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I was sitting outside yesterday, bogged down by feelings left behind by a disturbing dream.  It was loud back there, the air full of bird-song.  I thought back to a year ago when we first moved in to this house.  The backyard was overgrown, dark and desolate.  Nothing seemed to live back there except the most annoying maple trees that blocked the light and sucked all of the nutrients out of the ground.  You could hear birds up high in the trees but there was no reason for them to visit.  The absence of bird life made me shudder so out came the feeders.  One year later, the yard is alive with more goldfinches than I’ve ever seen in my life.  And somehow this gets me to worrying.

I worry a lot.  In fact, I think I live in a perpetual state of fear and angst, which gets worse over the winter as I’m stuck inside the house and inside my own head.  As the season is primed to change, to burst into Spring, I think it’s as good a time as any to fling open the windows of my mind, as it is to open the windows of the house.  Let’s get some air in here!

I don’t share this to burden you.  I’m not really looking for answers (unless you have them…hahaha). But sometimes, despite your best efforts, nothing works except to share.  So here I am opening the windows to what worries me most these days.

  • I worry that one day I might find myself in a situation where I will no longer hear the birds.
  • I worry that the cost of living will rise to such an extent that that I will be forced to live in a horrid and tiny place that denies me access to the ground (a yard).  I won’t be able to grow beautiful things.  I won’t be able to watch the birds and the creatures.  I won’t be able to smell the earth.  I’ll be stuck in a horrible pod, jammed in with a million other people living in their pods.
  • I worry about the long term effects of looking down at a screen all the time.  What will this do to our self-esteem to always be looking down?  What will this do to our ability to dream if we can’t look up at the sky?  
  • I worry that if we raise children in tiny pods (condos, apartments, townhouses with no yards) they will become increasingly separated from the Earth.  They will not feel grounded or connected to things larger than themselves.  They will fear Nature.  Then who will take care of Her?  And where will they learn to find quiet, space and solace?
  • I especially worry these days that every last field, meadow, open natural space will be bulldozed to build houses that I’m not sure we really need.  Where will we grow our food if all of the land is gone?  Where will the animals and birds live?  What will happen to our hearts and souls if we’re surrounded by concrete and lights, and we can’t get away from each other EVER?  Where do we find peace?  How do we survive?

That last point is especially hard for me.  It actually makes my stomach churn.  I can’t breathe.

You know, I write these words and they feel so empty.  They cannot possibly capture the feelings that all of these thoughts conjure up.  My one teacher has complete faith in the evolution of things.  I don’t think he would lose one seconds’ sleep over any of this.  I aspire to be like that one day.  Until then, this is it.

How about you?  Do you worry?  Do you fear things?  Are you able to give it air?  To a journal, a therapist, a spiritual guide, a friend, a partner, to God Herself?  I hope you have a place where you feel safe and able to let some of your burdens go.  If not, well, let me offer up this space here.  I won’t provide you with answers, but my ears and heart are open, because I understand worry and I don’t wish it upon anyone.

May your burdens be eased.  May your heart be soft and full of compassion.  May your mind be relaxed.  May you be at peace.

Blessings,

Tabitha

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All things have a ripple effect.

I think I was born a sound-sensitive individual.  For as long as I can remember, I have been able to hear a pin drop from what feels like nine miles away, and that’s with earplugs jammed inside my head.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  As a Yoga therapist, I am grateful for the ability to hear the subtleties of my students’ breathing.  It tells me they’re in distress or at ease when their words speak the opposite.  But it sure does make sleeping and, sometimes, even making my way through this busy world a bit of a challenge.

It’s this noise sensitivity and my introverted nature that draws me to the practice of silent retreats.  No speech for days.  No books.  No phones, iPods, magazines, journals.  Nothing.  Just the very intimate practice of sitting, day in and day out, breathing and moving mindfully with others.  My teacher, Dr. N. C. once said during a training session that there is no pure stillness where there’s life.  I would add to this that there is no pure silence for as long as there is life.

Think about this – there is always noise.  As I sit here typing this, I hear the blue jays screeching in the backyard.  I can hear the squirrel’s nails on the tree trunk as it climbs down with two walnuts stuffed into its face.  There is the fan running inside this computer, and the ticking of the keys as I type.  Cars move endlessly on the busy street behind me.  And my breath moves in and out.  In life, there is no-silence. We can’t change that.  But we can certainly take steps to refine the quality of the noise we make.

While in the depths of retreat silence, I began to understand more and more how we disturb one another, often without meaning to.  There are fire doors at each entrance to each floor of the retreat centre.  Big, heavy pieces of metal and glass, they make quite the racket as they slam shut behind anyone who wanders through.  At day 2 1/2 of the retreat, when the experience of not speaking became very real for us and the mind started to kick up a fuss, I could see how even silent distraction led to increased noise.  Those fire doors slammed endlessly, no one seeming to want to take the extra seconds required to hold the door so that it swung shut quietly.  Who cares, right?  It’s only a door.  We have places to go, anyway.

