Lead the Change ~

When I originally saw this picture on Facebook I had to share it with all my friends because I loved the quote. I googled The African Yoga Project, which I wrote about yesterday on our Sunday Svaha Spirit Series if you want to be inspired! I have always wanted to join a Yoga class but never seem to find the time, now I plan on making the time because of this project!

Inner Peace and Well-being are what we all strive for, isn’t it? No matter where you live or what you do, race, religion, gender, marital status, we could all benefit from being balanced internally! From within is where our lives are guided…in my opinion.

“What is your gift and are you giving it away?” Everyday we have opportunities to share what we have with those around us. Giving ~ we ‘have’ to give, it’s contagious and changes the energy that surrounds not only the one who gives but the one who receives as well. It creates a ripple effect, an energy that radiates good feelings. I am not just referring to the giving of material items.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Your gift is as unique as you are. An Artist for example has the gift of creativity, he is able to use his imagination or simply recreate what his eyes see before him. A writers strings the perfect combination of words together that can inspire, captivate, seduce, provoke thought, create change or simply allow us to get lost for a moment in time. A Doctor gives the gift of life or helps us understand when it’s taken away. The Elderly give the gift of life experience to younger generations. Children give the gift of pure naivety we all love and miss as we mature. Each of us is born into this world with a gift worthy of giving, whether it be a story, life experience, support, advice, opinion, love or a simple hug.

Give a smile. Touch someones heart with a kind gesture. Compliment a stranger and see what happens. Encourage someone who appears to be struggling. A few kind words has a way of giving someone the inspiration to go the distance when they didn’t think they could. Giving ones self is so easy and basic.

When you feel balanced internally life flows more naturally. Inner peace and well being starts from within, sometimes it can’t be seen but it can be felt by those around you by the energy you radiate. Yoga is a great start in the right direction!

Lead the Change!

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Svaha Spirit Series ~ Oh My God

I don’t know about you, but this kind of docu-film is right up my alley.   I love exploring the big questions.  I will be getting myself a copy for sure.

About the film:
In every corner of the world, there’s one question that can never be definitively answered, yet stirs up equal parts passion, curiosity, self-reflection and often wild imagination: “What is God?” Filmmaker Peter Rodger explores this profound, age-old query in the provocative non-fiction feature Oh My God. This visual odyssey travels the globe with a revealing lens examining the idea of God through the minds and eyes of various religions and cultures, everyday people, spiritual leaders and celebrities. His goal: to give the viewer the personal, visceral experience of some kind of reasonable, meaningful definition of one of the most used—some might say overused—words in most every language.

Rodger’s quest takes him from the United States to Africa, from the Middle East to the Far East, where such fundamental issues as: “Did God create man or did man create God?”, “Is there one God for all religions?”, and “If God exists, why does He allow so much suffering?” are explored in candid discussions with the various Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and even atheists the filmmaker meets along the way.

“I was frustrated with the childish schoolyard mentality that permeates this world—I call it the ‘My God Is Greater Than Your God’ syndrome—where you have grown men flying airplanes into buildings shouting ‘God is Great’—where you have the leader of the free world telling the BBC in 2003 that he invaded Iraq because God told him to—where you have the constitution of a country (Iran) that dictates that its supreme leader is God’s representative on earth—where you have young men and women blowing themselves up (and innocent others) to buy a place into heaven. None of these concepts made any sense to me. Does it matter what I believe? Does it matter what you believe? And what is this entity that goes by the name of God, that seems to bring about so much friction, hurt and pain? So I decided to go around the world and ask people what they think.

“Over a three-year period I traveled across 23 countries asking children, religious leaders, celebrities, fanatics and the common Man what God means to them. Along the way I experienced an incredible array of faith expressions and had no small number of unforgettable adventures. The film is a result of this journey. It is not about religion per se; it is about what God means to people throughout our human family. I needed to explore and discover for myself whether religion and religious people were the cause of all the world’s woes. And, as a person who wrestles with faith, I needed to determine whether God created man or man created God.”

My favourite quote from what I’ve seen so far:

“If you put Buddha, Jesus Christ, Socrates, Shakespeare, Arjuna, and Krishna at a dinner table together, I can’t see them having any argument.”Hugh Jackman

Now that I believe!

