I have been quiet here for some time. I have been on my moon. Alongside the brilliant pink full moon, this month it has loomed large. Its gifts, that feel like both a blessing and a curse, are a natural inward-drawing, a stirring of what is in the depths to rise to the surface, and a heightened sensitivity and capacity for feeling. And what I have been feeling is grief.
It’s taken me some days to recognise it. To know and name the swell of sadness rising up from the hollow shadows of my stomach like a wave, pressing for release at the back of my throat and eyes.
And I’ll be honest, it caught me by surprise. I live my life in service, purpose and community. And I live my life like a tidal wave of change. In the cellular knowing that what I have built and cherish could be gone at any moment.
So after a hilarious busyness of two weeks in self-isolation, and going with the rapidly unfolding flow upon to then land in a new home with dear friends near Byron Bay, I felt deeply grateful and ready to adapt.
But then, with the bitter grace of approaching moon days, the hollow sadness started to emerge. I noticed I didn’t want to face emails and voice messages. I’ve felt empty and heavy, sleeping hard and being slow to drag myself out of bed. I’ve scoured the news to get glimpses of how long the restrictions might last for, when international flights might fly again, when I could return to the place where my heart is. I stood on one of our beautiful beaches, with my heart deeply heavy. I’ve been watching my mind try to jump in and rationalise and chastise. I should be grateful for the abundance, support and good fortune I have here in Australia. But my heart and spirit is telling a different story: I don’t want to be here.
Then I realised, I’m grieving. Like so many of us – probably all of us, whether we know it and feel it yet or not. For the life of freedom, movement, and community that suddenly was taken out from under us, even in the name of our ‘safety’. For the loss of work, income, family, friends, our familiar ways of life. For the lack of certainty, food and essentials, or being able to go outside without fear of being fined or beaten. For all of those who are suffering deeply, losing their lives or loved ones, without food or shelter, experiencing greater violence and poverty, who are deeply isolated and alone. For the potential ongoing loss of civil liberties. For simple human touch.
And this grief, mixed with currents of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty is both personal and collective. To know that all over the globe, we are entangled in this web of shared experience. It makes these feelings run deeper. They are amplified for each human I feel connected to – which is whole world.
But one of the beautiful remembrances in moments like these, is that no one is immune from feelings. No matter what our minds might think, know, or try to control, our feelings start like a ripple in our heartful soul and come cascading through our bodies. The more we let them flow, the greater our capacity for presence. The more we stifle or deny them, the more they will cripple us, silently and stealthily. They teach us heart, humility and home. When we allow them to flow, they cleanse and clarify, and offer us the opportunity to know what really matters. They invite us to come together at the common sacred site of our vulnerability and authenticity. To be fully human. And as we let them move through us, they can bring us hope and inspire us into action.
So as I’ve been allowing myself to feel, to grieve, to honour – without judging or justifying or rationalising – I’m starting to feel an emergence from the chrysalis. A new wave of reflecting, strategising and finding purpose. Exploring new pathways for personal and collective action, so that we can protect and nurture what truly matters, and be part of creating our emerging future in a way that we would want it, rather than passive recipients of a future determined by those with power, authority and technology.
I would love to come together in community, conversation, collaboration and feeling, in Circles of Connection – local and global community pods for authentic connection, support and heartful action. If you’re interested in coming together in this way, please comment or DM me, I have details coming very soon.
It’s International Women’s Day, and as part of a global community of yoginis, there’s an important conversation that needs to be amplified and shared far and wide.
As I’ve been participating more in the world of social media of late, to share about my heart & soul project social enterprise yoga school Yoga for Humankind, I’ve become more and more dismayed at the representation and popularisation of yoga – sexualised, impossibly gymnastic and massively glamourised. It’s the antithesis of Yoga – the quiet, inward journey to peel back the layers of false identities, beliefs and constructs, and find the Truth of what remains after all that is shed.
‘Inspiration’ is great, but this kind of yoga-glamourising creates an image of yoga that feeds into exactly the kinds of day-to-day social stigmas, ideas and values that create problematic and harmful self-image, self-worth and impossible ‘goals’; that take us outward instead of inward; that ultimately harms bodies instead of harmonises; that alienates instead of unites… and that the genuine path of yoga actually seeks to unravel.
It’s been building within me to write on this topic, and it’s totally impassioned me today, on International Women’s Day, to read these insightful, poignant and powerful words… thank you to Roopali, the powerful woman who wrote this great blog post on the topic.
