"The global psychic industry alone is worth billions of dollars in phone, internet and online services. Now I’m not saying don’t see a psychic if you have a burning question, I too have gone there, but perhaps asking others for help is like a band-aid on a broken leg – eventually you will need to look within for the answer. Getting a psychic reading is like a crutch – it keeps you helplessly looking outside for answers when within is where you should be grounding so your questions can be resolved."
We live in a world where Google is just a click away to find any answer to any problem that we have; relationships, money, career, health, self-help, spirituality. In this way we are always seeking outside for the answers to problems, we bypass our brains in many regards and we have no confidence in our own abilities to seek for the answers ourselves. We have become lazy in many respects and more importantly, we’ve forgotten how to use our intuition.
How many times have you seen a psychic, or posted a question on social media or asked someone for the answer and when you hear the answer, you already knew that anyway? That’s intuition. We all have it. We are all “psychic” in the sense that there are things we know; common colloquialisms like “gut feeling” and “I just knew”.
But what we’ve forgotten is to look within. We have learned a sort of helplessness that comes only from asking others to give you the answers. That’s just like doing a test in school and having someone tell you the answers, it doesn’t help you in the long run. So, it is with intuition. We need to nurture and support our own intuition.
About 10 years ago, I quit my job and started doing psychic readings with Doreen Virtue’s Angel cards. I had done the training, but already knew that I had the gift of mediumship and, well, reading body language. Then one day, I realised that people were coming looking for answers that they had known all along. They wanted confirmation. I stopped doing it not long after this realisation because I felt that I was aiding them in learned helpless and it felt false taking money from people when they themselves had all the answers within them.
What I should have done instead was to teach people how to be their own psychics! The global psychic industry alone is worth billions of dollars in phone, internet and online services. Now I’m not saying don’t see a psychic if you have a burning question, I too have gone there, but perhaps asking others for help is like a band-aid on a broken leg – eventually you will need to look within for the answer. Getting a psychic reading is like a crutch – it keeps you helplessly looking outside for answers when within is where you should be grounding so your questions can be resolved.
Looking within is much more empowering. When you go to a psychic, or ask for answers outside yourself, you give away your power, when what we need is for us all to feel completely empowered in our own abilities. We need to not give our power away. Now, I’m not saying all psychics are bad, far from it. But a good psychic will guide you to your own conclusions like a good counsellor or life coach should. And I’m also not suggesting seeing someone when you have some serious mental health issues or downloading to a friend or partner when you are mulling over things.
But I am saying that we need to back ourselves.
We need to have some inner dialogue and be brutally honest with ourselves.
We need to trust that inner nudge because we know the answers that we seek.
One of the reasons Chakra Cards are a helpful tool for re-learning to trust your own intuition. Developed in 2015, these tools are made to help you to look within for the answers. They help us to resolve issues within our own crazy monkey minds. In meditation, we are taught to quieten the monkey mind, which is an awesome skill, but those thoughts just keep coming around after you’ve finished meditation, there is no resolution. Chakra Cards bring up those thoughts and the reasons behind it for open and honest dialogue with self, or a partner. Using the cards for journaling can help to unpack some of the unresolved energies that we are hanging on to, such as anger, sadness, regret, guilt but also find the hidden joy, happiness, forgiveness and love that are bubbling just under the surface.
It’s up to you how you live your life. But since I’ve developed the Chakra Cards, I’ve not been to a psychic, I’ve not even done my own psychic readings, but I have looked to the cards for the answers and they are always right. I feel much more empowered in my ability to make decisions and know that using the self-reflection it makes me feel more inside my body and not seeking outwards.
From a religious standpoint, in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra one of the Eight Limbs of yoga is Svadhyaya, which translates to study of the sacred scriptures and of one's self. In the Bible Lamentations 3:40-42 says “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.…”. Even from a psychological point of view self-reflection is critical for self-development:
“In sum, there is much to learn from those who frequently and conscientiously engage in self-reflection. Whether it's Buddhists engaging in meditation, alcoholics at AA meetings, or philosophers of the Enlightenment studying the texts of Immanuel Kant, being aware of ourselves is an essential step in self-improvement. It is reassuring to see so many traditions spanning thousands of years that emphasize themes identified in the psychological literature as critical for self-improvement.”
For more information about taking back your power through the Chakra Card product range, please contact us on Facebook at Chakra Cards, the Chakra Card website or on the Store page on this website.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2017
Chakra Cards ©2015-2017 Alyssa Curtayne
"The role of women is changing from the traditional maiden, mother, crone to a time where any woman can be whatever it is she wants to be. A Goddess doesn’t have to be a young woman, or a mother, and she can age as gracefully (or disgracefully) as she wishes. It’s about women having choice; it’s about women feeling beautiful, powerful, confident and sensual in their own skins."
