Crawling Into Baby-Flow

15 02 2009

copy-of-dscn3639Isn’t it great watching a baby, or young child, learn to move? It always seems to bring about such joy, laughter and amazement in those of us adults watching.

The other day, I was putting myself thru a session of training specific movements from Scott Sonnon’s Body-Flow: Freedom From Fear-Reactivity materials (for more info, see Body-Flow™ Package ).  This stuff is great! In a nutshell, overcoming our blockages due to fear of making mistakes or facing the unexpected, thru movement exploration. Most of these specific movements are also basic components for Prasara Yoga.

You might wonder how relevant doing some movement exercises are to emotional blockages. The next time you head out, go for a walk, to work,  shopping or social gathering, take a moment to be aware of how those around you are carrying themselves, physically. How they are standing, walking, reaching, sitting, standing. What you will most likely see is a wide array of variations. Then take a moment to reflect on the perceived state of mind those individuals are in. I know you can’t know for sure, this is just a little exercise. But you will most likely be able to infer quite a bit, just from the way people move. Even with friends and family, you can see the difference from day to day, depending on their mood. That’s because our body expresses physically our mental, emotional and  spiritual  states. Those states of being start to build habitual patterns of movement, which often develop into restrictive patterns of movement.  Then because we are limited in our movement and trigger pain when moving outside of that range (a positive survival mechanism from our body to help us identify what needs attending to), it starts to conversely affect our mental, emotional and spiritual states. Thus begins the cycle.copy-of-dsc_3594

So by going thru specific movements that challenge our range of motion and habituated movement patterns, in a space that is meant to allow for mistakes to be made and unexpected events to occur, we create a break in the cycle. Why start with movement? Take a moment to think about how many times you’ve said ” I’m going to change  (habit), now.”  Now think about how “easy” it was to start and follow thru. Or about the amazing, immediate “results” and “success”. Okay yes, I’m being cheeky. But really, it’s dang hard! We can all relate how often we go thru that, if not on a daily basis.

To start with movement; a physical, tangible practice that doesn’t take a whole lot of thinking, just a get down on the floor and start doing it, start playing, provides an opportunity to successfully release blockage, with tangible results. And although the movements may appear simple at first (and don’t make any mistake, they are), you will probably be very surprised at how bound up, tense and hesitant (read: afraid) you are to allow yourself to  perform them. There’s that fear thing. You’ve now just stepped out of merely performing physical exercise and stepped into the arena of unhinging, unblocking, unbinding….everything.

copy-of-dscn3655So there I was, doing my Body-Flow practice, with my sons Olee (3 yrs) and Will (6.5 mths) taking part. Olee immitating me and spontaneously creating his own movements, rolling all over the place. Will, army crawling around at surprising speeds, and learning to move forward once he’s gotten up on hands and knees, followed by subsequent face plants. And both are doing it with the biggest smiles on their faces. It reminds me this is supposed to be fun. It reflects that we are all in a similar stage of physical discovery. Wait a sec…..that means for me it’s re-discovery. I’ve had this already. And therein lies the difference. They are just going with the flow, allowing it to lead them thru the process of unlocking their innate gifts. I’m actually a step behind, as I’m having to first learn to get out of my own way, to remove the walls and obstacles damming up my natural gifts and abilities to just go for it.

“Body-Flow is not something to be acquired, but rather something you will learn to avoid interrupting.” -Scott Sonnon-

Go for it, start the crawl, get out of your own way. You may be surprised to find what has already been there all along.



Owning Our Story

5 02 2009

jump-for-joySomething we all struggle with growing up is finding and expressing our authentic self, who we really are. Sometimes even more difficult is being able to honestly express it to others. This is a struggle I think we will continue to have until the day we die (as we never, hopefully, stop growing). There are so many forces at play, trying to be a part of molding who we become; our parents, families, friends, belief systems (spiritual or otherwise), schools, society, cultures and all the traditions, dogma’s, teachings, patterns, baggage, etc. that come along with them. Combine their constant, non-stop stream of input and efforts to influence how you interact with the world, with the very experiences you face and live through, it’s no wonder one of the greatest challenges we will ever face is finding what truly lies at our core, valuing the uniqueness of what we have to offer the world and where our place in all this is.

Now I’m not going to say something like, “All of those influences and experiences do not define who you are, your true authenticity comes from within” which is something that seems to be becoming a part of our everyday lingo (as witnessed in the oodles of self-help, self-empowerment books, courses, etc that we see so commonly in the media nowadays). And I’m not saying any of this is bad, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. There just seems to be a huge emphasis on the “self” part, taken to the point of leaving everything you’ve experienced or been a part of or struggled with behind, to start anew. Although true to a certain extent, that our authenticity comes from within, all of those experiences and inputs ARE a major part of shaping who we are. We actually NEED those challenges and interactions to find our authentic self, the real us. The very struggle with it all is the fire that offers to reveal our truest form, to forge us into achieving our greatest capacity. What comes from within is the faith in ourselves that what we choose to influence how we interact with what we encounter is right, the courage to stand by those choices, the honesty to recognize when those outlooks or perceptions will no longer help us forward and need to evolve into something more, the humility to accept the lesson we are meant to learn.

In the last few months, the theme of taking responsibility for ones actions or “owning your choices”, has brought itself to the forefront of my mind. I’ve been seeing it in what I read, hearing it in conversations and thinking about it in reflection. I believe that owning our choices is a key component in our journey to authenticity. If we do not acknowledge the experiences we’ve had, take responsibility for the choices we make, the subsequent actions taken at any given time and the outcomes that follow, whether a success or a failure, then we fall prey to becoming a victim to our circumstances, the result of someone else’s doing.

