Archive for January, 2016

Rejecting my Position as an Authority Figure

January 27, 2016

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Rejecting my position as an authority figure

Yesterday I spent the whole day with my daughter.
We drove around doing errands and some shopping.

A Relationship Filled With Ease

The whole time we had a natural
rhythm to our conversation.
There was an ease in our interaction.
There was a mutual care for each other’s well-being.
There was lots of fun and laughter.

My kid is now 18 and a half years old.
Having this kind of relationship with her
is probably the most valuable thing in my life.
It fills me with so much joy.

Feeling Deep Gratitude

When we got home in the evening
I reflected on our time together.
I felt so grateful.

Relating As Equals

The quality of our relationship has developed
and deepened over the years.
One of the main reasons we are so close
is because I have always worked hard
to not hold any authority over my daughter.

We relate to each other with
no hierarchical separation between us.

The idea of authority is one thing I was
very careful about as my daughter was growing up.

I Refused to be an Authority Figure in her life

I chose to be a friend,
a guide,
a willing student…
an equal.

In our interaction yesterday
I could really see the effects of this.

She felt she could be herself

She knows she doesn’t have to
act a certain way to gain my approval.

This is one of the main messages
I have always worked at making sure she knew,
that I accepted her unconditionally.

I accept all of who she is.
The light and the dark.
I did my best to be a good friend to her.

Though I focused on
friendship based parenting
I am still her dad.

Being a friend does not mean
I abandoned my role as a father.

I am a source of wisdom and comfort for her.
I am a foundation of safety and strength that she knows she can rely on.

She comes to me for counsel when she is unsure about a big decision.
I don’t make the decision for her.
Instead I offer her things to think about when making the decision.
I also stand by her regardless of the decision she makes.

The beautiful thing is that, in her way
she does all these things for me as well.
We are learning partners.

She knows I listen to her and respect her

At one point yesterday we were speaking to someone
and they mentioned that they don’t always
take what teens say seriously.

I said that I always listen to teens.

My daughter spoke up and said:

“Well I’m the main teen you interact with and you always listen to me.”

This showed me how deeply she feels my respect.

I was calm on the outside, but jumping up and down with joy on the inside.

Parenting as equals is a tremendous challenge

It hasn’t always been easy,
parenting without authority.
To parent as an equal.
To always use communication instead of control.

So much of my programming goes against it.
Both my personal experience as a kid,
as well as generations societal norms
around how to treat kids.

It can be a constant inner battle
to do things that are so against the grain.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Competing Parenting Priorities

January 23, 2016

Competing Parenting Priorities

Competing Parenting Priorities

The Pattern of Priorities

In working with families over the years
I have noticed one of the most common
obstacles that people face is
competing or contradictory parenting priorities.

This is when faced with a situation where
2 (or more) different priorities are at play
and we must choose which one to follow.

Often the choice is between priorities that
have been programmed into us
and ones that we have chosen ourselves
through analysis, thinking and feeling.

They usually fall into 2 main categories:
Connection and Control.

For example
Independent Thinking vs Obedience
Speaking Your Truth vs Showing Respect
Deepening Relationship vs Keep the House Neat

It’s not that these things are mutually exclusive.
They can exist together.
But there will be times
many many times
When as a parent, you will have to choose between them.

Earlier today I had an interesting experience
around priority setting with my daughter.

I had plans to clean the baseboards in the kitchen.
This is a job that requires getting right down on the floor
with a bucket of water and a scrubber
and cleaning some grimy stuff.

I went into my daughter’s room to
ask her if she would help me.
She said “Yes, but in a little while after I watch my show.”

Of course I consider this a perfectly reasonable response
and I wasn’t on any kind of deadline so I said that is fine.

An hour went by, but she hadn’t
come out of her room yet.

I poked my head in a second time and
told her that I was filling up the bucket
and getting ready to start,
would you like to join me?

She said yes.
So I went about filling up the bucket,
Pouring in some Mr. Clean,
gathering the sponges and heading to the kitchen.

When I had gone to the kitchen
and she still hadn’t joined me
I knew I needed to make a decision.

Should I go back to her room and I remind her?
Or
Should I let her make the decision
of when to come and help on her own?

The first choice focuses on ideas like responsibility,
respect, behavior and following through on
what you say you’re going to do.

The second choice is about showing her trust,
honoring her independence,
treating her as an equal rather
than as if I’m an authority figure.

If you know me at all
you know I chose the second.
I decided to just relax and
let her come when she felt like it.