The internet has been awash with blogs, Instagram images and articles about being a Goddess, yet, unless you have experienced it, many women do not know what a Goddess is, or indeed, how to be one. And what on Earth does it mean to be Empowered? In the interests of full disclosure, this article will be my truth about what being an Empowered Goddess means to me.
For many years, I was plagued with self-esteem issues and it wasn’t until I did an online course with Leyolah Antara at Kundalini Dance that I felt the pulsing of energy that is the feminine energy of the Goddess that I fully understood the sensation of being an Empowered Goddess. I guess for me, I had to experience it to understand its power.
I could start by writing about how women were revered in many ancient cultures (and some modern ones), however, I think that it will detract from the issue. Such powerful women as the goddesses of early Pagan (Diana, Hretha), Hindu (Kali), Sumerian (Ishtar, Ereshkigal), Egyptian (Isis), Norse (Freyr, Bil), Irish (Dana, Brigid) and Greek (Aphrodite, Artemis) societies, not to mention those from China, Africa and the Americas as well as Indigenous ones and those in the Biblical stories, such as the divine Mary Magdalene.
I could talk about the other terms like embodied woman and Shakti that are used interchangeably about the Goddess in the early 21st Century but for the ease of the article, let’s just stick with the Goddess. Historically, women were revered as they carried children and the burden of both life and death through the process of childbirth. Thankfully, maternal deaths are decreasing and less women are dying in this important stage of life, and more interestingly, many women are choosing not to have babies. The role of women is changing from the traditional maiden, mother, crone to a time where any woman can be whatever it is she wants to be. A Goddess doesn’t have to be a young woman, or a mother, and she can age as gracefully (or disgracefully) as she wishes. It’s about women having choice; it’s about women feeling beautiful, powerful, confident and sensual in their own skins.
Women have only had the right to vote for about 100 years and the Goddess has risen historically in periods when misogyny was at its worst, such as when the Inquisition tortured and killed thousands of men and women who stood up to the church. Women who rode “cowboy” were considered witches (I kid you not!) (Stay tuned for my first novel, Matilda, based on this crazy misogynist culture in 2018). The Goddess brings us back to balance when the masculine energies become too dominant and unfortunately, we need the Goddess energy now more than ever.
Women are tired of being told what we can and can’t do by men and the institutions that run the world. We are all powerful, we know it and men know it and when they see us in our full power, they know who really wields power; and it’s not men or women, it’s a balance between the two.
The word “empower” means to “to give power or authority to; authorize, especially by legal or official means.” By its definition alone, being empowered means that we give permission to ourselves to feel the power of ourselves. By extension, an empowered person also aids and empowers other people, particularly women, ethnic minorities and those who are in some way disenfranchised by society. Putting others down, does not empower the self, and it certainly does not empower others.
An Empowered Goddess is not the antithesis of men, she lifts up the men in her life as much as she lifts the women and herself. It doesn’t have to be duality; that is dominance by men OR women, it’s about balance. The more the Empowered Goddess taps into her inner self, the more that she can empower others to be the very essence of who they are, raising us all up in a collective empowerment.
To me a Goddess is a woman who has embraced and accepted all of who she is, that is, her darkness and her light. We all have the capabilities to be a great healer or leader or indeed someone who is capable of murder, given the right scenario. A Goddess sees and acknowledges those parts of herself that reflect both the primitive parts of humanity and the full goodness of it.
A Goddess is a woman who has done a lot of self-reflection and owns all of those parts of herself that at times she doesn’t like and at times she loves. When she looks into a mirror a Goddess will sometimes see a frightened little girl, or a vulnerable woman, other times she will see a wild woman ready for anything and other times a sensual, sweet seductress.
A Goddess is a woman who is assured in her sexuality; she has no guilt or anxiety around masturbation or sex and honours each and every lover with every ounce of her being. She can see her lovers’ vulnerabilities and knows just when to support him/her and lift them up. She is able to walk away if it’s not bringing her satisfaction, yet she is happy in the moment, knowing that she is exactly where she is meant to be.
She is not afraid of men, in-fact, she knows just the right ways to disarm or seduce a man should it please her. This is not something that she shows off, but if she wants someone or something, she will get it, she knows of her power to manifest her desires in a way which is loving but not manipulative. An Empowered Goddess feels into her body and she knows it, inside and out. It’s a feeling of being connected to something greater than all of us; a flow of femininity if you like that completely honours and respects the masculine and feminine balance of life.
