Thursday, April 4, 2013

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Om Shanti

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I am so grateful to the 7 women in my yoga class at the Y.M.C.A. the night I first spilled the beans, went public, began a process of unburdening my soul, out loud. Of that seven, four approached me after class and led me to know I wasn't alone.

I am so grateful to the gathering of friends at one of our regular yoga teacher training sessions, also forced, in a way, to listen. When it was my turn to teach, I chose to share my story. I was emotional. It's taken a long time for me to be able to speak these things out loud without becoming upset/distressed but the only way through it was to do it.

It's terrifying at first, people might shun you, they may not believe you and what you have to say is so shocking to them. There's a tremendous amount of shame to be worked through and it manifests in many ways. I feel invasive and guilty for slashing deeply, probably painfully into anothers innocence but the sexual abuse of children is a gargantuan, global, destructive issue which must be faced and resloved in order for us as a species to move forward into peace. Besides, I know now that any shame I feel is simply reflecting what's still inside and needs to be let go.

I am tremendously grateful to all of you who've read Yoga Heals. Kudos and a boon to you, I've no doubt it's a challenging read but knowledge is power, education is prevention, and YOGA HEALS.

Since installing a tracking device six months ago there have been almost a thousand hits from, as of today, 20 countries. It's not the speed and growth that Mark Zuckerberg saw but the rate of sexually abused children still exceeds facebook users and one in twelve people on the planet now use facebook.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Practice Yoga

It's not as though I have a corner on the market, a secret way of using yoga that can be had from only me, and at expense. Nothing could be further from the truth. Find a yoga teacher or borrow a yoga book from the library and be guided by two principles.

1. Feel your breath.

2. Create peace within your body within each pose.

The body speaks in its own language, sensation its mother tongue. Pain, pleasure and all between are dialects. We listen to our body by feeling it.

Feeling the sensation of breath links mind to body and creates an inner space in which sensory perception can grow. Moving out of the head and into the body comes naturally as we feel the flow of our breath.

Feeling the sensation of breath expands inner awareness to encompass the body as a whole, a built in safety mechanism while practicing hatha yoga, provided we honor the signals/messages our body communicates.

Follow your breath all the way in and out again, or narrow your inner focus down to the touch of your breath in your nostrils and simply feel it there. Feeling mind occupies thinking mind and because it is almost impossible to think and feel at the same time, we have immediate access one breath at a time to a quiet, peaceful, intuitive, perceptive, acutely conscious, feeling state of awareness and being.

Feeling mind resides in the present moment. Because thinking mind is predominantly fixated on the past or future, the common dilemma of the modern mind is that the present moment ceases to exist. We can be angry or resentful over some wrongdoing that happened yesterday, a week or ten years ago. We can be worried sick about a potential future problem which may or may not manifest, and not notice that right here right now the sun is shining through the leaves of beautiful old trees, dappling your face and the world around you with dancing light, as you wander lost in thought. In the present moment, usually for most of us most of the time, all is well and often is downright beautiful but we miss it.

On average we each take twenty thousand breaths a day. Feeling breath teaches the mind how to shift from the usually compulsive, non-stop verbal, often abusive chatter we call thinking... to the quiet peacefulnes of feeling. At first we may catch only fleeting glimpses of what is available but this is a powerful practice which leads eventually but inevitably to an authentic place of peace. Begin by feeling one breath now...


create peace within your body within each pose/asana. Easy words. In essence, if you struggle, strain, force or fight with your body, and I'm talking about yoga here but there are far reaching implications, you are choosing war over peace, and you're risking injury. My teacher always says that if you're kind to your body it will remember and respond happily, joyfully and if you force or strain it will resist all the harder next time you try to pull that one again.

So, feel your breath and automatically you feel your body. Feel your body and automatically your capacity for sensuality, peace, joy expands breath by breath.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Remember dear readers that Yoga Heals is a book published as a blog. In order to find the beginning you must go to the end.

Love, light and blessings,

Friday, November 13, 2009

Yoga Heals

I dedicate this book to my guru,
my spiritual mother,
for showing me how to open the door to grace.
Love and Light G

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rainbow Warriors, Chapter 5

"The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us."
Black Elk
Sioux Holy Man

Rainbow Warriors
Chapter 5

My maternal grandmother turned ninety-seven in February 2009. I spent a most lovely and loving afternoon with her a day or two before her birthday. She mentioned several times how surprised she was to see me until finally she said "no! actually I'm shocked. I hadn't meant to shock her but we hadn't seen each other for three years. I'd moved a long ways away and had also been travelling during that time. I was the prodigal returned, but she knew exactly who I was, immediately.

