearable… and then I came home.

I have never felt so alone, so confused, so scared… and then I came home.

I believed that I was in control and I was hanging on to it for dear life… and then I came home.

I believed that others knew my truth more deeply than me… and then I came home.

I constantly argued with reality as it showed up… and then I came home.

I grasped, ached and suffered… and then I came home.

Maren putting up a tent

Today I am home.  I am back in my heart centre.  I am grounded and connected.  Completely at peace with what is.  I have a sense of clarity that has been eluding me for months.  I am free.

Looking back, I can identify the exact moment in which I left my heart and started living from my mind.

I can also remember the exact moment that I chose to come back, and it was today.

What a beautiful, and powerful journey it has been.  What an amazing spiritual adventure!!!

I can see clearly how in each and every single moment we are completely and totally supported by the Universe.  How we truly do have everything that we need in each moment.  However when we live from our minds, when we look through the lens of fear, we can’t see it.

In recent days, the emotional pain had reached the point of being nearly debilitating and the fear would literally paralyze me at times.  As such, I have been on my knees every morning for the past week praying for clarity.  Begging for the guidance that would finally allow me to get out of my own way.

The answer when it came totally astonished me…and it still does.

What I have learned (and I would even say re-learned) is this: NO ONE knows my true path except for me.  NO ONE.  Every answer that I have ever sought lies WITHIN me.

The moment that I said YES to my intuition, instead of looking outside of myself for answers, I came home.  I came home to the love that is inside of my heart and walked away from fear.  I came home to a place where I remember to listen to MYSELF above what any/everyone else in my life is saying/believing.

In that moment everything changed.  I woke up.  I am home.