I did have both inclinations inside me.
I could feel two priorities
bumping up against each other.

The Pivotal Moment of Choice

This is where I had to choose.

I chose connection.
I chose relationship.
I chose to show respect
rather than demand it.

The wonderful thing is of course
3 minutes later she came out,
hunkered down on the floor and
started scrubbing the baseboards with me.

We laughed, joked around
and generally had a good time.

When she came out she didn’t feel pressured or rushed.
She was able to make her own decision,
choose her own timing and
listen to her own feelings.

If I had pushed her then all of the things
that I would have hoped to teach I would
have actually taught the opposite.

My role as a guide isn’t to choose for you,
But to help you make and implement
Conscious choices.

When I work with parents I often tell them
that my job isn’t to choose their priorities for them.
My role is to point out the
different priorities that are available
and show them exactly what
they look like when put into action.

Each of us really is responsible for
choosing our own hierarchy of priorities.

Once we do then we have to
go about engaging in the work
of actually following them.

This is when competing priorities
force us to become conscious
and make a choice.

That is why I call this style of parenting
Conscious Parenting.
The hardest part about it is
the continuous requirement to stay conscious.

Whenever we act unconsciously
we’re no longer choosing
we are following the scripts
that we are programmed with.

When we write our own script
we are using the power of choice
that we have to direct our
lives and our relationships.

When this happens the experience of
priorities coming head to head with each other
can be seen as an opportunity instead of an obstacle.

It is an opportunity to choose love
Choose connection and
Choose healing.

The Sage Miracle

January 21, 2016

The Sage Miracle

The Sage Miracle

Way back in 1995 I bought a van,
pulled out the back seat and
put a mattress in it.

Then I took off and spent three months
driving out west to explore Canada…
And myself.

This was what I called my “Pre-Pregnancy Trip”.

I had many amazing experiences
during those three months.
Quite a few miraculous and
impossible to explain occurrences.

I also learned many deep lessons during that time.

I’m going to share one such lesson
with you today that I call the Sage Miracle.

Seeking the Sage

I was staying with a friend
in Saskatoon for a couple of weeks.
I had heard that Sage grows there
and I really wanted to pick some before I left town.

So as soon as I got there
I started bugging my friend
to take me somewhere that Sage grows.

I kept pestering her and pestering her.
As my time there was drawing to a close
I was feeling more and more anxious.
I kept thinking I wasn’t going to
get that Sage and it was upsetting me.

My Persistence Was Getting On Her Nerves

I think by the end of the two weeks
my dear friend was quite annoyed with me.
And quite rightly so.

On the last day of my visit
I finally got a little upset
and insisted that she take me
to the park where she knew some Sage was growing.

We went there together,
her annoyed,
me frustrated and tense.

We Found a Little Bushel of Sage In a Huge Field

We hunted around for a while
and finally found a little bush of sage
about a foot high and a foot wide.

I started to pick it and put it into a plastic bag.
My friend stopped and said that
first we have to pray
and thank the earth for this gift.

By that time I really didn’t want
to pray or thank anybody,
but I did it anyway.

Hoarding the Sage

Then she told me I couldn’t pick it all
because that implied hoarding
and I needed to trust that
more sage would come to me when it was time.

It was part of respecting the gift
by leaving some with the earth.

Of course I was in no mood
for that nonsense and
I just grabbed it all.

I wanted enough sage to burn for
At least a couple weeks when I got home.

Needless to say she was annoyed
and we drove back to her place in silence.

We both kind of let it go because
I was leaving and we had a reasonably
nice 2 weeks together.

We didn’t want this last thing
to ruin our time so
we hugged warmly
and said goodbye.

I continued heading out west and
my next stop was Drumheller, Alberta.

Drumheller is a town that exists inside
a crater that was carved by glaciers.
It is actually one of the best sites for
dinosaur fossils because of the exposed layers of rock.

Beautiful Scenery All Around

As I drove into the town I was
admiring the beautiful scenery.
I looked at the hills all around me.
I also noticed that they were
beautiful bushes three and four feet tall
sticking out of the sides of the rock face.

Suddenly as I was looking at them
it hit me that these bushes were sage.

The Sage Miracle 1

I pulled over on the side of the road,
got out and climbed up the hill nearest me.

I was surrounded by huge sage bushes.
I could see them Everywhere
and in every direction.

Unreasonable Abundance

The Sage Miracle 2

I could have spent all day picking it
and filling my car from floor to ceiling
and I would not have even made a dent in
the quantity of sage that was available to me.

