“You’re already that which you’re seeking. You’re already that which you’re longing for. You are the water and not the wave”. Thich Nhat Hanh
I’ve always been a spiritual seeker, longing for the peace and wholeness that I sensed was both within and around me and yet somehow seemed just beyond my grasp. In 1993, just after my first son Brendan was born, I was stretching at the end of an ordinary fitness class when I felt an indescribable sense of connectedness between my body, my mind and my breath. In the stillness of that moment, the word “yoga” was imprinted on my mind, and somehow felt in every cell of my body.
So began my journey with yoga, not just as a way to keep my body supple and healthy, but more as a spiritual practice that can awaken and transform us at the very core of our being. For over 20 years, this practice of yoga has seen me through the inevitable ups and downs of life: the hectic years of raising two busy boys from babes in arms to young adults, the hospitalization and healing of my youngest son Andrew, moves around the country, the inevitable aging and death of both my parents and my husbands parents, and all the small moments of both love and loss in between.
Yoga philosophy tells us “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” (and that teacher comes in many ways and forms). In 2011, just after my mother had passed away from ovarian cancer, I had the opportunity to attend a retreat entitled “Awakening the Heart” with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay). Having spent the last 3 months in palliative care with my mother, I needed time to simply be quiet and be with my feelings of sadness and loss. Towards the end of the retreat, I was sitting very close to Thay when I looked up and saw he was looking directly at me. In that timeless moment of gazing into this gentle monk’s eyes, I felt a deep sense of the love that is beyond boundaries of time and space. I saw the love that I already am perfectly reflected in those eyes of love and compassion, the love that we all are beyond the roles we play and the masks we wear.
Since that time I have been blessed to attend many retreats with Thay and the Plum Village sangha both in North America and at his practice centre in southern France. I have been learning the art of slowing down, of breathing and of just “being” so I can slowly unpeel the layers of who I am and who society expects me to be, to reveal the “true self” that yoga teaches and the “no self” that Buddhism teaches. It’s a long journey, and the challenge is always how to integrate it back into my daily life.
True teachers always point us back to the wholeness and love that’s already there. Thay does that for me and I try to do the same for my students, whether helping them find ease in their body in yoga postures, deep relaxation in Yoga Nidra, or simply connecting to breath. To me the practice of yoga is about making space, space in our bodies, space in our minds, space in our lives to notice what we’re usually too busy to notice, so we can connect to our own wisdom, our own inner teacher.
Thay gave me the spiritual name “Divine Oneness of the Heart” which speaks to the universal spirit of love that is woven through all our hearts. There was never any expectation of becoming Buddhist, only the freedom to share this love and teachings wherever I am, whoever I’m with. As both a yoga teacher and an ordained lay minister in the Community of Christ, I feel a calling to build bridges of understanding between people of all faiths, and to create communities that can move beyond the walls of traditional religion to a place of understanding and oneness.
While I teach from my own life experience, I am registered with Yoga Alliance and have been blessed to study and train with the following teachers:
- 200 hour Teacher Training with Mary-Jo Fetterly and Jennifer Steed
- Ashtanga Teacher Training with David Swenson
- Thai Yoga Massage Certification Kam Thye Chow, Lotus Palm
- Yoga Nidra Teacher Training with Richard Millar
- Yoga of the Heart Training with Nischala Joy Devi
- Heart Yoga Training with Karuna Erickson
- Yoga Thrive for Cancer Survivors with Susi Hately, University of Calgary
- Yoga Therapy Training, Mount Royal University, Calgary
“When I began yoga over 20 years ago, I had no idea that it would become my lifelong journey and calling. My yoga and meditation practice allows me to respond from a much calmer and centered space (most of the time!). Yoga has taught me to be present and to value the wisdom of the body and the many lessons it holds. As my practice has deepened, so has my awareness of the sacredness of everyday life. My practice has expanded to include so much more than just getting on my mat: a walk in the coulees, a beautiful sunset, watching my sons grow up. It is a journey that never ends. As I continue to bring a childlike sense of curiosity to both my yoga practice and life, it becomes wisdom in action, spirit in motion!”
With gratitude to the many incredible teachers who have inspired me on my path, to Thich Nhat Hanh for awakening my heart, to my husband and life partner (Doug) who teaches me what true love and acceptance is, and to my “skateboarder” sons, Brendan and Andrew who teach me how to “really live in the moment”.
Peace and light to all,