Why I Think Like an Architect in the Music Studio

I would like to change things up a bit this week and share something I have learned that deeply influences my creative work. I believe it is universal to all art—be it music, vlogs, embroidery or street murals.
My artistic energy has had a singular focus for the past couple of years: creating the content for the Global Education Strategy (GES) for MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. Embracing the power of modern media, the GES is intended to generate the necessary momentum to create MAPS, the world’s largest protected area, and safeguard our planet’s air conditioner, the Arctic sea ice.
Obviously, the success of the GES means the world to me—literally! So I have been bringing all of my experience and training together for this purpose. Through this, I have been considering the essential elements at the core of all lasting works of art. What were the keys to success in the music of pioneers like Prince, timeless classic movies like Star Wars, and masterpieces like Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Picasso’s Three Musicians? I realized that they share three common principles, ones I first came across in my previous career: architecture.
Though I was a lifelong musician with conservatory training, architecture was the field in which I studied and began my professional life, until I had the courage to follow my heart and soul urging me towards music. I graduated from the highly competitive co-op program at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. In many ways, I still think like an architect as I approach my songwriting and musical compositions, the books I write, the costumes I design and build, and the shows and videos I produce and direct. My architectural training has taught me that the three keys to artistic works that last are creativity, technique and culture. Why is this?
Creativity is perhaps the best recognized of the three. Maybe we even think it is the one that matters most. It has always run deeply within me, whether at the piano, with a paintbrush in hand, or storyboarding a video. My friends joke that when they collaborate with me, they come up with ideas in 3D and then I make them 5D! There is no doubt that creative spark is essential to capturing the attention of our audience. But I have learned through experience that raw, creative talent can only take us so far as artists. We also need technical skill, the technology of our craft.
While Pablo Picasso was hailed as the forefather of abstract art, he said, “There is no abstraction in art. You must start with something. Afterwards you can remove all traces of reality.” His abstractions, which seemed to transcend structure, actually relied deeply on his sophisticated understanding of form. He had mastered traditional techniques so that he could make informed choices about how to depart from them.
No matter what our creative medium may be, we soon realize that to create with innovation and push artistic boundaries, we must know what we are and are not putting in our works of art. Not only do we need to know what colours or notes we have decided to use in our expression, we also need to fully understand the palette that we have decided not to include.
At a certain point in our creative process, we come to realize that clarity in technique supports and frees up our expression. In music, if we aspire to compose string arrangements that are woven together with rich and inspiring harmonies, it helps to know musical theory. To produce interesting urban or electronic dance beats, we benefit by understanding at least the fundamentals of rhythmic structure and patterning.
Because of my musicality, I reached the Royal Conservatory of Music ARCT performer and teacher level after just a few short years of piano study. But before I could move forward, I was told that I had to take a year to exclusively practice piano scales so that I could catch my technical skills up with my musical talents. The idea felt like death to my creative zest. But I knew I needed to cross this threshold if I was going to be a professional musician. I now greatly appreciate the time I have spent doing scales and studying composition. They are like the structure of the mast from which my sails can catch the winds of creativity.
Though my creative spark and some skill allow me to design and build elaborate live show costumes, I am fully aware that if I wanted a full-time career in fashion, I would need to know even more about pattern-making techniques. I paid for my first apartment with commissions to paint murals and illustrate published books. But to have a lasting career in fine art, I would need to invest more deeply in understanding painting and drawing.
Today as I write, compose and arrange music I feel so grateful for the foundation I have in many art forms, including musical theory. With the help of some technique, I am more able to sculpt the best sounds I can, so that I avoid conflicting frequencies and dissonant instrumentations. At the same time, I do not create in a vacuum.
Though many art forms are birthed in isolation, we are always part of a bigger cultural conversation. My architecture studies really drilled this home. As we create, we contribute to culture, so we are asked to know the context to which we offer our art.
Still vastly popular over 400 years after they were written, Shakespeare’s plays show how connecting with his audience’s favourite stories and preoccupations allowed him to speak to timeless aspects of the human condition. He then added his own creative spark and technical skills to become a hallmark of English literature.
My background in classical music helps me also better understand today’s pop. I am keen to know how today’s music evolves. I do the same as I develop books for GES, considering not only the techniques of successful fiction and self-help, but the world into which my books will be launched, what other books speak to me and how the literary conversation is shifting over time.
This is how I am doing what I can to ensure that GES meets its goal and MAPS is realized now.
Let me know in the comments below how you incorporate the three keys to lasting art–creativity, technology and culture–in your works. Continual learning is part of the fun of being in a creative field. May we build our artistic lives upon these three keys so that we may fully share our creative voices with the world and shine.

