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Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

While in the shower the other day, I was brought back to a conversation I had with a student right before this Covid-19 emergency broke wide open.  D. has a real interest in meditation and silent retreats.  That night she was asking me about the Vipassana retreats held up around Barrie, ON.  I’ve never attended these retreats but have met several people who have.  They’re intense.  10 days, 20 days, 30 days of silence and seated meditation.  In this tradition, food is limited, contact with others is prohibited, as is physical exercise, reading, writing, texting, and so on.  The day’s schedule is set and does not waiver.  Hours and hours of seated meditation with a videotaped teaching by Goenka in the evenings.  There is no hugging.  No consoling your neighbour should they fall apart.  No eye contact.  You exist within a community but are very much focused on being a single cell of the community.  These retreats are meant to take you deep inside. They turn up the heat of transformation.  They are meant to strip you down so you can emerge a truer form of yourself.

That night at the condo D. asked, “How do you prepare for one of these things?”  I had to admit that I did not know.

I remembered all of this the other day and, standing in the shower, I burst out laughing.  I spoke to D (possibly out loud just so I could hear a human voice) and said, “THIS! This is how you prepare.”  This strange Covid-19 situation.  Right now I think I would take it even one step further and say this is the retreat and this virus is our best teacher for it.  Nuts, right?  But hear me out.

We are being forced inside.  For those on total lockdown, care needs to be taken about how much food is consumed so that there’s enough to last the duration.  The rest of us are left to our own devices.  Many are able to work from home but many others, like myself, are out of work.  There is so…much…time.  And this is where it gets interesting.  Out of a regular routine, out of our connections to our work-time labels (teacher, engineer, etc.), nowhere to go because things are shut down, unable to meet up with friends and family to pass the time, our shit comes bubbling up.  We find ourselves heating up.  We become impatient, moody, argumentative.  We search everywhere for a distraction.  And let me tell you, there is no shortage of Covid-19 “distract yourself” stuff out there.  Online classes abound.  Downloadable colouring pages to keep the kids occupied.  E-books to read.  And, of course, there are all the streaming services offering visual entertainment to numb your mind.

But none of it really seems to be helping us feel better.  Everywhere I look people are freaking out.  But damnit, aren’t we making like it’s business as usual?  Hey, we have video conferencing and the internet!  We can keep working like it’s a regular work week.  Miss your Yoga?  Here are 3300 online options for you.  You, Yoga teacher.  You’re out of work?  How about filming some classes for sale, or record some meditations?

I’ll admit it, I’ve been sucked into it as well.  I’ve felt like a colossal failure for not hopping on the bandwagon when everyone else seems to have.  And then, last night, I came across this blessed quote by Emma Zeck:

With this open time

You do not have to write the next bestselling novel

You do not have to get in the best shape of your life

You do not have to start that podcast….

What if we became curious with this free time,

& had no agenda other than to experience being?

When I read those words, something in me let go.  This is no time for me to go on like nothing unusual is happening.  I’m on retreat.  This is no time for me to be a leader or a teacher.  I’m on retreat.  This is no time for me to spark up the old webcam and pretend like I have my shit together because, my friends, my life and everything all around me is on totally new ground, and my stance is pretty unsteady.

I’m on retreat.  Covid-19 retreat.  And so are you.  The whole world has joined this transformative process.  When I drop my trauma, my drama and my suffering for a moment, I am in absolute awe over this whole thing.  To stand here as a witness.  To know there will be another side to this and that I will likely be here to see that other side.  It is so intense it leaves me speechless.

The fire of deep transformation burns like nothing else.  It is meant to take us down and incinerate us so we can rise up, stronger than we were at the beginning.  Blacksmiths know this as they forge metals.  Alchemists know this as they use fire to transform materials to create something new and unique.  And Yogi-s know this.  So they fast and sit and meditate in silence for hours and days and years.

What would happen if we all symbolically stripped bare and sat right at the centre of this enormous fire?  I guess we’ll find out, hunh?  Cuz we’re in it, like it or not.  I do hope to meet you on the other side.  😉  I can’t wait to see what this Phoenix will look like.