Now although I feel I’ve striven as best I can to own my choices, to be authentic to my true self, only in the last few years has it felt like I’ve started to get what that is….kind of. And something that’s been hammering itself home is that to fully own the choices we make, the experiences we face and what we take away from them, is to own everything that’s come before. So long as we do not acknowledge what’s come before and own it, whether brought upon us by choices we’ve made or forced upon us by outside circumstances, we relinquish power to it all. We relinquish strength, confidence, love, courage, honesty and so much more. Power and qualities that we need to forge ahead in unearthing our utmost capacities.

From start to finish, we need to own our life, “own our story”.

bookI’ve recently been moved and challenged to take yet another step towards discovering and expressing my authentic self. And that has manifested itself in completely owning my story. I’ve felt blessed to have had the life I’ve had, to have had the people, the experiences and the learning that have come with it. They have all been a part of who I have become, in discovering who I am. But there is a part of my story that not many know, because I am hesitant to share it. Not because it traumatized me so (I’ve made my peace with it and the people involved), but because I think “what value does this hold for anyone else?”, “I don’t want anyone to pity me or feel sorry for me”, “I don’t want to seem like I’m looking for attention or sympathy”, “It may make people uncomfortable to hear these things”, “Others have gone thru far worse, what makes my experience of any significance”, “If I say anything, people may think less of me” and so on and so forth.

But in that hesitation, I relinquish the power generated by that part of my life, to those thoughts, to those outside influences. Power I need to move forward. I need to fully embrace it, to acknowledge it, to own it.

Sharing in this manner, laid out for the whole world to see, is by no means the only way to own your story. It is merely the way I need to do it, to own mine……

When I was 5 years old, my family moved to a small Native community in the Northwest Territories of Canada. This was a huge change coming from suburban Quebec. It was 750 people, accessed only by plane (or winter road when the lake froze over). It got cold and dark, bright and buggy. We were also one of the few white families there (often the only white children). We were immediately seen as outsiders, expected to be around no more then a year or two. We were also the only Baha’is in a predominantly Catholic community. So not only was there skin color and cultural background going against us, there was also a perception of spiritual differences.

My family was on the receiving end of intense racism and prejudice. A day didn’t go by that I was not sworn at, spit on or ridiculed. My sin, I just wanted to be their friend….and I bore the skin color of those who had heaped great injustice on the First Nations of North America. I was told I worshipped the devil and the rocks. I had my homework shredded by my teacher and told I was shit. I was sent to the principal’s office when I got beaten up. I was constantly told I was no good at anything, that I was inferior and could never hope to be as good as them. My life and the welfare of my family was constantly being threatened.

I was sexually abused by my peers. “Okay, whoa, whoa! Going pretty far to claim something like that, Shane. Kids do stuff all the time, they don’t know any better, it’s just part of discovering their bodies, their sexuality”. Yeah, I’d brushed it aside very much the same way, until by fluke it came up years later. I’d actually not thought about it for years. But there was no mistaking the maliciousness, the force and intent of what I experienced. And if we are brushing those things aside as “kids exploring their bodies and sexuality”, then it is a sick state our society is in and needs to change. I also need to take responsibilities for my actions. Although I was on the receiving end in these cases, there were numerous occasions where I was on the giving end of sexual impropriety. It was never meant as malicious or forced, but I don’t know how those on the receiving end perceived it or felt. Even though it was all before the age of 12, there is no excuse. To those who experienced any injustice at my hand, I’m sorry. bullies

I was beaten regularly, on a weekly, often daily basis. Never one on one. Always at least five of them. I had my head kicked in, choked to near passing out, pummeled until I couldn’t breath and then some more. Faced innumerable firing squads, with rocks as their weapon of choice, attacked with sticks. Not just from the kids my age, but ranging to as much as 10 years older. Always an outcast, always excluded. Even on my own hockey team, as their goaltender, I was blamed for every loss. I constantly had to defend myself from beatings in the dressing rooms and outside the arena.

I ran…..alot. As often as I was made to fight. Actually when I went to high school, in a different community, I joined track and field. My coach said I was a great runner and asked if I ran a lot back home. Hahaha. I replied “Yeah, you could say that”.

Now one might ask, “where were your parents in all this?” They were there like you had no idea. They too faced many challenges, though in the form of mental and emotional. They instilled within us the strength, the patience and courage to persevere in the face of intense hardships. At one point, out of concern for our well-being, they even offered an out. After a particularly rough beating, my Dad asked if I wanted to move. I said no, as I thought what message would that send, to just give up and leave. Especially after all the challenges we’d already endured. Maybe I was just a sucker for punishment. All joking aside, the harder they came, the stronger and more resolute I became. A fire had been sparked within. And at the end of the day, after coming home from the onslaughts, I had my haven of love and support to go back to, a place to recharge my batteries. I counted myself lucky. Because I knew, most of my tormentors were not. Many didn’t have a safe place to go back to. Alcoholism, drugs and physical and sexual abuse were prevalent in the

Now this all paints a pretty bleak picture of my childhood, the community and the people. And although I acknowledge that it was as real as the words on this page, there were also beautiful, amazing things about being there. And some beautiful, amazing people. It was an experience that was a major part of forging me into the man I am today and continue striving to be. It saw us become accepted by the community, by our very tormentors, referred to as one of their own. But that’s the part I usually share with others, openly and happily.

This was about sharing the flip side of the coin.

About owning my story……

All of it.