Embrace the Epic Hero's Journey of Your Life - Parvati.TV

Embrace the Epic Hero's Journey of Your Life

Hello! As my dear friend Darcy often said, “Happy Sunday!”
My creative energy has been going in one direction for the past few years: completing the creative content for the Global Education Strategy (GES) for MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. Embracing the power of modern media, the GES is intended to generate the necessary momentum and speed to create MAPS, the world’s largest protected area, and safeguard our planet’s air conditioner, the Arctic sea ice.
In creating and producing multiple live shows, seven albums, fourteen books, apps, anime and more in GES for MAPS, I have had the beautiful opportunity to really explore how stories speak to our souls and inspire us. Why, in a world of smartphones and convenience food, do we resonate with tales of people learning to wield a legendary sword in another galaxy (Star Wars), carrying a ring of immense power to a dangerous mountain (The Lord of the Rings), or stumbling from a closet into a otherworldly forest (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe)? Something deeper than escapism is happening to give these stories such power. Their journeys all have something in common with us, something that we can embrace and in which we can find courage: the hero’s journey.
I am a fan of the American mythologist, writer and lecturer Joseph Campbell, who had a lifelong passion for the cohesive mythological threads that run through disparate human cultures. He popularized the concept of the hero’s journey, the path through adventure, challenges, trials, temptations, atonement and victorious return. Campbell said that we must all undertake a hero’s journey to follow our bliss. I find the hero’s journey a useful analogy for the path to connect with our truest selves.
Fear and doubt can hold us back from the courage to embark on the hero’s journey into the unknown, let go of the familiar and try something new. Certainly that has been the case for me. I make it a daily practice to move beyond limiting beliefs that would have me live other than my joy. I find my meditation and spiritual practices to be super boons in helping me discern between what is a real threat and what is imaginary. So I commit to finding my internal compass through them first thing in the morning, every day to make sure I am living my fullest.
Even when we have stepped forward in a direction that feels on path, we may encounter setbacks. When we face adversity, we need to remain anchored in the truth of our soul’s interconnection with all that is. That is because the goodness of life is beyond the ups and downs, the pain and suffering we create and experience. There is a force beyond it all, that guides us through the messes we create and the hurt we can feel. We can access that force any time, anywhere, if we are willing to open to it. For me, I find it through my meditation and spiritual practices, which help keep me tapped in when goings get rough.
It may be tempting to think that if your life is all fluid, then you are doing well, and if it is challenging, then you are not in alignment. But what if adversity were not a problem or a sign from the universe that you are off path? The challenge of adversity could be an opportunity to face fears and let go of deeper, still untouched resistance. As such, adversity can bring you closer to your soul purpose. This has been true for me as I spearhead the global movement to swiftly realize MAPS for the good of all. Who am I to do this? Who am I not to? Though MAPS defies policies and established practices (no charity has ever written a treaty and sent it to all 193 UN member states to sign, for example), it provides an opportunity for freedom to all people equally. We need more peace in our lives and the world’s largest ocean preserve is not just a dream, but a baseline necessity for us to survive on Earth.
On the hero’s journey, the hero must face his or her shadow to find wholeness. So too, you are tested in the process of becoming your fullest self. You learn through adversity to put the most important things first. It is easy to get caught up in tedium, rather than putting the scary or challenging stuff first. You may tell yourself, “I will get to that later,” in an attempt to evade your fears. But when does later come? How long are you willing to wait? What is the cost of waiting? Convincing yourself that you are growing is sometimes hiding from your highest potential. Instead, choose to live like the hero who stays boldly committed to the goal.
But I will say this. As the inspiring humanitarian and spiritual leader Amma shares so often, to be a hero, we must be a zero. True power comes from our sense of humility. When we are humble, we become receptive to the greatest power of the universe – that of our inherent interconnection. When love and compassion for all inspire our actions, and our work turns to support, inspire and serve others – without any desire for personal gain, then we become heroes. Being a hero is not about medals, accolades and pride, but about being the love that is our true nature.
Following your bliss requires discernment, constant vigilance, keen focus and commitment to honouring the call of your unique inner voice. The universe supports your greatest joy. Be willing to stay focused on that reality as you face the ups and downs of life. Your focus, and your preparedness to meet the unexpected, are part of the hero’s journey.
Don’t let adversity steamroll over you and overwhelm your spirit. See those who are unwilling to be in joy, to live in interconnection, as invested in a state of illusion and suffering. Feel compassion for them. Only when you face your fears will you be free from them. Only when you stop fighting the dark will you no longer be afraid to be the light you are. That is your work and what you can do. Focus on that.
You wobble. You fall. You get up. You start again. You learn to be both humble and powerful, because you are aligned not to your personal will but to your soul, which is connected to the divine source of infinite power.
May you commit today to your own hero’s journey for a life of meaning and joy, where you reach the ultimate treasure: your blissful oneness with all that is.

Embrace This Gift and Discover a World of Possibilities

The opportunity for co-creation is a magnificent gift. My blog series on co-creation paused for a month while all of us at Parvati.org faced the loss of our dear friend and colleague Darcy in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. Yet co-creation has been present all along. I have chosen to allow a co-creative spirit to inform my choices as a CEO to lead our team through the storm. Awareness of a positive possibilities, co-creative universe has helped me as a spiritual aspirant to come to terms with Darcy’s tragic passing. Darcy studied the many ways we can co-create and consciously chose to co-create in the positive possibilities. Respectful, win-win co-creation is what I sought in every media interview and talk I gave about him and his extraordinarily courageous work for MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. Our collective efforts at Parvati.org to honor Darcy’s legacy were also a co-creation rooted in gratitude and willingness to serve.
I think of the beautiful Parvati Magazine cover designed by my friend and artistic collaborator Adam Nathan of Jellyfunk, surrounding Darcy in flowers—especially roses. He created the design over a few hours after hearing the devastating news. While working, he did not know that Darcy’s favorite flower was roses, or that since Darcy’s passing, his wife Amie sensed his presence and smelled the floral fragrance.
In open-hearted appreciation, as well as grief, and in the sincere desire to honor his friend and colleague, Adam was able to touch something beyond his own knowledge. The image brought tears to all of our eyes at Parvati.org. We too did not know about the flower connections at first. But we felt the heart, and the resonance within the inspired magazine cover.
Today is Easter Sunday, a holiday symbolizing profound transformation and renewal. Easter shatters the illusion of the finality of death. It reveals the oneness reality in which Christ exists and to which we are summoned.
In addition, this weekend marked the beginning of Passover in the Jewish tradition, which celebrates the intervention of God to liberate the Israelites from all forms of bondage. As such, this festival of sincere remembrance also speaks to profound renewal and hope for the future, a shift into a new way of being in relation to ourselves, our surroundings and the divine.
Both these holy times point to the astonishing world of possibilities that open before us when we are willing to co-create with something greater than our limited selves.
With gratitude for these beautiful celebrations, as well as for Earth Day tomorrow reminding us to listen to Nature and protect our planet, I conclude the blog series on co-creation.
I would like to shout out a big thank you to all of the MAPS Ambassadors across Africa (Kenya, Benin, Nigeria) who so graciously have organized various Earth Day MAPS presentations.
As I shared in part one of this four-part series, co-creation expresses the complete range of human choice, from violent and hateful disconnection to a merging into unconditional love. Through co-creation, we access profound power. What we do with this power separates the wise from the ignorant.
The various types of co-creation exist along a continuum from extreme unconsciousness to pure consciousness. At one end, we would be fully identified with the idea of life as suffering. At the other, all aspects of our lives would arise from absolute unity with the light that we are, the very fabric of life itself.
To anchor all that we have looked at over this series, here’s a suggested range of co-creative possibilities, from the most painful to the most radiant. I have grouped them broadly into two sections, the first being co-creation in disconnection. The second illustrates co-creation in interconnection.


