Running With the Pack

11 03 2009

lone-wolfYou know that feeling we get when we’re on the brink of a major change in our life? We’ve been positive, worked hard, open to the experiences and opportunities thrown our way and the learning that comes from going through them. Everything seems to fall into place, allowing movement forward without great difficulty. Then we come to that edge, the place  that dictates we must make a choice. Step through a door to continue forward or content ourselves to stand  and “hang out” until we are ready to  do so. The hard part: we need to confront old patterns and habits that no longer serve us (or never served us to begin with)  in order to attain the key that will unlock it.

I came to such a place when I attended the Circular Strength Training Instructor Certification a couple weeks ago. Going into the weekend, I felt it was going to be (outside of whatever material was to be presented) one of those significant transitional points. I just had no idea what form it would manifest itself or in what direction it would take me.  It wasn’t until the closing remarks that I got the first hint. We’d just had an amazing weekend, everyone worked really hard and the positive energy around what we’d snarling-wolfaccomplished and were embarking on was high. Then, as part of our send off, we were told, upon receiving confirmation  of our certification, what we could and could not do.  Reminded what our certification meant and to what extent we could operate within it. The hackles on the back of my neck started standing on end. I could feel a wee spark  ignite. All of a sudden I wasn’t feeling so excited or “high” anymore.

Yet my reaction was totally unfounded. They were simply stating what the certification gave us license to teach. Just because one takes a basic first aid course doesn’t mean they can now go and perform surgery. It is a standard of excellence, with a built in system for optimal progression as instructors, so the quality of what RMAX International has to offer doesn’t become diluted before reaching others. I respect that immensley. And yet I was reacting as though it were something negative.

It wasn’t until the next day I realized my initial reaction was “they’re putting limits on me”.  “They’re  stopping me from doing everything I can to get the benefits of this system (which I really see the value of) to others.” Say what?! Why would they do that?  Well, they wouldn’t. I wasn’t reacting to what the CST Head Coaches were saying. I was reacting to the idea of a group, or “pack” if you will, telling me I “can’t” do something, placing “limits” on how much I can do to realize my full potential. An idea that had been a major reality for me growing up.

Due to that reality, it developed a very strong sense of self-reliance and independence.  I don’t try to be a “lone wolf”. That aspect of me just is,  having come out of necessity in order to survive.  But over the years, through key observations by those closest to me, I became aware of it and have been taking steps to move beyond. For although independence is a valuable quality, it can only take us so far. wolf-pack

Let’s use an unfolding theme here: the analogy of the wolf. On it’s own, it can become stronger, fiercer and individually more capable than if it were part of a pack. Yet by itself it can only do so much, being relegated to eating small game and scavenging.  But as part of a pack, together, their strength, fierceness and ability are multiplied exponentially. Together they can achieve amazing feats, such as taking down immensely larger animals than themselves, like Bison or Moose.

It is that interdependence, which I have been working towards. We need independence, so as not to “lose” ourselves to the pack. We need it in order to be a contributing member rather then a drain or impediment. But to then “let it go”, to be able to defer to the pack for the mutual benefit of all, to depend on one another, to assist each other in achieving more, reaching for ever greater heights, this is the natural evolution to fulfilling our utmost potential.

So I stand at the threshold, looking through a door, on the other side of which awaits a wolf pack.  Daunting? Yes.  But considering the alternative……..I’m going running with the pack!

s.

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Going Circular With Strength Training

1 03 2009

ifAs  some of you know, for the past year I’ve been training predominantly with a system called Circular Srength Training. I was introduced to it and it’s creator Scott Sonnon thru my kettlebell training and certifications.  It became the diet of my physical training, as its “Health-First Fitness” approach provided the path and tools that have helped me return from a pretty serious back injury. And that journey took me the better part of a year. It was just this January that I was able to say to myself that it no longer hindered me from moving forward with the physical endeavors  I want to pursue. It was the first time in years that I felt “balanced” on both sides.

This process also helped lay a solid foundation and “hardwire” the “uploading” of tools to my “spine” that will assist not only myself, but those I train, to attain and maintain optimal results in their Health and Well-Being, for the long haul. And back in the summer (after about 4 months of working with the materials)  I knew I would be working towards  certifying as a Circular Strength Training Instructor.

The last 6 months, that has been my focus. Continuing to work out theprasara1 issues with my back and gaining the skills and knowledge needed to meet the requirements to becoming an instructor. Last weekend, I attended the certification seminar. You can check out my review (and those of many others for a fuller picture) of the weekend on Scott Sonnon’s Blog.

I was originally going to throw up my review here, but thought, it was only part of the whole. I wanted, rather, to take this opportunity to introduce you more to the system as a whole, as I feel there is far more value in that, than just  my thoughts on a seminar (though they too speak to the system;) .

Those who have been with us for awhile know that anything I speak about, I speak from a place of passion. If I don’t believe in it or see any value, I don’t throw it up just for the heck of it. And I have once again come to the point where I feel that a system, in its approach to physical fitness and well-being in the balancing of the “whole”, makes the most sense, gives you the biggest bang for your buck and the greatest value for the time you invest.  One day, perhaps, I’ll find something else. I don’t rule out the possibility.  It is the natural evolution when constantly striving to fulfill ones greatest potentsonnon-clubbellial capacity…..

……but whatever system that may be, it is going to be pretty hard-pressed to succeed:). Because one of the qualities that shines the brightest from Scott Sonnon, his Head Coaching Staff and RMAX International (CST’s flagship organization),  is the constant striving to fulfill their greatest potential capacity, anchored by CST’s foundational principles, which have a depth and applicability, to the widest range of diverse peoples, unlike any system of physical culture I have ever been in contact with.