Who cares?  Our friends who are battling headaches. Our scared friends whose frayed nerves cause them to jump at the slightest sound.  The ones trying to sleep in their rooms right beside the doors.

It always matters.

The young lady next to me, increasingly contracted into herself in what seemed to be an attempt at disappearing, would energetically scream outward as her arm flung across the face of her neighbour in the dining hall, groping for a serviette, and disturbing her neighbour’s hand-to-mouth eating movement. The heavily tattooed woman in the flimsy tops revealed to us her story-symbols on her skin.  The constant squealing of my nostril as I worked through my pranayama (breathing) practice spoke to the congestion that would never leave me alone.

We are never not speaking.


While on retreat, I become quite obsessed with deer.  Inevitably, as I walk slowly and mindfully along the property trails, I come across these majestic creatures.  This last retreat was no different.

I was trudging along, making my way through the final hike of the retreat, when I came across deer tracks in the mud (No, the photo above isn’t mine.  🙂 ).  That was it.  My mind got excited and I began following the tracks in the hopes of having a bonding moment with Bambi.  I was hooked, meaning I was no longer being mindful of where I was or what I was doing.  I was craving an experience and that held my entire focus. That craving, plus a minor back injury, led to sloppy and loud movement.  Crashing along the trail, rustling leaves, snapping branches, and heaving breath, I had no idea that I was being observed.  All I could see was my own want, my own desire.  It never occurred to me that there was any other perspective, that there was anything outside of me.  But there was, and it was the very thing I craved.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of movement.  The very deer I had hoped to see were running away from me.  All of my crashing around had scared them; my desire and the “blindness” that came with it had driven them away.  But that’s not what really struck me.  What was profound about that moment was how those long-legged animals could leap away, over and through fallen trees and piles of leaves, without making a sound.  It was the split second visual of them running away that captured my attention, but I heard nothing.  Here I was a much smaller creature on two legs, crashing through the woods and making enough noise for 500 people, and these animals soared away as if on wings.

In that moment, the lesson came home to me – We are always communicating, even if we stop using words.

I want to be as quiet and self-contained as the deer.  I want to be part of my environment without blasting through my environment.  As much as possible, I want to exist here without being a disruptive intrusion to the others around me.  Because you and your peace matter just as much as me and mine.

It matters.


Coming back to the here and now, it is much quieter than when I first started.  The bird calls have temporarily settled.  The rush hour frenzy of traffic has come to an end.  There is a soft breeze in the trees but it’s barely a whisper.  And still we speak, interconnected beings on this planet, together at this time.  My breath, moving in and out, becomes a story to the rabbit eating leaves in the yard.  Like the wind and the water and the fire, we can roar and activate, or we can calm and soothe.  We are never truly silent.

In this moment, and then the next, and the next, what story are you telling the world around you?

It matters.

In peace,

Tabitha

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You are here to be you.  Uniquely you.  Colourful you.  Joyful you.  Stay you and hug the ones who are uniquely shiny and walking alongside you.  The world needs your colour. (Click on the link below.  It’s a safe one.  😉 )

Blessings,

Tabitha

http://www.upliftedlife.com/how-society-kills-our-creativity-in-a-breathtaking-award-winning-short-film/

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finger-pointing

We hear this question a lot, don’t we?  I think all generations have asked this question about those who are coming up the ranks.  Now it’s the “Millenials” who are catching the flak. Please watch this video.  It’s one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time.  While the focus is on the Millenials, I would like to stretch the message a bit further to touch all of us.  The message of this video is about all of us.  What the speaker talks about is for all of us.  Just watch……..and absorb.  And then, find the courage to contemplate:  How is this about me?

All love and blessings,

Tabitha

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Dog-Bite1

I’ve been paying close attention to sarcasm lately.  I grew up in a world soaked in sarcasm so it wasn’t something that ever really blipped on my radar; it was commonplace.  Didn’t everyone everywhere throw these cleverly disguised statements around?  No, apparently not.  It took a student of mine to reveal that to me.  There have been times after class when everyone’s together, putting on their coats, and someone throws out a zinger.  Four of five people would be heartily guffawing while one sat looking confused.  In the most beautifully innocent way she revealed, “I don’t get sarcasm.  It goes over my head every time.  I just don’t understand it.”  That one statement gave me pause and invited me to really observe this thing we call sarcasm.

Growing up, my father was a very sarcastic man.  I would watch him throw out statements at my mother that silenced her instantly, made her cringe, and seemed to make her grow smaller.  All the while he laughed and seemed to expand.  The same thing would happen with me.  He would toss out a line that caused him to chuckle but hurt when it landed in my ears.  You see how that can be confusing to a child?  I desperately wanted to please my father, to gain and sustain his attention, so I picked up his habit of sarcasm, met him on common ground, and never gave sarcasm a second thought, except to know that when I used this verbal tool, I felt good.

What I never really solidly considered is that my aim to feel good was making someone else feel bad.  Not until recently, that is.

