Flying High + Grounding Down

 atop triund, soaking in the magic of the himalayas

atop triund, soaking in the magic of the himalayas

Something special carried me up here.

This 25K hike to Triund was one of the most challenging I've done, yet somehow, I barely felt it. My body seemed to float up the rocky paths. The month of intensive yoga certainly played a role, yet I couldn't help feel the magic of the Himalayas was also at work.

Like this hike, the past few months in India have been intense, exhilarating, strengthening, inspiring and clarifying. And like this hike, through the thrills and the challenges, I always felt carried.

Last year, I found a lot of quiet moments and space to integrate all I experienced, which helped me acclimatize to this new path as a healer, teacher and entrepreneur. This year, India had another plan for me. I found myself constantly in motion, surrounded by others, and on a disciplined schedule... no easy feat for this free bird!

Now, I can see what was at work. I pushed my edges in mind, body and spirit, and found more harmony amongst them in the process. I cut distractions and vices, and found more space for both inspired action and quiet restoration. I opened new pathways to my intuition and trusted myself more. I upped my discipline, focus, commitment and endurance. I flew high, and grounded down stronger than ever.

Like the energy of these mountains pulled me up, the energy of India stoked my fire into action. I have no doubts this was preparation for the work that's to come as I expand my practice, and integrate and share the inspiration of the last few months.

On the ride to my Delhi hotel yesterday, my driver sweetly asked me, "Ma'am, how much feeling you have for my Indian culture?" It took me a second to understand, and then my heart lifted. "I love it very much," I replied. We smiled knowing smiles. There is so much treasure here, and a special energy that blows open doors for us to really see the treasure we hold inside. Yet again, India threw my expectations out the window, and still managed to give me all the clarity and growth I sought.

With much feeling, I'm wrapping up this chapter. With a full heart, I'm welcoming the next. Now begins a new adventure... :)

Now Begins the Practice of Yoga

  Atha yoganushasanam // Now begins the practice of yoga - Yoga Sutra 1:1

Atha yoganushasanam // Now begins the practice of yoga
- Yoga Sutra 1:1

Back to earth, back in my beloved Rishikesh, and back to my body with a new challenge! 

I flew to some amazing heights in meditation at the ashram, and also saw clearly the need to ground down and integrate it all. Years ago, a friend told me about healers he knew who didn't properly strengthen and care for their body, and ended up getting sick. "It's like a strong current running through a weak wire," he said. That always stuck with me, and my experiences at the ashram crystallized how important it is for me to keep my body strong, clean and clear for the work I do in the world.

So, quite spontaneously (though some saw it coming... :), I signed up to do my one-month yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the world, with the ever-amazing @hathayogaworld and @yogacabin. After this beautiful puja (fire ceremony) for blessed new beginnings, twelve of us yogis threw ourselves into twelve-hour days of study, including four hours of asana (physical) practice each day. A few days in, I have more strength, discipline and determination for all that's to come.

On that note, I wanted to share how inspired I've been by all of you fighting the good fight with your marches, your voices and your light. While it was a bit of a shock to come out of the ashram bubble to all the news at home, my heart is hopeful seeing how many people are stepping up and standing up. I've been sending love and prayers from India on the daily, and my fire is burning to join all of you to help hold each other up, heal these divides, and bring more light to our world.

Until then, sending lots of shanti, shanti, shanti to all of you!

Beautiful Serendipity

 On the train through sri lankan hill country

On the train through sri lankan hill country

Isthuti, nandri, thank you lovely Lanka!

One of the old names of Sri Lanka is Serendip, the root of the word serendipity - which beautifully describes the past couple of weeks here.

I owe much of where I am on this path to some beautiful serendipities, small and large. I don't really believe in coincidences... of course random events occur, but if that random event surprises or holds meaning for you, look a little deeper. Chances are, there's some lesson or push forward for you in it. I've also found not every step is fully in our control. Some serendipities come into our lives to change the current. It's up to us whether we choose to flow with and follow it, or resist or struggle against it.

Given this is the land of serendipity, I decided to play here and see if actively seeking and expecting serendipities would lead to more. The answer was a definite yes - where your attention goes, energy flows. Sometimes things we would have loved but never expected appeared. Sometimes we found ourselves in situations that at first seemed disappointing, but soon led us to an amazing adventure or path that made us smile. Each idea we had for the trip, small or large, was somehow manifested at exactly the right time. We found secluded beaches and hidden pathways. We met new friends on the trails and the trains. People were always there to help us when we needed it, and puppies always seemed to appear when we needed a smile too :) Every day was beautifully full, and every place and person full of beauty.

In just a couple of weeks, this little gem managed to show me how far I've come, and how far I can go, especially if I embrace serendipity and live as fully as I have the past couple of weeks. It was the perfect warm-up to the deep-dive coming soon... Lanka, I'm sending you all my love, and India, I'm coming back with the fullest heart 💛

Out With the Old, In With the Joy

 Through the woods in Dharamsala, India

Through the woods in Dharamsala, India

Can you believe it? Two more months left to this whirlwind of a year!

A lot has gone down this year, and let's be real – it hasn't all been pretty. Look at the American election as an example. Judgments, angers and fears are surfacing in a big way. Not just for hundreds of millions of Americans, but for the billions of us around the world who are following in shock and awe. Whatever the outcome, it may be a rocky couple of years as we balance things out on a global level. But, I'm optimistic. I believe a lot is bubbling to the surface to be released, paving the way for more unity to come. And this balance will be led by those of us willing to show the darker shadows the power of our light.

Where do we start? It may not be comfortable, but the best place to start is with ourselves. What needs to come to the surface and be cleared out for you? How can you make space for more light?