The women on both sides of my family are long lived. I see myself living a long life on this beautiful planet, probably teaching yoga until I'm well into my hundreds. I have a vision, a knowing that I will be alive to witness the full flowering of the age of peace foretold in countless prophecies. I see how it will manifest. It has already begun, evidence is all around.

About five years ago, I re-read a little book called Warriors of the Rainbow, Strange and Prophetic Dreams of the Indian Peoples, by William Willoya and Vinson Brown. It had little impact on me the first time I read it years ago, but the second time, realization struck with force. Much of what I recount in this chapter is paraphrased or quoted directly from its pages.

Many traditions tell of a coming age of peace, unity and healing. The Hopi, which means peaceful people, are the holders of prophecies that have been handed down for generations. Long ago the Great Spirit told the Hopi that after many hardships and hard times, a reawakening would come from the east in the form of the "true white brother". He would wear a red cloak or a red hat that was shaped like a long scarf. " The True White Brother, the Hopi Believe, would bring with him two great, intelligent and powerful helpers. The two helpers are spoken of as if they were large 'populations' of people. The helpers of the Great prophet can also be thought of as large groups of pure-hearted people who are spreading love, harmony and understanding between all races and all religions, humbly and without fanaticism." They "would show the people of the earth a great new life plan to help all lead better lives and transform the world".

When Black Elk, an Oglala Sioux holy man, was nine years old and very ill in the summer of 1872, a vision came to him. He was told in a dream that the message that would awaken and help his people would come from the east, from a man painted or clothed in bright red. This man had long flowing hair but was unlike the white man or the (North American) Indian in appearance. Black Elk saw that when the people received this message, when they understood it, they would become like licks of flame in a prairie wildfire, igniting others and spreading peace over the world. In the same dream Black Elk saw people going through a time of peril in the form of a great storm which turned into a gentle rain with a rainbow flaming in the ease, a symbol of the Warriors of the rainbow "who shall unite all the colors of the races into one harmonious whole".

Prophecies recounted by Eyes of Fire, an old Cree wise woman, told of a great and powerful light which would come from the east. A light of understanding and unity (the word "yoga" means "to unite") that would enter the hearts of many and spread love between all races and religions. She said the rainbow is a symbol from "that which is in all things, and is a sign of the union of all peoples like one big family". Warriors of the Rainbow were prophesied to come and spread their great message of unity the world over. They would be born in great numbers , heralding the fifth world of peace. Born and raised within a race and culture, but drawn irresistibly to the teachings, and ways of another, the Rainbow warriors create a rainbow bridge, linking peoples and cultures.

I am a Rainbow Warrior, often misunderstood and sometimes ridiculed by those closest to me who cannot understand my love for, and immersion into, all things yoga. I don't blame them, I don't understand it myself. Baptized Roman Catholic, schooled by nuns and priests, how could I fall suddenly, deeply in love with Shiva? Why would Hanuman call to me? When I returned home after my first ashram stay, altered, singing Sanskrit chants, it freaked my family out. I believe they thought I'd had my brain washed and rinsed. The music I was playing, the chants I was singing, all felt so familiar to me, but irritated, and I think frightened, them.

"Understanding the role of peace in the fifth world on which we are embarking, we must first seek to establish inner peace. In the modern world, we often look at peace as the absence of war, but peace is a way of acting, knowing, creating, listening, speaking, living, being. It is not something that can be weighed or measured but if it were it would be measured by the hearts capacity to remain open, serene, and unafraid."
Jamie Sams
Sacred Path Cards-The Discovery of Self Through Native Teachings

Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Quetzacoatl, all foretold their return, bearing their message of peace and healing. Krishna, who may have lived a thousand years before Christ, told Prince Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita, that "whenever there is decay of righteousness, then I myself come forward; for the protection of the good. I am born from age to age".

Buddha said, "I am not the first Buddha who has come upon the earth, nor shall I be the last, in due time another Buddha will arise in the world". Buddha prophesied his return in the form of Maitreya, commonly translated as world uniter, and said "as the night is darkest before dawn, just when the world seems hopeless and beyond repair, teachers will appear in all corners of the world. People will be drawn to the teachings and the true meaning of the word teacher will be remembered." Yoga teachers of old were called gurus. In Sanskrit gu means darkness and ru means light, the true meaning of the word guru, is one who leads from darkness to light.

The bible tells of the return of Jesus as "coming in the clouds", interpreted by many as the manifestation of Christ consciousness within the hearts and minds of humankind, Could it be that Krishna, Buddha, Quetzalcoatl will, or have already returned as Krishna, Buddha, Quetzalcoatl, "nature"?

"Those who do not understand, think that when their Messiah comes he will do their work for them. The Warriors of the Rainbow will be happy to find that there are now millions of people all over the earth ready and eager to rise and join them in conquering all barriers that bar the way to a new and glorious world."