May you find and honour your inner Goddess and those around you.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2017
Note: In 2015, I created tools to help people become self-empowered; Chakra Cards. Unlike traditional tarot and other divination tools, these tap into our intuitive self and allow people to clear all that no longer serves for them and help them to become an empowered Goddess or God with the power of looking within. Chakra Cards Empower yourself; look within.
"The ONLY purpose is being alive, is to be alive. There is nothing more. We do not need to seek specialness, we are no better or worse than others. Spiritual teachers are only people who have found a channel of truth that works for them at that moment in time. They are not the panacea for the answers. The answers that we seek are within us. Within our ordinary moments of life. Of seeing life for what it is."
Maybe I’m just ordinary. I’m not destined for any great achievement. I’m not going to change the world just by being in it and I’m not going to be remembered long after I’m gone.
Maybe I’m just another of the seven billion souls inhabiting this planet just doing their very best to be who they are, without any expectations of being more than what I am.
Maybe I’m just a mother. Maybe I’m just a teacher. And maybe I’m just poor and destined to struggle my way through life; I’m not the only one. Maybe I’m just ordinary. Maybe I’m just like everyone else.
When I was younger I had low self-esteem, at 58kg, I thought that I was fat and so hid myself from everyone. I wore baggy clothes. I hid from the world. I strived for invisibility. Then, I discovered Louise L. Hay who taught me that there was so much more to me, to everyone, her words and affirmations lifted me up, built my confidence, made me believe that I could do anything, that I could be anyone, have success if I just changed my thinking.
But what if she was wrong? What if the whole “new age” movement is really just another way to make money, to sell products, to sell ideas, to make people feel like shit and so that they need something to pick themselves up? What if it’s all just bullshit? These expectations that we place on ourselves are nothing more than setting ourselves up to feel like we are missing something.
Expectations create a false reality. They are like a “glamour” that we use to feel good about ourselves when in reality, we feel like shit, but we feel like we have to appear like we are having an easy time. Because if we admit that we feel like crap, there must be something wrong with us, but there's not. We are who we are.
Throughout my life, I have struggled financially to feed myself, my family and I have thought that my teaching career was just a stepping stone to something more magnificent. But what if this is it? What if this is my lot in life to just exist from week to week while I raise my girls in a job that brings me happiness and satisfaction as much as it brings me frustration and annoyance?
Maybe I’m not destined for anything more than to be here, now, living this existence.
I’ve had some amazing moments in my life where I’ve believed all these amazing spiritual things, but what if they too are bullshit? Just like yoga has become to me. What if instead of bringing me joy, the spirituality movement has turned into a search for deeper meaning, for purpose and for seeking something which simply doesn’t exist? What if nirvana is just a load of spiritual B.S. designed to make us think that we are on this “journey” to enlightenment, yet in our seeking we forget that in-fact we are just ordinary beings living life; for the only purpose of living life?
I am so sick of spiritual teachers (myself included in previous posts) telling people to “find their purpose”. There is no such thing! It’s another hook that drags us in, making us feel like we are somehow inadequate and special for having not found that thing we have supposedly been birthed for?
What BULLSHIT! The ONLY purpose is being alive, is to be alive. There is nothing more. We do not need to seek specialness, we are no better or worse than others. Spiritual teachers are only people who have found a channel of truth that works for them at that moment in time. They are not the panacea for the answers. The answers that we seek are within us. Within our ordinary moments of life. Of seeing life for what it is.
Maybe I’m just ordinary. Maybe all I’m meant to be is a teacher. Maybe all I’m meant to be is a mother. Maybe I’m just ordinary and will never be anything more than a struggling single mum.
Well, that’s okay. Because all I need to know is that right here, right now, I can feel my breath in my lungs, I can hear the birds settling in for the night, I know that my children are all safe and well and I know that I live in a country that is free from war. And if that is ordinary; being grateful for the here and now, well, I’d choose ordinary over “special” in this moment and every moment to come.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2017
"There are some outstanding teachers out there. They are hard-working and are making an impact every time your child walks into their school. They do their jobs without complaining about the workload or the abuse that some young people give us daily. And we show them compassion and give them boundaries and ultimately, we see a part of them that parents rarely get to see; how they interact with their peers."
After 20 years in and out of the education system, I have come to some conclusions. I have taught in four Australian states, in Catholic, Islamic, State and small private schools and across many learning areas and from Kindergarten to Year 12, but what I have learned is that the most important things we should be teaching young people, we are not, and we don't celebrate it when we do.
