Friday, May 19, 2017

why i teach donation yoga

the other day, when explaining to a friend why i couldn't go away for the weekend, i made an off-handed comment that stuck like a knife in my gut....

it made me question what i do and how i earn my income, and it shook my perception of my self worth. 

you see, a large percentage of the yoga classes i teach are admission by donation. the attendance fluctuates drastically and so do the donations. i've said in the past that i find participants to generally be very generous, and i think this is because they feel like they get value from their time in the class. 

for weeks on end the donations will add up to more than the hourly rate at some yoga studios. and these extra funds benefit giving back to the community space that we practice in, as well as allowing me to buy necessities so that i can keep doing what i do. but then sometimes, seemingly for no reason, the donation box will sound more hollow than usual....

non-attachment, yes. things come in, and they go. all passes, everything changes. 

however, on that day i musn't have had enough green juice because that seed of doubt had crept in and in that moment i heard myself say, "i'm sorry, i can't go away this weekend because the people need their cheap yoga."

for shame. 

time to remember why i do what i do. yes, there was actually a reason i undertook this project...

the idea came from time i've spent studying vipassana meditation under the teachings of S.N. Goenka.

Goenka's 10 day vipassana courses are offered exclusively on a donation basis. the intention with this is to keep the teachings true and pure. they (the teachings) musn't be altered for those who would pay more. they musn't be marketed. but more importantly, they must be available to all who could benefit from them, regardless of social or financial status. 

my personal yoga practice has given me so much benefit in my life, i can't even begin to describe this to you...

yoga is a valuable method of self-care/development/awareness that should be available to everyone, regardless of their ability to trade it for money. i know this.

this is why i started teaching donation classes at Pachamama, and more recently at the Commons. in the hope that it would be a haven for all of us, we could go without thinking about membership deals or terms and conditions, and certainly not about what expensive gear you wear to class.

that the time on your yoga mat would be about YOU. ME. US. in a practice alone, together.

"Dana" is a word from Pali, the language of the Buddha, which means "generosity". 

Goenka says that if you finish your practice and you feel like you've gained some benefit from the teaching, you are welcome to practice dana. and importantly, when you give a donation, it is not payment for your admission. you give so that another can also receive the benefit that you have received.

you pay for someone else.

so when you show up on your mat, be grateful to know that someone has paid your way today.

and i'm sorry that i forgot, momentarily, what i was doing. i remember now. ok, let's get on with it. 

namas(fucking)ste! and be happy. (love you Goenkaji R.I.P.)

Friday, July 1, 2016

beginning the walk

the walk is the journey back to yourself. not the search for anything. the uncovering of the purity of your innocence.

everyone walks differently. some with careers and houses in tow, sometimes dropping what's no longer needed. sometimes gathering. some walk with the heart connections of their earthfamily.

i suppose some walk and don't know it as what they are doing. but i think most who walk make that decision consciously, though they will look back at their trail and see with open eyes that each step that seemed so hastily taken before now flanks their trail like so many feathers shrugged off the back of a gull...

i knew i was walking when possessions started to fall like burdens being dropped and encounters started to feel more heightened and cherished than handfuls of small diamonds whisked away in a gale

and then i started to move. and very soon my trail was marked with so much ease and grace that IT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN WRONG.

grace is when you listen to your heart and events and manifestations occur with synchronicity and ease.

if grace seems to stop you need to become very still and silent and wait until you can hear once again.

the walk is like one of those old connect-the-dots. you don't know the picture that the constellation is making until the last dots are included

you listen. you trust. you are moved and breathed by the great spirit (who is holding the pencil)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Simple Meditations for moving from where you are to HAPPINESS


I recently ran a meditation circle. It was my first one and I really just wanted to bring my experience of meditation and the simple processes that have helped me over the years. 

I wrote the following instructions that I hope are really simple and clear. There are 3 meditations. Each one builds on the one before, but there is no need that you do all of the meditations in one sitting. 

If you are feeling quite good, you can more easily move to the loving-kindness meditation. If you are feeling less good when you sit to meditate, don't be in a rush to go all the way to loving-kindness. You will get the most benefit if you work from where you are.

Note: I by no means claim to have invented these. They are all very common forms of meditation. I hope you will find benefit in the way I have arranged and worded them. 