“Life is happening to me”

“There is only me”

When in extreme impossibilities, we operate in an unconscious state. Disconnected from the whole, who we are and why we are here, we are unaware of our power of choice within a co-creative universe. Ignorant of being part of anything beyond ourselves, we identify with nobodiness. It is as though we exist in a void, a hungry black hole inside our mind and heart. As such, we have no understanding of the needs of others, or of our impact on them. Consumed with survival and physical security, our only reality is “me” with a notion of “life is happening to me”. In this disconnect, our world revolves around the false thought that there is no love at all. We co-create with hate, rage and revenge and manifest the consequences of such. In its most extreme form, this becomes sociopathy or psychopathy and expresses itself in atrocities like murder. Yet it also exists in subtler forms, be it physical violence, emotional abuse, or controlling behavior.

“There is only what I want”

At this stage, we begin to become aware of the world around us. However, still in disconnect and feeling alienated, we respond to our surroundings not with presence but through wanting. Our limited ideas about life become sorry stories, which we project onto the moment. We cling to and identify with them, because they enable our ego and the illusion of our disconnect. Greed and loneliness drive us to seek relationships for egoic gratification, however fleeting. In the impossibilities, we mistake unspoken contracts for love. We co-create with others in the expectation that acting in a particular way will get us something from the other person, and vice versa. This behaviour is often manipulative and controlling. Playing the victim or victimizing others gives us a sense of temporary power over all the moment contains.

“I am the doer”

We now have a greater sense of the world around us and increased self-esteem. We become aware that we do have access to the power of choice. But still disconnected from the whole, we identify with our limited personal power. We feel we must make our lives happen, believing that we alone are in charge of our lives. We mostly co-create with our willpower as our tool for survival. We believe it is who we are. We may claim good intentions, but fundamentally we feel separate and are still driven by the idea that life is “happening to me”. This leads us to push and pull at life. Then we find ourselves on an endless rollercoaster, trying to satisfy our likes and dislikes that fuel our ego. At best, we experience brief fulfillment, feeling puffed up by all “I” have done. By co-creating with wanting, willfulness and self-centeredness, we seek reward and recognition for our actions, and feel punitive towards self and others when we do not get them. Sustaining our sense of “I” through the notion of being separate, we feel empowered by our likes and dislikes, enabling a divided, egoic identity. When we exist in this bandwidth, as I saw in my friend’s comment in the conversation that sparked this series, we perceive guidance from a spiritual master as happening to us or as militant. We are identified with being the one in control, proud of our expertise, and attached to knowing best. But our sense of self is limited. What we interpret as militant may simply be a challenge to our ego, inviting us to live instead in service to the whole.


“I am a conscious participant”

“I am connected”

When we consider our attachments to being the doer, it becomes clear that we thought we were the very force that gives us life. We lost sight that life-force flows through us and sustains us in each moment.
We now choose to let go of co-creating with painful energies. We understand that we had allowed them to distort our thoughts, affect our actions and turn us away from our true nature. As we stop giving them power, we step into our magnificence.
At this stage, we wish to make choices that benefit not just ourselves, but those around us. We may at first be motivated by our own personal desire for happiness. Yet we soon see that there is no such thing as an isolated decision. What we do also affects others. We seek to align with the good of all, no longer interested in the temporary high of personal recognition. We act out of compassion for ourselves and others.

“There is something greater”

Awakening, we seek to understand our place within the whole. We recognize the limitations of our individual self, will and power. Aware of a force greater than ourselves, we let go of wanting to direct, control or own it. We question how our personal will is in alignment with divine will. This leads us to contemplate what divine will may be for us. We consider “Thy will be done” to encourage the release of our singular way. We consciously experience and participate in a force beyond our limited will, and choose to serve it.
It is clear that it is not up to us to make life happen. That is the universe’s role. We are active participants within it. Our job is to be receptive, one moment after the next, to this loving and benevolent force. We mindfully get out of its way, so that it can work through us.
In the conversation that began this blog series, I was seeing the moment and the opportunity to co-create from this vantage point. When the compassionate universe expresses itself in the form of guidance by an egoless spiritual master, we sincerely and wholeheartedly follow their instructions. In this way, Luke Skywalker surrendered to the direction of Obi-Wan Kenobi and trusted the force, knowing it was not an oppressive order. We choose to consciously welcome and harmonize with guidance as a divine blessing for the highest good of all.
We understand that our lives are flowering within the garden of the universe. Clarity arises naturally, and we effortlessly breathe into our next step. We do not forcefully make anything happen out of a false sense of control. We are in a divine conversation, in flow with the universe’s cosmic play.

“I am interconnected”

As our understanding of connection deepens, we come to realize that we are vastly and wisely interconnected to universal consciousness. What we think, feel, say and do both reflects and affects everything in existence. It influences the trajectory of evolution, and participates in a growing, changing, alive whole. We feel a sense of flow within the whole, and are aware of the whole within our personal flow.
Because of our interconnection, as we choose to bear witness to the limitations of ego, everyone in turn moves towards lasting freedom. Through our choices to co-create, we can either support others or interfere with their evolution. As we create and perpetuate suffering within ourselves, we create and perpetuate suffering for all life. But as we choose to set ourselves free, we support the freedom of all beings everywhere.

