I don’t know about you, but I’m finding the nonsense in the media and on social media exhausting and somewhat surreal. Are we really in a world where we are allowing the poisoning of our water by fracking? Are we really in a world that values coal energy over renewables? Are we really in a world where politicians are serving their own economic and self-serving needs rather than for the people? Are we living in a world where people protest the rise of “multiculturalism” in the street as a result of being manipulated by politicians into believing that different is bad? I’m experiencing a sort of disbelief about what I see happening in my world, in our world and I feel a sort of helplessness about what to do about it. I feel a sort of helplessness that I’m watching this insanity just get worse and worse and there is no-one standing up to change it. What can I do about it except vent on social media, sign another online petition or call my local politician? Especially since government checks and balances are continually being dismantled to call them to account.
At school, we teach critical thinking, we work at getting students to question things and I’ve always questioned everything. I don’t know when it started, probably with my affair. It made me question marriage and the connection between people. It made me think deeply about who I am and what my values are. But in the past week, I’ve been questioning everything about the world and the universe. Maybe it was the discovery of Kepler, the earth-like planet that has a 382 day year but maybe it was something else. Maybe it is part of the death of the part of me that is trying to be “normal” and fit into the world. How do we be in the world and fully be ourselves but not sit by and allow this insanity to continue? Or is the answer to be fully ourselves and the world will change by us simply being the change that we want to see in the world?
Question everything. That means everything. What is real? What is true? How do we know truth? Where do we find it in a world full of information and manipulation? Are we being manipulated by and about everything, including our beliefs, values and identity? Is our identity based on what we are told? Is it through socialisation? Even before we are born, our identity as male or female is predicted and wished for. As soon as we are born, the first question that is asked is: Is it a boy or a girl? Not, is the baby healthy? Our identity is socialised into us even before we exist. That’s not to say I wanted to be a boy! I’m completely happy to be a woman and have the experience that I have had and am having.
I’ve been reflecting on my beliefs and how much of who I think I am is based on what I’ve read or heard or seen from other people’s interpretations of the world. And I wonder how much of my belief is based on what I store in my head? Where does belief come from? Is it a cognitive, brain thing, or is belief based on the feeling or an experience? If you put your hand on a hot stovetop and burned yourself, is that memory of the burn there still in your body when you see fire, or a stove or hear the song that was playing at the time?
I feel like I’m caught in two worlds, one where I am striving to be normal, to fit in, and the other which is the world where I feel right at home, centred and full of joy. Feel like living two parallel but distinct lives… teaching – a world where I work because it funds my life, but my spiritual self that is crying out to be set free from the insanity of the world and just be me.
When I go out in the world it seems all so meaningless. But what has meaning? What is the source of meaning and does life have to have meaning? Do we have a greater purpose or is that another untruth that we have been sold in order to feel like our lives are worth nothing unless we are living our “purpose”? What the hell does that mean? I want to disconnect from the world and return to the truth, my truth, my inner knowing. Every time I set foot outside my door, nothing seems to make sense. I feel like an alien in a strange land. The world seems to be overtaken by a survival insanity that has no point. But how do you disconnect when we have allowed our lives to be completely dependent on an internet connection and a small, hand-held device?
As always, when I’m writing a blog, something comes to my attention, and this time a banned TEDx talk by British writer Graham Hancock. While he advocates the use of psychedelic drugs, specifically, ayahuasca to open minds to consciousness, the line that resonated most for me was his description of wisdom from Amazonian Shamans about the west: “You guys have severed your connection with spirit. Unless you reconnect with spirit and do so soon, you’re going to bring the whole house of cards down around your heads and ours.” And they're right. We are disconnected.
I think the more I learn about the world, the more I see the interpretations of other people and how THEY see the world. If someone is at a stage in their life where it is all about consumption of material goods, who am I to judge? Who am I to say that the way I live is better? It just is what it is. They are where they are and I am where I am. Should it be my job to make the world better by pushing and dragging other people into a place that I perceive to be right? No, it should not. Is it my job to be fully authentically me and to follow my heart? Yes. It is. So today, I am focusing on not judging others for being who they authentically are and not carrying the whole weight of the world on my shoulders, because the world that I NEED to focus on is my inner world. I am taking the Amazonian Shamanistic advice and re-connecting with the spirit that dwells in me, around me and in all of us and taking advice from Gandhi from the quote that has driven my life, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” and putting my energy into the things that I can change and taking my energy away from the things that I can’t.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2015
I have the strongest urge to type out my journals, so I am. I'm not sure that I'll share them, but it's very therapeutic. I couldn't recommend having a journal more highly. I’ve kept a journal since I was 19 and I’ve got to admit, it’s mostly filled with my angst and drama around relationships. Which I guess means that for me, learning through relationships is my modus operandi! I started it in January 1994 and it was what I called at the time a “Book of Thoughts”. But by the time I got to the end of the first book it had morphed into a journal. At the time I was having an affair with a married man and the guilt of that betrayal that I was complicit in nearly destroyed me. Having a safe space to jot down my thoughts, cry and process it really helped. I’m not in any way condoning what I did and can only take responsibility for my role in it but it really was a significant event in my life. As discussed last week, that relationship set out all my expectations for all future relationships – emotionally unavailable men who are fucking amazing at pleasuring me in bed but cannot commit to me for anything more than sex. I’m sick of that pattern. I deserve more. The pattern stops now.
