What a Year?
A global event such as a pandemic or ‘plandemic’ as some have called it, has given many of us an opportunity to look at our lives, relationships and connection to the earth in a whole new light. Whether this global situation was experienced through a ‘break down’ or a ‘break open’, on some level we were all impacted.
As I sit, at the beginning of a new year, I can only think how grateful I am for such an experience and the depth of love this year has given me. I am mostly in awe of the fact that I have yoga in my life, not only as a daily practice for myself, but also as the opportunity to share this with others and to be able to understand and provide support in such great times of change.
My yoga practice itself has merged and changed over the years… Where I find my greatest growth is through the radical practice of self-awareness, which comes through a lifestyle of self-reflection - thanks to my relationship with asana (daily mindful movement), breath awareness and daily meditation.
Considering the collective humanity, it has been fascinating to witness and be completely immersed in the huge divide that reared its head through the peaks of this global situation (and continues to do so). With everything being thrown in the air - it became a very clear choice - choose Fear OR choose Love.
The pendulum was swinging and I was right there holding on to the rope, hair wild, pyjama pants on, incense stick waving, swooshing from side to side without looking in either direction - from Love to Fear - back to Love - and to Fear - and back around in every other direction possible.
My life during the unknown madness of 2020 had become a rich fabric of rage, forgiveness, blame, joy, creation, destruction, bliss, yelling, understanding, silence, anxiety, acceptance, rigidity, flow… Yet with the birth of a new year - I can see that ultimately my practices taught me Divine Grace.
Grace: A state of flow, connection to our sacred mother and divine father, a deep rooted understanding of divine timing. Acceptance of our own heart through radical discernment and awareness.
My biggest teacher was fear. What a roller coaster we went on together, with absolutely no regrets. I can clearly see the threads I followed, the rabbit holes I explored, each were of such profound importance to my understanding and growth. Let’s just say - I have always been on the conspiracy side of the fence, I think some of us are just born this way. I will never fully accept a reality that harms so many of this planets divine beings.
This deep dive into the ‘dark side’ helped paint a tapestry for my life that has led me to understand divine Grace. Before the explorations of 2020 there were many perspectives I preferred to avoid. Being a self-identified ‘sensitive/spiritual person’, I had many subjects that I would rather not go into, as it was too hard or challenging to settle my internal emotional body afterwards.
I was, without awareness of its rigidity - a left wing, perpetually offended, not so aware, version of myself. Don't get me wrong - I was into this version of myself, I still have love for her. She was doing the best she could with the resources she had at the time.
What I learnt though, was that I didn't have to be as exhausted, or in hiding all the time, to try and stay centred. Through divine Grace I would discover my sweet, sensitive emotional body could cope, and really just wanted a seat at the table… turns out a front row seat!
What this meant was listening to, and learning from, both sides of a situation and feeling into these truths through the versatile vehicle of my emotional body - through this lens of Divine Grace. In doing so I have become more unapologetically me.
Now let me tell you.. There is nothing quite as energizing as being unapologetically YOURSELF.
Initially I, like many others, was all over social media during these lockdown times. Generally always leading with my emotions, I was sharing and writing what felt true to me at the time. I have encountered people who have disagreed with me in the past, (As I have mentioned I do love to dangle my feet into those warm conspiracy waters), yet nothing compared to the social media stage of 2020 – WOW!
Let’s just say I have ‘lost’ a lot of… ‘friends’?
I share the following story because it was such a beautiful experience of the polarity that was everywhere and how divinely timed it was for me to go deeper into that polarity, to ultimately decide that is not how I choose to live anymore. Exploring both perspectives means I can rest my emotional body in the centre, neutral, a state of Divine Grace.
I had been involved in many ‘heated’ debates (which included yelling individual opinions through written words, to manufacture a sense of safety) on Facebook, during this lockdown. The intensity was real. I felt that researching, and sharing, different narratives to the heavily censored mainstream narrative, was of great benefit.
One particular debate took an interesting turn when this now ‘Ex-Facebook-friend’ anonymously mailed to me, from an overseas location (a very specific, and post-marked location), two exact copies of a particular book… A book with the most simplistic, mainstream point of view they could have possible found. Apparently in an attempt to sway my ‘mis-guided’ ways back to a somewhat more mainstream scientific view.
