Ice on the Streets, Ice in My Heart

Happy Solstice to all. My blog series on the power of the divine feminine in a dark time will resume next week. Today I offer a more intimate sharing about my experience with the ice storm in Toronto.

ICE ON THE STREET, ICE IN MY HEART
The power has been down at my Toronto home and studio for the past 18 hours. The city has been struck by what the news calls a “catastrophic” ice storm, leaving 300,000 without power in December. The hydro company deems the situation grave and estimates that I, and many, will be without power for the next three days.

Habit tells me that no matter what is going on in my life, I meditate as soon as I wake up, so that I may meet the day fully. So I do. I make my way to my cushion bundled in a snowsuit and woolly hat to offset the chill in the air. I love my practice and feel glad that I can sit in quiet to center and watch this day as it unfold. I settle in, until the sound of snapping trees, burdened with ice, falling on houses and into streets leaves me unsettled. I get up to look out the window. A large tree limb lies lifeless in my frozen back yard. The falling branch struck part of my house, but it is nothing serious. I sit back down to continue my practice.

As my mind stills and my attention is drawn within, I find it challenging to notice anything other than a high pitched screech that I can only think to be the sound of my revved nervous system. I feel anxious, deeply anxious. Beneath my bravado to simply move on despite the temperature, my meditation practice asks me to authentically meet the situation and how I truly feel. So I open. The fear I touch is not one I meet often, as it speaks to me of survival. Surprised, I pull back from the inner deep sea dive and distract myself for a moment. It all just feels too much and I feel overwhelmed. I look into the back yard where the broken branch fell, and see the serene Buddha statue covered in a thick layer of snowy ice, steadfast and unaffected. I pause.

Despite years of practice, hours every day, faced with a relatively common power outage I have to honestly say that I am shaken. The sober reality of how I feel leaves me to consider all those around the world who live in profound tragedy. I note how fragile I feel, how delicate my practice is and how tender the human condition truly is. If meditation practice is geared to train the mind to meet the day with equanimity and the moment of death with non-resistance, I wonder how I will do as life unfolds and when my time ultimately comes.

Unlike many in the city, and millions around the world who don’t have enough basic food and shelter, I am fortunate enough to have a place to sleep tonight: my mom’s. Her house, on the other side of the city, remains warm with light, power and the ever so precious internet. So after I finish my practice, I decide to go there.

I slide along the skating rink sidewalks to make my way to the subway, which is partially operational. After I lost the ability to move my legs due to a severe spinal injury in 2011 (that I was able to walk again some months later was medically deemed miraculous), I walk icy streets as though I were an octogenarian who suffers from osteoarthritis. I fantasize about the safety of a walker. I fear that any sudden tumble could leave me permanently paraplegic. Feeling fragile, I take each step with absolute caution and trepidation. I make it to the subway and thank the staff for working on this stormy day.

While on the train to greater warmth, I notice someone reading a newspaper with the headline “India floods create village of widows” – subtitle “Himalayan village of Deoli-Benigram has lost about a quarter of its population”. With a flash of a much larger reality, I feel that my perspective on the day has been restored far beyond my own fears.

In the past week, I have been “out there”, in the public eye, in ways I have never been before, spearheading a crowd sourcing campaign to raise funds for two music videos this January. I have felt challenged in so doing, in all sorts of new ways, fearing a deeper form of judgment, a new kind of failure, a different form of rejection than what I have been used to dealing with so far. As a spiritual aspirant, this is a good thing, as this is all an opportunity to see the ways in which I am attached to the illusion of little old “me” and resist the grace of the moment, which is ever loving and supportive.

I have encountered within myself a soul-level mistrust, even misalignment, with the power of nature to love – me. As I sat this morning in front of my shrine, I palpably sensed the way I feel disconnected from the whole of love, the way I can perceive myself as separate. I pulled a card from my Amma card deck as I often do, and asked for insight. It read: “Today I repeat as often as possible the mantra “I am love”.” How perfect.

It is grace to feel this fear, to feel this disconnect. At present, I can only imagine a reality in which every moment I feel viscerally connected to literally everything as an expression of love – even that treacherous ice on the sidewalk that felt like looming paralysis.

There have been moments since my spinal recovery that I have felt that everything is so easy, as though the very cells that make up my body are the broken branch, and the new life that germinates with the body of that tree. There are times I feel so loved and so connected, as though there were no sense of me, just one collective, greater whole.

But today, as I type on a computer that sits on the desk where I studied daily throughout my awkward high school years, I feel like a child, new, unsure and aware of much growth ahead. The ice on the streets has led me to an icy area in my heart. Beneath the frosty fear that causes me to overwork, push too hard, judge others or fear being judged and hurt, there is a soft place within that is surrendered and at ease. She rests in absolute trust of the love that always is.