This is in no way a knock on anything else out there. There are many great approaches and many great systems that work for all sorts.  This is about taking pause to consider loosening your grip on great, to open yourself to greater.

But don’t take my word for it, because in the end only you have the final say:

Circular Strength Training

s.





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.

s.





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 community.tp-nwt

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.

s.





Going Nowhere Fast

28 01 2009

stuck-in-snowWe had a little dump of snow yesterday, reminded me of something I’d witnessed during the holidays. Over Christmas, we got dumped on, as you may have read in Sirens of Snow. After the first few days, something really interesting was happening all around, as I walked thru the snowy streets. There were cars along every road, around every corner, spinning their tires ceaselessly.

People were in their cars, staring out their windshields, rocking back and forth (as if that will somehow make a difference), pressing down the peddle to the metal. The look in their eyes was almost as if they were trying to will the car to move.  Then they’d step out, kick at the snow a bit, get back in the car and start over. The thing was, with the amount of snow surrounding the tires, there was NO WAY they were going to get out. And yet they were determined that they could drive out, while remaining in the comfort of their seat in the heated car.

Now you might be wondering “Did you help them out, Shane?” And for the most part…..no. Oh I did my share of helping people out. Growing up in the middle of nowhere in the Arctic, you don’t just pass someone by if they’re stuck. So I helped folks, stuck in the middle of intersections and such. But this common scene that I’m talking about, all these people frustratingly spinning their tires were not in the middle of intersections. They were in or halfway in or halfway out, of their parking spots…..outside their house. There was no mortal danger, there was access to a phone, there was shelter and food, a bed if you needed a break. If I had tried to help everyone I saw, I would have had a full time job for a good two weeks.

All they needed to do was pull out a shovel. “Maybe they didn’t have a shovel.” Fair enough. This is true, as shovels were a hot commodity over those few weeks. But I stopped on numerous occasions to ask if they had a shovel and they always answered yes. Or rather, mumbled yes.

What I was seeing was an unwillingness to put in the “work” to get themselves unstuck.  Or to acknowledge that it was going to take a little effort to get to where they want to go. In this day and age, and especially in our western society, we are so used to having everything at our fingertips. To getting it instantly. I think on some level, we are forgetting the value of work, of hard work. We have lost touch with a crucial ingredient to truly making meaningful steps forward in our lives. All this technology and convenience shouldn’t be replacing our need to work. Rather, it should be enhancing our ability to achieve even more, making even greater gains then we ever could before. But those gains still rest on a solid foundation of work. train-in-snow

The irony is, if everyone just pulled out their shovels and did a little digging, they would have gotten out of their predicaments and to where they needed to be, much quicker.

Go for what you know to be yours, just be ready to pick up a shovel.

s.





Sirens of Snow

7 01 2009

van-snowIt was amazing! Over the holidays, we had record snowfalls here in Vancouver. People said they hadn’t seen anything like this since 1996. I have to admit, I have a bit of an affinity for snow, so I was tickled to see it coming down. In those first few days, it was like the entire city was transformed. The few feet we got was like a thick blanket tucking everyone in  for a rest.

It muffled all sound. It stopped the usual heavy traffic. In the evening it reflected the street lights with a warm glow.  People walked down the middle of streets almost in a shocked daze. It quieted the anxious, driven energy of the city and with a big sigh fell into a state of…..peacefulness.  I felt so calm, so centered, so happy. It’s like it gave my thoughts and feelings time to unravel and place themselves into some interpretable form.sirens

Something else also came with the snow. The sirens. The city, it seemed, didn’t share this welcome for a quiet rest (even if it knew it would be brief). In the quiet of snow cover, the sound of the sirens stood out in stark relief.

As I listened to them going, day and night, it spoke of people in distress, of panic, of hurt. It saddened me to think that while I was enjoying this time with my family and having fun  in the snow, there were people who were suffering.

But it also spoke to a condition. The sirens sounded like the city itself was moaning, crying out  at being FORCED to slow down. Forced to stop. Forced to take a breath. To look inward, released of the distraction of its dizzying, frantic energy. Forced to take stock of this last year and honestly reassess what is important, what really matters. And it didn’t want to, because to do so is much harder and far more uncomfortable than speeding along blindly, not thinking about where you’re going or why.

Then I would think about all the people and the places that deal with far worse conditions than we have, for a far greater length of time. It brings everything quickly into perspective.

Let the snow come, let the city wail. Take pause. Make this next week, this next month, this next year, really matter.

s.





ICEing on the Cake

11 12 2008

Taking hold of an idea by Kettlebell Lifting Master Coach Catherine Imes to have a nontraditional cross-world kettlebell event, The Ice Chamber hosted an in-house meet that saw 50 of their members take part.

Huge companies with oodles of money and advertising power behind them spend loads trying to get you (subliminally convince you?) to buy their contraptions or go on their diets or take their supplements, promising the best body, greatest energy, vitality, changing your life for the better. And yet we see a continuing pattern of increasing obesity, depression and disease.

Although I’ll be the first to admit, lest I be a hypocrite, I do believe there are perhaps more effective tools out there than others;), there is something for everyone. But it is not about what you use or how you do it, rather it is about the spirit with which you do it. That is the key that will spark the change in peoples attitude towards their health and fitness, towards their respect for themselves and others, towards their noble selves and the immense capacities within.

And the Ice Chamber’s event really captured where that spirit comes from.  From you, me, our husbands and wives, our kids, our friends, our neighbors, from our creativity, our courage, our sense of play, our perseverance, our succeeding…….together.

Check out the event HERE.

Great job you guys! Keep it com’in!:)

s.