I sat down on the ground,
leaned up against one of these
glorious plants and just
shook my head laughing at my folly.

The Voice Who Knows My Heart

And then the voice came to me,
the voice that always shares
deep wisdom and knowing in my heart.

It said:
“Vivek my beloved,
I am always here to take care of you.
I will always shower you with abundance
if you will only allow me to.

I am the air you breathe,
I am the ground you walk upon,
I am the energy that animates your body,
I am the consciousness that allows you
to experience beauty and love
and I am the very beauty and love itself.

In addition to all of these things,
or more accurately
the truth of these things is…
I am you.”

We Are Never Separate, We Can Never Be Separated

The more you realize this and
the more you rely upon
your own consciousness
for your sustenance,
the more unreasonable abundance
on all levels
will be your life.

Sage Today – Tomorrow The World!

It seems I am continuously learning
the same lesson over and over.

When I push and fight and struggle
with my external circumstances
only stress results.

If I rely upon my spirit for my sustenance
I will always be taken care of.

I Use The Memory For Healing and Support

I think back to that moment often,
especially in times of fear or despair.

I remember seeing all that sage around me
and it helps me to relax, it helps me to breathe
and trust that there is a greater force at work.

When I do operate from this perspective
the quality of my life is enriched
and the beauty and joy of
my moments increases dramatically.

Thank you dear Sage.
I am forever grateful

p.s.
For those of you who follow my blog
on a regular basis
I want to let you know that this is my 372nd post.

I will be posting about
twice a week from here on out.

On the other days I’ll be working on
compiling, organizing and expanding
the last years’ worth of writing into a book.

This book will be about Conscious Parenting
With a heavy focus on Self-development.
Pretty much exactly what this blog has been about.

If you ever have any questions for me
or if you have a request for something you’d like me
to write a blog post about,
please contact me.
I would love to hear from you.

Peace,
Vivek

Be a Parenting Ninja

January 20, 2016

Be a Parenting Ninja

Storming the Castle

When the ninja would plan
to take over a fortified castle
they would do attack on many fronts.

They would send some soldiers in to attack directly,
they would send some climbing over the wall,
some digging under the wall,
some swimming through the moat.

They would also plant spies
on the inside of the castle
months in advance.

Most likely the guy
cleaning the outhouse
or the gardener plucking weeds.

People so unimportant that
they were practically invisible.
They would keep their heads down and
just do their jobs for months…
until the moment of the strike.

Having all of these different groups attacking
in different ways on different fronts
created a havoc that was near impossible
for the guards protecting the castle to deal with.

Attack on Many Fronts

In a similar way when dealing with
any situation in life it is a good idea
to attack from many fronts.

If you work with
The physical
The mental
The emotional
and the Spiritual
all at the same time
your chances for success will increase.

This is particularly poignant in parenting

I have written many posts about
dealing with things on
the mental and emotional level,
today I want to touch on the spiritual.

Specifically I am going to talk about the use of visualization.

I believe our lines are created
from the inside out.

I am sure you have heard about
the law of attraction.

The idea is that whatever thoughts you hold
in your mind affect the circumstances of your life.

Personally I prefer to think of it as
The Law Of Creation
because attraction implies something has to
already exist and you are drawing its towards you.

There is an inherent limitation in this content.

Instead, thinking of it as the law of creation
means that even if the thing I want doesn’t exist
it will be brought into existence through spiritual means.

Visioning, as it relates to parenting
is not about drawing stuff into your life,
but it is about creating a desired circumstance.

The Mechanics of Visioning

The way it works is this,
your child is going through
some kind of situation
that is challenging or difficult.

You can of course address the situation in many ways.
You can talk it over with them,
you can help them set up a plan
and you can support them emotionally.

I do all of these and
I also like to deal with it spiritually
behind the scenes.

Create the Ideal Outcome

What I do is I imagine
what is the ideal outcome
I want for my child.

Then I spend some time
visualizing that outcome.

For example perhaps my daughter is
having a problem with a certain subject in school.

I can see that she is feeling
disheartened about that subject
and perhaps even not enjoying
her experience with the teacher.

In response I might imagine that
she is enthusiastic about the subject
and loving her teacher.

I would see her happy, smiling and laughing.

Sending Out The Vibration

What is happening is I am sending out
the vibration of that vision
and the universe responds.

When I do this visualization
I try and involve all of my senses.
What does it look like?
What does it sound like?
What does it feel like?

