Written just as the Covid-19 restrictions were starting to lift a little in the spring of 2020, still applicable now though...
Picture this: a wide fast flowing river with
high banks and deep water. The pull to join the current is strong, enticing in its promises to take you somewhere new. Maybe to new places, adventures, into new projects or simply into the busyness of life.
What if this river were to slow a little, say due to a global pandemic, allowing you to rest in the eddies for a time. Or maybe even to climb onto the soft banks away from those fast moving waters.
Imagine this time as a gift, a time to slow down, rest, and revel in the simplicity of your life. Taking this time to exist in the present moment, rather than always looking forward and anticipating the future.
Imagine this time of slowing down an opportunity for self reflection and to listen to your inner voice, asking yourself ‘how do I really want my life to be and what is really important?’ Explore the quiet river banks for a time.
Inevitably, the river will begin to move faster again and swirl around us, pulling us back into its flowing waters. Your challenge will be to remember this time of reflection. As you move gradually back into a new way of living on our planet, trying to keep these new priorities at the forefront will be your task as you feel the pull of the currents around you.
What an opportunity we all have now to reevaluate and remodel how we desire our lives to be. Resist, at least for a time, the strong pull of the current that is sure to build over the coming weeks and months. And then, find a way to often return to your quiet eddie or soft river bank.
I’ve never been a model and likely never will be. However, I recently had the opportunity to be just that for a day. Let me back up a little…..
As I’ve entered my 6th decade (yikes), I vacillated between general disbelief that I could be 50, and gratitude for being healthy and so very fortunate in many ways. Maybe even a little bit of fear is mixed in there, knowing that the years are flying by and that I likely am way past the half-way mark.
Over the past 4-5 years, I have been noticing the signs of aging. The increasing grey hairs, lines in the face, looser skin and others I won’t even mention. However, with the help of my wonderful “Goddesses Never age” group of friends, I decided to try to embrace the aging process that is inevitable…. if I am one of the lucky ones that is, who is healthy and lives a long life. In my work in Palliative care, I far too often witness the death of a younger person, so I remind myself with each new grey hair, with every ache and pain, and with every change I notice in my body, that I am indeed one of the lucky ones.
Recently, when I noticed a FaceBook post about a project called “50 and Fabulous” I just had to click on it! Reading the photographers plans for bringing to light the beauty in women over 50 struck a cord in me. Regina’s plans to change the way we think about beauty in the media, to bring forward the amazing faces of women who have experienced love and loss, raised families, cared for aging parents, travelled the world…. you name it, spoke to me in a way that made me reach out to her.
About 3 weeks later, I found myself in her studio in Victoria, having a makeover and standing in front of her very big camera. She made me feel at ease, coaxed poses, head turns, shoulder rolls and smiles out of me over and over. I felt pretty special that day. Which brings me closer to my point (at last, you say!) Many of us have a really hard time being nice to ourselves, saying nice things about the way we look, dress, and feel about our own bodies. I am no exception but when I saw the result of Regina’s work, I had a really hard time NOT feeling good about what was in front of my eyes. Regina and Serge, her husband and business partner, prepared a video of the day. While I watched in disbelief at what I was seeing, tears welled up. Was I really so pretty? The evidence was right in front of my eyes, it was pretty hard to deny that I didn’t look so bad (okay I still have a little work to do on my self-acceptance but I’m a step or 2 closer after this experience.) Wouldn’t it be amazing to keep a healthy, positive, and accepting attitude about myself as I pass through the years. The alternative is self-judgment, criticism and general unhappiness about myself and the way I look. It really is a no-brainer isn’t it?
Check out this little video that Serge put together of the day and also Regina’s website for more information on her project.
Yes, after almost 5 years, many weekends and evenings travelling to courses, planning classes, assessing students, studying and filling in of endless forms, my work is done!! My application to become a 'Certified Yoga Therapist" is complete and submitted. Wow, what a relief and I can't help but think of a time many years ago, 30 years ago this month in fact.
I had just finished 4 long, intense years of University, had my Bachelor's degree in hand and had just written the RN exams. My degree would be of little value unless I passed that day and a half exam. I would be unable to call my self a 'Registered Nurse" nor practice. Although today I can still practice 'yoga therapy', I am not quite able to call myself a 'Yoga Therapist." A seemingly small distinction in practice, but in theory is huge! I will be part of an international organization with strict guidelines, a code of ethics and rigorous certification processes. Much like my Nursing College.
I need to thank so many people for supporting me along the way, beginning with my husband and family. My absence many evenings and weekends made their life a little less easy but they never complained. Next my teachers, Jules Payne and Michelle Kahan who own Ajna School of Yoga Therapy. They managed to achieve accreditation as a school of Yoga Therapy before anyone else in Canada, and now there are still only 2 others. Their teachings from the heart, their vast well of knowledge was limitless and they shared it with their students with grace and humility. Jenn Piercy was an inspiring mentor who guided me along my path to creating the Rest Revolution and understanding the value of Yoga Nidra. I'd be remiss if I didn't thank the dozens of students who entered my little studio with an open mind and heart and allowed me to practice my 'trade' so to speak. When I put out a call for help, needing to assess and create a plan for about 50 people, my friends and students came to my aid and passed it along to their friends. In the end, it seemed not so daunting a task with so much support.
