April: Asteya

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Asteya has been a really interesting limb to focus on for me. It requires much more discernment than I’d had to use than with ahimsa or satya. I actually relied a lot on satya to point me in the right direction much of the time.

The third of the Yamas is Asteya which translates to non stealing. In my teacher training, my teacher explained it as not taking what is not earned or given to you. Of course this manifests in the physical realms- don’t steal objects from stores or people- but it also manifests in an energetic sense. This is the aspect I found most interesting this month. Not stealing people’s time & energy- not taking what isn’t mine and not letting others steal my time & energy.

ON THE MAT ASTEYA PRACTICE

I’ve been practicing asteya on my mat in two ways. The first is that I’m not trying to force myself to be on my mat at a certain time. I’ve allowed myself a freedom of time and space that doesn’t feel like yoga has been something to check off of my list. Of course- it depends where you are at in your life when t comes to this. If you have 4 kids running around and you have to schedule in your yoga time then this too is practicing asteya! This is where the discernment piece comes in. I found myself leaning to satya (if you haven’t read March’s limb satya, I’ll link it here) to figure out whether I was really having my time & energy ‘stolen’ by busing myself with something else or my thoughts. Trying to figure out the truth of the situation allowed me to see whether I was avoiding yoga practice or whether it was something I was using to avoid something else.

This became a back and forth of ‘I practice to support my best self’- practicing asteya on the mat meant I was able to arrive there entirely, without leaving part of myself with another task or person.

The second way I’ve been practicing it on the mat is within my thoughts. What am I giving my energy to? Is it necessary to be expending that thought or energy right now, during my sacred practice? The mind is very good at wandering. At squandering your sense of peace on things to keep it busy. I’ve been trying to not allow myself to slip into worry or fear while on my mat- in my ‘time’ for practice.

OFF THE MAT ASTEYA PRACTICE

Off the mat asteya tends to be a bit more difficult. I like to plan and I also like to wing it- but how can you ensure you are getting the most out of your time and other people’s time? I often wonder, am I taking up their time or do they have something else they’d rather/should be doing other than being here with me?

We are all so. busy. But how much of that ‘busy’ is just stolen energy or time, expended on things that don’t end up serving your purpose anyway?

I personally, end up sucking my own time where I don’t need to. This past month, the that students i’m tutoring were leaving on break. I compiled this worksheet document to keep them academically growing while they were away. I spent maybe an hour and a half on it. Do you think they completed it? No. There was no reason for me to put my energy into that- I ended up taking away my own energy, my own prana, on something I pretty well knew wasn’t going to be fruitful anyway. It was no one else’s fault and no one ‘sucked my time’- it was me. In the end, there are no time suckers or energy thieves-We make the choice to give what we give, to expend what we expend. We ultimately control how much we put out there, no one forces you to give up your energy (except maybe if you’re a mama or dad!!).

Practicing asteya off the mat simply means being in tune with what is yours to keep and yours to give.

Next month (MAY) is brahmacharya which translates to conservation or moderation(or more traditionally celibacy)- so it should be an interesting one!

xx

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March: Satya

satya- (1).jpgI’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for what feels like forever. March was a chaotic month for me and it lasted 5 weeks instead of the usual 4! This month’s focus was Satya- the second of the Yamas in Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga. Looking at this one has been really difficult this month as it translates to TRUTH or HONESTY.

What is true in your life? Which thoughts are true and which thoughts are fear based or ego driven? How much do we spin stories about what ‘could’ be or what ‘should’ be instead of what is?

For myself, I’ve been looking at satya as more of a mental health practice than a ‘have I told this person the truth’. It’s a really good tool for checking in with your thoughts and seeing where you are telling yourself ‘stories’, and then returning back to the now.

We all have this compass engrained within us to know what our true self would need, it’s about sifting through the bullsh*#@ to find it.