It is also useful to feel the emotions
present in your vision.
Actually try and feel the happiness
that you are wishing to create for your child.

The more consistently you engage in this process
the more it will affect the outcome of the situation.

Directed Meditation

This is like meditation directed specifically
at solving problems and creating
positive situations in your child’s life.

This obviously is not a replacement
for working with them on
all the other levels described,
it is something that supports it.

So be like a parenting ninja
and send out your warriors
to attack from every angle.

Your Relationship With Your Kids Will Never Be Fair

January 19, 2016

your rel with your kids will never be fair

Your Relationship With Your Kids Will Never Be Fair.

It can be beautiful, fun, peaceful and harmonious,
but fair… Not so much.

This is a source of much stress to many parents.

You Will Always Have To Do More
Emotional Work Than Your Kids.

At least for the first 20 years or so.

The reason for this is
when we meet our kids for the first time
we are already full of wounds, triggers
and layers upon layers
of emotional experiences.

On the other hand, they are in a pure state.
They do not have a lot of wounds
and trauma clouding their judgement.

Our job as parents is to nurture their inner emotional world
so they can grow up with at least a few less
inner wounds and trauma than we did.

Our Relationship Becomes More Complex As They Grow

As they grow they become more complex
emotional beings with their own thoughts,
opinions, perspective and will.

This adds to the variety of ways they can
press our buttons and suck our energy.

All of this is part of their emotional development.

Kids Have Emotional Purity, but not Emotional Maturity

Even though kids are emotionally quite pure
in their infancy they are not emotionally mature.

Emotional maturity is being able to experience
the full range of emotions and still being able
to choose our thoughts and actions.

We can choose to be swept away in our emotions
or we can choose to be rational and objective.

Young people don’t have this choice
in the same way we do
because they haven’t learned the skill.

Part of our responsibility as parents is
to teach them emotional maturity.

Modelling Emotional Maturity Requires a Lot of Inner Work

The primary way of doing this of course is by modeling it.

This is why the balance of emotional give and take
will never be fair between you and your kids.
You will always have to give much much more and
they will always take much much more.

At some point our kids mature to a level
where we are able to have a more
adult relationship with them.
When this happens the emotional
give and take can balance out.

In order for this to occur though
we have to be willing to take the lioness’s share
of the responsibility in the early years.

This means of course that we have to do
a tremendous amount of inner work.

Dealing With Our Own Triggers And Buttons

If when our buttons get pressed we
dump that emotional energy on our kids
we are not doing anybody a favour.

We have to learn to deal with our own inner stuff
in a way that doesn’t harm them.

If you can let go of seeking fairness
and instead seek harmony, connection,
communication and trust
you will find that the imbalance
in your relationship with your kids
will transform from a burden
into an honour and a joy.

You’re Pushing my Buttons

January 18, 2016

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You’re pushing my buttons

An event on the elevator

The other day I was in the elevator and a family came in.

It was a mom and two kids.
The girl was probably 7
and the boy around 4.

Right away the young boy started
pressing all the buttons in the elevator.
You could see the delight in his eyes
at the shiny buttons lighting up when he touched them.

Stop being a 4 year old this instant

His mom smacked his hand and
told him to stop doing that.
He pretty much ignored her and
kept trying to push the buttons.

The girl was clearly afraid.
She was trying to stop him before
her mom got even angrier.

The whole situation was quite tense and intense

The mother looked apologetically at me
because her son had just added
five or six extra floors for us to stop on
as we were heading up.

When she made eye contact with me I saw my opportunity and I jumped in saying:

“All kids push buttons.
That’s what kids are supposed to do.
They’re so shiny and fun.
It’s how they learn and explore
the world around them.

As adults we often forget
what it was like to be a kid.
If we can remember it’s
easier for us to relate to them.”

Then I looked at the boy and said
I love pushing buttons too.
I didn’t say too much to him.
Just enough to make him feel that
I was accepting and enjoying him.

Jumping into the unknown

Whenever I take the chance to stick my nose
into someone else’s business like that
I never quite know how it’s going to turn out.

I have to just go with my gut
and trust that I’m doing the right thing.

Remembering what it was like to be a kid

In this case it worked out well.
I could see that I struck a nerve with the mom.
She seemed to let my words touch her deeply.
She took a deep breath and let her shoulders relax.

I think she suddenly remembered
herself as a young person.

Then she smiled and said
“Yes you’re right.
I see what you mean.”