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The Whole Journey, Life Itself ~

This post is for Rick, one of our much appreciated regular Tara followers! Rick continues to use his voice by giving us his male point of view and we appreciate it. He’s very passionate about life and the meaning behind it. He asked me on my bio page to tackle the topic, The Whole Journey, Life Itself. At first I was overwhelmed at just the thought of having to put down my view because it felt so vast a subject, bigger than me! But when a seed is planted and time passes, something eventually starts to grow! When I run I process all the little things that have been slotted in my subconscious, this was one of them. Here goes…

The Whole Journey, Life Itself ~

I think that at some point in every human beings life the thought or contemplation of what the purpose of life is, enters our mind. Why are we here? What happens when we leave our bodies? Do we believe in angels, the devil, guides, after-life or reincarnation? Nobody really knows for sure why we’re here, or where we go after-life, but we can all speculate on what we think happens. Religious beliefs are a personal choice. Everybody has unique ways of supporting their religion or spiritual beliefs. Regardless of what you believe or wish to believe, you can’t be guaranteed something that you have not experienced yourself. I suppose that is why it’s called faith. Regardless of who your God or Source is, if you have faith in something, it somehow makes the time here on earth more meaningful.

I personally think that the whole journey and life itself all comes down to what we accomplish while we are here. It’s about the time between A, birth, and B, death. It’s the dash that is between your birth, for me 1963 to your death that counts. It’s not about what materialistic items you can accumulate along the way, how big your house is or what your job is, it’s about knowledge. It’s about making a difference, enrich the lives of those you encounter while on your chosen path. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a teacher helping educate children, building movie sets, cleaning houses or a policemen keeping us safe, as long as you are doing something each day to contribute to the world we live in. What matters is that whatever you are doing, you do the best you can.Whether your wealthy or penniless, you are able to make a difference.

Each soul is here to learn something unique to them, each having a different journey in life. I do believe we are all connected, an energy, where this energy originated from, I am still unsure. I like to believe that there is more purpose to life than being human or I simply don’t see the point of living a one time only existence. It’s about knowledge and sharing that knowledge with those also seeking it. Sometimes I wonder if I am on the right path and then simply ask myself if I had nothing, absolutely nothing but my friends and family, would my path change? The answer is no, I would be doing just what I am now, trying to inspire, gain knowledge, enrich the lives of those around me and maintain my moral fibre. Who I am will not change regardless of my doings. If being here on earth for this one life is it, then we better get started on making that difference so that future generations can also have the opportunity to enjoy what life has to offer. We all have a conscience inside somewhere, we just need to experience doing the right thing to make us aware of how strong it can be.

So for me Rick, The Whole Journey, Life Itself is all about knowledge and doings.

And thanks for planting that seed!

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Charter for Compassion

Bonnie Johnson's PostI hinted on our last Sunday team post that “compassion” has been coming up a lot for me lately.  The reason is because about a week and a half ago I discovered Karen Armstrong on TED.com.

Karen ArmstrongKaren Armstrong is a British author of numerous works on comparative religion, who first rose to prominence with her highly successful A History of God.  A former Catholic nun, she asserts that “All the great traditions are saying the same thing in much the same way, despite their surface differences.”  They each have in common, she says, an emphasis upon the overriding importance of compassion, as expressed by way of the Golden Rule:  Do not do to others what you would not have done to you.

On February 28, 2008 Karen Armstrong won the TED Prize and made a wish:  “I wish that you would help with the creation, launch and propagation of a charter for compassion, crafted by a group of inspirational thinkers from the three Abrahamic traditions of Christianity, Judeaism and Islam based on the fundamental principle of the Golden Rule”.   Since that day, thousands of people have contributed to the process.

Some local to us here in BC, may remember that on September 27, 2009 Karen participated in a session on compassion in action at the Vancouver Peace Summit with the Dalai Lama and many Nobel Laureates.

And finally on November 12, 2009 the Charter for Compassion was launched.  A call to bring the world together…

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

Wow.  And there you have it.  The charter is precisely and perfectly stated.  Compassion really is the common thread that runs through all of humanity and every religious, ethical and spiritual tradition.  Now it’s up to each of us to affirm the charter.  I have already affirmed it myself on the website below.  Charter for CompassionVisit charterforcompassion.org to affirm the charter for yourself if you believe in these words.  If we could all just believe in and act with this one common thread – compassion…

I’m holding on to another common thread – hope.