Body Awareness Meditation
1.        Sit in a comfortable and upright position, spine straight yet relaxed, and close your eyes.
2.       Come into your body using body scan from toe to head.
3.       Rest your awareness on either the physical sensation of the palms of your hands OR the physical sensation of your natural breath OR both. In case of intense anxiety, agitation, or panic, or if you are having difficulty feeling your breath, take several deeper and slower breaths, observing them.
4.      As thought arises, let it move through and past and return to the sensation
Emotional Awareness Meditation
5.       Begin with steps 1-4 above. You will know you can move on to the steps below when you are able to sit calmly and easily feel the sensations in your body.
6.      Ask yourself what emotion is present. Await the response without expectation.
7.       Whatever emotion is present allow yourself to experience it fully. Ask that it come forth even stronger in intensity. Sit with the emotion and feel it without pushing it away. Watch the intensity rise up and feel anything physical that may be associated with the emotion.
8.      When the emotion seems to have lost its intensity/charge begin at step 6 again with the next emotion.
9.      Repeat steps 6-8 until a) you reach a blissful emotion (preferred) or b) your meditation time runs out
Loving-kindness Meditation
10.    Begin with steps 1-9 above. You will know you can move into the Loving-kindness Meditation when you have reached a blissful emotion.
11.     Now that you have full body and full emotion awareness, invite the feeling of love to enter your body and to fill your entire energy field.
12.    State to yourself:
May I be happy. May I be at peace. May I experience real love.
(drawing to mind someone in your life…) May you be happy. May you be at peace. May you experience real love.
May all beings be happy. May all beings be at peace. May all beings experience real love.
13.    Repeat above statements (visualising someone different each time you say ‘you’) until a) you transcend time and space, dissolving into particles of light (preferred) or b) your meditation time runs out.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Dear lover or friend of my past or future...

I can promise you right now that I will not have it together all the time. I will sometimes be needy, emotional. I will be wild and intense.

I can promise you that I will always try to be better and to live up to my promises and to think of your feelings. Empathy is natural to me.

I promise that I won't always like you and that things won't always be "smooth" but I will always love you louder than I can laugh.

And I promise you that sometimes you won't like me too and sometimes I won't be the best version of myself and sometimes you will wonder.

And that is ok. It's ok to leave

But I can promise you I'm not faking and I will never hide from you. 

I can promise you now that you will know what you are getting. And if this is someone you want to love, you can show me by being truthful too.

I promise that in my saner moments I will check in with what is good and right and recalibrate my direction accordingly.

And I promise to be tender, soft, warm, and never to take that away. 

I promise to see and know your worthiness and, in humility, feel mine as well.

I can promise you that if you laugh and play, I will play too, and the brighter you shine, the more I will reflect your love light back to you.

I can promise you that I am not perfect, nor will I ever try to be, but if you want to hold my hand I'll hold yours too as a lover or as a friend.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

on quitting my job at 29

There is a way, I have only glimpsed, of living a life free from the artificial boundaries of time and bank accounts. Free from the critical gaze of my own self-loathing. 

In this life, an afternoon stretches on and on into a lazy sunset, the hot rays of light on my face, the dusting of sand and sea mist in the breeze. 

I want to follow the sunset into an evening of woolly jumpers, cups of camomile tea and jazz playlists, and then put it to bed with quiet whispers from lips hidden under layers of blankets.

This is the life I saw when I was 22, or 17, or maybe as a child, before the world became a place where finally I slumped down into bed, exhausted from a day in which I had careened through the maze of everyone else's expectations. 

Do you remember joy like I do? With maybe the wind whipping your hair into your face as you swing higher and higher and laughing hysterically at nothing and slowing finally down to lean back and squint into the sun? Nothing special, just another day at the park, with maybe a sweet friend, or just a couple of squirrels chattering and chasing each other up trees.

By the time I was 29 I had decided, implicitly or explicitly, to agree that life is built on agendas and institutions that define a life worth living. The definition of success equating more or less to the idea of being "responsible." Responsibility, hard work, concern for setting up the structure of my life to support acquiring the things and people that would validate my own precarious existence. 

But it wasn't precarious. All along, it turns out, I was worthy.

How could I put my heart and head on loan to another (or worse to a collective economic entity that isn't even human) for 8 hours a day and call that responsible? Just to do something because everyone else (it seemed) is doing it that way? 

At 30 I see my responsibility to myself, and my community of animals, plants, and humans differently. I have no business doing anything I can't do in joy and in alignment with my full being - physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually.

I still work hard, but my work is to delight in noticing the beauty and spontaneity of the mundane, the everyday synchronicities, to delight in the colours of the blades of grass in the sun, and to watch the slow unfolding of a so-called miserable day, as it turns painfully beautiful with the soft murmur of the rain. 

I no longer want to chase after money or clients or to "build a business." I just want to talk with people and delight in the utter diversity of community. If I can help, I think I can help by remembering to play and to be child-like in my own activities, and maybe if I do this, you will do this too. And maybe if you do, you will be joyful and remember also who you are, even just for a moment.  

Maybe at 30 I was meant to grow young and not old. I was meant to sacrifice my sanity to the swing set and a few seconds of pure, unbounded laughter. Maybe I was meant to rediscover the passion and energy behind a curious mind, when learning is all about interest and discovery and has nothing to do with the reward of a certificate. 

Maybe it's just me, and that's fine. At the ripe old age of 30 I've had to lose my way so many times on the path to find myself that I can finally say that I trust it will be alright if I just let go and leap from the swing.