The Curriculum is a full and expansive list of what the Government-of-the-day collates as the things that they want all young people to know by the end of their schooling; English, maths, science, history and social sciences, arts, health and physical education, information technology and foreign languages. It is hoped that during their schooling, young people will have the minimal required exposure to all of these things. I, for one, love curriculum. I like its comprehensive nature of all the learning areas and it really does create a level playing field whether you are in a private or public school (but that’s altogether another debate). I like the fact that there is flexibility for individual schools and/or teachers to add their own spin on it. I like it for its order.
And yet, within the curriculum, there are cross-curricular priorities: Sustainability, Australia, Asia and the Pacific and Indigenous Australia – all integral parts to creating a wonderful future as well as the General Capabilities that teachers need to integrate into their planning across all learning areas: literacy, numeracy, ICT, critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability, ethical understanding and intercultural understanding. Teachers need to integrate all of these formalised ideas into the curriculum in our daily interactions with your young people and for most of us, we do our very, very best. Phew! Still think teachers get paid too much??
Yet, underlying all of this is the most important job of a teacher. It’s not delivering curriculum, it’s not making sure they pass all of their subjects, it’s actually two things:
1. Building honest and open adult-child relationships. That means, we build relationships with young people. How do we do that? By sharing who we are and being ourselves but also valuing and asking about the lives of the young people in our care. There are some spectacular young people in schools and in 20 years of teaching there have only been three students who I could not find any redeeming qualities in. And all three of those needed professional psychological assistance and/or diagnosis for sociopathy or psychopathy as a result of severe trauma. So many young people do not have responsible adults in their lives and they come from homes where abuse, drug use and violent conflict resolution reigns. These young people, in particular, need honest and open adults in their lives who genuinely care for them and have access to services that they need to heal and grow into honest and open adults.
Our young people need and want adults in their lives who will role model and live by their own values – not parade a false set of “Australian values” as laid out by the government. Australia is a diverse country and just as our students come from a variety of cultural, religious, socio-economic or just plain strange families, as do teachers. Students want to know what makes us tick, they want us to be ourselves (within the confines of professional behaviour), they want us to ask them about their lives, their story and their worries and their happiness. They want to know about how other people live their lives, especially teenagers who are experimenting with their identities. And yet, many teachers are so bogged down with the heavy curriculum (above), marking, meetings and other things to be able to spend time doing this, or indeed, don’t know how to do this. Our system has become so curriculum driven, thereby forgetting exactly why education exists, and that is to pass on our knowledge to the next generation and hope that their ideas sprout roots and become even greater than what has come before. The goal of a teacher should be to develop such a positive working relationship that the student is self-inspired to do well, which brings me to point number two.
2. Secondly, we need to teach young people self-responsibility. This means being prepared for classes, finding and asking for help if required for uniform, food, shelter, schoolwork, a shoulder to cry on. Self-responsibility means listening and learning and taking charge of their own education, by being attentive and doing the very best that they can. We need to teach them to be able to resolve conflict with others without violence, to not distract others who wish to learn and to learn the socially-acceptable behaviours – yet at the same time allowing them to be exactly who they are. It’s a delicate balance. I see so many people in our communities that take no responsibility for their actions – of violence, of crime, of poor relationships, of the struggles of life. A mature adult is one who has taken responsibility for their lives and their decision-making process that lead to the scenario.
Teaching self-responsibility starts when children are very young when we teach them to brush their teeth, comb their hair, use the toilet on their own and pack up their mess when they make it. At home, it manifests in helping with housework and cooking, finishing schoolwork and in school, this manifests in the ways above and so much more, particularly the responsible use of electronic devices (again, another topic altogether). Teaching self-responsibility doesn’t end in independence from the mother (or primary carer) it continues well into adulthood and we have a responsibility to teach young people strategies to help them to do this.
There are some outstanding teachers out there. They are hard-working and are making an impact every time your child walks into their school. They do their jobs without complaining about the workload or the abuse that some young people give us daily. And we show them compassion and give them boundaries and ultimately, we see a part of them that parents rarely get to see; how they interact with their peers.
Teachers teach so much more than curriculum. I feel honoured to be the teacher that students have come-out to, have disclosed abuse in their families and to themselves, and have sat with them while they cried through their frustrations and heartbreak. There have been many times that I’ve wanted to leave the profession, but something always brings me back to it, and it’s these big (and small) interactions with children and young people. Think back on your experiences of your favourite teacher; you will not always remember what they taught you, but you will remember who they were and how they made you feel. And this, is exactly what an excellent teacher should teach.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2017
"Yet, I know it is inevitable. So, I continue to try and create new memories in this time of transition as I realise my own additional freedom of time which comes with being the parent of young adults. I am trying so hard to keep them close that I know that eventually I’ll have to let them go as young people are destined to do."