“A spiritual moment is when the boundaries of your ego dissolve. You feel interconnected to everything around you… You feel you are in the complete presence of love.”  -Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

“Compassion, this is the word of which everyone has to remind themselves. Throughout the centuries, humans were one of the most cruel, harsh animals on the Earth. There was time when they spilled blood without a reason. There was a time when a small gunfire drove many countries to the war. There was time when millions of innocent souls died by a single press of button. We overcame every single problems that we faced. But we are having greater conflict ahead. Now, it is time to make some changes with care, kindness and motivation. Compassion, this is what we need.”  – Ho June Chun, Agnostic/Athiest, Afghanistan

“This compassionate feeling is what drives us to act and it is in acting that we are free. We may not be able to measure the results of our individual action but as a group we shall surely be able to help humanity and in helping humanity we are also helping ourselves and providing for a sustainable future.”  -Chandrabhan Sharma, Hindu, Trinidad and Tobago

“As technology brings us closer to one another it becomes more obvious that compassion as a catalyst for exercising love is the single most important characteristic to be nurtured by any society. It is the trait of harmonious coexistence, preventing and stopping war and bloodshed, helping the poor and broken, mending dispute and also spiritual insight. It is the responsibility of all in society who work with shaping people to promote and strengthen compassion and love in one another, to encourage greater understanding and tolerance and to praise helpful and unselfish acts of love.”  -Carsten Nørgaard, Christian, Denmark


Bonnie

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Spiritual Journey~

TracyIf you decided to go on a “Spiritual Journey” where would you go and what would you do?


“Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path… exactly where you are meant to be right now… And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love.”
Caroline Adams

Spirituality has long been associated with religion, deities, the supernatural, and an afterlife.  Many equate spirituality with religion, but the two are separate entities, religion being one way man experiences spirituality.  Spirituality may include introspection, and the development of an individuals inner life through practices such as meditation, prayer and contemplation.

Spiritual Journey’s can change and enrich your life.  Whether you ride your motorcycle down to Monument Valley or Hike in the Himalayan Mountains a spiritual journey is a very personal exploration of ones self.  We usually embark on such quests when we are aware that our spirituality need attention.  It can be described as an “Aha Moment” even.  It’s when you venture out of your comfort zone and look inward for answers to questions we all have.  “What is my purpose or path in life?”

If I were to go on a ‘Spiritual Journey’ I would pick one of two.  I would love to spend time with Buddhist Monks to learn about Meditation, Intention and Karma and I would also like to learn about Kabbalah. I have always believed that meditation is a huge part of being spiritual and can calm our souls and shed light on issues we all have.  Meditation means awareness.  “Watching your breath” is meditation; listening to the birds is meditation.   As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation.  Meditation is not a technique but a way of life.  Meditation means ‘a cessation of the thought process’.  By meditating you are able to let go of your physical self and get in tune with your metaphysical side.  That is the Spiritual Journey I would like to embark on!

Post Insert Jacquie When I was in my twenties I had small kids that needed to be taken care of and the journey I was on was one of survival.  Mine and theirs.  I believed it was my sacred duty to make sure these young souls felt safe, secure and loved.  Now that I’m no longer necessary in quite the same way, I’ve felt the need to find other  ways to feel complete.  I’ve decided for me that means reaching beyond my comfort zone, past established boundaries and out into the community I share with my global neighbours.

I could answer this question metaphysically, but what I really think Tracy is asking in this post is for a literal description of where I want my spiritual journey to begin, or take shape.  I’ve actually been looking into a place in the Kootenays, about 9 hours from Vancouver near Nelson, BC, called Yasodhara Ashram.  I’ve never been anywhere near this area but I’ve heard of it’s natural beauty and peaceful majesty.  Yasodhara offers yoga, meditation and spiritual guidance for beginners like me all the way up to advanced practitioners.  I would love to spend a week or two by myself totally immersed in the everyday Ashram comings and goings and at the complete mercy of the program.  I would arrive with an open mind and heart and actively seek enlightenment or whatever came my way.   My spiritual journey is about enriching my life with experience and knowledge and I know a stay at the Ashram will only begin to heighten my awareness of all the work I have yet to do, but it’s a good start.   Think of it like an all-inclusive for the spiritual cherry-picker.  It may take several pilgrimages to find what works for you, but each attempt brings you closer to your goal.  Keeping an open mind is key.

Bonnie Johnson's Post

There are many places in the world that are considered “holy” or “spiritual” places to visit.  Places like Jerusalem, Tibet, Machu Picchu, etc.  Eckhart Tolle, who wrote “A New Earth” and “The Power of Now” has said he felt that the west coast of North America and specifically around Vancouver, BC had a strong positive energy which he was drawn to in order to write about his own spiritual journey.  I don’t doubt this.  I have been in different places in the world that seem to awaken something deep within me.  But a true spiritual journey is really about going within your Self.  I don’t think it matters as much about the ground beneath your feet as it does about the degree in which you can tune in to your Source (God/Spirit/Universe/insert whichever label you are comfortable with).