Offering so much Love,

Tabitha

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Good morning!  I love you and…

HOLY DAYS

We are in the depths of High Holy days for so many world religious and spiritual traditions.  This is a time when we can touch and express the best within us; we become the blessings of and for this world.  And so I would like to leave you with my favourite prayer of all time.  May it bless you.

May you know peace.  May you be at peace.  May you be peace.

Peace.  And so, so much love.

Tabitha

ps.  It’s been a joy sending these out to you!  xo


The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

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Good morning!  I love you and…

THE SPARK

The human heart runs on electrical impulse.  At some point around 5 weeks in utero, the primitive heart begins to beat and keeps going for an entire lifetime.

What puts that spark there?

Love.  You!

Tabitha

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I had a dream the other morning where I was meeting with a colleague to discuss future Yoga classes.  The meeting was taking place at her condo, the condo where I teach my classes in real life.  A friend of mine used to live there and always said it was like living in a hotel.  Indeed I can understand why she felt that way.  The lobby is bright and airy.  There is a main lounge area flanked by a trickling wall fountain.  There are pillars.  There are fake plants.  There are people buzzing about, waiting in line to receive packages and make endless demands of the front desk staff.  It is alive and vibrant and esthetically pleasing.  And so it was in my dream.

Having met in this grand space, my colleague and I made our way up to her suite.  Stepping inside, my heart skipped a beat from what I saw.  The space was tiny.  The kitchen was so cramped that D. had to place her fridge in her living room.  A second fridge, a falling apart relic from the 1960s, stood up against another wall in the living room.  I couldn’t imagine being in the midst of cooking a meal and having to walk into a whole other room to get what I needed.  The floor was tiled in beaten up, grey industrial vinyl made to look like marble but failing miserably.  The kitchen counters were an homage to 1980s dusty rose.  And what was supposed to be a breakfast bar was so small it could barely support the smallest of toaster ovens.  No one could eat there.  No one could be nourished there.  It struck me as the kind of place you’d want to escape from as quickly as possible, a heartbreaker for me who has spent so many fine days of her life in her Grandmother’s kitchen, the heart of the home.

Sitting in the living room on D.’s sagging couch I wondered whether she slept there as well or if there was a bedroom hidden down the dark, dreary corridor to my left.  I sat in quiet shock.  The suite couldn’t be any more opposite to the grandeur of the front lobby.  What was hidden was shabby and definitely in need of nurturance.

All day the image of the contrast between the lobby and the suite stuck with me.  It was too vivid for me to think it was anything other than a message.  What was the dream trying to tell me?  What did it mean?  The answer did not take long to come.

Although there’s always room for growth, I am generally very good at caring for my body.  I’ve got the herbs and the particular diet going.  The morning routine that takes hours to complete, beginning with tongue scraping and ending with my morning practice.  I move this body, cleanse this body, take it to the doctor, the dentist, the Ayurvedic practitioner.  On the surface all is well, but dig a little deeper and we find that I am absolute shit at caring for my mind and soul.  Beyond the level of the body, things have grown tired and worn.  There is neglect.  There is a sense of stuckness in the past.  There are little bits and pieces of things taken from this time of life and attached to that time of life, but there is no updated cohesive whole.  Who am I?

When was the last time I took care of myself in a deep way?  When did I spend more than a few fleeting moments reading texts that uplift my Spirit?  When did I last pick up the pen to write?  When was my last blog post?  How about visual art?  And any movement other than Yoga?  How about fostering those friendships?  Not much of that going on either. Seeing this, I am able to make some necessary changes.  Realization is relief.

We are not meant to be bodies alone.  We have deep inner environments that need as much care as the surface.  What good are we if we forget to grow the soul, if we don’t know how to channel the mind?

And how many of us are walking around like glistening, empty shells?

How are you doing, in a deep way, beyond the surface?  Are you truly getting what you need?  Do you feel a deep, abiding peace?  A connection with the wider picture?  Or have your windows become dirt encrusted and unable to open?  What small steps can you take to invite some more sunshine into your world?  Do you know what your soul needs?  When was the last time you asked?  😉

May we all come to notice when parts of our Selves are starving and in need of our care and attention.  May we have the courage to act on that information, to nurture ourselves on all levels.  May we live lives beyond the surface that shine from the depths of Divine connection.  May we be happy and whole and well.

May it be so.

All my Love,

Tabitha

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