My children are preparing to leave home and I’ve got to be honest, I’m struggling with it. I remember them as babies like it was yesterday, cliche, I know, but it's true. In my mind, they can’t leave home, they are still so young. My two eldest have recently started driving and talking about what’s next and I cannot possibly imagine our lives where we aren’t all together. It’s always just been me and the girls and things are changing so much, I’m finding that I’m not coping this transition.
I suspect that my eldest, who is about to turn 18 would have left home years ago, but I think she’s humouring me because she knows that it will be hard for me with her gone. I think she feels sorry for me and is holding off until I’m ready. I’ve been looking through the photographs of the past 18 years of her life and the life that we’ve shared together. I cannot believe how fast childhood goes, how very little time we have with them, how very little time that I’ve had with them.
I’ve developed a new appreciation for my parents and grandparents and the rapid passing of time as our children grow. I remember when each of them was just a 3kg baby in my arms, suckling, learning to walk, being curious about the world. I have found a fabulous quote from the outstanding novel: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes which sums up exactly what being a parent means:
“It’s just that the thing you never understand about being a mother, until you are one, is that it is not the grown man – the galumphing, unshaven, stinking, opinionated offspring – you see before you, with his parking tickets and unpolished shoes and uncomplicated love life. You see all the people he has ever been all rolled up into one.”
Full credit to JoJo Moyes, for I wish I had written those words, but it is exactly as she says. When I look at my children, I don’t just see who they are today, I see who they were as children, the adventures we’ve had, the tears we’ve shared, the songs we’ve sung in the care, and who they may possibly become in the future.
“Empty nest” or when our children launch themselves into the world, is a time for celebration, it means that we’ve done all that we possibly can to be the best parents we can and to be in joy with them as they take off. Yet, there is also sadness at what we have shared together and the knowledge that what we have shared will never be the same again. It will be different.
Yet, I know it is inevitable. So, I continue to try and create new memories in this time of transition as I realise my own additional freedom of time which comes with being the parent of young adults. I am trying so hard to keep them close that I know that eventually I’ll have to let them go as young people are destined to do.
I have to trust in the fact that I’ve done all that I can to help them be kind, responsible global citizens and trust them to make good decisions for their lives as they step out into the world. I have to learn to let them go and be who they were born to be. I have to create plans which enable them to come back to me whenever they need me. I need to trust the process of life.
In my heart, I know that I need to let them go, but at the same time, I’m excited for them and the possibilities that lay ahead and the new adventures that await us all as a family of young adults, and not a single mum with three little kids.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2017
"I’m completely stripping back the layers of who I think I am and looking at who I was and who I want to be. Some of the activities that I was doing no longer were serving me, so I let them go. It just randomly coincided with his arrival into my life."
I’ve now been in the most healthy, functional relationship that I’ve ever been in for twelve months and in that time, I have put on 8kg, quit yoga (which formed the basis of my identity) and feel more supported by another human being than I ever have in my life. I have changed. A relationship is more than two lives together, it is a blending of habits, routines and ways of being with another person. It is an interesting shift from being single to partnered and it challenges us to look at ourselves and the other person with some depth.
Is it normal to put on weight in a new relationship? According to a study by Taheri et al, increase in body mass index was due to less sleep and certainly, my sleep habits have changed, not only sharing a bed but sexual activity has altered my sleeping habits. Certainly, he cooks wonderful food and feeds me much richer foods than I was eating. I was on a fairly routine diet which included sometimes not eating at all in the evenings and I was certainly exercising…well, differently than I was. I do not blame him at all for my weight gain or change in lifestyle, but it has made me wonder what is going on within me to allow this? Is there another reason?
Am I changing who I am for someone or am I protecting myself from being hurt? Am I putting up barriers for his love? In Louise L. Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, extra fat is what we do in order to protect ourselves. But if anything, Kind Man (KM) makes me feel safe, he makes me feel supported and he makes me feel loved. However, I have changed a number of my behaviours and routines, particularly around diet and exercise in my efforts to accommodate this new “normal” in my life.
I have been in relationships where I changed who I was for a man, but this feels different. I don’t feel that he is changing me, per se, but I do feel like I am changing as a result of having him in my life and apart from the weight gain, it is a good change. I’m completely stripping back the layers of who I think I am and looking at who I was and who I want to be. Some of the activities that I was doing no longer were serving me, so I let them go. It just randomly coincided with his arrival into my life.