After that we just rode the elevator in silence.
I smiled at the kids and they seemed
a little bit in shock themselves at what had just occurred.

They got out of the elevator on their floor and
they all waved and said goodbye.

This was a beautiful moment for all of us

The kids felt validated.
The mom seem to have an epiphany.
I felt honored to have had the opportunity
to make a small difference.

Tuning in to our kids perspective

One thing that stood out to me was
when the mom took a moment to tune into
the vibrations of her kids
she was able to clearly see things
from a different perspective.

So many of us as adults have
forgotten what it’s like
to be 3
to be 10
to be 16.

Yet those memories are inside of us and
if we take the time and effort to access them
it can make relating to our kids much easier.

Relating to them on their level helps build trust

When we show them we can relate to them
and they feel heard and understood
they are much more likely to open up to us.
They are much more likely to be
receptive to our suggestions.
They are also more likely to see us as inspiration
rather than an adversary.

The traditional adversarial parent and child relationship is not inevitable

It is possible to have a relationship
built on mutual respect and love.

It is primarily the responsibility of the parent
to create and foster this relationship
from the very beginning.

Seeing the world through the eyes of your child
and relating to them on their level,
like this womyn did in that moment on the elevator,
can make all the difference.

Kids are nuts!

This is certainly not always easy to do
because a lot of the time the way kids behave
seems insane to adults.

If we can get beyond that and accept that
the reality of a three year old is equally valid
as the reality of a 33 year old
then we are truly on our way to creating
more harmony in our families.

The Four Problems With Punishment

January 17, 2016

the four problems with punishment

I haven’t written directly about punishment in a while
so I thought it might be good to say a few words on the topic.

If you have been following my blog
you probably know that I am
significantly against punishment of any kind.

This includes consequences, removal of privileges and timeouts.

An Open Mind

If you are presently punishing your kids
in order to correct their behavior
then this article might be difficult for you to read.

I ask you to try and read it anyways,
try and read it without becoming
defensive or feeling attacked.

Take in the ideas and
think about them independently.
Think about them objectively
and draw your own conclusions.

There are many reasons for not punishing,
I’m going to briefly describe what I consider the top four

1)
Punishment gives kids the message
that we love them conditionally
and not unconditionally.

We are telling them that we love them more
when they behave like this
and less when they behave like that.

While it may be true that we love our kids the same
whether we are punishing them or not,
in fact many people believe that
they are punishing their kids because they love them,

the fact remains that in their experience
when they are being punished
they are not feeling loved.

Therefore from their perspective
they are more worthy of love
when they meet the expectations
of the authority figures in their lives.

Love and Acceptance From An External Source

One of the effects of this is that
it puts the focus of self-love
and acceptance outside of us.

In other words, in order to feel worthy
of love and acceptance
we have to please other people.

When I think about sending
my daughter out into the world
with the strongest foundation possible,
this mindset seems in direct opposition to that.

I do not want her to spend her life
seeking acceptance from other people.

2)
Punishment teaches kids that
the reason to do good is to avoid pain.

It does not teach the idea of
doing good for its own sake.

It does not teach the idea of
doing good to create the
best outcome for everyone.

It does not produce a mindset focused on
working towards mutual benefit.

In essence, doing good
to avoid pain for yourself
is a selfish motivation.

It also means that when there is
no threat of punishment
there is no reason to continue
doing the good thing.

Basically we are trying to get them to
behave better by making them feel worse.

The inherent contradiction in that idea seems so glaring to me.

3)
Punishment erodes the bond of
trust and love between parent and child.

Every time we punish our children
they trust us a little bit less.

They believe in our love a little bit less.

They believe in our good intentions a little bit less.

Punishment produces the condition
in which kids are forced to lie to us.

They may not even know they are lying at times,
but this is the reaction that punishment forces upon them.

Our kids learn that they cannot simply be themselves
if they want to be loved and accepted by their parents.

This means they have to put on a false mask
so that they do not receive pain
at the hands of the people
who are supposed to love them unconditionally.

Sometimes I put myself in the mind of
a child looking at its parent.

“This being is supposed to be my support,
my foundation, the source of my very existence,
my inspiration and my protection.
And yet I can never be sure of
when they will also turn into my tormentor.”

This doesn’t only erode our kid’s sense of
love and trust with us,
but it erodes their relationship
with love and trust itself.

4)
Punishment teaches kids how to treat others
when they have power over them.

The only reason a parent can punish their child
is because they have power over them.

We have economic,
housing,
physical and
emotional power
over our children.

