The summers were long growing up in Brampton, a suburb of Toronto, as long as they were in any suburb. I was always searching for something to do, another adventure that drew similarities to the movie “Stand By Me”, but gladly, without the dead body. There was loads of farm land and natural forest surrounded the little subdivision where we lived. I spent countless hours building forts, playing in the creeks and swimming in the abandoned gravel pits in close proximity to my abode.
One summer the local church was offering a free summer camp at their facility, of course I ventured down to check it out. I had never stepped foot inside a church on my own, only having seen the inside of one during a wedding or a funeral, which at my age, you could count the number of times on one hand. My interest was purely social, and I was looking for some fun.
I can remember dragging my friend and neighbour Robert to the church, he came willingly, and we enjoyed the first day of camp together. The next day, I called on him again, only to find out that he wasn’t able to come. I asked why (I was always the curious type) he told me that his religion didn’t allow him. I didn’t understand, Robert went to church every Sunday, and even attended a catholic school, and this was a church summer camp. Still standing in his doorway, and obviously looking a little dumbfound, I asked what the difference was between his church and this particular one. He explained that his religion didn’t allow him to attend, and also, his mom said so. Now I was getting really confused. In my mind I thought it was all the same. Church was Church, wasn’t it? Apparently a Baptist Church is different than a Catholic one, how little I knew about religion, I was after all, a product of the public school board and religion was never talked about in my house.
That evening, I tried asking my dad about the church summer camp and why Robert wasn’t able to attend, but I didn’t get any closer to the answer. Maybe because my dad always said he was an atheist, although at that time, I didn’t know what that was either. Now my mom should have the answer I was looking for, she always told me she was catholic. She told me they were different religions, and they only go to their own church. I went to my room to ponder my question and answer; I spent more time contemplating my navel instead. Wasn’t there just one god? Isn’t it all the same thing?
There was one boring part about the summer camp that I can remember, they made me memorize and recite parts of the bible. Luckily for me, memorizing came fairly easy, and I breezed through the exercises and was allowed to return to the fun again. It would take decades for this to come full circle, and my own truth to unfold.
About decade later I entered into the age of my late teens, and yes I even “knew it all”, so I thought. My father was diagnosed with cancer, and given a “not so great” chance of a long life. I searched for answers, was it because he was an atheist or was there some other reason. Why him, and not someone else. I struggled to find reason, and decided to return to the same church that I attended summer camp a decade earlier. Maybe they would have the answer.
Never stepping foot inside a church on my own (summer camp no longer counted either), I was nervous. I saw friends from my high school and talked with them, they asked me to come to their youth group, which was more or less a circle of friends that would pray for one person or another. Was there power in prayer? I prayed for my dad, and felt that one single prayer was enough. I never wanted to be a burden to anyone, especially god. I never did tell anyone about my father, not this circle, or my own circle of friends outside of the church.
I never did feel comfortable going to church alone, still not fully understanding the difference between the Catholic Church and others. One Sunday, I was with my catholic friend Scott, he took me to his church with his parents. When he stood up to receive what looked like a cracker and a drink, I stood too, he asked me to sit down as I was not a catholic and could receive a piece of Christ. My religious confusion continued. Why? I am wanted to ask, but just sat down feeling like I was an outcast or humiliation would be a better description.
Not long later, my friend Patrick was stabbed to death, someone wanted his wallet, but took his life instead. Again, I entered a church, a Catholic one this time. During the funeral, I asked Jesus to accept me; I remember that I shook with an uncontrollable shiver. Was it just emotions for Patrick or was it Jesus entering my life. To this day, I still don’t know, it was early January and cold outside.
I questioned the teachings or strictness of the Baptist Church; I asked members of the youth group if it was okay to bend some of the rules. I was eighteen and wanted to drink beer with my friends, was this sinning or not, my parents permitted me to drink wine at the dinner table long before then. I was told that I should change my friends and follow a straighter path with Jesus. I stopped going to church immediately, and maintained my friendship, following my own path rather than being told which route to take. This has always been my defining personality; I had to actually experience it for myself, following my heart, and experiencing a tangible way of living.
For the next decade, my father’s health continued to decline and my query for religion took a back seat. My father passed away in 1998 a decade after first being diagnosed. Really the final 5 years were difficult for everyone especially my mom as my father became less human and more like a walking pharmaceutical test subject in constant pain. I distanced myself from any religion, having a bad taste still lingering in my mouth.