The sheer shock and hilarity of this was quite incredible, Facebook just got very real life.
The beautiful contradiction - which could truly sum up this entire year - was that I was also received, from overseas, another book. This time not anonymously, but from a complete stranger. This book was filled with elegant spiritual poetry and wisdom. This book was sent in thanks for all of our online efforts (my husband and I) to provide yoga classes and supportive tools during this time.
It truly was divine, the timing, the experience itself.
The reality being, some people are going to be haters - who want to bring us down, and others are going to be lovers - who choose to lift us up. I do believe we are all haters and lovers within different relationships, depending on the context. This is what creates the polarity that we live in. I know that I have played both roles many times, which always teaches me the art of humility, a lesson that generally shows up in perfect timing.
I am exceptionally grateful for this experience of receiving these two gifts so close together - being able to witness my flow of emotions from both ends of the spectrum. Ultimately these situations showed me how to show up, choose love and see the world through my own heart while choosing to live as unapologetically me.
I experienced many people messaging me to tell me I was wrong, misinformed or dangerous. I witnessed, I pondered, I felt it - I realised they were also reflections of my own self-doubt - Do I truly have the courage to be me? To live, create, move and speak as the authentic version of myself?
This year has shown me how these interactions offer a profound space for radical self-reflection - and I’ll be honest - I loooove self-reflection. The opportunity to experience a heightened emotional state to break through some outdated toxic beliefs… Yes! pick me any day!
The irony being, to those with the long arms of ‘salvation’- you did save me: you saved me from caring about what others think about me; you saved me from doubting myself and how I choose to live in this divinely abundant world.
Through all of this, I have shown myself the person I want to be in the world.
I am more open and capable to fully receive other people’s truths with much more curiosity and love. Rather than quickly assuming their view was mis-guided to protect my wee glass palace of existence. In doing this I have given myself the freedom to feel how my perceptions are un-true to others, and that even when I believe something to be true, there is a version of reality where my opinion is ‘obviously incorrect’.
This has truly opened up the road to liberation in my daily interactions, flowing with so much more Grace. I am more comfortable to face daily encounters and I have started to experience the internal strength and resilience that I actually have always possessed.
Knowing deep within myself that as Divine beings of Grace we all hold ‘truths’ and ‘non-truths’ within different relationships and environments. I believe if we were to zoom out, to observe from a greater soul perspective, we would clearly see there is one truth. The rest is a playful dance of perceptions.
This concept of ‘one truth’ can be easily known yet takes on many spirals of experience to embody and understand from a heart centred place. I think it’s fair to say 2020 gave me a good dose of training to use my senses, my knowing, and mostly my heart to gain yet another perspective and higher understanding of how to navigate the human experience. Especially alongside so many other strong, beautiful divine beings. For this I am incredibly grateful.
I believe for a lot of us, when we start a regular yoga practice we may not consciously know what we are getting ourselves into. As I sit in reflection, I can only have profound gratitude for the 23 year old me who thought yoga sounded cool. What a woman she was, listening to something within, that didn’t make any sense at the time, has led to a life of such wonder. I love the challenges and I love the ease and grace that comes when I have the tools and awareness to choose love and forgive myself - time and time again - for being the beautiful, mad, crazy, wild human I am.
My piece of advice; listen to your heart and always be ready to forgive yourself. Live in your own Divine Grace.’
What happens to a society during a pandemic when Death is a taboo subject?
Being alive at this very intense and interesting time has made me explore many things. Theories, ideals, philosophies, science, conspiracies etc. Yet what I have come to through all of this madness of completely contradicting opinions and knowledge is the importance of Death.
Death, especially here in New Zealand from what I would call a mainstream point of view is a very taboo subject. It is something we are all trying to actively avoid, and people who start getting close to death, whether that be through illness, accident or old age; are kindly shunned to the side by our society as we tend to look the other way and put these people in a box on the top shelf so the rest of us can live our so called vital lives.
Death is seen as game over, as darkness, the place where life is over. The end.
This is not to say each individual experiences death like this, yet the collective ideal (or mainstream ideal) from a macro point of view, is that death is the end, and that anything or anyone that is in the process of dying is seen as something to avoid, not something to desire or even seek to understand. We basically lock our old and sick away, without hearing these people share, we miss the profound perception shifting insights that facing death can offer. In fact in many cases these people who may be having what we call ‘paranormal’ experiences are explained away as ‘brain activity’ or ‘the system shutting down’. Leading to the assumption that they are crazy and are ‘losing touch with reality’.