Here’s the thing with our judgments, fears, angers, and hurts. They don’t disappear by sweeping them under the rug and trying to forget them. They don’t disappear by ignoring them and trying to pile some goodness on top. We can’t suppress them. We have to dig down, really look at what’s been buried, and see it in its entirety (how perfect for Scorpio season ;).

So, for the last two months of 2016, I encourage you to look at what you want to leave behind this calendar year. Sit with it in meditation (try this, one of my favourite guided meditations), talk it through with a trusted friend, therapist, healer or coach, journal it out, stretch it out, bring it in as an intention for a healing session… whatever resonates as the best way to ‘clean house’ for you.

And then?

After bringing the shadows to the surface to see, allowing them to show you what they want to show you... let them go with love.

Your heart is a force. Tap into it, and send some waves of love – to whatever surfaces for all it has shown you, and for yourself for showing up so beautifully to do this work. See what it has to say. Feel what it has to share. This is where the alchemy happens. Through this conscious attention and love, you can finally free yourself from that which no longer serves your highest growth.

With this, I hope you’ll find much more space in these months and the New Year to let in what really allows you to thrive – more love, ease, flow, freedom, and joy.

Keep your 'house' clean and vibes high – the world needs it now more than ever!

India, the Deepest of Bows to You

India, it's time to ring the bell on a victorious round one together. And oh, what a journey!

This is a world like no other, in the very best of ways. And this place and its people have taught me much. I quickly learned everything is flexible and subjective, including the rules, lines, lanes, best price, and just how long five minutes will be. This kept me on my toes, and taught me patience and trust. It also made every day an adventure, abundant in stories, learnings and laughs.

I shed the armor of black (this photo aside... :) and fell in love with colour, pattern and shiiiiiine. When everything from babies to trucks are so beautifully adorned, how could we not treat our own sweet selves the same way?

I learned that what seems like a mountain at the time turns into a small speed bump when passed- often a caution to go slow and enjoy the journey. I've learned to ride the wave with a smile instead of resisting it. Looking deeper and finding something to laugh about helps enormously. So does a sweet cup of chai and a sweet smile... There's nothing those can't ease.

I've seen love underpins everything here. People are incredibly warm and generous with their time, culture, stories, gifts, and smiles. This has taught me to accept graciously and give generously. It's also deepened my trust, in others and myself. Nowhere has honed my intuition and clarity on the broader story than here. This land is charged with magic, and it's hard to leave without it lighting up the magic already inside you.

Thank you to my Indian friends who shared your world with me, the fellow travelers who've shared my wonder, and the friends and family who've shared this journey virtually with me. I'm so lucky to carry you all so close in my heart on this wild ride.

Over five months ago when this journey began, I read a quote from Ivy Baker Priest which I somehow knew would be deeply relevant here:

"The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning." 

To India, the deepest of bows to you. You've been the most gracious, and I know I will see you soonest. Until then... Canada, I'm coming home 🇨🇦

Touchdown Mama India

IMG_4405.jpg

Touchdown, Mama India.

Over six years ago, I was bumping my way through Southern African roads on part of my post-uni, pre-corporate life adventure. Killing time on a long drive on our overland truck, I picked up a copy of an India Lonely Planet from a fellow traveler. I was in awe of the beautiful palaces and brilliant colours in the photos, not far from what I imagined India to be. But it was a photo of a lush Goan beach that sealed the deal. I had a gut feeling that India would be a big journey for me, and that it would come at another transition phase in my life. I knew there was no rush to be there, and that there was no way I could rush my first visit. Life threw me many an adventure since, but the thought - the knowing - of India was always patiently brewing in the back of my mind and heart.

In that time, I've had the opportunity to do some amazing things at some awesome jobs and passion projects. Great as they were, they all came with a ton of stressors. To keep myself balanced (and still going), I turned to many new interests, from art, to yoga, to nutrition, to eastern medicine, to meditation. As those interests deepened, so did the books I read and the films I watched. So did the conversations I shared and the experiences I had. So did the new people who came into my life, and through it all, so did I. I was working full-time, but my side-hustle bubbled heavy on the spiritual.

This fall, I knew it was time for the transition, and time to experience the motherland where so many of those interests are rooted. And today, I began my journey here on a beach in Goa, just like the one that sealed the decision to come over six years ago. I can only imagine what the next couple of months have in store, but I think the message I just received from my darling friend Sarah will be right on the money:

"Ayah, India is gonna blow your mind." 

A Path with Heart

... and a new chapter begins!

Shortly after deciding to embark on this journey, I read "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge" by Carlos Castaneda. Carlos recounts his teacher explaining how to choose amongst the million paths available at any moment:

"Before you embark on any path, ask the question: does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it. And then you much choose another path... A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard to even take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it doesn't make you work hard at liking it."

Don Juan continued, "For me, there is only traveling on the paths that have a heart, on any path that may have a heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge for me is to traverse its full length. And there I travel... Looking, looking breathlessly."

And so begins this path of the heart for me. I've filled up on Otis snuggles (and yes, he's in good hands at his country home with his grandparents :), and today I depart for a 5+ month journey across Southeast Asia + India. I have yet to arrive on the other side of the globe, and this path has already unfolded in the most magical of ways.

Those of you who you know me well know that I'm really no good at sticking on the "typical" path, comfortable as it may be. This path called, and it was impossible to not dive right in. Thankfully, I now have more than a few years of experience under my belt to prove that following your intuition will take you to magical heights, even though the path there is often twisty and steep. The heart is leading the way on this one, and I'm beyond excited for all the adventures, surprises + learnings that lay ahead. I look forward to having you along for the ride, and in my heart every step of the way 😘