The way we use that power
demonstrates to them how to treat others.

I have often said that one of the
primary causes of bullying is
the model kids have for
how to treat others from their parents.

Punishment is saying:
“Because I have this power over you
I can make you feel bad
when you do not conform to my expectations.”

It is telling our kids that
there are appropriate times
for them to cause other people pain
in order to get their way.

It is teaching them that
they do not have to consider the feelings
of other people to be
as valid and important as their own.

Punishment is an empathy killer.

Punishment is a community killer.

True empathy comes from Love
not from Fear.

I actually know a guy who claims
he taught his two year old daughter empathy
by pulling her hair every time she pulled his hair.

He genuinely believes that she learned
to love and care for him more
because she knew the pain he was feeling
when she pulled his hair.

The real lesson there is,.
if somebody hurts you
the best way to deal with it
is to hurt them back.

This is not the mindset that I want for my child.

This is not the mindset that I want for the world!

A common question I often receive at this point in my description is
How will I get my kids to behave if I do not punish them?

This is a very reasonable and valid question/concern.

Parenting without punishment is possible.

Not only is it possible,
it is more pleasant for everyone concerned.

It is also dramatically more effective
in creating a harmonious and
cooperative household community.

Transitioning from Control to Communication

If you are interested in transitioning
from a punishment model relationship with your kids
to a cooperative, collaborative, communication
and reasoning based model of interaction with your kids
I can help.

I suggest reading through some of the articles
I have written over the past year on this blog.
Click on the parenting category link
on the top right of this page
and you will have all of the articles together.

There is a lot of good information
on how to work with your kids in a non-punitive way.

It can also be very useful to receive direct support.

I am presently working with
many families and helping them
make this difficult and yet rewarding transition.

If you’re interested in working with me
and experimenting with these ideas
please contact me and we can
discuss how we can work together.

Either way I lovingly suggest giving it a try.
It will be challenging at first.

Even if you can remove 10%
of your tendency to use consequences
as a means of altering behavior
you will see a profound effect
upon the emotional and mental state of your children,
on the relationship you have with them
and on the overall positive energy in your home.

If you can increase that percentage a little at a time
you can completely transition to a relationship and interaction
based on mutual love and respect
rather than power and control.

This is a beautiful achievement that
you will value all the years of your life.

Talking to Vivek is Just Like Reading His Blog

January 16, 2016

talking to Vivek is just like reading his blog

The Importance of Language

I was at a dance event yesterday
and while I was waiting in line to get in
I was having a chat with a few friends.

We were talking about the importance of language.
I mentioned how my preference is
to use positive language most of the time.
Especially when talking about myself
I try and avoid using language
that puts myself down in any way.

The thing is though, I don’t use
the positive to avoid the negative.
I fill my life with positivity
so that I can have the strength
to face the negative.

Only by facing it am I able to deal with it.

Balance is Not Enough

My friend Nazeer, who reads my blog,
asked me if that was like balancing the yin and yang?

I said I don’t really love the idea of balance.
The way the term is usually used is that
we go part way to the Yin
and then back off
and go part way into the Yang.

Never really getting deeply into either.
Always hovering around the mediocre.

I said I prefer to be extreme in both!

He mentioned he had read that
balancing the yin-yang is taking the middle path.

I do like the idea of the middle path.
I just don’t like the idea of the mediocre path.

The two are easily confused.

I said imagine you have a stick and
you are trying to find the center.
In order to know where the middle of the stick is
you need to know where the ends are.

If you are hesitant or afraid
to go to either end
you can never really find the center.

This is why I allow myself to venture fully
into the part of me that is joy and love
as well as into the part of me that is pain and anger.

In facing and loving my extremes
I’m able to find my centre.

After I said that he turned to the other people there and said:

Talking to Vivek is just like reading his blog.
It’s exactly the same.”

Everyone laughed, especially me.

That’s really what this post is about.
I love that observation.
It’s one of the best things
anyone has ever said to me.

It means that when I write these posts
I am really being myself.
That has always been my goal,
but to have someone else reflect that
is very gratifying.

This is something that I strive towards.
That I am myself in all the different parts of my life.

Whether I am parenting, dancing, romancing,
teaching, writing or delighting…
In all of these areas
I want to bring my authentic self to the table.

There are two main benefits to authenticity:

First it makes me happier and more fulfilled to be myself.
It takes a lot of energy to hold up a mask.
I think we all wear a mask much of the time
for fear of what people would think
if they see the real us.

