Our Deepest Fear


The quote below is from Marianne Williamson (though Nelson Mandela is often credited for it).  I read this quote at the end of my yoga class today, and while I think of it as one that most people have heard, the message strikes me as one worth hearing again and again.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

How does Taina get TP?


I bought toilet paper today, and the main thought running through my head during this shopping experience was, “How does Taina get toilet paper?”

To give you a bit of a back story on this seemingly random question, my friend Taina is endeavouring to live 2010 without acquiring any new items containing plastic or contained in plastic.  And, she tells the story of her plastic-free adventures on her blog, Plastic Manners.  Her posts are well written, entertaining and thought provoking, and I have been an avid follower of her blog since the beginning of the year.  

Before Taina’s blog, I thought of myself as a bit of a rock star in the realm of plastic-use reducing.  I carry – and use more than 95% of the time – a travel mug and reusable shopping bags, I clean the plastic bags you put fruits, veggies and bulk goods in and take them back to the store for re-use, and I always recycle.  But, Taina’s adventure with plastic-free living has put me in my plastics place.  In the music festival of plastics consumption, I might get a chance to perform, but Taina is the artist everyone is there to see.

She has a bone and boar bristle toothbrush.  She is a shareholder in a herd of cows, so she is able to get milk without creating plastic waste.  And, she carries around a stainless steel straw.  I could go on and on. 

One of the definitions for inspire is “to draw forth or bring out.”  And, in a way, this definition captures the way Taina inspires me.  Her complete commitment to living a year without plastics draws forth, or brings out, an awareness of the plastics surrounding me in my own life.  And, I often find myself thinking thoughts like, “Taina can’t even have this,” or “What would Taina do for this?” – just as I did today with my toilet paper.

Through her blog, Taina has further educated me about the truly horrific impact of plastics, helped me recognize the prominance of plastics in my life, and inpsired me to further reduce my use of plastics (especially single-use plastics).  She is a powerful teacher, not because she knows a lot about plastics and the harmful effect they are having, but because she is living her message. 

And, to tie this post more deeply to yoga, the same must be true of a yoga teacher.  I know that I will not be an inspirational yoga teacher because I know how to balance on my forearms, cue perfect alignment or put my body into a Gumby-esque position.  I become a teacher of yoga when my day-to-day way of being embodies the practice – when my life is my message.

A Certain Path


Not too long ago, I attended a Power Vinyasa Flow class at Semperviva Yoga Studio that was one of the more physically intense yoga experiences I’ve had.  I mentioned to the instructor afterwards that I had found it challenging, and she reflected to me that she usually found classes easier when she was teaching and speculated that maybe it had something to do with higher levels of adrenalin.   

I’ve been thinking about this idea in relationship to my own teaching – and to life in general, and I have a different theory.  My theory (putting fear of the next step aside) is that everything feels easier when you know what is coming.

Whether flowing through a yoga class, writing an exam or a driving through busy city traffic, if you know what is ahead, where you are going and what is going to be expected of you, it is easier to move forward with confidence and ease.  Holding Downward Facing Dog can be much more challenging if you don’t know whether you are going to need more strength for Plank Pose or have an opportunity to rest in Child’s Pose.  Knowing the format of an exam gives you the opportunity to guide your studying accordingly and generally decreases your chances of being caught off-guard.  And, when you are driving in a familiar city and you know when you need to change lanes, where the one-way streets are, and which routes are usually the fastest, the drive is usually much less stressful.

I often feel like I am surrounded by a frenzy of planning, as people around me try to map out the rest of their lives.  Historically, these planning endeavours have confused me.  Because life is so unpredictable, I didn’t understand putting so much energy into the process of planning.  But in light of this theory that everything feels easier when you know what is coming next, the idea of planning life is starting to make a bit more sense.        

My boyfriend lives in an area that can be difficult to park, and sometimes when I am unable to find parking near his place, I get upset.  I don’t completely understand why at this point.  I’m guessing it has something to do with feeling like I can’t get home, but for this story it only matters that it happens – and that, in recognizing that it happens, I have started preparing myself a few blocks away from his place.  I remind myself that I may get upset – that I know what is coming, and some how it is has made my emotions easier to navigate.

For me, this parking experience exemplifies how the practice of yoga – a practice of cultivating mindfulness and awareness – gives us the opportunity to take what we learn about ourselves and prepare ourselves for situations that may trigger or unground us.  Through the practice of yoga, we develop an awareness of what may come as we begin to better understand ourselves and how our patterned emotional responses shape our experiences.   

And, as a bit of a side note, I wonder (and, perhaps, hope a little bit) if over time the practice can bring enough presence into each moment that we are able to exist in uncertainty with the confidence and ease that seems to come with certainty.