“A divided me is an illusion”

Now, our personal agenda and willfulness are gone. We recognize that who we truly are is no different from the energy of the divine which moves through all. As we come to fully experience that our essence and everything within and around us are one with unlimited consciousness, we realize our divine nature. Understanding this, we begin to love all things equally. That with which we co-create is not separate from us, because nothing is. We exist in the reality of unconditional love as the fabric of the universe.
We are still evolving spiritually. Because oneness is the substratum of reality, any co-creation that is not within that frequency illuminates our skewed perceptions. It shows we still have potential to grow further along the co-creation continuum to find ultimate love and freedom. With remaining traces of our ego, we go through some ups and downs. As we practice the release of all attachments to any lingering illusions of a separate “me”, we experience greater, lasting happiness.

“There is only oneness”

With our ego extinguished, we no longer i-dentify through any separate sense of “me”. Even the i-dea of such an i-dentity is impossible. There is no more lens through which to relate to the perception of a divided, external world. We reside in a permanent state of oneness with infinite consciousness, and unity with all that is. We are effortlessly and perfectly arising in each moment in unity with an intelligent whole.
At this final stage, we are in a state of isness, experiencing bliss. We have transcended the notion even of death. Yet we may choose to remain in human form to assist the release of suffering in all beings. Egoless spiritual masters abide in this reality. This is why co-creating with them could never be about taking orders. There is no “me” in them to give orders. There is only isness. By choosing to align with that, we move closer to this reality for the good of all.
Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, Amma, speaks of this state with first-hand knowledge:
“As the realization that everything is pervaded with Divine Consciousness dawns within you, you also see that every human being, everything in creation, is already Divine. The only difference is that you know that you and they are one with Divinity, but they do not. It is only a question of uncovering the truth.”
From my heart to yours, may you be inspired to embrace the highest form of co-creation in each moment. May you live in the reality of love and unity.

The Gift of Co-Creation and Why it Matters

A month ago, before the devastating news of Darcy’s death, I was sharing a four-part blog series about co-creation. This subject is more important than ever as we confront the ways our collective navigation system is faulty. I recap parts 1-3 here today.
PART 1: The Gift of Co-Creation
There is a famous and often-repeated quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” These words, sometimes mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela, are in fact those of Marianne Williamson, in her book A Return to Love. She touches on an important truth of our human existence: we are far more capable than we realize.
PART 2: What You See Is What You Get. What Are You Choosing to See?
Last week, we were looking at the amazing gift of co-creation. I recently had an experience that reminded me how essential it is that we understand this innate human power—as well as how our perceptions affect it.
I was conversing with a group of friends who are all committed to personal and spiritual growth and the protection of Nature. Yet, the discussion became tense around the topic of co-creation, particularly when someone brought up working with a realized master.
PART 3: How to Let the Power of the Universe Move Through You
At the climax of the movie Star Wars: A New Hope, the Death Star was poised to destroy the planet where the Rebellion was based. A fleet of rebel fighter spaceships approached it on a one-chance-in-a-million mission to stop it. They were so small and so outgunned in comparison to the Death Star, it was like a tiny swarm of insects trying to halt a massive boulder. One by one, the rebels were shot down until only Luke Skywalker remained—pursued by his nemesis, Darth Vader himself. What Luke did next illustrates the true potential of co-creation.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of this series next week!
From my heart to yours,

Parvati Blog Let the Power of the Universe Move Through You

How to Let the Power of the Universe Move Through You

At the climax of the movie Star Wars: A New Hope, the Death Star was poised to destroy the planet where the Rebellion was based. A fleet of rebel fighter spaceships approached it on a one-chance-in-a-million mission to stop it. They were so small and so outgunned in comparison to the Death Star, it was like a tiny swarm of insects trying to halt a massive boulder. One by one, the rebels were shot down until only Luke Skywalker remained—pursued by his nemesis, Darth Vader himself. What Luke did next illustrates the true potential of co-creation.
We are blessed as human beings with the profound gift of co-creation, allowing us to tap into something much greater than our limited selves. As interconnected beings within a vast and intelligent whole, we naturally live, think, breathe and move in a state of co-creation with everything around us. The question is, what kind of co-creation are we choosing? Is it in positive possibilities, orienting us to joy and unconditional love? Is it in impossibilities, dragging us down in undertow?
The answer is not always black and white. Most of us are not living at either of the extremes of impossibilities and positive possibilities, but at some point on the continuum between them. You are likely reading this because you are interested in co-creation in the positive possibilities. But even when we show up with good intentions, there may be more to refine. The extent to which we co-create in the positive possibilities is an evolutionary process. So we must look at the range of co-creation experiences and consider where we are along the continuum.
Luke Skywalker and his fellow pilots were on the positive possibilities side of the co-creation continuum when they chose with tremendous courage to fly their ships to the Death Star in search of its one small vulnerable point. They were co-creating with the laws of the Rebellion and choosing to serve a greater good, above their own personal comforts. Though the odds of success seemed impossibly small, the pilots were willing to give it their very best with all of their hearts. They trusted their skills, courage and belief in the greater good.
But after Luke heard the voice of his teacher, Obi-Wan Kenobi, tell him to “use the Force”, he went much further into positive possibilities. He surrendered to a force more powerful than his personal will. Luke was not passively taking orders from his teacher and guide. His act of surrender embodied supreme courage and profound wisdom. The switch in his perception was not something that happened to him, but a conscious choice of his own. When he turned off his targeting computer to trust instead a oneness with the moment, he began to co-create with the greatest force we have available to us, that of the universe itself. He chose to calibrate his beliefs to match the loving presence and power of life-force energy. Then, through profound openness and inner stillness, the impulse to fire arose within him at the perfect moment. His single shot put an end to the Death Star. By emptying himself to receive the compassionate wisdom of the universe, Luke was a channel for light that enveloped evil. By becoming nothing, he became a hero.
We can also see the continuum of co-creation in the groundbreaking film, The Matrix. On the extreme impossibilities end are those who choose to violently keep people unconscious prisoners of the Matrix. In the middle are those who wake up to the Matrix and realize there is another way. Like the Star Wars rebel pilots persevering against all odds, the Matrix rebels show tremendous courage. Yet, they are still willfully driven, and their egos block them from their true potential. But at the other end of the spectrum is that epic moment when Neo, the film’s protagonist, returns from seeming death and stands up, realizing that the bullets fired at him were illusions. They were projections of his mind, part of the Matrix, designed to keep him afraid, running and oppressed. The enemy agents fire again. But In the face of Neo’s calm awareness, the bullets literally come to a halt in midair. As Neo picks one out of the air and examines it, they all fall harmlessly to the ground. In that moment, Neo has chosen to surrender to something more powerful than what his limited senses provide. Similar to Luke Skywalker, Neo empties himself to co-create with a greater reality. He transcends the limitations of duality and maximally serves the world.
Next week, we will explore the full range of co-creation’s possibilities, from the most intense impossibilities of suffering to the most exquisite positive possibilities of bliss.

What You See Is What You Get. What Are You Choosing to See?

Last week, we were looking at the amazing gift of co-creation. I recently had an experience that reminded me how essential it is that we understand this innate human power—as well as how our perceptions affect it.
I was conversing with a group of friends who are all committed to personal and spiritual growth and the protection of Nature. Yet, the discussion became tense around the topic of co-creation, particularly when someone brought up working with a realized master. Another person in the group did not see how following the direction of a spiritual master could be co-creative. To him, it seemed militant, as though the master was issuing orders for others to obey. Yet, from my experience, the spiritual master we were speaking about was anything but a dictator. The idea was so dissonant with my core that I said the metaphor felt like calling a flower an oppressive leader.
Struck by the disparity in perceptions, I was reminded how what we perceive is always coloured by our personalities and experiences. Because of this, our differing perceptions influence our ability to co-create.
From a spiritual perspective, our perceptions are limited by our attachments to our past and our projections into the future. The way each person responds to a situation is unique. No two siblings, for example, would have had the identical experience of the same two parents. Each one of us is born into this world with tendencies and preconceptions that we then overlay onto how we see each moment.
Upon these perceptions, our sense of self grows. We learn to individuate. We strengthen our divided sense of self, as we believe we must in order to survive. Society supports this understanding of who we are. Our classrooms encourage our opinions and convictions so that we can eventually bring them into our boardrooms to gain money, things and status. But when we act from an inner identification with separateness, the seeming rewards that come our way are temporary and only boost that sense of divisiveness, justifying who we think ourselves to be. Because we are acting from a place of disconnection, we cannot tap into the source of infinite joy to experience lasting bliss. At an unconscious level, we have come to believe the divided sense of self is all we are.
In this belief, we perceive the world through the lens of the impossibilities. Where the positive possibilities are rooted in love, compassion and presence, the impossibilities bring greater tension and struggle. Attached to a sense of “me” and “mine”, we think, act and feel in a way that is disconnected from the love that always is. Consciously or unconsciously, we are deeply lonely and afraid because at our core, we perceive the events of our lives—and perhaps the universe itself—as against us.
Because our ability to co-create is so strongly colored by our perceptions, the statement “what you see is what you get” takes on a whole new meaning. The perception of disconnect from love develops momentum. We consciously or unconsciously try to prove the disconnect real, which furthers it. In our fear, we may feel a reactive need to dominate and control, or to lie down and play the victim. The impossibilities give rise to and perpetuate painful emotions such as judgment, loneliness, guilt and shame. This discord can lead to inner anguish and disease, which in turn lead to external conflict, pollution and scarcity.
This is literally an impossible situation: a lose-lose. As we continue to perceive the moment and all it contains through the lens of the impossibilities, we feed pain in ourselves and in the world, until we understand that there is another way.
That other way is spiritual awakening. It has been with us all along. We have always been one with pure consciousness, unconditional love—we simply have fallen asleep and forgotten. We were one with pure consciousness as we entered form and came into a human body. But as our egos grew, so did a separate sense of “me”. We moved away from feeling one with love, the fabric of all life. We grew into a dual reality of “light and dark”, “me and you”. We came to believe we must cultivate a divided sense of self in order to feel that we have some control over our environment, which we perceived as antagonistic. As such, we amplified a reality of againstness, and deepened that tendency within ourselves. Yet a deeper reality of unity, love and interconnection had been present all along. The positive possibilities always exist, despite any painful reality we may have perceived and chosen.
Last week we looked at the example of a driver, one who chooses either to serve the highest good or to be a destructive force to all he encounters. But an unconscious or intoxicated driver who does not wake up to the reality of his choices will face increasingly serious consequences, from minor crashes to fatal accidents. Everyone understands this entropy. It is the same principle as that of a student who stops doing her homework. After one day, she would have to catch up a little. After a couple of weeks, she would be far behind and only a sincere effort would make catching up possible. Eventually, she would fail the class or get expelled from the school.
If we continue to adamantly insist on living in the impossibilities, the unconditionally loving universe will at first gently, but eventually sternly show us that our choices are causing suffering to all. A traumatic event like a heart attack, job loss or divorce can shake us awake to the reality that we have not been living in alignment with our highest purpose, and therefore not been co-creating in healthy, soulful ways. Our current humanitarian and ecological crises are like this for all of us. They are a fiercely compassionate wake-up call from Mother Nature herself, showing us the painful consequences of our disconnected choices.
When we are faced with frustration or disaster at any level as a result of our distorted perceptions, we eventually ask ourselves, “Is this really all there is?” Then a crack opens in what we thought was reality. We begin to see beyond the divided sense of self that has been limiting our ability to grow. We come to understand that disconnection is the cause of all suffering, not just in ourselves, but in all life.
Once we recognize that the idea of separateness is an illusion rooted in impossibilities, it starts to lose its appeal. Our attachments to divisive thinking diminish. We no longer need to see through this distorted lens, as we know it only brings discord and unhappiness. Now open to a new reality, we take wise and compassionate action, rooted in our true capacity for co-creation. In this, we discover a world of possibilities.
As I considered my situation, I came to understand that the conversation I had with friends became tense because we did not all see co-creation in the same depth and power. When we are no longer limited by the divisive perception of impossibilities, even at a subtle level, the magnificence of true co-creation expands before us.
But I will save exploring that for next week, as this series on co-creation concludes with the powerful ways we can choose to co-create in each moment for a life of extraordinary joy.