I know I lived many many years that way,
but in the last little while I have worked hard
to reveal as much of myself to the world as possible.

I took the chance that I would be ridiculed,
and occasionally I have been,
but in the vast majority of cases
people have responded with acceptance and love.

In general I feel much happier
and more at peace for allowing myself this freedom.

This is also something I’ve taught my daughter quite intensely.
That she is free to be herself.
That she will always have my support to honour herself.
And to do her best not to let anything get in the way of that.

This graphic sums up the point pretty well:

be yourself

Inspiring Authenticity

The second reason why it is beneficial
to bring my authentic self to whatever I do
is that it helps others as well.

It helps them because
when they witness me being vulnerable
and open with who I am,
it helps them feel more free to do the same.

It makes it easier to connect and relate to me
As I’m opening my mind and heart
It also means that whatever I’m doing
will be of a higher quality because
I’m doing it from a more real place.

There is always a risk in deepening one’s authenticity.
The risk comes with a worthwhile reward though.
An increase in happiness and satisfaction for you
and a benefit and inspiration to others.

The Path to the Root

January 15, 2016

PhotoGrid_1452918616183

The Path to the Root

I’m better than you because I’m more spiritual

When I first began my
conscious spiritual journey 30 years ago
I went through a long  phase of believing
I was better than other people.

This is a common experience when
people first awaken to the fact that
there is more to reality than we realize.

I started learning about energy,
the power of thoughts, meditation
and a whole host of other things of that sort.

I know the truth, here let me educate you

I felt very powerful and would
preach to anyone who would listen
about the truth of life.

I really felt my truth was the truthiest truth.

I would tell people that they could be free
if they would only make the decision to be so.

I would say that all the power of the universe
was within them if they would only look.

I no longer look down on people from some imagined pedestal

While I still believe those things,
I am no longer speaking at people
from a place separate from them,
believing that I was somehow better than they are
for having had certain realizations.

It was as if I was saying
I already knew these things
and am now teaching them to you,

rather than recognizing that
I am struggling with them just as much
as anyone else.

I thought I was humble

I don’t think I consciously knew I believed that,
in fact I’m sure I thought I was quite humble!

Slowly and painfully over the years
I have learned the lesson that this is not so.

We are walking the same path

I finally realize that we are all
walking the same path
though it may look different at times.

Perhaps a good analogy for this is the tree

The tree has its roots
that connect it to the earth.
It has a single trunk.
It has many branches and leaves.

I think of the roots as enlightenment.
The ultimate state that
connects us to our original source.

The trunk is unconditional love
of self, of everyone and everything.

The branches are the different paths to this pure love.

The Branches Can Be Very Different

Sometimes we’re on the same branches with people,
sometimes we’re on radically different branches.

Sometimes the branches are way up high and
sometimes they are very close to the root.

Some branches are smooth and clean,
while others are gnarled and knotted.

But all the branches are paths to the same trunk,
and the trunk is the path to the root.

Look beyond the branches to the trunk

This analogy helps me to look
beyond the surface of people
and see the commonality that we share.

Knowing that we are all part of the same tree
helps me to feel connected to
even the most distant branches.

No matter how different the branches look,
We are all connected to the same trunk.
We are all in touch with the earth  by the same roots.
We are all nourished from the same earth.

I Embrace My Flawed Humanity

I no longer feel I am above anyone
or better than anyone.
This doesn’t mean I like everyone!
It doesn’t mean people don’t piss me off.

It does mean though, that I recognize
they piss me off because of their flawed humanity.
The very same flawed humanity
that I use very effectively
to piss other people off!

We are on the same journey

We are all flawed together on the same journey
from leaves
to branches
to trunk
to root
to earth.

The roots and the earth are where
all differences melt away
and we are truly one.

I Choose To Celebrate – Ending My Fast

January 14, 2016

I choose to celebrate - ending my fast
I Choose To Celebrate – Ending My Fast

Encouraged to Write

Just a little over 1 year ago my dear friend Zahra
(www.yogagoddess.ca)
pleaded with me to start writing this blog.

I was talking about how I wanted
the website to look right,
to have all the sections that it needed,
to have good graphics
and a nice layout.

She very wisely informed me that
I would never get all that done
and I should just start throwing up content.

That is what I did.

I found the simplest layout and just started writing.

Bargaining With My Consciousness

I remember originally I had thought
I would write every day for a month
and see how it goes.

As soon as I thought of a month
I got a little sick feeling inside
and realized I was being a wimp.

