Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is it just me....

...or has anyone else detected a shift toward greater compassion in our collective consciousness? As well, focusing on our personal and spiritual growth seems to have become much more mainstream. The Dalai Lama's visit to Vancouver has certainly brought this shift into clearer focus in our city, prompting the Vancouver Sun to run a column where readers sent in their personal stories of kindness. How refreshing to read these wonderful anecdotes! Some were very small kindnesses, some much greater, but regardless, if we could balance our hard news stories each morning with an equal number of stories of kindness, how quickly our whole collective mindset could change, and if our mindset could change, then so, too, would our behaviour change.

(In a global community sense, Paul Hawken sums up this changing collective consciousness in this powerful video.)

About a year ago I was browsing in a bookstore and spotted the title, Me to We, Finding Meaning in a Material World. Liking the title, I bought the book on impulse but never got around to reading it. Then, a couple of weeks ago, my daughter came home from highschool with the news that she was attending a Me to We conference in Vancouver where speakers such as the Dalai Lama, Jane Goodall and many others were being featured. I pulled the book off the shelf and wondered at the coincidence. Coincidence? Maybe not.

The Daily Om reminds us that when we focus on our own personal and spiritual growth, we can't help but influence those around us. "Everything we do or say has the potential to affect not only the individuals we live, work, and play with but also those we’ve just met. Though we may never know the impact we have had or the scope of our influence, accepting and understanding that our attitudes and choices will affect others can help us remember to conduct ourselves with grace at all times. When we seek always to be friendly, helpful, and responsive, we effortlessly create an atmosphere around ourselves that is both uplifting and inspiring."

With this is mind, and with the Me to We conference still fresh in one daughter's experience, all three daughters and I have challenged each other to practise random acts of kindness each day. It doesn't matter how small the act of kindness is, each act will make a difference, and all these small differences... well, you know where I'm going. By sharing our stories at the end of each day, we hope to keep the compassion/kindness movement rolling forward....

Will you join us?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ruffled feathers

A wise teacher told the following story as we held a pose in a Yin yoga class. I believe she credited the story to Eckhart Tolle, but I'm not 100% sure.

Imagine, she said, a quiet duck pond. Suddenly two ducks get into a squabble. There's a lot of squawking, wing flapping and splashing. What a show they put on! Then, just as suddenly as it began, the two ducks turn and float away in opposite directions. They may ruffle up their feathers one last time, give a tail flick, but that's the end of it. The incident is over. Fini.

Now, consider two humans in a squabble, our teacher suggested. There are raised voices, fist shaking, aggressive body language. Suddenly the humans turn and stomp away from one another. But is it over? Oh no. In each of those human minds there are voices still raised in anger .... "Can you believe she said that?" "The nerve of him!" "She'll never get away with that!" "He is such an idiot!"

The human mind finds it so hard to simply 'let go'.

Oh, the things we can learn from ducks.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I found it!

I think many of us feel that the 'real' New Year begins each fall when school resumes after the long summer break. Even those of us who no longer attend school find ourselves using this season as a chance for fresh starts.

This year, as the summer days began to get shorter, I found myself poring through the fall leisure guides and night school pamphlets looking for something new to to study or explore. Absolutely nothing was jumping out at me. I didn't feel like learning a new language, fly-tying or contract bridge. I veer away from anything that sounds like Boot Camp though I did tend to return to the pages that advertised various adult dance classes, but somehow Zumba Fit or Bollywood Workout didn't sound like a good fit for me. Thinking I might just be a big chicken I went to a workshop called Cultivating Your Courage, hoping to learn how to better step out of my comfort zone. I consulted a Life Coach and I even had a psychic reading, but I was still unsure of what it was I wanted to delve into. I just knew I wanted something.

Yoga has been a constant in my life for the past two years, and today my yoga studio was offering a one-day workshop called Nia. Nia is a practise that combines yoga, the martial arts and dance. I'd heard that it gives both your body and mind a workout. It's done barefoot to music and is supposed to enhance the mind-body-spirit connection. The trouble is, even though I secretly long to dance, I'm very ungraceful and excruciatingly self-conscious about it.

Well, I decided I had nothing to lose except my dignity, so I showed up at the studio this morning feeling awkward and without any real idea of what to expect. The teacher gave a brief history of the practise, then turned on the music and we were off. She led us through some high-energy dance steps which were not too difficult, even for a klutz like me. The dance steps took on some martial arts movements and eventually we moved into some yoga stretches and balances and, just as in yoga, the teacher had some powerful messages to share.

I haven't had so much fun in a long time! I also worked up a good sweat, and when the session ended I overheard another participant saying she felt calm and joyous, all at once. I knew exactly what she meant.

I have found exactly what I was looking for, and better yet, the classes that are being offered fit perfectly into my weekly schedule.

Happy New Year!

The above image is found at http://barefootstudio.info/NIA_K_1.gif