The Gift of Co-Creation

There is a famous and often-repeated quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” These words, sometimes mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela, are in fact those of Marianne Williamson, in her book A Return to Love. She touches on an important truth of our human existence: we are far more capable than we realize.
One of the ways we are most capable, often without realizing it, is in co-creation. This is a gift, allowing us to act in interconnection with all that is. We are born into co-creation. We live through it. Yet rarely do we become conscious of it and the extraordinary opportunity it provides our growth at all levels. Along the path of personal development, we come into understanding of this essential gift and how we are using it in every moment. In so doing, we gain sight of a powerful guiding star on our way to limitless joy and unconditional love, which are our true nature. We become of greater benefit to each other and to the world around us. We can be instruments of grace.
Co-creation means different things, depending on our perspective. At the most practical level, co-creation is the bringing together of two energy systems in order to create a greater whole. When we take pause and look closer, we see that in every moment of our lives, co-creation is already taking place. We are not isolated islands, but within a vast and intelligent whole. We naturally engage that which is around us, at multiple levels. It could be as apparent as a conversation in a business meeting, where our words and ideas come together with those of others. It could be as subtle as the emotional energy we emit, how people, plants and animals around us respond, and how we in turn react to them.
On one hand, co-creation may seem to be about collaboration, whether it be for the highest good of all or not. But co-creation expresses the complete range of human choices, from violent and hateful disconnect to a complete merging into unconditional love. Through co-creation, we access profound power. What we do with this power separates the wise from the ignorant, for it strongly informs how we choose and amplifies the ways we choose—consciously or not—to perceive and identify.
The various types of co-creation could perhaps be better understood if we think of them as existing along a continuum ranging from extreme unconsciousness to pure consciousness. At one end, we would be fully identified with the idea of life as suffering, with the perception of our separateness and with the voice of our ego. At the other, all aspects of our lives would arise from absolute unity with the light that we are, the very fabric of life itself.
The potency of co-creation is like a vehicle we have been given. At one extreme, we would see a driver who jumps the curb, floors the gas and is hell-bent on harming everyone and everything he can reach. At the middle of the co-creation continuum, a driver would choose to follow the laws of the road, focused on getting to his destination safely.
But at the other end of the continuum, a driver would be in a state of compassion and joy because he knows that in fact, he is not and will never be the driver. He is at the wheel, fully awake and clear. He drives well, knowing the laws of the road. But he does not navigate from his individual self. He is in total service to the whole. He knows that he arrives most safely, efficiently and joyfully at his destination when he chooses to unify his will with the greater will of the universe.
If co-creation is like a vehicle we need to use wisely, how do we learn? We can think of a novice driver, who first must know the rules of the road to get a learner’s permit and get behind the wheel. In this case, the rules of the road are to understand the nature of reality and the power of perception.
My grandmother helped me to understand the power of choice. She taught me that we each have two channels within us to which we can attune: one that leads to suffering for all, and one that leads to love, service and interconnection. It was up to us to choose where we place our attention. Today, I like to say that we have two primary energies with which to co-create: the positive possibilities and the impossibilities.
When you are in the positive possibilities, you know that you are a loved, welcomed and an integral part of everything that is. You know that your essence is love—not sentimental romance, but the expansive and ever-present reality of wisdom-compassion, the force of life itself. As such, you love yourself and others unconditionally.
This is not about wilfully thinking positively, as though life is adverse and you need to fake cheerfulness or unconditional love when you are not truly feeling those things. The positive possibilities are not something you have to superimpose over your reality. They are the nature of reality. In the positive possibilities, there is only love, underlying all time and space. You may not yet be a Buddha, merged in that unconditional presence. But when you are in the positive possibilities, you are humbly present and grounded in this reality moment to moment. You know that loving yourself and loving others are both vital, interconnected expressions of the love that always is. You choices arise from this awareness. In this, there is limitless potential for co-creation with everyone and everything around you, for the benefit of all.
Though humans are uniquely gifted with the power of choice in co-creation, Nature shows us many beautiful examples of positive possibilities co-creation, because nature exists as a balanced expression within the whole. One in particular that has deeply impressed me for years is that of whales.
In what is known as the “whale pump effect”, these huge sonic creatures stir the ocean waters in a way that benefits all life. They do this not through any particular effort, but simply because they dive deep to feed, then return to the surface to breathe and excrete. In this way, they bring nutrients from the depths, where the sun does not reach, to fertilize the phytoplankton in the sunny waters at the surface. Then the phytoplankton grow and capture carbon from the atmosphere. They feed the fish that whales and other marine life feed upon, so that the entire food chain is enriched.
The very existence of whales nourishes and sustains the species on which they depend. They selflessly give far more than they take. They co-create with the waters, the phytoplankton, the other fish, the air, the sun, with gravity, with all life. In so doing, they benefit everyone and everything, including themselves.
The magnificent example of the whales inspired the vision for MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. MAPS is a co-creation in the positive possibilities with Nature and all life. By stopping all activity in the Arctic Ocean that harms the vulnerable polar ice, we begin to work in harmony with Nature rather than against it. We catalyze a global shift to renewable energies. We safeguard our planetary life support system that keeps weather cool and balanced. We protect the many threatened species, including whales, that live in this critically vulnerable ecosystem. We make space for life, including our own.
Given the beautiful results of co-creation in positive possibilities, we may ask ourselves: why is this not happening in our lives? What is misdirecting our course? Why are our choices today resulting in suffering? The answer lies in the nature of impossibilities co-creation. In some way, whether obvious or subtle, you have lost your orientation to the nature of reality. Next week, we will look at how and why co-creation in the impossibilities happens—and how to remedy it and return to joyful presence.