It’s hard to believe that I’m that same person I was at 19, it feels like such a lifetime ago. If I could go back and change the situation would I? I don’t know. Perhaps it was meant to be because I had some of the biggest self-worth lessons of my life in it. I definitely wouldn’t betray a soul sister like that again. Yet, here I am completely infatuated with an emotionally unavailable man who is fantastic in bed! He’s not married, but emotionally unavailable, he is most definitely. So I wonder, if everyone we meet is a mirror of us then, that means that I AM EMOTIONALLY UNAVAILABLE! WTF? It also means that I’m amazing at pleasuring myself in bed! Which I am!
How am I showing up as being emotionally unavailable and more importantly, why? I have so much love to give my life partner, he will be one lucky bastard when he finds me and I give him the key to this heart. When I am into someone, I put my whole heart into loving, maybe that’s the problem, I don’t maintain my centre, my stillness, myself. I put myself into them, not into the relationship. I suppose also I am a very shy, private person, which I guess is why I find writing about my feelings easy and have no problem – yet if I were to speak about myself, I wouldn’t find it so easy. Speaking makes me feel vulnerable and open for rejection, I also have to navigate things like body language and eye contact. Is that being emotionally unavailable?
If I reflect back on men who wanted me but I just wasn’t feeling it, I put up barriers very early and never really gave them a chance to know me. Yet, with men I’m really attracted to I just puke it all up there! Just after I first slept with my first lover I had my first past-life recollection. It was so clear. In the past life, I was incredibly in-love with this man and he was leaving me and I felt an awful sense of loss. I was wearing a torn Victorian-style off the shoulder blue/purple dress. I had beautiful dark hair, eyes and skin. I was beautiful. He was at least a head taller than me and I was tall too. He was leaving to go into battle. I knew it wasn’t in Australia, it was a Spanish battle in America. I was Spanish and he was English or American. I remember a fort and once I said goodbye, I never saw him again. I know that this man in my memory was my first lover in this life.
No wonder I have emotional unavailability – somewhere within me, I’m terrified of being hurt, of feeling that agonising loss of separation from someone you love.
I’ve had a number of past-life memories and what defines them as different from dreams is that you are in a different body, you smell and you taste and hear things as if you are really there. It happened spontaneously for me a number of times before I discovered in books that it was a past-life. When I need to understand why I behave in the way I do, the past life usually pops up as a reminder. There are a number of techniques for remembering past lives, but a few good ones that I’ve learned are:
1. Go into a darkened room and gaze at yourself in a mirror with only a candle for light. As you gaze at yourself your face morphs into another. I haven’t tried this, but I know that it works from others.
2. Work yourself into a meditative state. Imagine that you are going down a set of stairs and at the bottom of the stairs there is a door, open the door and be introduced to your past self/selves.
3. Ask before going to sleep to have a past life memory come to you just before you wake and also ask that you are able to remember it clearly.
4. Go see a Hypnotist and work with them on remembering which life is relevant to your barrier now.
There are heaps of other techniques, books and websites on the topic. Find one that works for you if you are interested or post on Alyssa Curtayne - author.
However, I digress, as I always do. While in a past life I may have vowed never to love again so I don’t feel that level of emotional pain again, that would explain why I put up barriers in the form of some sort of desperation, stopping things before they start and trying to maintain some control about my feelings when they arise and to some extent some obsessing over men which is evident in my journals. And now I’m pushing GSM away because I’m afraid that the more time I spend with him, the more I’ll want and I can’t control that. My desire to stay in control of my feelings and fears of commitment of someone truly seeing me are blocking me from ironically getting the only thing I have ever wanted, a deep and intimate connection and knowing with and by another human being; to be seen and loved for who I am.
Yet, another part of me knows that we are eternal, we are light and that there is no separation. Another part of me loves who I am and that I am imperfectly perfect, that I am a divine Goddess. I find it difficult to consolidate these two very different ideas into my consciousness. How can I both be loving in light and completely unafraid of being seen? By remembering that I am loved, that memories of the past are not living in the now. I have laid the foundations for my life; I expect abundance, love, joy, peace, adventure and spectacular sex and most importantly, in this moment, I am happy.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about re-reading my journals is that many of the issues that I was dealing with in 1994, 2003 or 2007 I still haven’t changed, I haven’t learned or adjusted my thinking. I have learned that the patterns are still playing out. I have to remember the following affirmation: This is your life. This is not a rehearsal. This is it. Get your shit together. Let go of all that does not serve you. And like I said last week, take action to create the life you want. We may come back for another life, but why waste this opportunity when we have it here and now.