So I then thought,
how about 3 months?

I got that same stabbing recrimination in my gut
and knew that I had to push even further.

Listening to My Intuition

I am fortunate that over the years
I have developed the ability
to listen clearly to my inner voice,
and it was clearly telling me 3 months
was nowhere near enough.

Then I tried 6 and that number was shot down again.
I knew what I had to do.
I didn’t want to,
but it seemed that didn’t have a choice.

Preparing Myself For the Truth

I took a deep breath,
shook out my shoulders
and said,
One year.

Immediately I felt a sense of rightness
wash over me and I knew that was it.

I was committing to write a blog post
every day for 365 days.

It seemed like a crazy number.
I wondered how I would get through the year.

And yet here I am writing my 365th post,
never having missed a day.
It really is quite a relief!

How I End My Fast

Approximately once a month I do a day long fast.
It is a Vedic tradition that suggests
fasting from sunrise to sunset.

After the first couple hours
I can feel the hunger in my belly.

Two or three hours later it’s grumbling and mumbling,
reminding me that my body wants some food.

There is a period in the afternoon
where I lose energy, get really tired
and my breath smells.

Looking Forward to the End

It is around this time that
I google exactly when sunset is.

The worst is in the summer when the days are long.
Sometimes sunset isn’t until after 8 p.m.

I look up what time sunset is
and set an alarm on my clock for
5 minutes before.

When the alarm goes off I head to the kitchen
and start preparing a plate of food.

At This Point I’m Watching The Clock With Anticipation

As it gets closer to sunset
my mouth starts to water and
there is a symphony playing in my stomach.

I start to count down the last 10 seconds
picking up my fork and spoon
ready to shovel some Dahl and rice
into my waiting mouth.

10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1

Finally it’s time to eat.

At this moment I push the plate of food away
and wait one more hour.

Sending a Clear Message

It is my way of telling my body and mind
that I am in charge.
That I can make my own choices and
I do not have to bend to the will of my desires.

I Often Enjoy Bending To The Will Of My Desires

In fact some of the best moments of my life
have come from bending to the will of my desires.

The key here is I want it to be a choice

Ending my fast this way is a good method
of sending a message to my mind and body
that they are not controlling me.

I am NOT the body-mind

I am the consciousness within the body,
I am The Thinker of the thoughts,
I am NOT the body,
I am NOT the mind.

My body-mind is the paintbrush I use
to create the living work of art that is my life.

I honor the body-mind,
I love the body-mind,
but I make sure to always remind myself that
I am NOT the body-mind.

Anxious to be Free

In a similar way to ending my fast
I have been looking forward to writing this 365th blog post
and being free from daily writing.

Over the past year the midnight deadline
has loomed heavy over my mind.

There have been many times I have forgotten
to write my blog until 11:30 pm and suddenly
had to rush home and whip something off.

My family often makes fun of me as I
burst through the door yelling
“Don’t talk to me, I have to write my blog!”

Interesting enough sometimes the ones I have
written in a panic have been
very raw and authentic.

Nonetheless, not being bound by this
midnight deadline everyday
has been something I’ve been
looking forward to for a while now.

My plan has been to start writing
approximately two blogs a week after the year was up.

I Recognized This Feeling

Recently as I was feeling this desire for the year to end
I realized it was a very similar feeling
to when I want the fast to end.

I knew in that moment that I would
need to do the same thing that I do with the fast.
So I have decided to extend my writing every day by one week.

Instead of 365 in a row
it is going to be 372.

This feels good.
This feels right.
This feels like I am truly honoring
the effort and the journey of the last year.

Invite You To Try This With Me At Some Point

When you are doing something that is challenging
and find yourself free of it,
make the choice to do it a little longer.
Just a few more times.
So that you give yourself the message
that you can choose.

Choice Is Power

So much of self-development and conscious parenting
is about engaging our power of choice
when it is most difficult to do so.

When our habits have us by the throat,
when our desires are overpowering us,
when our trauma triggers us and we react,
this is when we have a great opportunity
to make a different choice.

A new choice can develop into a new habit.
A habit that we have created ourselves
rather than the ones that were
imposed upon us from the day we were born.

This is part of the process of becoming a Free Human Being

Free to think,
free to feel and
free to act
in any way we so choose.

I Choose To Celebrate

I am now going to order a
gluten free vegetarian pizza with extra cheese
in order to celebrate the achievement
of writing this blog for a full year.

I may be putting off the end of daily writing,
but I’m NOT going to put off the pizza!