Of course dying people are losing touch of reality, they are leaving this reality. The issue here is we, collectively have been trained to look down at this behavior, to see it as something lower or less than what we experience, in our ‘Vital living reality’.
All in all, death is seen as finite and something we should all be trying to avoid. I think if we as a culture were honest, we could admit that for many years we have not looked after our vulnerable. In fact, we mostly just try to hide these people to keep the focus and attention on youth, vitality and high energy. The focus is on productivity, busy-ness, doing more, earning more, learning more, more, more more. There is little to no mainstream focus on dying or shifting the tone of life to a slow pace, turning inward, or to seek a profound personal understanding of what the world might mean, what your spiritual beliefs are and how you understand the great (and only transition) Death. Death is your sacred birth right and could be given positive, loving and curious attention. Death, as most all indigenous, spiritual, philosophical cultures have known, can be trained and done with much loving, conscious attention. We really owe it to ourselves to ask - why does our current culture/society and mainstream systems (media, education, medicine etc) want to keep death in the dark? Who benefits from this?
Now let’s take a moment to consider what’s happening globally, and yes in New Zealand. The fear of dying is currently at the forefront of our collective attention, whether anyone realizes it is or not. When we look at fear, it manifests in many different ways and can lead to anger, rage, micro policing, jealousy, frustration, mis-understandings, not listening, being passive aggressive, feeling anxious or depressed and the list could go on. I would go as far to say that any level of fear ultimately always comes back to the fear of death.
If death were understood as a beautiful profound transition out of this reality, how different would our world be? How different would our priorities be? How different would our relationships be?
How different would a pandemic be?
Let me be clear, I am not saying we should all be looking for death, or taking our own lives, or trying to make each other sick. What I am saying is that fear of dying, takes us away from living.
Using fear of death to control people, is not protecting people.
The irony of our pandemic times is the constant Fear based policing from our leaders and officials. (aside from the toxic micro-policing between the people)
The foundation for justifying these extreme actions such as lockdown have come from the ‘loving’ idea to protect our most vulnerable. This would be great if our leaders and systems actually took care of our vulnerable normally.
I don't mean to sound negative or dark; yet I can not take the leadership seriously. If our leaders, if our society actually gave a shit about our most vulnerable we would live in a very different way.
NOW, this doesn't mean that there are not hundreds, even thousands of heart centered, incredible people who dedicate their lives to looking after the vulnerable and doing everything in their personal power to see positive change in our systems. Yet how do these people get treated? How do they get paid? Do they get paid? And who benefits from this?
The reality is our world and our health systems are upside down, people get neglected, they get shunned, they die in non-loving ways and in many ways die when they didn't need to. These might sound like outrageous claims, but hey, prove me wrong. I am not saying this is the case for everyone, yet it is too common. This goes for how our systems are structured to support; certain socio-economic groups, the mental health sector, domestic violence victims, eldery people, sexual abuse victims, chronic pain sufferers, all those people who fall through the mainstream cracks, and the list could go on. Anything that does not fit into a certain box is kept quiet. The vulnerable are systematically neglected and they are still being neglected now.
Life is hard right now because of the unknown. Death is the greatest unknown. Take the time to reflect for yourself on the question,
Who benefits from the fear of death?
This is something I am most passionate about, I believe self reflection is a way of living really to cultivate greater self awareness, which I believe enhances every area in our personal lives and our individual influence on the collective as we are truly all connected.
Without self reflection (whether you call it that or not) a person is left like a floating reactive sponge, programmed with a set of beliefs/ideals/opinions that have mostly come from external sources but feel like internal 'truths'. Without any internal filtering through the body to understand what is true for each individual they end up absorbing these beliefs/ideals/opinions as their own and then in turn reacting to anything that does not align with these 'truths'.
This can be initially broken into a dualism of reacting vs responding. Reacting is seeing, hearing or reading something, and having a physical/mental/emotional experience, NOT taking time to neutralise the experience before 'throwing' something, whether that be verbal, written or physical at the other person, group of people, animal, object, situation.