William Willoya, co-author of Warriors of the Rainbow, was born in 1939, into an oral tradition in Alaska. He learned the stories told to him by his grandmother and other wise elders. They said "that 1912 had been a year of special significance in dreams. The elders saw in their dreams a man with a flowing white beard and long flowing hair who would come from the east. He wore a special kind of hat with cloth wrapped around and around. This was not the great prophet but one who came from Him, who came to America as his messenger." How many Yogis have come from east to west, fitting the prophetic description of long flowing hair, red robes, wearing a special kind of cloth hat "wrapped around and around"? Willoya was taught as a child, by the old ones, that the message of the new prophet "would purify the souls, illumine the hearts and guide all people to love one another". Willoya's book, Warriors of the Rainbow, was first published in 1962, long before the world wide explosion of yoga we are witness to today.

"The purpose of yoga is to facilitate the profound inner relaxation that accompanies fearlessness. The release from fear is what finally precipitates the full flowering of love. In this state you will love what you see in others, and others will love you for having been seen. This is the softened perception of the world that yoga promotes".
The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness

Yoga is so much more than Hatha yoga which comprises, only two of the eight limbs which make up the Raja yoga tree, asana (postures) and pranayama (breath). Raja yoga is only one of the four paths of yoga. Jnana, the yoga of wisdom, Bhakti, the yoga of devotion, and Karma, the yoga of selfless service, are the other three. Many, myself included, originally come to yoga for the exercise, but whether we know it or not, all yoga is sadhana, spiritual practice.

Like my first teacher always says "Yoga should never be called exercise, it should be called innercise". She also claims that "yoga brings out the beauty in people". Through its practice we learn to cultivate love and acceptance of ourselves which opens us to our capacity for love and acceptance of others. Inner peace is found through balancing the self. World peace begins within the heart of each individual.
According to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of Transcendental Meditation, the Vedic theory of consciousness states that all of manifest creation emerges from a single unified field of pure intelligence. Consciousness is an infinite, invisible field of intelligence, which manifest, underlies all the diversity in the physical universe. This fundamental unified field can be seen as the most basic level of the organizing intelligence of nature. From Carl Jung's theory of the collective unconscious to the story of the One-Hundredth Monkey, central is the idea that when enough individuals in a population adopt a new idea, behavior, or way of being, this new awareness spontaneously becomes common knowledge among the entire population.

Yoga has been growing exponentially since its introduction to the west. Now "like a prairie wildfire" it has exploded and covers the globe.

The bible says that the meek shall inherit the earth. In our time meek has come to mean "timid but originally the word meant "peaceful". We are on the cusp of peace. Signs are everywhere. When enough individuals realize peace within themselves, the scales of the collective consciousness of mankind will tip, and peace will occur withing the span of a heartbeat, the world over.

May the whole world attain peace and harmony.
May the whole world attain peace and happiness.
May that peace begin within my heart.

Om Shanti

Chapter 4, Part 3

I once took a workshop from a senior Iyengar yoga instructor who shared what her teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar, had told her about yoga. He said that "when you know something this powerful, it is your duty to share it". I am meant to speak out, as compelled to share my story as I am compelled to share yoga. Yoga is the alchemy which transforms pain to pleasure, harm to healing, bad to good. What is the highest aspiration of the yogi after all but to be good and do good.

Breaking the cycle of sexual abuse through the liberating power of speech is ahimsa, non violence, in action. Speaking out breaks the taboo of secrecy and paves the way for others to do the same. To tell is to heal. We tell our stories so that we no longer hold, inside, terrible secrets for those who take advantage of the innocent and helpless. Telling, shifts a burden of shame from shoulders where it does not belong. Telling creates awareness, enabling everyone to better protect all children.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, "child sexual abuse is largely a hidden crime so is difficult to estimate the numbers". I don't think I am unique in the way that my body/psyche buried the trauma of sexual abuse. There may be millions or billions of walking wounded, sufferers of depression, anxiety, anger, phobia... with absolutely no inkling of the root cause. It is an epidemic, a pandemic, a secret plague, a crime against the hope of humankind, children. Ending the sexual abuse of children is an imperative step forward on the peace path. Victims are speaking out now in record numbers, a good sign and a necessary step. Perpetrators, it's time to own your actions, another step in healing this scourge.

My dharma, my path, duty and joy, is to share my knowledge and in so doing help others to heal from the deleterious effects of sexual trauma. Now finally, I feel like I'm living the life that was intended for me rather than the one that was forced upon me. Each moment becoming more aware of my voice, my power, my potential, and the joy that simply being alive contains.

I feel as though I am in possession of something huge, powerful and beautiful in its perfection. The knowledge that yoga heals.