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Milestones: Tracking The Journey Through Life

I have been thinking about milestones recently, but what are they?

Long ago milestones assured travelers that they were on the right path or that they had arrived at a destination. They were often used to signify the centre of a town or a starting point of importance.

I see them as being definitions of where you are at and where you have come from. They can direct you in life and show you where you have come from and where you may end up.

Life has different milestones for everybody, different markers in life so to speak. Some people would consider these markers good or bad, but I don’t think they are either. They just are. They are turning points. Not necessarily pointing out the path but highlighting where a change will take place. Death, life, change…

I drifted through life for a long time, even when I was in college. I was lost and I never knew what I wanted to do with myself. Nevertheless completion was a milestone. It was a launching point for the rest of my life.

I put no thought into the course I took in college. It just happened to work out ok. I got lucky and it allowed me to leave Ireland during the recession and start into a career that brought me to where I am now.

Moving to Canada was the next major milestone. Having lived in Vancouver for the last eight years I have seen amazing things and met some of my best friends here. On the other hand, I sacrificed years with my family including the last five years of my mother’s life. Was it worth it? I do not know.

Death was another milestone. It is a difficult thing to speak to someone that you know will die in a matter of days. It’s funny how you still talk about the ordinary things. I am eternally grateful that I was with her for that last week. It is a shame she could not live to see me marry Theresa who she loved like a daughter. Nor did she get to meet my niece, here newest grandchild.

These milestones have marked my life but they have only shown me where to go in hindsight, in reflection. When we walk the road of life and come to these milestones, they may not show us where to go immediately. It is only in looking back we you will learn from them.

It is with this sentiment that I approach the next milestone of my life. Through sacrifice, loss, friendship and family, I do not see that path I need to take but I can see what is important. It is with this knowledge that I will embrace the next marker in life and welcome my child into the world.





Who Are We: A Search For Answers In Finding Our True Selves

I have written on this subject before, and I am no closer to understanding it now than I was then. Who is the real self beneath the shell of an exterior that we present to the rest of the world? There are so many different versions of us for so many different situations.

Is it the personality on social media? I think not. It is difficult, from a screen, to see through the words to the real person, the real meaning.

Is it the personality in work? The serious person in a meeting who has to stand up and speak in a room full of people? I think not. This is yet another facade we take on temporarily. I think the majority of us shed this second skin once we leave.

Is it the person in the pub having fun with our friends?

It is true that alcohol and a specific atmosphere can bring out honest, reflective thoughts and conversation and open people up in a way we don’t always see but this is temporary and there are more solid, dependable routes to bonding and healthier ways and situations in which we can be encouraged to open up to each other.

Is the real self the one whose mind has come to stillness like water settling in a pool, in a yoga class or during meditation?

This was the whole point of my earlier blog We’ve Got Soul. Meditation and Yoga are certainly, in my opinion gateways to the true self, the true personality but that does not necessarily mean that the meditating mind is the final product, the real you.

Is it the person who is with our friends and family? I think that surely this must be the closest thing to our real selves. If we cannot be ourselves with those we are closest to then how can we ever find our true selves?

It may be that it is all of the above. We are all made up of the different aspects of our day to day lives, defined by our actions. To quote Kevin Costner in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, “I’ve seen knights in armor panic at the first hint of battle. And I’ve seen the lowliest, unarmed squire pull a spear from his own body, to defend a dying horse. Nobility is not a birthright. It’s defined by one’s actions.”

The raw personality must surely be the personality, unearthed from deep down and shaped by ones actions in the world and interactions with people and the world around them. I like to think that the real self is the one deep down, the one we need to chip away at to find, like a sculpture. For me personally, I don’t know that person yet. The final product has not been unveiled.

I made this analogy in my previous blog. I think of it like the Statue of David by Michelangelo.

He believed that these figures were hidden away divinely within the rock. He was simply chiseling away the excess (the fluff) to get at the figure of David beneath, just like we chip away at ourselves in everyday life through meditation, care of our body, right action and right interaction with others or conversely, the opposite, through careless, frivolous behaviors, we pile on the fluff and pick up all the extra baggage that life offers us along the way until we are so heavily laden that we have no hope of ever knowing who we really are because we don’t have the dexterity or mobility to think.