For most of my adult life I have been seeking a significant other, not having any conscious thought about what I would do when it arrived and now, I have someone who is willing to commit to me and my family for my entire life! I don’t need to seek anymore, yet there is still that space where the “seeking” energy sat. There is a space where much of my thoughts were directed and now, I’m not quite sure what to do with this new space in my head. So, I guess, I eat. I fill my mind up with worries about not being enough or other such nonsense. I create excuses why we shouldn’t be together when there is not ONE single reason why we should break up.
When we are dating, we make ourselves look nice and consciously or not, try to make ourselves more attractive to a potential mate, but I’ve heard the term, “letting go” of things like not shaving regularly, or wearing make-up and not bothering to dress nicely. Have I just let myself go? Have I unconsciously figured that he loves me no matter what so I can be as unattractive as possible as a way to push him away? Or as a test of his love for me?
It is an unresolved space, but it is where I am right now and I accept what is. In the meantime, I am back on the treadmill and building up my exercise routine and being more conscious about the food that I eat and filling my body with nutrition rather than worry about weight. Eight kilograms is not an easy ride, but perhaps what I need to do is just love my new bigger body for teaching me that even at my worst, he will still love me, even if I can’t fit into that fabulous dress anymore!
©Alyssa Curtayne 2017
Share your new relationship stories in the comments below:
 Taheri, Shahrad, et al. "Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index." PLoS Med 1.3 (2004): e62.
"We repeatedly push people who love us away to a point that they either rise above and show us their unconditional love or they don’t."
We are sold this idea that it comes easy; that it should come easily.
But some of us are different.
Some of us put huge barriers around our hearts to protect it from harm.
Some of us don’t let anyone in unless they pass through a series of tests that we unconsciously give them.
And some of us try very hard to push the people who love us most away.
I am one of those people and unconsciously I have taught my daughter to be one of those people.
You can tell me a million times that you love me, but it will take more than a million times until my walls start coming down, until I believe you, until I trust you.
I can’t tell you when I first put these walls up, maybe it was pre-birth, past life or from an early childhood experience. The moment that it started really is irrelevant, what is important is acknowledging that it is there now and that I really own them.
I’ve subconsciously known these walls are there and I have done a blog about how my current partner is helping me to break them down, but it was when I noticed my 17-year-old daughter doing the same thing – pushing her family away – that I realised that it was actually my problem. I have been modelling a defensive heart to her. I have been modelling a testing heart to her.
A testing heart.
It’s an interesting concept but I’ve done it and I can see her doing it too. We repeatedly push people who love us away to a point that they either rise above and show us their unconditional love or they don’t. If it’s the latter, we walk away from that person they haven’t shown us that they are willing to love us no matter what, if it is the former, we welcome them into our tiny circle of trusted loved ones.
We keep those close who love us and rarely do we let others in. If they want into our testing hearts, they will have to prove to us time and time again that they are willing to fight for us.
It’s a defence mechanism that we use to try and weed out those that love us unconditionally and those who have judgement, criticism or love us with conditions that we are avoiding.
Gary Chapman in his popular book, The Five Love Languages, speaks about the five ways we like to show and receive love, but I propose an alternative explanation. As a testing heart, I don’t care how you show your love to me, the method is irrelevant, I just want to know that you really do love me, even if I do something despicable. It’s a very adolescent behaviour and maybe I just haven’t grown out of adolescence, but it’s a behaviour that I have, that I own and that I see in others too.
For now, that’s where I am and I hope that I can model a more open heart to my daughter but until
then, I have deep self-reflection to do with my Chakra Cards.
May you love those who need to be loved most with an open and unconditional heart, because those of us who test you know for sure that we are worth it and are just checking if you are too.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2017
It’s a challenge for me to write this blog because it may step on people’s toes, it could be controversial and it could offend. But it’s my truth. Here. Today. Modern yoga is like a cult.
It’s weird, you know, not being involved in yoga anymore, not believing all that I used to believe and it’s like all that I was is being stripped away. All that I thought I was no longer exists. I am no longer someone who says “namaste”, who wears an Om necklace in a form of cultural appropriation or is devoted to a yoga practice. I do it when I feel like I need a good stretch. A friend who I was doing my yoga teacher training with said: “Everything has its own time. Only when you are ready, it works.” And implied that it wasn’t time for me to be a yoga teacher. I thought, this is not about me not being ready for a life of yoga, because I’ve been doing it for 20 years, this is about me realising the giant lie it has become and how we aren’t a match anymore.
