YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU CAN MEET AN ANGEL…

A good teacher is someone who guides you towards being able to fearlessly put your full heart into something that you love.  They help you find and excavate your dreams and help you top believe in yourself. Ultimately, I think dreams come true because we want them to come true.  They don’t fall into your lap or suddenly appear unbeknownst to you. Dreams that are beneficial not only to you but to the world around you in some way, that are good for other people or the environment  are always assisted by the Universe through coincidence and synchronicity.

As we get older we begin to edit our dreams.  I notice I dream smaller now…more cautiously. But when I was young my entire focus was on getting a horse and living on a farm. At 46 I find that is exactly where I am.  It was a determined dream.  I always ended my wish for those things in my life with a very heartfelt addendum to God: If you give me my farm, I PROMISE I will do something good with it.  This was our deal, and I have kept it to the best of my ability. Today my farm runs as a refuge and retraining center. We do equine retreats to help people reconnect to nature and spend a great deal of time imparting the importance of communication and relationship with the animals we use as our sporting partners and workmates.  I am happy with our deal, but this year I fully intend to take out all the stops and step it up.  I have big dreams that have come true…and I am just realizing it!

If you think back to when you were young, maybe ten years old, can you remember what it is you always wanted to be? What was it that you wished for on your birthday cake?  These wishes represent the authentic you, before the world edited what you thought about yourself.

Like many young horse-crazy girls, I wanted a horse my entire life. I’m certain that I was emitted from the womb wanting a life with horses.  They are in my blood. I was even born in September 1966 which is the year of the fire horse. I made the same wish every on birthday cake until I was 20 and sold everything to buy Harmony, my first horse.

“I want a horse”.

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Josee and Master

I would pray that when I woke up the morning of my birthday somehow miraculously there would be a perfect pony standing under the maple tree at our house in suburbia.  I would hop on his perfect horse and go visit all of my friends.  This recurrent day-dream was the subject of my fantasies every year from the first memories I recall. One year I remember getting my helmet and boots.  It was about as close as I could get to a horse in my suburban hometown.  My sympathetic parents sent me to riding camp every year when I was young and from when I was 19 and got my first car, those boots stayed parked in my trunk in the hopes that I would randomly meet someone with a horse who would invite me to go ride with them.  Funny enough, that actually happened.  I met a friend, and we began to ride together.  Eventually she convinced me to buy Harmony although I was as inexperienced a horse person as anyone could be.  Riding camp does not make you a cowgirl 🙂   I had a basic knowledge of riding and care from the affluent camps I had been fortunate enough attend, but the best knowledge I got was from an old polish Calvary captain who really won my heart one night when he caught me sneaking a cigarette at 12 years old out behind his barn. In a thick Polish accent he reprimanded me, told me to put out my cigarette and meet him henceforth in his study.  This was terrifying.  My father had sent me to the Captain Wiazowski riding school, and I felt like I had entered purgatory.  His rules were strict, his demands vocal and I was in a teenage time of turmoil where I just wanted to be left alone to melt into the wallpaper.The Captain would have none of it and I soon found myself standing in his office stoic and quiet in front of his dark wood enormous work desk, my head bent and staring at his big bronze polish horse statues and shelves and shelves of books. A green and brass lamp on the desk was all the light we had. It was eerie and terrifying. Surely he was going to tell me he was sending me home, for the rule I had broken was all but cardinal. Instead he told me to sit down and have a cigarette.  At first I thought he was joking, and so I just stood silently waiting for his next words of admonishment.  Instead he repeated to me loudly as though I may be a little deaf,

“Seet down and smoke”. He would say in a thick polish accent.

“What?” I asked again.

He looked at me with a raised eyebrow as if he felt I was defying him.  The fog lifted and I sat down.

“But I don’t want to smoke”, I said to him.

“I won’t do it again”, I promised, dreading with every fiber of my being the phone call he would inevitably make to my father resulting in causing him further disappointment in me. I was not exactly the easiest teenager to live with.

“SMOKE”, he snapped at me in his most  Captain authority voice.

I fumbled in my damp barn jacket for my cigarettes and matches I had stolen from the kitchen.  He saw this and raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

Fine, I’ll just do it – I decided defiantly.

“Don’t go back there to smoke ever again.” he said finally after a few uncomfortable moments of considered glaring silence.

“ok”, I bowed my head praying for it to be over.

“Every night, after supper, you come smoke in here. After you clean the kitchen with Terry and rake the ring”.

“Rake the ring every night? We never do the ring every night!” I complained as if there should be some rule of fairness applied to the levity of the punishment.  But he knew exactly what he was doing. The Captain had commanded large mounted Calvary troops in Poland and held back the Nazi’s when they came across to Poland on their tanks he faced them on his horse. When Poland fell he travelled with his horses and men on boats and across the sea to go and fight them in France.  The had won 3 medals of honour and valour from three different countries, and had been teaching children since he landed in Canada in 1954.  This was a rare man I was not going to scare or manipulate very easily.