Responding is seeing, hearing or reading something and having a physical/mental/emotional experience, RECOGNISING there is a lot of energy in the body and taking a moment to PAUSE, to notice and maybe ask 'where is this coming from?'. When there is a lot of thought-form or stories coming up which are trying to prove what is right and/or wrong, this is a sure sign to work with the physical body. Again PAUSE, drop into breath awareness, notice physical tension and use this awareness (or tools) to find a neutral place within the self. Then come back to said situation and respond with what feels true from the heart and mind together, sharing your view or action with said person, group of people, animal, object, situation etc.
Side note: A neutral place is always one founded on love and deeper connection for our human condition.
One of the most tricky and sneaky aspects of self reflection - which can really blind-side us - is guilt and shame.
The way through guilt and shame (in a simplified manner) is to understand that - it is ok to be wrong and it's ok to be right. It is also ok to disagree with someone and it's ok to agree with them, it's ok that you do not understand and want to ask more questions and it's ok when you do understand. This may sound logical, yet when in a reactive state of being (which we have been trained to do through our current frameworks in life, especially through the media and our entertainment) it is VERY challenging to stay in a critical space of self reflection.
The physical/mental/emotional experiences that happen when we are faced with a situation of intensity (no matter how big or small) will do anythingto prove you are right - it will even feel as if you are right and further thoughts will feed this aggressively. This is a natural and beautiful process for survival, yet when not in a survival situation this very same process can cut you off from truly hearing/seeing/respecting/learning/understanding. It can even compromise your ability to access your compassion and empathy.
Now, I am going to use a controversial example to illustrate how guilt and shame play a huge role in distorting our ability to stay open around information and healthy discussion from both sides of an 'argument'. Self reflection is the tool that allows us to regain our personal power and filter information to make grounded decisions in what feels true for each individual (which is unlikely to be exactly the same for everyone.. ever).
Currently, I see an extreme polarity between so called PRO-Vax 'people' and ANTI-Vax 'people' with little consideration for individual difference - aka -pack mentality. Essentially PRO-Vax and ANTI-Vax people have the same idealistic end goal - health and vitality equally for everyone. Unfortunately, the potential for unity is experienced as a painful divide, where you must fight for your side by often slandering the other. I believe this happens because of a serious lack of self reflection from the majority, which commonly starts an external disagreement, often with the introduction of many red herrings.
Red herring : a kind of fallacy that is an irrelevant topic introduced in an argument to divert the attention of listeners or readers from the original issue. This fallacy is often used to induce the other towards false conclusions.
Where guilt and shame comes in here is: many of us (myself included) have been vaccinated, or have vaccinated our children. Now herein lies a potential guilt/shame issue - it could prove difficult for someone to choose to do serious research into vaccines if there was a chance they would find out they were not what they believe them to be. Firstly, that would mean having to admit they were wrong; and secondly, finding out they could potentially put their children, or themselves at risk. This is no easy feat, it would take great self reflection (including self love and forgiveness for themselves and others). Most people who have done extra research are those who have been negatively affected in some way and decided to ask bigger questions, but it is hard to do this, it takes great courage and again self reflection.
I personally don't identify myself with either side, I identify with wanting to ask more questions and be pro-choice (which is still an opinion for sure - commonly grouped in with the 'anti-vax' side). I have been asking questions on this topic for about 8 or so years and I had no idea what kind of a 'battle' I was walking into... What happened when I began sharing my feelings/opinions/questions around vaccinations was an experience of a lot of reaction from others. Initially, I too reacted back, as I was quite shocked at the divide and aggression that came at me.
What I realised through this process was that I have always been like this, always asking bigger questions and trying to understand life through my own experience and filter.
Because vaccination reactions were so aggressive, I started to notice something: Society tells us we are free, we are unique individuals who have a right to question and have our own opinions... yet what I have experienced makes me assure you this is only true when you follow the said 'community narrative' otherwise you will be outcast in the strangest of ways. These ways are subtle, so it's not so easy for others to see (gaslighting).
I am a person who will always question, who struggles to buy into anything until those questions are answered, so I have had to learn another way to find the answers.
Enter Self Reflection.
This process gave me my personal power back, it allows to me to share my voice and not be terrified of others reactions, it allows me to hear and support others, I believe it allows me to experience internal freedom.
Because through true discipline, (and self reflection takes a lot of discipline) comes abundant Freedom!