Friday, July 17, 2015

negative emotions and the law of attraction...simple stuff

My friend and I did this experiment to try to work out the best way to deal with negative emotions. 

We were discussing how our patterning had taught us to be independent and responsible and to stand on our own two feet and how this often translated into hiding our emotions and an inability to reach out for the support of others in times of need. We thought that, in the spirit of community (which we both assign more value to of late), we would give a try to reaching out to the other one when negative feelings arise, with the intention not of wallowing in sorrow or self-pity, but to deliberately try to assist in pivoting the other's mood around with greater efficiency than we can normally achieve in a solo effort.

The experiment didn't last long for me. The following day I found myself stepping through the awkward barrier of the "textual cry for help", sending a message proclaiming that I felt lonely and premenstrual (HA.) The response I received told me everything I needed to know about how flawed our hypothesis is. It showed me again the infallible and all-pervasive Law of Attraction, which never ever goes awry!

The response?

"at work. i think ur awesome."

Oh the precision and beauty of such a disappointing moment! The vibration of lonely cannot be met with any other vibration than that which it emits.....loneliness begets more loneliness.

I processed the situation via a nap and when I woke up I wrote...

"I keep learning this one. Maybe if I write it I will remember now. Something uncomfortable comes and you want to reach out for its opposite but it is an invitation. Take it, lean in. It is an invitation to go deeper. There is something there just beyond the strain of the discomfort. Look at it, don't look away. 

You are lonely and you want to fill that void with other people, go out, get busy, be seen and touch someone. But don't do it, don't touch a soul. Go into the loneliness. Be and breathe the loneliness. It is speaking a sacred lesson to you. You are right here inside. The loneliness is not a 'thing' but a guard that the ego presents to protect reality as it is currently perceived. But what is beyond that veil there is no question, there is only a deep knowing, a jarring awake. 

So always move in when you are invited by the pain. Go inside it. There is some great gift in there. A becoming.

Never fear.

Faith is the most important muscle you can exercise.

You will emerge.

You will be revealed to you. This is so important."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Healing Body Image and Damaging Beliefs with Intentional Touch

Do you know someone who can benefit from the healing power of intentional touch?

Chances are, you or someone you know has at some time experienced issues with body image, self-esteem, self-worth, depression, anxiety, or negative thinking. These experiences are a natural part of being human, and ideally we move through them gracefully or not gracefully into spaces of deeper self-understanding, self-acceptance, and humility. That is, through the pain of knowing how not to love ourselves or to push this love away, we come to a more radical unconditional self-love.

Through my observations of myself and of the people close to me in my life, I have noticed that self-esteem and self-worth issues can be triggered from long-standing beliefs and patterns of behaviour - relationships that were uncaring or abusive, careless words said by others or ourselves, unloving thoughts. 

Often times, unconscious touch, given and received, can have negative consequences for body image. Imagine in your relationships if you felt that the touch of your significant other was always hyper-sexualised, for example. Or if, in the past, people only touched you if they wanted something from you (sex, affection, approval, agreement). If these are the patterns you've experienced, touch can be loaded with so much baggage, stories, and judgement. 

My theory is that if we can heal the intention of touch, we can heal the effect on the receiver (and the giver, actually!). This is the work I am doing with my Hawaiian massage practice. Through meditation and connection to source, I purify my intention throughout the treatment session, asking that any unwanted thoughts and judgements be removed, and that my intention and actions be for the highest benefit of the client.

The feedback I have received has supported this theory. Even though I've not explained the energetic intention of the treatment in most cases to the client, frequently they will say to me that they felt accepted, nurtured, and even beautiful! Several times, I've had clients express to me that for some time during their massage, all worries about their body, and self-judgements completely cleared and they felt that everything is exactly how it should be.

This feedback is so inspiring for me. It affirms that what I know to be true can be shared with others through the power of intentioned touch. 

My intention with this work is to share with anyone who can benefit from the clearing of negative body image or negative associations with touch. I see this in particular as being relevant to women who have been in hyper-sexualised or abusive relationships. 

I want everyone to know that they are worthy, exactly as they are in their current body. Everyone deserves to love and be loved. Everyone deserves to be touched in a pure and loving way.

In order to make this potential for healing accessible to EVERYONE, I offer sliding scale prices on my treatments. I would also like to announce that each month I will offer one or two treatments gratis (without charge) to those who can't afford to pay the fee. If you would like to nominate someone you know to receive one of these treatments with me, please email me with a couple of sentences on why you think this person would benefit from this experience and the reason that you believe they might be experiencing financial hardship. Of course, you may also nominate yourself.

You can get in touch via the Contact page of my website 
or email 

I know that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to reach out and make contact. I hope you will have the courage to follow up if this is something that your heart is telling you to do.

Much love,

photo credit: