Transformation

Energy flows freely within and between us – we need only stop for a moment and focus inwards to feel that life and it’s ability to transform

I attended a yoga workshop led by ‘environmentalist’ Julia Butterfly Hill and yoga teacher Ryan at Yoga for the People in Gastown – a beautiful space with classes accessible to anyone, donations preferred. I listened rapt to Julia, a woman who has experienced much and stands as a role model to anyone who works for positive change in themselves and in the world.   For 738 days, Julia lived in the canopy of a giant redwood tree, raising awareness about the damage we were causing to our ancient forest, and creating forward movement on numerous environmental and social justice issues.

Today, she sat among us, sharing her ideas on transformation and growth. One idea in particular stood out for me – that transformation is continual, we are never finished, and it is never easy. As she joked, “People tell me they are jealous of my life. I tell them no, they are jealous of the results.” Life is not just a summary of outcomes. It is the process in all it’s heart-wrenching glory.

Think about a butterfly. To transform, a caterpillar must create it’s own cocoon, woven from within, and then liquefy completely in this shell. Yes, liquefy, disintegrate to the point where there is not one recognizable element of its former physical self, not even the head. And from this emerges an entirely different creature, which stops for a moment to dry off the last drops of the liquid it grew from, before flying off to begin life in a new form.

For us to transform, truly transform ourselves and our world, we need to be willing to do the work. We need to be able to give up and dissolve ourselves, and everything we thought we knew, everything we understood, those thoughts that we’ve been thinking and rethinking, the judgments on ourselves and others. Give up our old fears, the memories we cling to, the identity we see ourselves as ‘being’. Let go of the belief that we cannot make a difference. Most importantly, we need to give up the mind, as the butterfly needs to liquefy it’s own head – difficult, as we so often cling to our minds, our thoughts, the chatter that we allow ourselves to go through day in and day out. Give up that mind so it can transform. In other words…get out of your own way and let transformation occur. It won’t always be pretty, but it will be worth it, as you emerge with new wings that you can use to create ripples of change in your community and the lives of others.

A butterfly only makes this transformation once in it’s life – as humans, we are blessed with the ability to grow and learn continually, evolving with greater wisdom and understanding.

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MindBodySoul

Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

Bridging the disconnect between body and mind is something I’ve become more focused on over the last two years, so this question has helped me to solidify those explorations. We are always rushing so much, trying to keep up with expectations, and losing our connections to community, to the earth, and to our own selves. I think this is one of the things that most holds us back from creating the society, and the lives that many of us still harbor dreams of. By taking those small moments to feel the way in which we are a part of something bigger, we can stave off those feelings of isolation created by a compartmentalized society. Exploring integration with ourselves is the first step to integrating more fully with the world around us.

I have tried to cultivate a feeling of integration between mind and body by taking time to do Anusara yoga, and exploring nature whenever I can (an easier endeavor now that I’m back in BC). By the end of every Anusara class, as I sit a bit straighter and allow my mind to focus in on energy, I can sense a greater connection. It’s difficult to describe this energy in words, but it can be summed up in the Anusara philosophy of Flowing with Grace.

I can allow my mind to let go and feel the energy that exists in the room and in myself – it can make you feel stronger, more capable, and more at peace with yourself. Taking the yoga further, I was incredibly lucky this year to go with a close friend to a home in Metchosin overlooking the ocean. I planned to stay for 3 days and ended up staying for 6. Sitting in the early morning sun overlooking nature at it’s finest, with no cement, and no to-do lists blocking my way, I was free to do exactly as my body asked. Long runs on wooded ocean-side trails followed by long stretches on the porch and meditation on the rocky beach. These moments are where I feel most connected. I was ME, I was alive, I was present in that space, free to absorb nature’s energy and appreciate how blessed I am. It is a feeling of elation, of pure joy and yet pure serenity at the same time. No need to go backwards or forwards, simply content to be exactly who I am, where I am, when I am. If I could paint it, it would be a gold-tinged amber color radiating outwards, coloring the present.

Sunrise in Metchosin

It’s my intention to create more of these opportunities in the year that comes, carving out more time for yoga and spending time absorbing nature. Find a time for yourself to connect more fully with your body, and watch the world work with you!