In the summer of 1999 I saw a fractal print of Buddha, I can try to demonstrate the picture with words. Over all the print was about 5 ft. by 3 feet and was made up of (what looked like) a million pictures of Buddha, each one a little lighter or darker to make one very large Buddha. A fractal is by definition – each piece is a complete part of the overall, in this case, no matter how much you zoomed into the print the whole Buddha was there. I was so moved by this print, maybe it was the fractal or maybe the image of the peaceful Buddha sitting in a perfect lotus position. I felt a new urge to learn again.
Here is an example of a natural fractal – this is a type of Italian broccoli.
Over the next 6 months, I had quit the dead end job I was working, began waiting at a busy restaurant and saved up enough money to purchase a plane ticket, passport and travel visa to India. Really, the last three items came within a two week period. My mom was in shock, I was excited to experience eastern culture and its religion. While in India, one very defining moment occurred to me surrounding religion that helped define who I was to become. A conversation about religion was brought up; I was asked what religion I was. Wow, I was stuck for an answer, what was I? I tried answering that I don’t have a religion, I noticed how angry my Indian friend became, and I reeled looking to find the right answer. I knew what I wasn’t Catholic, Baptist, Hindu, or Buddhist. My answer came quickly, before I could realize what I was saying. I answered like this – “God is within me, so I must be God”. He smiled, laughed and bobbled his head in agreement or was it amusement. I knew that I could create a coincidence, is that what creation is? was I the creator? I needed to go contemplate my navel again. Had I found God while travelling through India in my late 20’s? Yes, I think so. I returned home to Canada, feeling renewed and alive again and ready to create the world I wanted to live in.
A couple of months later, I literally fell into a career that lasted another decade; I loved every minute of my life and felt needed by my employer too. My role in the workplace was to ensure the safety of workers and environmental compliance of the company, it demanded much of my energy leaving little room for creating my own identity. I never forgot about my epiphany in India, and longed to step back into my dharma again. It wasn`t until just a few years ago, that I found my dharma; my calling to create, to open my heart to the abundance of the universe and expression of being an artist.
People ask me now, more than ever “how are we connected, are we one?” I tell them that if they could imagine that their human body is made up of cells, and within each cell, there are atoms, and within each atom there are protons. Most of us understand this much, so the minor leap to connect protons is easy; protons are energy, and are found in everything within the universe. We are connected energetically, especially two similar frequencies in the same proximity. Have you ever noticed someone across a busy room, somehow they also notice you, I am talking about the law of attraction. Like attracts like, before you even meet this person, you know that you will get along, and share similar interests.
The Ancient Mayans said it best, they have a greeting “In Lak’ech Ala K’in” that is translated into “in you, I see me; in me, I see you, we are one and the same” I use this Mayan greeting at the bottom of every email I send out, as a reminder to me and everyone in my circle that we are one and the same.
The opposite can also happen, when our frequencies are not matched, we can sometimes feel drained. Remind yourself that neither of you are “bad” people, just resonating at a different frequency. I have often felt “tapped out” when spending time with some people, although I feel that I can offer them help by guiding them to a crystal that may help alleviate they’re dis-ease and begin resonating higher or what I would call “Lighter”. Another example may be why there is such a negative connotation towards plastic bags, the plastic bag has a frequency too; its root ingredient is crude oil, and many of us in society regard this root ingredient in a negative light.
Have you ever sat by yourself in a crowded bar, listening to the stories being told? I travelled a lot in my last career and it allowed me to be the observer, I observed without judgment. I noticed that the stories being told, although different scenarios, they were all the same. Complaining about something or listening to someone complain helps us feel better about our situation. Our own life becomes less troublesome when someone else has it worse than us. Complaining brings comfort, and we do it to feel good about ourselves. If there is something you would like to change about your life, consider changing your habits in this particular area. You will find that like minded people attract each other, and much happiness will follow
We have called God or Allah, by so many names; I couldn’t possibly list them all. I have heard the names spirit or universal energy, these sound right to me too. By saying the name of your god in any language, it resonates with a frequency of Love. What really resonates with me is this is all within us, the power to create is within us, and we are all of these names. I am God
In Lak’ech Ala K’in
Learn more at http://www.appealingenvironments.com/
Can you remember your first Yoga Practice, I can like it was yesterday. Although my first yoga class was experienced in local community centres in Ontario Canada; they don’t count, not to discredit them, it just wasn’t the Yoga I was looking for. I found it years later and half way around the world.
Rewind over a decade, and find yourself in Varanasi India, I was travelling there for some time after college. To explain India would be a book in itself, but with this short story and others to come, you will gain insight and understanding of they way we breathe in North America that may be differently than others in the world.
