On Village-Making and Asking for Help

On Village-Making and Asking for Help

This being human is tough stuff and one of the acute losses we all feel is that of meaningful friendship and community. That which our great, great ancestors took for certain: when a wounding befalls one of us, we are all implicated. And so we lean in to support those in pain with our humble gifts of empathy and presence. We shoulder our unbearable questions together and we honour with ritual the devastating requirements and initiations that this being alive asks of us. But in the impoverished condition of modern culture, we are taught to feel ashamed of our weakness and to deny our own suffering – nevermind share its burden. We’ve made a hedging around the very places we should be depending upon each other. We’ve privatised pain. And then it’s hard to reach out. It’s hard to be seen with your messy lostness,  exhaustion and overwhelm as you stumble through the complexities of life. But how else can someone become trustworthy unless you allow them to share in your hardship? How can we form the village we ache for unless we allow ourselves to wrestle with these things together? If you are well, consider being the medicine for someone else’s...
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Night Raptures

Night Raptures

Millions of people around the world report awakening around 3 a.m. for no reason. For many, it is a frustrating interruption in an otherwise restful sleep. But what if you could learn to release resistance to these mysterious awakenings? What if the night has secrets to whisper to you? What if that is the magic hour in which to move “back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,” as Rumi writes. Indeed, my most powerful teachings have come through at that time, many of which I might have missed had I kept sleeping. I call them Night Raptures. Sometimes difficult to explain, these experiences are like catching glimpses into the perfection of everything. For those brief moments when the ego is retired from guard, we are given sudden access to the allness – a pure and sensual passion for everything just as it is. Like a giant parade, organized in its chaos, in which every last one of us is celebrating this gift of being alive. Don’t go back to...
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My Energy is a Precious Resource

My Energy is a Precious Resource

Now on the threshold of Spring, it is time to burn off the winter fog and get things moving again. Like a bear coming out of hibernation, I am craving fresh foods, hankering for strong yoga and eager to participate in the many activities I love. But in order to find the energy to do all of that, I am noticing my need to commit strong boundaries around those places where I’m not using my energy mindfully. What fuels you? What drains you? So the other day I created two lists with each of these questions as my headings. On the Fueling side, I wrote things like connecting, yoga, nature, substance, creative expression, good food &  ritual. On the Draining side, I wrote exertion, isolation, too much media and over-extending myself. I was amazed to discover that there was a great deal of crossover between the two lists. For instance, it fuels me to connect with others, but drains me to lack solitude.  It fuels me to practice yoga, but drains me to push through my physical limitations.  It fuels me to read/watch authentic media, but if it starts crowding out my own knowing, it drains me. It fuels me to do ‘karma work,’ but drains me to undervalue myself. You get...
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Dreamspeak: Healing on the Astral

Dreamspeak: Healing on the Astral

“Hello Toko-pa: A few years ago, I was dating a woman who deceived me about having another lover on the side. When I found out, I was very angry. She brushed it off and made excuses for her deception. I held a grudge until recently, after having my only dream about her. The only thing I remember was her mouth. The rest of her face was fuzzy. Her lips were scarlet red, painted with lipstick — something she never uses in real life. Her lips quivered, pouted and mouthed the words, “I AM sorry for what I did. I AM sorry.” Since this dream, I’ve felt better and no longer have any animosity towards her. While I don’t feel she can ever be a trusted friend, something has healed through this vivid dream. I’m curious to hear what you think about the healing aspect of dreams. I enjoy your column a great deal, Greg.” Dear Greg: Thank you for sharing your potent story and dream with us. Like you, most of us want to clear conflict from our lives but circumstances don’t always cooperate. Sometimes pride and regret keep us from taking responsibility, other times one of us is readier than the other to move on, and occasionally our impasses are a problem of too much...
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Dreamspeak: Participation Mystique

Dreamspeak: Participation Mystique

“I’ve been dreaming my ex’s girlfriend keeps trying to befriend me. In the dreams I just ignore her, but she’s following me around. When I first met her 3 years ago, she was a ‘normal’ girl, in capris with very little makeup, but about 2 years ago she got breast implants, a few tattoos and changed her wardrobe to be more of a rocker like my ex, who is a musician. She is completely re-vamped and still doesn’t seem to have his attention.” Have you ever had the experience of barely knowing someone yet feeling an immediate emotional attraction to them? Maybe you find yourself fantasizing over them so much that you’ve begun to neglect work and sleep…but how can you resist? The object of your affection possesses a beauty, ability, lifestyle, or authority that you find intoxicating and enviable. You are caught in the grip of your admiration and, even if you wanted to, there’s no turning back. Some of us romantics call it falling in love; others know it by the sober name of projection. Not one of us is immune to its mystical pull which draws us blindly, sometimes destructively, into each others arms. Eagerly, we place our psychic gold into the lover’s...
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Bleed Willingly – A Fresh View of Depression

Bleed Willingly – A Fresh View of Depression

“My mother slept with an axe under her pillow,” one woman recounts in a plaintive voice, “We lived in terror that my father would return to murder us in the night. For some reason, I don’t know why, but I was always expected to be happy.” Inside a recent video installation at the Power Plant Gallery in Toronto, Venezuelan artist Javier Téllez has installed two facing screens at opposite ends of a long, dark room. While Carl Dreyer’s 1928 silent masterpiece La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc plays on one screen, intimate interviews with twelve women living inside Rozelle Hospital, a mental institution in Australia, play on the other. Jeanne d’Arc, whose claim to divine revelation got her burnt at the stake in 1431, is shown on the left enduring a brutal inquisition by the Church. On the right, one of the youngest Rozelle women tells of being committed for being too expressive in class. Looking from left to right, from Jeanne’s torture to the heartbreaking stories of the locked-up women, a strong case is made for their relationship. Six centuries later, very little has changed. According to a recent study by the University of Toronto, prescriptions for...
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