A short time ago I was wasting precious moments of my life on social media, scrolling through meaningless memes, trying to get to “real” posts written by people I care about, when it became glaringly apparent to me that everything I was reading was dripping with sarcasm.  All of it.  Political posts.  Current event posts.  Memes filled with cute little cartoon characters backing acerbic sentiments.  It was overwhelming.  Sarcasm seemed to be everywhere.  Strangers on the street spoke to one another sarcastically.  Friends would have exchanges over the fence and out came sarcasm.  It seemed inescapable like that clingy, freaky person on the bus who’s decided you’re their best friend.  I felt like I was going nuts!

My vision broadened from there and things became even more real for me.  I noticed two things:  1)  how sarcasm feels when it lands in the body and the psyche, and 2)  how often I used it as a tool.

When I am at the brunt of a sarcastic attack, I feel pummelled.  When I use sarcasm, I mean to pummel.  It is as simple as that.

I’m not sure sarcasm is as innocent as we make it out to be.  I don’t think it warrants cutesy little cartoon characters to back it up.  I think the picture above is far more suitable because sarcasm not only has bark, it has a serious bite.  Although it’s used as humour, I’m not sure the true nature of sarcasm is funny at all.  I think it’s a weapon.  The whole basis of sarcasm, if you look at it honestly, is to strip someone down, to humiliate them, to cause pain.  Sarcasm is a verbal sucker punch.  I know when I use it I’m operating from the lowest, most base part of my person.  I am feeling small and trapped and angry.  I am feeling helpless so I will use what I advertise as my intellect as a way to spin a web, to trap you, to slam you in your tender parts, to make you look stupid so that I can feel good about myself.

There’s nothing funny about that.

I know that when I am sarcastic what I really want to say is, “You’re an asshole/a bitch,” “You’re an imbecile.  In fact, you’re so stupid you won’t even know I’m publicly calling you stupid,” “You are inferior.  I am superior.  I am better than you,” “I feel helpless so I’m going to lash out at you,” and “You made me suffer.  Now I will make you pay by making you suffer.”  Of course, I know saying these things is wrong so I twist things around, I come in through the back door and I use innocent words to hide a vicious ambush.  No canned laughter can mask this underhanded reality.

One statement, “I don’t understand sarcasm,” leads me to a line of inquiry that ensures I will never look at sarcasm the same way again, and I will do my best not to use it.  I have made a commitment to myself to make my use of sarcasm conscious.  It will be a long road.  44 years of use will not end overnight.  What I do know is that every time I use it as a tool, I will feel it land inside of me, it will hurt me the way it hurts the recipient.  And if I can’t say what I mean directly because I know it’s a horrible thing to say, coming through the back door is also not an option – I will work to say nothing at all.

What shadowy parts of yourself have you discovered lately?  Are you willing to sit with it, to work with it, or are you shoving it back into the dark corners?

I wish us all the courage to dig deep, to shine the light into the shadowy corners of our Selves, and to heal.

Blessings,

Tabitha

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same-change

Which way will you go?

 

Student approaches Teacher and says, “Teacher, I am suffering so deeply. I have heard you have found The Way to make this suffering stop. I will do anything. Please, tell me, what is The Way?”

Teacher replies, “It is simple. In the beginning…No sex. No drugs. No alcohol. No overspending. No overworking. No romantic involvement. No junk food. No…distractions…of…any…kind.

Lots of: fresh air, moderate exercise, healthy foods, quiet, and solitude. Get yourself a therapist, a healer, another healer, maybe another healer. Buy a journal and a pen that works. Get quiet. Go deep. Go deeper. And deeper. And deeper still. Keep going. Keep going until you feel a wisp of fresh air on your face. That fresh, clean air is coming from inside of you. Keep going deeper still. Just…keep…going.  Inside.”

Student looks at Teacher, horrified, bewildered. Blinking rapidly and repeatedly, Student asks, “Huh. Have you got anything else?”


 

May you find the courage to go inside.  May you feel that wisp of fresh air that is your true Self and breathe it all in.  May you dig deep.  May you know peace.

Peace,

Tabitha

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An excerpt from the amazingly wise tongue-in-cheek, kick-in-the-pants article “30 Ways to Make Yourself Miserable (Along with Everyone Around You)” by Lion Goodman:

This is a compilation of the top 30 ways to make yourself miserable (along with everyone around you). It’s a well-known fact that “Misery loves company.” Why hoard your suffering when it is so easy to share with others? Many people have made their families miserable. Some have succeeded in making their neighborhood miserable. There are historical records documenting experts who brought misery to entire civilizations. We can use these glorious accomplishments to compare ourselves to, which will allow us to feel incapable, miniscule, or completely unworthy (This is Technique 11, detailed below)…

I will have to admit that number 27 in the list is my personal pet peeve and Achilles’ heel all at the same time.  If you’d like a good laugh (and kick right smack in the pants), I suggest you take some time to meander your way through this list:  30 Ways to Make Yourself Miserable (Along with Everyone Around You).  It will simultaneously make you chuckle and wake you right up.

Cheers,

Tabitha

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