Modern yoga to me is a bit like a cult or a religion; if you don’t fit in, if you don’t comply with the expected behaviours then you’re not a part of the cult. The word “Yoga” means union and there is NOTHING I can see that unites in separating or elevating yourself above someone because they won’t comply with the predominant culture. I was under a delusion. It is not authentic to take on someone else’s beliefs, or even a whole cultural group. It’s subtle and it’s in no way malicious, it is a culture built on egos, the right leggings and clothes, accessories, Instagram bendiness and acrobatic bodies. That’s not what my experience of yoga is about!
Historically, modern yoga has its roots in the arrival of the British in India in the early 1900s who merged the military fitness regime of the British with the gentler Hindu spiritual practices. It has become all about the asana, pranayama and escaping from modern life. It doesn’t resonate for me anymore and I am sad about that, because it has given me an enormous amount of joy over the years, however, it doesn’t align with my truth anymore. I will view it as a form of experiential exercise, but to get caught up in the culture within modern yoga was destructive for me and misses the whole point of a spiritual practice.
Our spirituality does not depend on whether we practice in ugg boots, woollen socks, braless, hair dishevelled, interrupted, naked or with your favourite music on. Our spirituality does not depend on us listening to traditional and modern Hindu chanting or whether we can stretch into our out of a certain position like the person next to us. Our spirituality does not need us to travel to India or Bali or any other exotic location to be able to access it. And we certainly don't need to be doing headstands or handstands to be spiritual.
We are spiritual. Right here. Right now. We keep seeking these experiences and tools, such as yoga, in order to find this place of peace or contentment when the reality is, when we stop the search, we can see it. We can see the truth of the world when we begin to question everything. The latest search for enlightenment, 5th dimension and higher realms is just another escapism from being here now. It is a distraction from the human experience and from the present moment.
Yes, yoga, when taught well, can be a tool to do this, it can teach us how to be in the present moment, but for now I am disillusioned by it. I don’t know if I’ll ever return to a yoga practice, and that’s sad. And what’s even more sad, it is that now very unlikely that I will complete my yoga teacher training because I just can’t agree with a culture that encourages ego and competition. It is an extension of the commodification of everything good and pure in the world.
The truth about yoga is that it doesn’t matter what colour you wear, music you listen to, or if you have shoes on or not, the timing of your breaths, intentions, how flexible or strong you are, it is time to look after your body and honour it as the temple that houses your soul. Yoga has all these expectations placed about it, when in reality it is just a form of exercise which asks us to be mindful. What you adorn your body with doesn’t make a skerrick of difference to your yoga practice and it certainly doesn’t make you a kind and compassionate person.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2017
"I realised that as fun as it was to meditate, levitate and feel the abundant bliss that meditation offers, I realised that it was a form of escapism – no different to any other addiction. I was addicted to enlightenment experiences. "
Twelve months ago, I was deep in yoga and fully following the spiritual path, I was completing my yoga teacher training and was fully committed to the yogic identity. Today, my life couldn’t be further from it. Previously, I, like many others, sought answers in spiritual practice. I have completed an abundance of courses seeking the ultimate enlightenment. I’ve had some mind-bending experiences; leaving my body, levitating, becoming a channel for higher voices and making yoga and the “namaste” culture my entire life.
Then one day, in the middle of a mindfulness meditation course I realised that as fun as it was to meditate, levitate and feel the abundant bliss that meditation offers, I realised that it was a form of escapism – no different to any other addiction. As a 16-year-old I had a taste of spontaneous astral travel and spent the next 25 years seeking similar experiences. And I found them, boy, I found them. I, like many others, have had some outstanding experiences; solo ecstatic orgasm and hearing monks chanting while lying on a flat table strung with harp strings among the best of them, but those experiences are transient and ultimately aren’t contributing to a better world. I realised that I was addicted to enlightenment experiences.
We are spiritual beings having a physical experience.
Let me say that again, we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.
Why on Earth, would we want to be a spiritual being having a spiritual experience when we are here, on Earth, now?
Why would we seek out an experience to escape from the one in-front of us?
Why are we all seeking this mystical enlightenment, when we can have incredible sensory experiences in these amazing physical bodies? Our world is abundant with living and non-living things to touch, taste, smell, see and hear. Our world is abundant with incredible beings who offer opportunities every day to practice our humanity, our compassion, our unconditional love.
Why do we seek to transcend this world to a world beyond when this is where we are? Meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting still for hours on end, trying to quiet the mind, meditation can be found when bathing a child, washing up, driving a car or making love.