From then on, every night, after enduring my duties I would stand uncomfortably while the Captain would wait for me to go into his office.  The first night was horrible.  I lit my cigarette and had no clue what to talk about to this old crotchety man; the silence was truly deafening.  Then he started to ask me questions. The smoking issue was never again discussed.  So began a dialogue with someone in a way I had never experienced before. he asked me questions, and seemed truly interested in what I had to say about things.  he believed that children had a take on how the world was doing, and he would value what i said.  It evolved in a way that i became curious and started asking him questions too.  The Captain changed also in my perception from  “crotchety old man” to trusted teacher.

My riding changed then too.  I trusted him implicitly even when he would tell me to do something on my horse which I felt completely incapable of doing; if he believed I could, and then I just would.  Learning to follow in this way made a tremendous contribution to the way  teach riding.   My father always said “you have to learn to follow before you can lead”.

I won the entire horse show that year.  I always thought that Anne was a much better rider than I was. She had flair and seemed unafraid and daring in ways I could never imagine.  But ultimately I won because of my joy in the moment of riding.  I don’t remember the class, but I do remember how my horse felt, his gliding trot along the long side of the arena.  It was the first time I had really relaxed and let my horse move forward with no inhibition.  It was a glorious feeling.

The Captain taught me that a good teacher is someone who helps you find a way to let the animals guide your learning, like the captain did for me.  He helped me define a vision for my life just because he was someone whom I respected and he respected me back in a way I understood and that contributed to my understanding of my life.

This new year, I am here still on my beautiful farm and I can’t help but acknowledge that it is the small moments in life that create the bridges to the bigger dreams.

“It’s Just Like Me to be…” ~ An Excercise in Self~Understanding

Everyone is curious about what others think of them.  Some are more or less guided by their need to have the positive opinion of others. Most of us have been raised in a  culture where our “reputations” and what people thought of us was very important.  Isn’t it true though that we should be more importantly concerned with our own opinions of ourselves?  We should be but we can’t – because we don’t even know what we think of ourselves!  Not really.  Because we have lived unconsciously for so long, many people have an interior dialogue of opinions that have come from a lifetime of experiences, unacknowledged and unrecognized in the impact these beliefs about ourselves can have in ourchoices, decisions, and motivations.  Consciousness means becoming aware and responsible for the unacknowledged opinions and thoughts you have about yourself, and transforming them into something more productive and positive for your life. 

Do you consider yourself a conscious person – someone who is aware of who they are and why they do and think as they do?  Many people are awakening to the importance to becoming conscious of the interior dialogue which  exerts control over an individuals life choices. Consciousness has sometimes been defined as “how you describe yourself to yourself”. In other words the only consciousness that you can really have is an awareness of the story you tell yourself about who you are and the role you play in life. Every choice and reaction you have is based on this interior impression.

You can become aware of your interior story by free thinking the end of the following sentence a few times.  I developed an activity if you would like, to follow-up on that and use the thought of clear objective consciousness in maintaining your connection to source in daily life.

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writing-on-paperFinish the sentence “It’s just like me to be…”as many times as you want. In fact write until you don’t have words to fill the end space anymore. What are the very first thoughts that came into your mind?  Don’t edit or judge. And don’t NOT write something because it is too harsh or too positive.  Just write them down.  

Distracted, creative, sad, busy, useless, curious,  misguided, wrong, afraid, strong, reactive, defensive.

Without differentiating between good or bad, right or wrong – make a list of these words in no particular order:

DISTRACTED

CREATIVE

SAD

BUSY

USELESS

CURIOUS

MISGUIDED

WRONG

AFRAID

STRONG

REACTIVE

Sit back, make a tea, and take a long look at the words you use to describe yourself. Don’t judge yourself – just look, as though you are on a treasure hunt and these are the clues into your very own thoughts.  The greatest treasure lays within – your highest creative self –  but first you have to navigate the sometimes scary waters of your own thinking.

Take up your pen again now and ask your guides for help to let you see the truth about yourself. That you are indeed divine, and the only thing stopping you from ACTING like it, is your thinking about yourself.  Now, begin to rewrite the negative words.  We can describe negative as any aspects you have written that do not contribute to your overall creativity, happiness and ability to be of service in life. The positive words are those that promote your greatest happiness, most creative self and the ability  to be of service.

DISTRACTED  CONSCIOUS/PRESENT

CREATIVE

SAD   HAPPY/JOYFUL

CURIOUS

BUSY  PRODUCTIVE

USELESS  PURPOSEFUL

MISGUIDED  AMBITIOUS

WRONG  DIVINE

AFRAID  FEARLESS

REACTIVE  THOUGHTFUL

WEAK  CAPABLE

You can support your change of perception by posting these words up, randomly in your house. So each time you come across them you are creating a new thought about yourself.  Maybe some of these thoughts have been unconsciously adopted from previous life experiences, a difficult childhood, an abusive relationship.  remind yourself of where you are today, in this moment each time you see one of your words.

The positive turn you have given these previously unconscious aspects of self-image causes them to begin to lose their power over you immediately.  This means you can be less inclined to make choices based on some unacknowledged negative self-image that may not be in your best interest.  It is a very powerful tool.

It is the job of our souls to enlighten our minds, and it is the ego’s job to keep the mind shrouded in self-doubt and fear.  Conscious awareness is like a huge beacon of light. The ego, like a terrible cockroach will escape back into the dark corners of your mind waiting for another opportunity to hide you from the light of your own self-awareness.

Maintaining awareness is your diligent duty.  Willingness and keeping the way clear for the light to shine when it needs to, is really one of the few things we as spiritual beings on this human journey have control over.    Methods in consciousness like Yoga and meditation are effective and can be integrated into any lifestyle.  Mantra and mindfulness techniques can help keep you rooted in conscious vigilance over your own thoughts about yourself.

Answer the question again…

“It’s just like me to be…”

Don’t admonish yourself for a negative answer nor praise yourself for  a positive one.  The answers should only be viewed as a tool for observing your current state of being, allow you to flow into the being you are always becoming and have always been.

~Namaste~

Spiritual Living In The Real World

ImageI have met quite a few people this year already who tell me that they have made a formal or informal resolution to live life “more spiritually”. When I ask them what this means, they all have different answers- meditation, yoga, read a spiritual book, or maybe take a workshop. Different answers, but all express the same challenge. How do you live a more connected spiritual peaceful serene life within the context of “real world” expectations and duties? How does a lawyer, a student, a mother or a doctor integrate spiritual concepts into the demands of their human experiences? 

Spiritual living means placing an emphasis on self-knowledge and self-awareness.  Meditation, yoga and other physical practices can help you become more connected to your inner energy source, which will then open the world up for many new and different types of connections. A spiritual perspective also means that being of service, in some form, becomes important to individuals. 

Meditation:  Meditation is available to everyone. Children in India are taught to meditate at around 5 years old, but here in the Western World meditation as a widespread practice is relatively new and many of the concepts can seem very foreign to us.  Most people I meet who have tried meditation either have taken to it like a fish in water, or have found themselves fidgety and unable to sit still long enough to benefit. I was one of these “fidgety” people for years. Then I had a friend tell me to start by just sitting still for one entire minute. Wow. That was the longest minute of my life. But I practiced and in time this went up to five minutes.  I began to be able to focus my very busy mind.  I learned techniques that allowed me to simply observe and let my thoughts and concerns flow, like water without trying to damn them up with judgments, opinions or decisions.  Meditation taught me to become aware of the voice of my ego and the voice of my spirit, which gives you very different messages about yourself. I learned to focus my energy in different areas of the body called Chakras, and over time I am able to focus for long periods of the peaceful feeling of just sitting. Meditation felt great.

Yoga: Then I began to do yoga, stretching and focusing on physical balance all day.  There was something very empowering about staying focused on balance through the day. Yoga is not only an exercise but a way of life for consciously balancing throughout the day.  Because I work with horses and music, this focus came in handy all the time.  When I sang, my voice was stronger and more clear because I held myself upright and had done breathing throughout my meditations. With horses, in general they reacted very docilely around me, because my inner energy was centered and balanced.  Just by thinking about your energetic centers, you can really change the way you feel and interact in your day.

Mental work: Yoga doesn’t have to be a 45 minute class at a gym, but a series of movements (best taught to you by a professional) which you can intergrate in your daily life to help you stay focused on how you feel and what you need. Meditation is not just an exercise in patience, sitting on a cushion uncomfortably chanting strange noises.  It is the quiet in your mind when you are focusing on a task at hand.  It is a pause in your day to experience the breeze and sun on your face.  Meditation is in a moment – not in a classroom. But these excercises are of the spirit, not only the mind and body, and they emphasize being aware of yourself. Physically, mentally and energetically. Most people forget themselves throughout the day, running from here to there always chasing a deadline or some illusory goal that will only lead to the next goal.  But Yoga and meditation teach us that all we need is right here, right now.  This moment is the only reality we need to deal with.  This kind of mental work helps to take our focus on the past and the future which is the cause of everyone’s pain, anxiety and unhappiness.  Staying present in ONE moment means you will find a way to be present for more moments afterwards. 

Don’t be overwhelmed by meditation and Yoga.  It may seem that there are so many experts and fancy techniques that you will never be able to achieve a constant state of this. And I think that being human means we will all still have our bad days, our nasty moments, our negative emotions, depression, sadness – these are still part of our experience.

But don’t “try” either.  Let it go. Do your best, and work hard to accept and recognize the progress you do make!  It is a whole new way of seeing life you are entering on if you choose a spiritual life, and there will be bumps on the road. Find out what the bumps teach you though. Don’t dwell. Practicing presence shortens the amount of pain and length of time it lasts.  Yoga and meditation will bring you self awareness which is the ultimate form of living a spiritual life.  You don’t have to go live in a cave on a mountainside – you can start right here, right now.