Blessings to you,
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2015.
I have spent the past week committing to my yoga and meditation practice. It’s been an amazing week in many ways, but also I’m so proud of myself for my commitment and in all honesty, it’s not a challenge to get up out of bed and stand on my mat for some standing prayer before moving into some sun salutations. During the course of this week, I’ve looked at my issues in the past around anger and also my ability to maintain that happy space for each whole day, regardless of external events. It has been a challenge for me and many others, especially I notice in Canada and Australia, in being able to maintain our centre when our Governments are continually making terrible long-term decisions that contradict all human rights and environmental science and sanity. On a personal level, people find it difficult to be calm in places like traffic, supermarkets and even in our homes. We can see that in things like road rage, domestic violence and a general sense of unhappiness in our communities.
Also this week, I’ve done some research about yoga and its origins and the theory behind it. I found a book by Timothy McCall called Yoga as Medicine (Bantam Books, 2007) and have also looked into some other books which I’m awaiting to arrive at my local library. One of the best quotes that I found this week was by Pattabhi Jois, an Indian yoga teacher who developed the Ashtanga Vinyasa style of yoga. Jois said: “Yoga is 99 percent practice, one percent theory.” And I think that’s true for all things. Whenever we commit to something, we need to put our commitment into practice. For me my 2015-16 commitment is to daily yoga and meditation practice. But for other people, it might be a relationship, healthy eating, exercise programme, to start speaking positively to yourself or daily gratitude on Facebook as a friend of mine has done.
I didn’t realise until I met GSM last year that I had an issue with commitment; with jobs, with living in one place and of course relationships – with men and women. Earlier this year, I faced Commitment and wrote it a letter. I’m going to share it with you now:
Dear Commitment fear – I have carried you around for far too long. You have led me on amazing adventures with my impromptu decision making and indecision. But while I appreciate your place in my life, I no longer need you. I will no longer live in denial of my truth as a loving being of God. I deserve a great love. I deserve abundance. I deserve a job that I love and jump out of bed in the mornings for. I don’t know why I fear you Commitment, but I don’t want to fear you anymore.
I don’t know when I started fearing you, or why, but I don’t need you anymore. Please release from my body and soul and karmic memory or contractual connections and any and all fears of committing to a person, place or thing, such as a job. Help to still the restlessness within me and help me to open up to the Shiva-Shakti life energy both within and without.
I am facing you now Commitment. I do not fear you. I do not fear losing myself. I feel empowered and not trapped by love and marriage and commitment. Love is eternal and never ends. There is nothing to fear by completely loving and being loved. There is nothing to fear by being in a job that I love. There is nothing to fear by having more than enough money to thrive in life.
I am breaking free of this fear and letting you go. Thank you for your lessons, go now with love.
I don’t know if it’s because of my first week of my commitment to yoga and meditation, but I feel like it has set me on a new, more focused path. I don’t feel so aimless and despondent about life when I have something that I’m working towards. It comes back to that saying I wrote about previously:
Make a list of things that make you happy,
Make a list of things you do every day,
Compare the lists,
Again, I wish I could credit the original speaker by thanking them for that wisdom, because that’s where my shift happened. It’s not that I didn’t have some goals and dreams written down. It’s because I had not taken any action towards them. I’m sure you’ve all seen The Secret, www.secret.tv by Rhonda Byrne and read about the Law of Attraction. I used to have this saying that I had stuck to my fridge, beside my bed, everywhere, it said Dream, Believe, Create, Succeed and I had no trouble dreaming or believing in my dreams coming true but what I’ve not done is CREATE opportunities for them to succeed.
What I have not been doing is taking Pattabhi Jois’ advice and putting what I want in my life into practice. Life is not about just sitting back and dreaming of what you want to do. You have to take action. You have to commit to a path if you want to have the outcome that you want. Even if you “fake it before you make it” as one of my favourite teachers used to say; the action may be in the form of visualisation or affirmations, or a physical practice, as I am doing with my yoga. But for you it might be a dietary change, or exercise or the way you interact with others. It might be taking steps towards opening your heart to a new love or being disciplined in saving for that trip you really want to go on.