In the end, satya looked like me ‘changing my mind’ a lot. And thats okay. I wrote a post on Instagram about how frustrated I was with the question ‘are you being kind to yourself?’. Sometimes, honesty isn’t exactly kind or nice. Sometimes Its about facing the truth in order to grow and honor your soul.

ON THE MAT SATYA PRACTICE

In order to practice satya when I step on my yoga mat, I’ve been committing myself to completing a full body scan (10-15 minutes) before practice and then after practice. A body scan is where you either sit of lay (but if you are laying don’t fall asleep!) and mentally move through each part of the body, relaxing muscle by muscle and noticing what is going on in that particular part. There is no judgement. Only observation. I start with my toes and slowly work my way up.

Are the toes tense or relaxed? How do the ankles feel? Are the calves resting or active? and so on until you get the crown of your head.

Why complete this? It helps you slow down and connect with the body before asana. It helps you decipher what is true in the body/mind and what is false. Having scoliosis- I tend to feel like my alignment is incredibly uncentered, when truly it isn’t. My mind views my body different than what it is in reality. My right hip is too high. The left side of my ribs are sinking- These are all things I start to think at the beginning of my practice. I notice. Then, when I body scan before Savasana, it is changed into mind awareness. My body is here and it is doing all the work I need it to.

The TRUTH of the body, is that it tries it’s hardest for you every moment. You are here now in this life- feeling and creating feeling. Whether you are chronically ill, suffer from structural or functional disorders or simply have monkey mind- you are here, and that is truth.

OFF THE MAT SATYA PRACTICE

This is the trickier part. Life has a way of providing several paths or ways of seeing things. Sometimes, our mind persuades us to believe things that aren’t true. You can’t do that. You aren’t beautiful. You aren’t worthy. We tell ourselves these stories at different junctions in our lives and they become misleading-so very misleading. Satya is about looking at what is true. Not berating yourself with it- but understanding that in truth there is a bit of peace.

Off the mat, I ask myself ‘Is that true’ and if it is I go on with my day. For all the chatter we have in our minds on the daily, I think its important when a seed of doubt gets planted to ask ‘is that true’? Doubt isn’t very factual- when faced with honesty it either dissipates or you move in an entirely different direction. Whenever a feeling of doubt or insecurity arises trigger yourself to ask ‘is that thought true’, and then move on.

or try to. Sometimes it’s not that simple, we are human after all.

Most of all, enjoy the peace that comes with this practice. I’ve found satya hard but rewarding to focus on. I feel much more grounded in self or whatever concept of self I have.

xx

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Travel Guide: Trier, Germany

Across the Luxembourg border is a town called Trier- the oldest roman city in Germany. I was drawn to going for its easy travel (one hour from Luxembourg by train), history and shopping. I loved it from the moment I arrived- the train station is only 10 minutes away from the centre, making it super easy to walk down. The place I stopped into (as usual) was the info centre. Usually in every town theres an info centre either in the train station or in the city centre. I got a map and a list of tourist activities and I was on my way. trier2

The first place I hit was right beside the info centre and was one of the oldest places in the city. The Porta Nigra is a huge Roman city gate built out of sandstone between 186-200 AD. It was given its’s name ‘Porta Nigra’ (latin for ‘black gate) in the middle ages however the true Roman name for the gate has been lost in time. What I found most amazing was that the gate would have been taken apart stone by stone for building materials in the 11th century if not for a Greek hermit monk named Simeon who lived in the gate. Previous to living in the gate, Simeon had lived in a cave off the shore of the Red Sea, but left because he was he found he was too often disturbed by other people. I loved hearing the bits and pieces of his story and kept imagining him living in the (freezing) cold gate, alone, all day long.

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The rooms were huge and lonely but absolutely beautiful. Graffiti is carved into the stones, a mix of historical carvings and modern swear words. trier4trier5

trier7trier6One of the other things I lvoed about it was the long hallways and winding stairs. Each area had a long hallways connecting it with huge arched open windows, allowing you to take pictures of the town below. All together the experience cost 4 euros and was well worth it to wander around. Plus the view is fantastic.

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Next, I went and got myself a real german pretzel ( really great choice by the way) and made my way to the cathedral. On the way I stopped around town mostly because it all looked so cool and colourful. This fountain is in the middle of the square making it a beautiful meeting point for people. For a while I ate my pretzel and watched family and friends meet at the fountain, hugging and speaking german or french.

trier-13Finally I got to the cathedral. Inside it was massive- high ceilings and beautiful artwork. What amazed me most was the organ up on the wall. I would’ve loved to hear it played to know what it sounded like. It was so incredibly massive. trier-12trier-10trier-11

After being a tourist for most of the day, I resigned myself to shopping at T.K Max and some other shops. I got myself a Dunkin Donuts coffee and headed home. It was a great day of solo travel and my very first time going to a new country completely alone. I find travel empowering. It confirms that the crazy things I think I can’t do, I can.

Trier may not be the world’s hottest city to visit but I do recommend if you are in the Luxembourg area or even Germany, that you take a stop, even for a few hours and visit the Porta Nigra & Cathedral. They have beautiful stories attached to their history waiting to be explored.

xx

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Living in Luxembourg So Far

luxtitle.jpgIts been exactly one week since I’ve moved to Luxembourg and its been a crazy busy week at that. Between doctors appointments, TB tests, immigration papers, driving in a new country and sorting through 3 different languages here- its been hectic. Yesterday, I was finally able to get out and explore a little bit and I’m very happy for it! This country so far is beautiful and I can’t wait to see more of it.

lux2I took the bus into the city centre not exactly knowing where I would end up. After walking a bit from the bus stop I came to the WW2 monument- something I had only seen while driving by. The first thing I was amazed at was the view. The 3 plateaus with valleys in between make for awesome sights in Luxembourg and really show the age of the country. While it is winter here there was still lots of green moss and ivy to brighten things up (unlike in Canada where all you can see is snow!). As it was Sunday, church bells seemed to be ringing all around making it even more spectacular.
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I then crossed the street to find the Cathedral Notre Dame & the National Library. Just inside the cathedral doors is a history of Luxembourg in french, german and (thank goodness) english! I found it very helpful. After reading I went to walk into the cathedral to wander around only to find that mass was still going on at 1 in the afternoon! Whoops. Sundays are taken quite strictly here and select shops only open 2-6.lux4

Finally, I was able to find the main centre square. This is where I would recommend you start because its where the tourist office is! After loading myself up with maps and guides I was able to continue on my way knowing where I was going. I ended up headed to the Palais Grand Ducal – which is where the Grand Duke lives. Its right in the middle of town and surprisingly open for the public to walk around it. It is only open for tours July-September but still a wonderful site to see with its grand doors and rapunzel-esque towers.lux6lux7After the palace, I made my way onto a tiny ally, lit with paper lanterns. In front of me was a couple that were clearly entirely infatuated with each other, kissing and groping and laughing big, full laughs. It was nice to walk under the lanterns on the cobblestone path and be reminded that there is more love than hate in the world. Originally I had doubted whether I should take the ally, being a lone female tourist, but fear lost and fought through the doubt. Trusting will lead you where you need to be and if my gut had screamed louder I would have trusted that too. Popular media teaches us to be very wary- especially in Europe- however theres a difference between fear and caution, i’m learning.lux11.jpg

Suddenly I found myself at a lookout over the most beautiful little town I have ever seen. There was snow covering the roofs of the houses with chimneys puffing steam into the air. There was a yellow chapel looking building with a tall point reaching into the sky and it was all set against the mossy rock from the plateau above. It was like out of a story book. I only stayed briefly because my hands were starting to **freeze** but it somewhere I will most certainly be returning to.lux5.jpg

After wandering around as a tourist, the shops began to open up. There were a few I had never heard of (Pull & Bear?) and some I was very familiar with (Esprit, my mamas favourite when I was younger). I wandered into an H&M not thinking i’d find anything but ended up realizing that they sold home goods. Perfect timing for me to start making my little apartment space more mine. I bought some things that were all on sale (great sales) and am feeling more at home now.

All in all, its been an exhausting first week of firsts- first time driving in a (completely) different country, first time having a TB test, first time being somewhere that english isn’t the base language… its all coming together very slowly. I had a massive break down mid week because of a spider incident. It was a big one and right beside my bed. With that, everything came crashing in. The fact that i’d come so far from home and wasn’t sure what for. The fact that I left behind those I love in search of some sort of early 20’s wanderlust fulfillment. I doubted it all. I fell apart. But my touring around has helped me see that the firsts & the falling aparts are good. We adapt. We learn. We grow. I’ve see two other spiders since and I’ve handled them accordingly, with no tears, no fast breathing. More importantly, I haven’t fallen apart, and I know if I do that I can put my pieces back together again.

After all, ruin is the road to transformation.

Much love,

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Trust

I’ve always felt like a fairly brave person.Not brave as in, no fear & solid as stone, but brave as in willing to walk through the fire and get what needs to be done, done. The cross-over to this year is teaching me that bravery is actually useless & harmful. Trust is much harder than bravery… Why? Because it’s a hell of a lot harder to trust what you are unsure of than to power through it without feeling the flames.

In bravery we are arrogant, in trust we are humbled.

I felt brave making this move to Europe. I felt I was making the hard choice to move and last month I began to doubt that a lot. Now I see that there is no right or wrong. There is no brave moves- only those that require a lot more trust. I trust that this is neither good nor bad but that it will lead me where I am meant to be. I don’t know that this will all work out and I’m not so fearless as to think that it will be without its hardship. So far I have been shown so much generosity and kindness that it has been overwhelming at times. There have been so many moments when fear creeps in and tells me ‘this is where everything comes crashing down and you return a failure’ and every time there is such a peace after the fear. Such a moment of quiet connection to ‘now’ that I feel humbled enough to trust whatever will come, even if it’s catastrophically horrible.

Yesterday,I went to the airport with my dad to fly to Luxembourg. When we got in the car I was nervous and ready to get it over with. I looked up at the driver to see on his dash board  2 ganesha sculptures. I laughed to myself- it’s meant to be, I’m moving obstacles, I’m making changes, I’m in the right place at my right time. Fast forward- past getting searched at security and a very chaotic Heathrow post New Years- I got on the plane to Luxembourg, nervous and shaking. The plane took off under the most beautiful sunset-a scene I will always remember. The seatbelt sign switched off and I got a gingerale to settle my nervous stomach. Then we hit turbulence. Then more. Then the captain (who kept saying ‘gentlemen welcome to your flight’ and ‘gentlemen please take your seat and fasten your seatbelts’ as if women were non-present on the flight) came on and advised that it was about to get even rockier so to please remain seated. I’ve been on flights with turbulence before but none quite like this. The woman next to me was losing. her. shit. and I found myself looking at her and thinking ‘thats what inside my head has looked like for what feels like my whole life’. I found my grip on my seat loosen and my mind wander to those two ganeshas. I’m not in control. I’m not making changes. I’m not walking through this fire. I am trusting that the obstacles are meant to be there. That they need not be moved by me– that they will move on their own accord when the time is right. I’m trusting it all will be exactly as it is. My insides suddenly didn’t reflect the girl freaking out next to me and neither did my outsides. I found myself grateful to her and her fear and to me and mine. I found myself happy to be beside someone who was entirely in her own experience while I was so entirely within mine. And that is the difference between trust and bravery…

According to J.M Barrie, one of my favourite authors,
“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust”

That may sound hokey and too sunshiny / naive to some but I’m starting to believe more in the power of trust…even if it takes me to ugly places where i’m overwhelmed and lonely.It’s all life and that is more empowering than being brave ever will be.

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