We are here.
We are here now.
There is no tomorrow, there is no yesterday. By the time you have awareness of the moment, it has passed. We have just now. We are where we are right now because that is where we are, so why seek to escape from the now?
I see so many people on the path of seeking, and without a doubt, it is an incredible path, but ironically, I feel that enlightenment isn’t some distant “spiritual” experience, something outside of ourselves or something to be attained, we ARE already spiritual beings, within us, and we radiate our inner light, without even looking for it!
It seems a fruitless search to seek something seemingly outside ourselves in which we already are!
So now, 12 months on from becoming aware of the search, I have a deep awareness of my spirituality; it guides me, it helps me to respond calmly and mindfully, but I am human and I focus my energies on my humanity, on service to the Earth, on how I can contribute to the world and my Earthly experience as Alyssa Curtayne, that is in the here and now.
I know that I no longer need to seek spiritual experiences, because I don’t need to – I am already spiritual, as you are.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2017
"I have learned about the survival mentality and how, when you feel that you have no choice, you make desperate decisions – like selling my home. I was so desperate to find a solution to my financial mess that I couldn’t see any other way out than selling the mess."
There have been times in my life when we have lived on pasta and two minute noodles for up to a week. There have been times when my children have missed out on basic supplies for school and they miss out on so much more that other children have. Yet, we are not and have not been in poverty, it’s all relative. We just have enough to pay for the basics, we have no disposable income.
I have never known anything else other than this financial struggle, yet I work my ass off, just like my parents did. I work so hard. At times I work multiple jobs in order just to keep my family afloat and the older they get, the more expensive they get. The other thing about this whole experience is that of poverty consciousness and surviving from pay cycle to pay cycle has been that it has been an incredible gift; for both myself and my daughters.
In 2008 I brought my lifetime home, a beautiful little cottage perched atop of a hill in Tasmania; it was minutes from my mum and sister and around the corner from one of my dearest girlfriends and her kids. It was the home that I saw our future in, the house I saw my retirement and grandchildren in and the house that my kids would always call home.
Then in 2010, I felt the urge to travel, so I set my home up with some wonderful tenants, packed our belongings into a four-wheel drive and camper trailer and took the girls around Australia. We survived on a meagre savings and work that I could exchange on organic farms for free board (and sometimes food) and a minimal government family payment.
Eventually I realised I had to work to give us the lifestyle that we wanted. Meanwhile in my house, the tenants had moved out and new ones moved into our home. Thus started a downhill spiral of no longer having our financial future set with a solid investment and a home to return to when our travels finished. The next two lots of tenants were so bad that they caused incredible damage to our home that we had them evicted. The cleaner said it was the worst case that she had ever seen.
You can see the article and photos here. The second lot of tenants refused to pay rent and had one excuse after another. The combination of both of those tenants put me further and further in debt and I was basically working just to service the debt – yet, on the best income I ever had, we still had no disposable income.
Given no choice, I had to put the house on the market; our home, the place that still holds a place in my heart. The new owners created a wonderful renovation, but in my mind, I can still see all the things that I wanted to do to it, yet keep that beautiful cottage charm. But I was still servicing these debts that the tenants put me in, we just couldn’t survive. Without any options forthcoming, I entered into bankruptcy.
That was two years ago. I still have one year to go until I’m discharged from it. But it’s only now that I’m starting to feel like I’m getting on my feet. I still have to say no to my kids for their requests for money, not because they are being unreasonable, but because I can’t afford it.
Yet, there is light. There is goodness in this whole sorry mess. I have learned about the survival mentality and how, when you feel that you have no choice, you make desperate decisions – like selling my home. I was so desperate to find a solution to my financial mess that I couldn’t see any other way out than selling the mess.
Unfortunately that means I’m starting again financially.
But my children have learned so much more. I see that in their actions they do not want to have a future where they can’t provide for their own children, so I see them making decisions that help them to create their own independent financial futures.
I see them learning how to be frugal and how to save and when a purchase is an unnecessary expense. I can see them thinking about how they spend their money and I see them being grateful when I do have the funds to help them out. I see them learning from their experience of relative poverty.
I am so very grateful that my children know humility, they aren’t excessive consumers – in-fact they are extraordinarily talented op-shoppers. I am so very grateful that they know that I don’t need to show them I love them through money, but with love and attention and life experiences.
Even though we are still in relative poverty I no longer feel like I’m being punished for it, I feel
empowered by it. I feel empowered that I know the value of money and that I have taught my daughters the same.
May you find the good in whatever it is you are battling today.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2017