This solstice weekend, in the Northern hemisphere, is the darkest time of the year, the most introverted time of nature. It gives us the opportunity to go within and touch our darkest places, our deepest fears. I feel that I have been gifted with that this weekend. The solstice is also the turning point towards the light; and I can see, as I embrace these tender and scary places within myself, that I return to a deeper sense of wholeness, and feel part of that eternal light.

May all find the eternal light even through their darkest places. May all be sheltered, nourished and safe.

Peace,
Parvati

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WHY YOGA IN THE NIGHTCLUB

I am often asked what inspired me to bring yogic expression into the club scene. I answer easily. Yoga In the Nightclub is a natural expression of who I am as a musical artist and dedicated yogini. Yoga is not a physical practice but a way of life. It is about learning to be present in all one does, to see the divine here, now, in this moment. As such, yoga is everywhere. It is about feeling connected to something much greater than our limited ego or will. It is about being in service to life, feeling interconnected to that very life force. Yoga In The Nightclub is a celebration of life and a reminder that we can find awakened presence everywhere.

Yoga in the West is mostly known as a series of bendy physical exercises. Yet there is much more to it than fitness. Yoga’s systematic breath and body exercises, designed to clear the subtle channels in our energy system, prepare us for meditation, through which we may experience a life inspired by our interconnected, multidimensional true nature. Our body, that once was seen as “mine”, is no longer our identity, but a gift on loan from the divine. We care for it, but we are not attached to it. The practice of yoga offers us the opportunity to experience the transmutation of matter into pure light, embody the multidimensional and rest in the eternal.

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WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, is just one of many aspects of yoga, which range from selfless service to astrology and prayer. The Sanskrit word “yoga” most simply translates to “union”, implying that the practice of any yoga will bring together our perceived sense of separateness. As a whole, yoga is an ancient science of life. It is a practical method of shedding excess and bringing us back from the self-delusion of separation from the divine so that we may realize our inherent interconnection to and ultimate oneness with it.

As we begin to understand that yoga is everywhere, we come to see how we are all connected in vast ways far beyond the limitations of our personal will and ego. What I do affects you, and vice versa. We are one earth family. At the heart of it all, we share the same heartbeat. Breathe to be. We are one.

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AWAKENED LIVING

When we are open, life blossoms, just as a flower opens to welcome the morning sun.  We see that the sun, though it is millions of light years away, has a tender yet powerful relationship with the flower, as do the rain and the clouds. From this perspective we see that we are part of the whole. Life is a symphonic masterpiece with which, when we are open, we are completely resonant.

As we come to understand our oneness, we can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that an illusory, isolated sense of self could possibly be in control, and open to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute perfection. Our actions become not about “me” but about the whole. Each moment is integrated within the whole. No one decision is separate.

When we begin to see that each decision we make affects not just ourselves but everyone and everything on the planet, we act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, we realize the impact of our actions and we naturally want less and practice more kindness. As stewards of the Earth, we each are called to learn to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and our planet. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth.

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THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRACE

In each moment, there is infinite grace. By becoming more conscious as we practice yoga on the mat, at work, at play or in the nightclub, we let go of the unnecessary and develop greater internal spaciousness which blooms throughout our lives. In this space new life and possibilities arise.

As we rest our awareness on the simple purity and grace of the breath, we realize - we are alive! We let go of wanting things from the future and the past and open to what is here and now. We feel as vast as the sky and rooted in the richness of this moment.

When we “breathe to be”, we understand our interconnection. We see that we are not the doers but a part of the whole, the same energy that is in the flowers and in the stars. We know that our essence is divine - from which we have come, to which we return.

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WHAT LIGHT GETS YOU THROUGH YOUR DAY?

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PARVATI'S NEW SINGLE - MARCH 2016
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I AM LIGHT

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Let me know how yoga and YEM have touched your life. You can send a link to a video by you if you would like. Comments may be shared on my website if you check the "permission to share" box.
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SHARE YOUR YOGA
I am light!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gone, gone beyond. Oh what awakening!
Gone, gone beyond. Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
I am the light, liquid gold light
I am in delight! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

I am the light (gate gate), liquid gold light (paragate)
I am in delight (gate gate) transforming the night (paragate)

Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Oh what awakening! (paragate) (I am)
Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight
I am light, dancing through the night
I am light, in delight
I am light, dancing through the night

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (gate gate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (paragate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light

I am light!

© 2015 Parvati Devi
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