I remember when I went to Greece in 1998 and we were standing at the broad stone steps of the Acropolis. It was quite a climb to the top. On the way down, I saw a bus load of older people with their walking frames and sticks looking longingly up at the magnificence of Ancient Greek architecture. They couldn’t get up to it. They had left their moment to see their dream of the acropolis too late. Now they never would. I learned in those moments that you shouldn’t wait to retire to live your dreams, but take steps now to move towards them. I made a vow on that day to not wait until I was old and infirm to live out my dreams of travelling. I have been very fortunate to be to a number of places, but with my new philosophy starting to heat up, I am one day closer to travelling to India, the home of Gandhi, the home of peace and the home of yoga. I feel like the whole world has opened up to me, simply because I’ve made a commitment to follow my dreams and take action towards them.
May you dream big, create opportunities and take actions towards your dreams today.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2015
Day 1: I lay in bed for a good 45 minutes on the Sunday morning that I decided to dedicate my life to yogic philosophy. My 10-year-old came in for a cuddle. The cat interrupted my practice by scratching my yoga mat and it was about four degrees outside. I had lots of reasons not to get out of bed not to make that commitment to yoga. But finally as I lay there and thought about the goals and dreams I had for how I wanted to live my life, I realised that what I want will not happen without some action from me. I needed to make a commitment to yoga if I wanted it to be a part of my life. So I did.
I have a list of things that I want to do and practicing meditation and yoga daily is one of them. There’s a saying that’s circulating around social media and it goes like this:
“Make a list of things that make you happy.
Make a list of things you do every day.
Compare the lists.
I wish I knew who said it so I can credit them with a link or thanks, but I can’t find anything. This philosophy is at the heart of my yogic commitment. I can’t complain that I never did anything if I don’t take daily action to make it a reality. I can’t complain about not finishing writing my novel if I don’t sit down every day and write it. I can’t complain about never becoming a yoga teacher if I don’t take steps towards it, I can’t complain about not studying in India if I haven’t made any steps towards it. I can’t complain about stress if I don’t take known actions that help it, like daily meditation. I can’t complain about not getting what I want done, if I continue doing what I’ve always done. I need to take action.
So, I got out of bed and started put on some music by Deva Premal (www.devapremalmiten.com) with some sun salutations before moving into my favourite poses, Warrior II, tree and standing poses, forward bend, and headstand and plank variations. I love yoga. I always have. It took me a long time to realise that not all yoga teachers are created equal and not all yoga styles are for me. Finding a teacher you both connect to and who speaks your ‘yoga speak’ is not always easy. There are some fantastic teachers out there; you just have to find the one that resonates with you. The saying ‘you have to kiss a lot of frogs’ is pertinent here! But once you find yoga teachers who work for you, it’s a beautiful relationship that you can both develop.
Only once in my life have I ever felt like getting up and walking out of a class. It was a beautiful young woman who I think was about 18, she had a lovely manner, soft voice and very capable. The problem was that the style she was teaching, Kundalini Yoga. In my 20-odd years of coming to and from yoga, this, I had never encountered. I have done plenty of work on myself through Kundalini dance and meditations to help raise Kundalini, but the breath-work in this style to control energy almost felt superfluous, flow of energy is something I find easy to do. Also as an asthmatic in the depths of winter, it was uncomfortable to say the least. I contemplated packing up and walking out, but I didn’t want to insult the instructor, but more so, I wanted to see if there were any other barriers within me that was blocking my full participation. Was it that I was craving more activity through the asanas (or poses) or to feel more control because I wasn’t sure what was going on? I’m not afraid of making noise in class and I’m often the one doing the heavy breathing and I’m definitely not shy to participate during the pranayama or sound practice at the end. So, I concluded that I would sit in meditation through the class instead of leaving and get to the heart of my desire to run. Ultimately, as someone who loves Iyengar yoga, I found it, well, not for me. Looking around the class, though, there were plenty of people who clearly did enjoy this style and that’s okay. It’s just not what I need at this point. Maybe another time, it will work for me, but not right now. I’m not saying never again and in-fact, it’s important that I have another go at it to just make sure, but when I go back I’ll need my puffer close by!
So, after my first day of commitment to my new path, I’m excited about what lays ahead. I’m committed to the yogic path and deepening my practice and that begins with a dedicated home practice and commitment to the yogic lifestyle. It also means that I will attend a variety of classes and build my knowledge of the various styles and how different people teach. I hope that someone will gift me $5000 so I can do an amazing course that I’ve found!! In the interim, I’m going to do some research and build up my knowledge about how I can not only build my collection of asanas and knowing their Sanskrit names, but also build my knowledge in the deeper philosophies behind yoga, the Eight Limbs, which ultimately is why I want to do the course, not to be a yoga teacher, but to deepen my own practice and commit to a yogic lifestyle. Yoga is more than just going to a class, it is truly about the lifestyle and I want that, I want to flow in that space all the time, not just once a week in a class. I’m not saying I won’t teach it, I’m open to all possibilities, but for me, I’m thirsty for knowledge and in the absence of cash, for now, I’m on my own to teach myself as much as I can.
Maybe you can join me on this journey.
©2015 Alyssa Curtayne