I believe a true spiritual journey is one that inspires you to connect with your own spirit.  I have felt that way when sitting on a flat rock beside a babbling creek in North Vancouver, while floating in a canoe in an underground river deep inside a cave in New Zealand, while looking out at the ocean on a beach in Australia, while exploring our beautiful British Columbian outdoors, and even while watching a spider working on its web in my own yard.  If a place inspires and stirs your soul then it is worth a journey to.  It may be its beauty, its energy or simply a memory it stirs up for you.  Wherever that is for you I hope you are able to go there often.

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Here’s One Thing You Probably Don’t Know About Me

Bonnie Johnson's Post

Bonnie’s Take~

Apparently my partners are struggling to come up with something to write for this post.  I, on the other hand, have a number of options to go with.  Hmmm.  I wonder what that says about me.

I’ve decided to share my fire walking experience.  Yes, that’s right, I am one of those freaks who willingly walked on white hot coals for about 20 feet.  Why would anyone even want to do that you ask?  It began for me when I decided to enter a martial arts contest and I really wanted to win.  I was training with a variety of people for this particular bout.  One of the guys I trained with told me that if I went to the “fire walking” course and successfully walked on the hot coals I would be guaranteed to win my bout.  He said that once you have accomplished that feat there is nothing you feel you cannot do.  It’s a huge boost to your confidence.

I was just fascinated by the thought of learning to control my mind to the point that I could actually be able to have my physical body perform this amazing act.  I signed up for the full day course.  It was many years ago now but I remember that I enjoyed the experience immensely.  Looking back on my notes I wrote 3 things that I hoped to accomplish that day:   1.  Build confidence   2.  Overcome Fears   3.  Become the Best I Can Be In Any Endeavor.   I also see in my notes that it was important to me to prove to my young son that anyone can accomplish whatever they put their mind to.

I remember the main focus of the day was to obtain a peak state of energy.  I did, and at the end of the course the coals were white hot and waiting for us to prove we could “walk the walk”.  When it was my turn to step on to the coals I hesitated with doubt for a moment.  My mind was screaming “are you crazy!?”  So I jumped off.  Disappointed that I had failed I suddenly thought “NO! You can do this!”  I stepped back on with determination like I’d never known before and slowly walked the entire 20 feet.  When it was over I put my socks and shoes back on without looking at the soles of my feet.  I drove the 2 hour long drive home wondering if I had actually really done this crazy act.  Were my soles burnt and blistered?  When I got home I gingerly took off my shoes and socks and examined my feet.  Not a blister, not a mark.  I had done it!  I felt like I was invincible.  A few days later I had my martial arts contest and won my division.  The power of the mind is an amazing thing.

TracyTracy’s Two Cents~

I have to admit this topic was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  Although I am a very private person when it comes to how I spend my time, I think I am also a very open person when it comes to sharing my life through thought and opinion especially now with Tara Cronica.

The one subject that I have yet to address is my religious beliefs.  I think this is one of the very few things people don’t know about me.  I would describe myself as a very Spiritual person.  I find interesting aspects of many different religions such as Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, African Traditional Religion, Wiccan Beliefs to name a few.  I believe in life after death, reincarnation.  I believe in Karma.  I believe we all come from an energy source.  We all have a destiny or life path that we follow to learn the lessons that we as individual souls need to learn in our time here on earth.  I believe we meet for a reason.

Religion is such a wide topic to cover which is why I have yet to explore it here on Tara Cronica.  I try to live by ‘The Golden Rule’  “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them  Do Unto You”.  But I am far from perfect.  It’s pretty basic really.  I believe it doesn’t matter what religion you follow, whether it be one or many, but that you are living your life authentically being aware of others and being true to self.  I look forward to writing a more in depth post of what I specifically like about different religions or religious beliefs that I personally find interesting.   Great topic Bonnie it really got my mind thinking.  How about you Jake?

post-pic-4-11Jacquie’s response~

In 1981 I auditioned for my first ever film role and landed it after about 5 call backs.   I eventually turned the part down because it called for a little bit of nudity and at 16 I was slightly uncomfortable with that.  The movie starred Diane Lane and the Sex Pistols as well as a very young Laura Dern.  It was released on the indie and festival circuit as Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains and has enjoyed a cult following ever since, I’ve been told.  Could’ve been my big break.  Apparently Daryl Hannah was originally offered my role but she turned it down as well, so I’m in good company.

I watched it for the first time last night on some cable channel and I also TiVoed it in case one of my kids is interested to see what their mom might have been if she’d had the guts to pursue her dreams instead of worrying what the rest of the world would think.   I have to laugh it’s so bad!  Courtney Love bad!  Train wreck bad.  So bad it’s good… in an ‘I’m-having-a-mid-life-crisis-why-can’t-I-turn-back-the-hands-of-time’ kinda way.   If I had a do-over I’d take it.  And now you know…

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