Travelling throughout India was exhilarating and exciting, but it also poses you with some challenges, not knowing that a little perseverance will help you prevail in any situation could be detrimental in your enjoyment of the entire experience. The English did one very good thing for India, the wonderful snake of silver tracks that criss cross the country make travelling relatively easy and inexpensive. The trains in India are in no comparison to Via or Amtrak, the only thing they have in common is their schedule. But the Indian Railways with a train to every corner of the country, makes your travel experience complete while in India.
While travelling, I thought I would stop in Varanasi, a city of around 1.3 million back in 1999. It doesn’t sound like a lot of people, but when you factor in the population density, this city situated along the Ganges River is always buzzing. Typically Varanasi is a place you go in your elder years, let say in preparation to leave the physical world. Varanasi may be the the oldest continuously habited city in the world, considered holy in Buddhist, and Jain and the holiest place on Earth in Hinduism. Sounds like a great place to stop for a day or two for a weary traveler. Arriving was no problem, just stepped off the train (probably into a large pile of cow dung). Getting back on the train was a whole other issue. Apparently there were no trains leaving for 1 week, although this may or may not have been the case, I decided to make the best of my time.
- Regular gathering along the Ganges. Beautiful
After you have seen your share of temples, walked the gardens of the university, and watched the human ashes being placed into the Ganges only to swirl past you in their return to cycle of life and energy. The next best thing when you have time to spare, is Yoga. Finding a place to do yoga is quite easy, you just have to ask. So I was set, dressed appropriately and ready for the asanas. Little did I know that there would only be one position that would be expected from me. Pradmasana or Lotus for some, more like regular, knee high, cross legged for me. Yoga in India is done at the local temple, (there is one on every corner) so you don’t have to travel far. I entered and bowed offering my hands in prayer. I was asked to sit across from another gentleman that was about to begin my first real yoga lesson.
Now, I should explain that the temples in India are all made from marble, the floor especially. I sat cross legged across from my new friend on a cold marble floor, at first the marble was soothing, as the temperature outside was in the mid 30’s so the marble was cooling my body nicely from the days heat. Then we started chanting OM, we chanted some more OM, and then some more. I was corrected numerous times to straighten my spine and sit properly over the course of two hours while keeping my eyes closed and chanting OM. Yes, two hours of sitting cross legged chanting OM on a cold marble floor. I just couldn’t wait for the yoga to begin, and if you know India, all good things come in there own time. Sadly after the chanting was over, I was asked to leave and come back tomorrow. I was completely confused now, when were we going to do yoga?
I returned again, my bum still sore from the unforgiving marble of yesterday, figuring I had passed the test, and was now allowed to practice yoga. I was asked to sit, cross my legs, and begin chanting OM again. Two hours passed again (very slowly), I didn’t want to interrupt during that time for fear for being singled out. But, I really wanted to know when the real yoga was to begin. Before leaving the temple that second day, I asked my new friend “What type of yoga am I learning?” I explained that I was expecting something else. My friend explained to me that until I learn to breathe, it would not matter what I do with my life. The way it was said, might have been a little more blunt, and poignant. I was saddened, “I thought we all were born with the innate ability to breathe” I said to him. “Ahh Yes”, was the answer, “except you breathe like a North American”. Now I was beginning to get frustrated, feeling left in the dark and scratching for a smart thing to say. I think it came out like this “Why I am here then”, now I would like to say that it had “not a pinch of sarcasm” in it, but that might not be entirely true, it did.
At that very moment, I was to have my greatest epiphany. Here it comes, it was explained and ingrained within me, that your breath is your prana or “your life force” and when you breathe, and pay attention to the moment of each inhale and the moment of each exhale – this is Yoga. Smiling now, I understood why I was there, to learn to breathe for the first time.
A few more days of chanting, and trust me when I say this, the marble floor did feel like it softened just a bit, or maybe that was just my ego letting go. In the years that followed, my yoga practice has come and gone through many studios, but my breath remains my only constant. I would like to call it my Indian Breath, for I breathe differently now, honouring each ebb and flow, rise and fall for an eternity of bliss and calmness.
When I teach my own classes “Exploring the Chakras with Crystals” I gather this experience that I have gained, sharing with one another so that we can all grow closer together as one. If I could leave you with one small thing, something I truly believe in….. the best moments in life are the few micro seconds between each breath. Your breath is a cycle of “in and out”, just try to pay attention to that small place before the “in” and after the “out”. You will soon realize how abundant that small place is. For within that space holds the greatest of possibilities and endless amount of creation.
learn more at http://www.appealingenvironments.com/