So if we can drop everything and put down the burdens we carry (click here for my previous blog on carrying our burdens) and really start searching for ourselves, how will we finally know when we are there, when we have found the real self?

Will we ever know? Will we ever reach that final destination or is it always a work in progress as our lives, personalities and situations change over the years?

Would Michelangelo’s statue have been the same statue if it was sculpted at a different stage in his life?

My personality varies greatly from situation to situation, whether I am at a party with a group of people I know or a group of people I don’t know, whether I’m in work or at home, or even right now as I write this, I have a different personality in all these situations.

Is the real self a destination or a journey?

Take the statue of David for example, one may think that the final masterpiece was a destination, that the real statue was underneath, waiting to be unveiled and has stood unchanged since then. Not so, I argue, in this ever static state even a statue changes.

It changes, through light and shadow, it changes as the stone matures over time, it changes in a person’s mind, through opinion and reaction, it changes through perspective, from a small boy to an old woman, from a man ignorant of art, seeing it for the first time, to an experienced art teacher who has looked upon it hundreds of times, it changes through or minds.

For Michelangelo too, it was a journey. The process of sculpting David and the rigors he went through to create this great masterpiece. Michelangelo, like any human was a work in progress, a person journeying to find his true self.

Is there an ultimate, final self? Even in death, is that the final self? I think one has to take the entire life in totality. It must be weighed in conjunction with immeasurable aspects of our selves, like the mind, the thought, the personality, intentions. To Quote Robin Hood Prince of Thieves again, “there are no perfect people in the world, only perfect intentions.”

We are where we are in the present moment and we are who we are in the present moment. The real you is the person who you are right now. I went to see Guru Singh speak a few months back and he repeated the following statement over and over. “I am who I am, exactly who I am.” You have to accept who you are at different times in life. This is where you are at, but the great thing about the present moment is that it is the beginning. You life starts anew now and it always will. There is always the potential for a new beginning.

Does that mean there is more than one version of the true self? I struggle with this because I don’t think so. I think there are different possible versions of the true self and that the current self is always changing. It helps me to think of the true self and the current self as the same yet different. I mean that in the sense that those of are lucky enough to have found their true selves, those of who are enlightened will still see changes in their current selves. The mind or the personality will react to the world which surrounds it. One cannot predict what will happen to trigger a reaction, but the true self can temper and control that reaction of the current self like a sailor adjusting the rigging during rough seas.

We will always strive to refine and amplify, just like a sculpture trying to smooth out the edges but will we ever come to a state where the edges are smoothed. Maybe the rough edges are part of the masterpiece.







Personal Posture Development: Wheel

Since graduating from Semperviva 200-hour yoga teacher training I have been busy teaching twice a week and keeping up my own practice on average twice a week in the studio.

Now that the summer is coming to an end and life is moving slower, I hope to increase my personal practice to 3-4 times in the studio.

Why would I like to increase my studio time? There are many reasons;

  • Attending public classes provides inspiration for my classes
  • Develops my skills as a teacher
  • Introduces new postures or breathing exercises I have never done
  • It keeps my body strong and clears my mind
  • The social aspect of the class is great
  • The energy practicing with a class is different than practicing on your own, I like both

Each morning I do a simple 15-20min warm up routine to help get my body ready for the day ahead. I sit at a desk all day so the stretching in the morning really helps prevent lower back ache or stiffness.

Although I am happy with my routine of going to classes and doing my own self practice. There is a desire to work on postures that I have trouble with.

There are many postures that I could choose but for some reason I would like to start with Wheel.

The challenge for me with wheel is lifting my upper body into the position. I believe I need to work on my arm strength to help achieve this movement.

Over the next few months I plan on researching methods of how to gradually build up my strength and what techniques I should use to help me achieve Wheel.

My personal goal is to be able to get into wheel safely and more importantly get out of it safely by Christmas. I hope with practice over time the posture will come a little easier and I can feel the benefits from doing it.

That’s my posture goal for this year, hopefully I can post at Christmas a picture of me in wheel. For now, bridge is where I am at and that’s ok😉

Each year I am hoping to build on my postures, maybe next year I might try hand stands! OH, it makes me sweat just thinking about it!

If you have any advice on what exercises I should do I would love to know.

Thank you and have a great week,

Chat soon,

Theresa x