Fierceness, Courage and Faith

Ahimsa Living Yoga Love Yoga


Photo Credit: Jump for Love

I love exploring and analyzing words, but love is a word with such depth and complexity that it seems beyond the grasp of other words; such a vast range of experiences, actions, and feelings are captured by the word love.

Love is a common theme in yoga classes around Valentine’s Day, but I had no plans to bring it into my classes until I went to a class with Marita Wieser at Sol Yoga and she offered:

What the Hallmark cards don’t often tell us is that deep love requires much fierceness, courage and faith.

And, with those words a passion for speaking about the practice of love was stirred.

Valentine’s Day tends to be associated with what I describe as drunk love. An experience of love that is largely about feeling loved, feeling fabulous, and finding it hard not to smile; usually a deep, consuming, romantic love characterized by a sometimes-reckless indulgence in passion and impulsivity. In a nutshell, the love of fairy tales and Hollywood films.

But, Marita’s words shifted my Valentine’s Day focus to the love of action. The kind of love that isn’t necessarily a reflection of my immediate feelings, but rather a reflection of my deep commitment to cultivate love in my heart, in my relationships, and in the world around me.

Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote, “You must be the change you want to see in the world,” strikes at the heart of this practice of love. We won’t find more love, compassion or peace in this world unless we first cultivate these qualities within our self. And then, move forward with the courage and determination to act accordingly towards others.

In learning to practice love, to move with love, consider this question: Are my thoughts, words and actions fostering love, compassion and acceptance for myself and for those around me?

The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Class Readings Poetry

This piece of poetry prose was written by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. If you are interested, clicking the link on her name will take you directly to her website, and clicking here will take you to a brief explanation of her motivations for writing the piece.

The Invitation
By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.

I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…

I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations, of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.

I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.

I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Finding the Play (in Playing Games)


For most of my life, I have loved playing games (board games, card games, etc.) but I a while ago took a bit of a game playing hiatus when I realized I wasn’t playing the way I loved to play.

I love playing games when everyone has fun and the deeper intention behind the game playing is spending time and connecting with the people playing.

Yes, I like to win – it is exciting, but having fun throughout the game is much more important to me. The collective level of enjoyment is key.

Over the last five or so years, I’ve been playing games with more competitive game players, and about two years ago, I began to realize that I wasn’t having as much fun – hence, the hiatus.

One factor behind my lack of fun was a game frequently played amongst my friends called The Settlers of Catan. In this game, I felt like one person was always left having a crappy time because the dynamics of the game left one player with very little opportunities to make moves. And, whether this person was me or not, I felt the collective level of enjoyment was seriously impacted.

A second factor was feeling like the “play” aspect of playing games was lost when people would get mad at other people for moves they made and when players would take 10-15 minutes (or more) to agonize over strategy before making their move.

And, a third factor was taking on the focus of winning myself and feeling my self-esteem take a hit every time I lost. Was I not smart enough to win? Did I not have the intelligent to play strategically? Am I dumber than everyone else?

I have recently been getting back into playing games, and late last fall, I had an epiphany around my game playing.

I was playing Puerto Rico, and in one turn, I had two possible moves – both were of the same benefit to me, but one of the moves made it so the player after me wouldn’t be able to move. I was leaning towards the move that allowed the other player to move because not being able to make a move sucks!

But, just before I moved, there was some rustling amongst the other players – trying to draw my attention to the opportunity to block the player after me. I realized that they thought I didn’t see it – and they were right. I didn’t see the opportunity to block a player; I saw the opportunity to let another player play.

In that that moment, I clearly saw how my game playing is different. There isn’t a lack of awareness or intelligence; I simply move from a different place and look at things in a different light.

Gaining this understanding led me to a place where I feel more connected to my motivations and intentions, and I am more confident and joyful playing board games because I am consciously playing in a way that honours what I value and believe in.