Find Joy Even in The Busiest To-Do List

Hello! Last week I mentioned I was working on a blog on co-creation. I have a lot to say about the topic, so the piece is evolving into a mini-series. Fittingly in this busy time of my life, my article about finding joy in your to-do list was just published on Arianna Huffington’s platform, Thrive Global. I share it with you here:
I am now putting the finishing touches on five albums and fourteen books. And that is only the beginning. Live shows, animes, VR, and more… all in service to the swift realization of the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS), to protect all life.
Since much of my life has been balancing tight deadlines and a passionate vision, I would like to share my experience on how to find joy even in a packed to-do list.
We may perceive tasks to do as objects outside ourselves to be conquered and cleared so that we may eventually find freedom and ease. We can lose sight of gratitude for the grace this moment brings, and succumb to feeling that life is happening to us.
Ancient yogis and enlightened masters speak of the shimmering veil of illusions, called Maya in Sanskrit, that makes up our phenomenal world. We think that objects, including our thoughts and perceptions, are solid and fixed, when in fact they are merely temporal and will not last.
Beneath all things that pass – our likes and dislikes, the dramas of life, the daily dance through which we live – there is an eternal light that remains.
Read more at Thrive Global…

Find Out What Parvati Magazine Readers Love

Okay… confession time. I feel a million miles away! When I go deep into creative mode it is like I have gone into another world. When I speak I am not sure if words will come out, or fully orchestrated sounds!
While I listen intimately to the muse to wrap up the creative content (yes, five albums, eight books and two DVDs) in service to the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, please enjoy 2018’s favourite articles from Parvati Magazine, lovingly produced every month by volunteers just for you.
The Yes Brain
What if children’s brains could be helped to become receptive and curious instead of anxious and reactive? Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and psychotherapist Tina Payne Bryson explore this idea in their book “The Yes Brain”. We interviewed Dr. Siegel about cultivating the Yes Brain in both parents and children.
How to Transform Your Life While Healing the World
Science now proves what yogis have known for millennia: when you redirect your energy to giving rather than getting, to serving rather than wanting, your entire biochemistry changes and begins to vibrate at a higher rate. You feel more connected and fulfilled in ways never imagined. A richness begins to grow deep within that banishes unhappiness, gives health and provides a sense of fulfillment.
How Kino MacGregor Found Peace in Times of Pain
“First, depression in the life of a spiritual seeker is not failure. In fact, I’d say that everything we understand about depression is a bit off base. Yoga and meditation don’t mean that you will never be depressed again. Instead, you will have the tools you need to figure out what your depression is trying to teach you.”
Waking Up to Reality, with Byron Katie
“As we question our stressful thoughts about others, ourselves, and the world, the self begins to shed its identity. When the mind is met with understanding, selflessness is the natural result. You sit in the daily practice of inquiry and automatically there is less self, and in that falling away of identity there is less to take care of and more for others who need it…”
Lessons from Longevity Village, Where Living Past 100 Is the Norm
American cardiologist Dr. John Day had an epiphany at age 44 when he learned about a remote village in rural China known as Longevity Village, famed for its high numbers of centenarians. His research into their lifestyle has culminated in The Longevity Plan, a blueprint for living well and thriving with advancing age. Parvati Magazine spoke with Dr. Day to learn more about these principles.
Healthy Fascia, Healthy Movement, with Tom Myers
Tom Myers has dedicated his life to healing people through the power of touch. He has practiced integrative manual therapy, which includes massage and Rolfing, for over 40 years, and is the author of the book Anatomy Trains. Parvati Magazine’s Yoga Editor Ella Isakov interviews Tom about fascia, movement and healing.
The Revolutionary Power in a Woman’s Nature
Recent events in the United States shine a spotlight on how pervasive sexual assault and harassment are in our culture. The hostility and disregard toward women who report they were sexually assaulted by a Supreme Court Justice nominee speaks to a much deeper issue of entitlement, fear and suspicion toward the feminine.
Staying Calm, Confident and Happy No Matter What, with Dr. Rick Hanson
Psychologist and Buddhist practitioner Dr. Rick Hanson collaborates with his son, the writer Forrest Hanson, for his latest book “Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakeable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness”. Parvati Magazine speaks to Dr. Hanson about developing resilience.
From Dark Drama to Fierce Discernment
Bill can be a bit of a drama queen. He is sensitive and can easily lose his sense of self with others, should someone say something that may trigger him into feeling that he is a bad person. It could be the simplest thing. But for him, it becomes big. Yet, like any painful cycle, drama can become exhausting…
Restorative Yoga, with Judith Hanson Lasater
When we shift, the world shifts. So the practice of being present and self-reflection is the beginning of the spiritual practice because when we are present with ourselves and we regard ourselves with tenderness, there is a space that opens up in us in which compassion arises.”