Yogis, Yoginis, HUMANS – can we please stop the sexualisation, physicalisation and glorifying self-promotion in the name of yoga? Can we please instead promote the common denominators of being and humanity, such as: the Self that is our collective ground of being, belonging, vulnerability, resilience, imperfection, befriending ourselves and our bodies, and our real stories of love, hope, loss, peace, struggle, devotion and community.
It’s not often that I post ‘yoga’ photos, as yoga for me is about so much more than the body, and I’m not into promoting yoga as ‘image’, fitness or even ‘spirituality’, when it’s seen as a commodity or a ‘lifestyle’. Of course it can be those things, but moreso, it is the deepest quest that emerges naturally in the heart of human beings, for truth, for love, for peace and for the mystery of life.
But I am unbelievably grateful, because the practices and philosophies of yoga have been a huge part of my unique, winding life journey that has brought me home to my Self, allowed me to know and rest in a peace deeper than the ocean, and shown me that one thing can be as vast in shape and meaning as all this universe contains. And by this, I’m talking about both Yoga and the Self. ‘One’ thing that is vast and diverse in appearance and expression. And so I share my ‘yoga’ through quiet and simple images of my everyday. Of nature, of inspiration, of people, of ideas that remind me of connection, of beauty, of love, of the Self.
It is of course also one of the most powerful tools for healing, for remembering, and for celebrating life. And today I am celebrating slowly recovering from a shoulder injury that had me unable to move, lift my arm over my head or weight-bear much for many months. It just feels good to move!
And this is something I’m also committed to sharing with the world. This is how Yoga for Humankind began, a international social enterprise yoga school offering trainings in traditional and contemporary hatha yoga, trauma-informed and community yoga – as a platform for cultivating and sharing a ‘yoga’ that is accessible, suitable, empowering, compassionate and brings true well-being for all, at any stage of life, with our unique personal histories and stories. It is for connecting and cultivating community, and for recognising the Self that is at the heart of all our individuality, uniqueness and diversity, and that is our common humanity.
It’s been an incredible 12 weeks of back-to-back teacher trainings and retreats, doing and sharing what I love so much in some of the most beautiful places in the world: Yoga… which for me is no different than life, exploring and living it to the fullest for love and freedom and beauty. Whatever specific ‘forms’ it might take, it is the path of awakening more of the potential of who we are on every level, from philosophy and evolutionary ideas, to the life force of movement and breath that is both guided and intuitive, sensing and feeling from the gross to the subtle, to deep dives into self and consciousness through meditation and sound, from traditional to experimental, from ‘spiritual’ to ‘science’. It’s all the joy of turning inwards for Self discovery, and then flipping it inside out. It’s both creative drive and surrender, dancing between form and formlessness.
One of my greatest lessons and joys is that I am forever a ‘student’ – ever learning, growing, evolving, being challenged and making mistakes, being delighted and humbled, slowly slowly learning how to navigate my way through life with more grace, ease and love. Thanks to this path that I started on really as a child – curious, seeking, confused, delighted. Wanting to be ‘better’, wanting to suffer less, wanting to ‘know’ more, not knowing what the hell I was doing but being drawn to something that felt bigger, greater, helpful, miraculous and unavoidable.
And it is with the highest gratitude that I get to share what I love and what I have discovered through my own turning inwards. That somehow the years of striving and struggling and internal analysing and ceaseless inquiry have led to something that looks like a bit more wisdom and a lot more love.
So this is a big shout out to all of my teachers – the formal and the informal, the life events that have turned me upside down, my family, friends, those who have challenged me and been challenged by me, to each person who calls themselves a ‘student’ of yoga and life and love… thank you for your gifts, insights, offerings, and the ways in which you have guided my life.
I’ve just arrived in south Portugal for the next 2 months to sit in satsang (to be in the company of the Truth) with Ganga Mira and Mooji. To keep turning inwards to Life.
I’m unbelievably grateful for this opportunity and time to sit with humans – real people – who have woken up and turned their lives and themselves in pure love and wisdom. Endless inspiration and the most profound guidance…
So I’m having a 3 month break from ‘teaching’ to be even more fully a ‘student’. Following the inner and outer cycles of life.
However ‘busy’ life gets, remember to take some time to turn inwards, to ‘forget’ everything you have learnt and be open, fresh and innocent – ever ready to be surprised and delighted by this miracle of life.