Now I can breath a sigh of relief, and just wait for the IAYT to process my application. I'm done.
Alignment. This is the word that popped into my head this morning after an incredible week.
The second of the 7 main Chakras is given a lot of attention for it’s energy of sexuality, of playfulness and delight. And granted, this is a huge part of our life, an area to be cherished, nourished and enjoyed. However, another key role of Svadhisthana is to do with keeping our lives in alignment and balancing of opposite energies.: professional or work life, family relationships, personal and sexual relationships, passions, responsibilities, the list could go on a while! The subtle adjustments, shifts, and allowances that are made on a daily basis, are supported by the energy of Svadhisthana..
Recently, my life seems to be coming into alignment. I have almost always known that my path has been leading me in the direction of supporting others along their path to health and healing. This has been obvious in my nursing career and more recently, in my teaching of Yoga Therapy. Sometimes finding the balance between these 2 worlds has been a challenge as one provides much joy and the other seemed to be relegated to filling the bank account (I’m sure you can figure out which was which!!) I had been feeling these 2 roles were at opposite ends of a spectrum. In my mind, for the past few years, these 2 parts of my working life, were definitely not in alignment!
It feels as though that balance may shift in a good way, as this week I was offered a position on a team which focuses on an area of nursing which has held a special place in my heart since my 4th year of nursing school: Palliative care. My new role will also allow me time to continue to pursue my Yoga Therapy teachings. I also hope to bring some joy back into my work as a nurse.
I think what has helped me see and feel this new alignment, was a gathering of incredible women over the past 2 days. My dear friend and business partner, Paula Johnson and I held a retreat at her studio here in Nanaimo. We had the dream of bringing 2 wonderful practices and learnings together to support women on their path to abundance in health, in wealth or whatever they wanted more of in their lives. We all laughed, cried, shared our experiences, personal wisdom, lessons of past lives, and shared our curiosity of the different energies in our bodies through the Chakras and Vayus. Thank you to the beautiful women who shared this with us this weekend.
I have long struggled with the paradox of needing to slow down, no, to get really still, in order to move forward with my goals and dreams. How can I take the time to slow down when it seems there isn’t enough time as it is?
However, time and again, I am knocked over the head with signs of how this works. When I am able to set aside time to meditate or listen to something inspirational, something invariable changes in my day: a new opportunity arises or something falls into place that I had been working on. The law of attraction tells us that whatever it is we want in our lives, we need to create space for it, focus on it, and not allow ourselves to be pulled back into negative patterns of thought and action, or that self-defeating inner dialogue (I’ll never get that done, I don’t have the ability to do that, etc.) In order to create change, to grow, or to improve, we must always keep the result in the forefront of our minds, not allowing the thoughts or feelings of other possibilities enter our minds and bodies. Every one of our several billion cells holds an energy, a vibration. This vibration is affected by many factors: our environment, food we eat, other people, and even our thoughts. Knowing that our thoughts have a vibrational quality which is held in the body, has really made me think (pardon the pun.) Taking time to observe my patterns of thought in different situations is shedding some light on where in my life I may be struggling or not moving forward in the way I truly desire.
So, day by day, I’ll set my intention on finding stillness for a little time, creating space for endless possibilities.
Have a wonderful weekend filled with time to breathe, dream, and do what you love!
Wow, you know how some weeks are sent to challenge you? This week has done that on several levels. The one that sat me down here to write though was the realization, no the hammer-on-the-head moment, that came after speaking with 2 of my oldest friends. These 2 knew me in my University years, watching my initial transformation into the adult I am now. I have stayed close with one, while the other, only recently reunited, renewing our friendship. Both of these inspiring women told me in their own way this week that I was very intense and 'driven' back in the day! One even used the word 'controlling!' Eeek, I must say this took me aback, made me really take a close look at myself, at how my life has transpired and how I came to be at this point in my life. I love how there are infinite possibilities to our lives, all directed by choice, intention, happenstance and 'luck.' I have recently been contributing my actions more to inspiration, being able to listen to that 'inner voice' of wisdom to lead me down my path. However, was it this way when I was in my 20's? Was I a control freak? Am I still a control freak???? I was so determined to experience as much of life as I could possibly squeeze in: living and working in other countries, travelling to as many places as I could possible get to, trying different types of work within my chosen field of nursing, building a dream home, owning a sports car, the list goes on and I did it all! Was this all in preparation for where I am now? Or did it hinder my progress in finding my path?
Here's where the path diverged: meeting my partner and having 2 beautiful children. Suddenly (and it was quite a sudden transition), I had to change my focus to my family. They became the objects of my intensity. The difficult part has been to find balance and peace amidst all the exciting things I want to do, meeting the needs of my family and finding a way to keep myself healthy.
Here is where yoga comes in: finding (stumbling onto) the path that led me to yoga, teaching, and inspiring others to find their path to contentment and joy, has been where my path has been leading all along. No chance, no 'luck', just destiny in finding my way home. There's a kind of peace, an inner balance, knowing I am on the 'right' path, even though it isn't really under my control at all!!
Jules is a mother, nurse, wife and Yoga Teacher living in Nanaimo, BC, Canada. Oh, and an aspiring "Peace Ambassador" helping others to find a little more rest and peace in their busy lives.