This Is What Whales Know About Karma Yoga

I am so happy to share that my new single “Ocean Anthem” and its music video will be launched later this summer at a special event for MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. I will share the official launch date with you soon. In the meantime, enjoy the behind the scenes video clips and photos I have been sharing on social media platforms. And to find out more about the Ocean Anthem release, click here. If you aren’t already on my mailing list, sign up here so I can keep you posted on all the latest news about Ocean Anthem and the many other juicy, heartfelt songs that are coming soon!
As soon as I emerged from creative seclusion in my music studio over four months this winter, I immediately shifted into video production to first create an epic angel costume with the help of Sandra Bueler, who just completed the Fashion Design program at Toronto Film School (where her team won the top prize at Project Creativ Catwalk!) and Dora Rust-D’Eye, who recently retired as the internationally recognized costume director for Opera Atelier. Then we came up with an inspired storyboard working with my fabulously talented friend Adam Nathan. The process has been full on, including my first ever underwater shoot this past week. How perfect for Ocean Anthem. The shots, I hear, are spectacular.
The schedule has been intense with the goal to showcase the video at the AREDAY Summit in two weeks where I will also be giving a keynote talk on MAPS.
MAPS is one of the most important steps to take for ocean protection today. It is by far the biggest marine protected area yet established on our planet, since it safeguards the entire Arctic Ocean north of the Arctic Circle. Because it stops the melting of the polar ice and allows it to regenerate, it helps keep sea levels all over the world stable. It stops the runaway heating of our planet that is killing coral reefs and changing fish migratory patterns, as well as generating devastating storms. And while the UN struggles to meet its target of protecting ten per cent of the world’s oceans by 2020 (they are still at just three per cent), MAPS will single-handedly double that to six per cent. And because it establishes so much ocean water as a sanctuary where the destructive behaviors of trawling, seismic testing and oil exploration cannot take place, it allows many whale populations to regenerate, which then benefits waters all over the planet as they migrate. So MAPS, and Ocean Anthem, are dedicated to all the oceans and all beings of this beautiful world.
Last week we looked at how whales, the amazing sonic creatures of the oceans, can teach us yoga. This week, let’s look at karma yoga in particular.
All of us who volunteer for Parvati.org and work towards MAPS or doing karma yoga. Karma yoga, a complete spiritual path in its own right, is the yoga of action. For a karma yogi, work is executed without ego, as a form of prayer. Actions are done as a means to purify your tendencies and return to the One state of undivided consciousness. It teaches you to set aside your preconceptions, surrender your wanting, release your attachments to the outcome of your action, and do what is in divine right order in the moment. In the early stages along this path, an aspirant may practice karma yoga in a few sporadic volunteer hours. Eventually, however, for the karma yogi, life flowers into an expression of selfless service to the greater whole. The karma yogi knows that to serve another is to serve oneself, as there is no separation.
The word “karma” is often associated with fate or consequences. Indeed, all actions performed with attachment create karma which must then unfold in this life or a future lifetime. To practice karma yoga is to extinguish this cycle by acting selflessly, that is, in non-attachment. This then speeds our return to the bliss of the One. A great spiritual master such as Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, Amma, is an exquisite example of a karma yogi, one who selflessly and tirelessly serves the world without any desire for personal gain or accolade.
When I look at the lives of whales, I see an effortless, natural mastery of karma yoga. Their existence serves the greater good from the moment they emerge into the world to the moment of death and beyond.
As I mentioned last week, whales support their immediate environment through what is known as the “whale pump effect”, by which they bring nutrients like nitrogen and iron up to the surface from the depths, to fertilize plant life. This brings several magnificent benefits.
As the whales dive deep to feed and return to the surface to breathe, they naturally kick phytoplankton back up to the surface where it can continue in photosynthesis from the sun’s light, and absorb more carbon. Then their fecal plumes fertilize the phytoplankton.
Through the natural upward and downward rhythms of the whale’s life, it mixes the water vertically, bringing nutrients up from the dark into the light. It also enriches nutrient-poor water through its migration between the cold Arctic waters where it feeds and the warm waters where it breeds.
The whale’s life is of service, literally from birth to death. Whales are one of the few mammals that do not eat their placentas. When a whale calf is born, the placenta is released into the water and becomes food for many other animals. This is often a transfer of nutrients from the remote rich waters where the mother fed on krill, to a more sparse environment where she gives birth. Through a whale’s lifetime, it naturally absorbs carbon into its massive body. At death, it sinks to the bottom of the ocean, sequestering that carbon in the depths. The body then becomes host to a vibrant colony of aquatic life on the ocean floor.
A blue whale can consume up to 8,000 pounds of food every day. Yet, such massive consumption does not deplete the ecosystem. Because the whale gives life to phytoplankton and other fish, the presence of a whale in an ecosystem actually increases the animals on which it feeds!
Of note, all of this magnificent service happens naturally. The whale does not deprive itself or act outside its natural healthy rhythms to accomplish these great feats. It simply does what it is born to do. It lives in abundance and all beings benefit.
No less than the great bodies of whales, our human bodies are of the earth, arising into magnificently interconnected form to serve our spiritual growth. As such, we have the capacity for this kind of abundance, quite simply by design.
Nature’s intelligence is vast. It comprehends balance on a scale that is immense beyond our imagining, and down to a microscopic detail. Our bodies are literally karmic vehicles. Nature gives them form and shape that reflect the karmas we bring into this life. What we do with this body can be in disbalance and generate karma for future lives, or be in balance and end the cycle of karma for good.
As we evolve on the spiritual path, we come to understand that our journey is in no way separate from the greatest good of the whole. Just as the whale’s life is an instrument of service for the entire duration of its form, so too we can live as karma yogis, in a way that benefits all. Though the whale takes in what it needs, its net footprint on the planet is less than zero. It gives far more than it takes. This shows that when we choose to live in harmony with Nature and service to the whole, we prosper – and so do all things.
The positive ripple created by our selfless actions extends far beyond our own lives or what we may even see. When we act without attachment, in service to the greater whole, we support the sustenance and proliferation of all of creation. Again, looking to the whales for inspiration, I have learned that as the phytoplankton increase in the water due to the whale pump effect, the plankton’s natural predators also increase. When phytoplankton are being attacked and eaten, they give off a white cloud in the water that reflects more sunlight away from the earth, acting in some small way like the polar ice that is now vanishing and that is crucial for our survival. The whale whose actions gave life to that phytoplankton might now be thousands of miles away, yet the grace of its selflessness continues to unfold.
So may it be for us. We see so little of the universal picture. We do not know all the fruits our actions may come to bear with time. But we do not need to know. We are simply called to surrender our wanting and reclaim our true nature as vehicles of service, healing and balance.
May our footprint on the planet be light: the luminosity of our true interconnected nature.

Thank you for reading! All my music, yoga and words are dedicated to MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. MAPS is an urgently needed global intervention to protect the polar ice that keeps our planet cool and weather stable. The ice caps ensure we have the food and water we all need to survive. Please support MAPS at Parvati.org for the sake of all life on Earth. From my heart to yours, it literally means the world.