Tag: Reflections

How a Guru can Change Your Life

In western cultures the concept of a ‘guru’ is unfamiliar to most people, let alone experiencing the guidance and life changes you receive from one.

The word ‘guru’ is Sanskrit for a teacher that dispels darkness or ignorance and bestows upon us light and truth. The teacher or guru does this by having obtained the universal truth and knowledge themselves, is living this truth and has made a pact to dedicate their lives to passing on this knowledge

A Guru does not voice their own opinion, rather they are speaking ancient Vedic wisdom passed on to them by a line of teachers from their lineage. A true guru will always honour and acknowledge their teachers before speaking the truth. They are also quite proficient in sanskrit (the language of the vedas) and able to quote the texts they refer to. They are non-coversive and only share their knowledge with those who ask. They see you as your true self and are dedicated to bestowing you with light so you remember who you really are, why you are here and where you are going.

Let me first say in the past I had never been a fan of or really understood what a guru was. I had friends who had a picture of their guru on their meditation table and it did not make sense to me how only one person could know the ultimate truth of why we are here. I was very adamant that when I found the truth it would be spoken by more than one person and most importantly was backed up by ancient manuscripts.

 

My lifelong hunger of needing to know ‘why we are here?’ and ‘where we are going?’ led me all across the world in search of answers. From praying in Tibetan Buddhist Monastaries deep in the Himalayas, stopping in awe when hearing the Islamic call to prayer in Egypt, attending a Christian beach camp in Australia as a child, celebrating Jewish high holidays in Canadian synagogues, reading every new age book possible and living in an ashram on an Indian beach.

Even through all those experiences, I never found the answers to my burning questions, until I quite unexpectedly met my guru Jeffrey Armstrong (Kavindra Rishi) right here in Vancouver, Canada! It was then that I realized that as a guru Jeffrey was not teaching people his opinion rather it is ancient knowledge backed up by a whole Vedic library that has been preserved in the perfect language of Sanskrit for thousands of years.

 

Jeffrey and I at a retreat

 

The knowledge and humility of Jeffrey is beyond words. He embodies the definition and traits of a guru described above. He lives and breathes the Vedic knowledge every hour of the day and has dedicated his life to pass on this ancient knowledge to bring light into our lives. Jeffrey not only enlightens you with valuable information such as why we are here, how the planet works and where we go next, he also gives you tools to get through life. Tools to enjoy life much better, achieve your goals and cause the least amount of harm to others and the planet.

 

Don’t miss this rare chance  beginning March 1 – 15, 2013 to attend Once Upon a Time in India where Jeffrey Armstrong will guide you on a spiritual journey to the soul of India’s historic culture. This is a rare lifetime opportunity for you to gain valuable insights for your life journey. Contact Sacred Earth Journeys to book your space today.

Jeffrey Armstrong’s teachings are also available online at http://www.jeffreyarmstrong.com

By Kelly Weiss

Merry Christmas

In Alain de Botton’s new book he talks about the three central themes of Christmas time that pre-date Christianity: community, festivity and renewal.(1) While we all interpret and celebrate this holiday in our own way, most of us will have an opportunity to gather with loved ones, taking a break from our usual routines.
How can we make this time meaningful? How we can avoid the traditional holiday stresses and focus on what is important? And how can we use this time to reconnect with ourselves and our community? Revisiting these three pre-Christian ideas can help us take a step back and create our own meaningful interpretations of Christmas.
Community
There has been much talk this year on social network sites of buying gifts from local artisans rather than the big retailers. It’s not too late to pick up some last minute gifts from your local stores, crafter friends, or to make your own gifts with recycled or local materials. There are also many other ways to bring a sense of community to this period: donate to your favourite charity or discover a new worthy cause; volunteer your time over Christmas; acknowledge those who provide a service to you throughout the year with a card or a simple thank you.
Festivity
When it’s dark and cold outside, being festive can raise our spirits and help us experience optimism, good health and happiness. Make the most of this opportunity to gather with those you love, and simply enjoy good company. And, most important of all, don’t let false expectations of what this festive period should be like to detract from the simple pleasures – choose to invite friends or family over and make a powerful choice to serve a simple dish; gifts do not need to look as if they were plucked directly from the Harrods window display. Aim to enjoy the process just as much – if not more – than the final product: focus on the smells, colours and textures of those vegetables as you chop, slice, peel them; inhale their aromas as they roast purposefully in your oven; and experience the joy of watching your loved ones taste and savour them.
Renewal
Let your to-do list get lost under the gift wrap and make the choice to rest over the next week and a half. By resting you will be able to better take on the challenges that await you in 2013. Renewal doesn’t have to mean discarding your old self, but it can be an opportunity to bring focus to areas in your life you’d like to change. It’s a good time to start thinking about and pre-planning your activities and journeys in 2013, be they metaphorical or physical. Browsing travel websites or reading about wellness retreats can help you visualize how you want to invest your time next year. Sacred Earth Journeys is one of the ideal places to start your ruminations.
Wishing you all a very peaceful, re-energizing, intentional Christmas.

(1) Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion, 2012

~ Kim Bridgett

Let the Light Shine

November and December can be difficult months. From Remembrance Day, through Diwali and the anticipation of Holiday festivities, these celebrations of memory and light can bring with them a sadness, a sense of loss for loved ones who are no longer with us. It is a time of year when the dark and light can appear to compete, where we feel pulled in many directions, with unexpected sombre emotions surfacing during otherwise joyful events.
 
Diwali Light. Photo: Sabari Girisan M (CC-BY-SA-3.0)
 

Why is it we can feel overwhelmed by our emotions at this particular time of year? Is our fascination with illumination purely a practical response to the shorter daylight hours or is there something more spiritual, more profound at play?  How can we all shine a little brighter this year as the Holiday season approaches?

Jeffrey Armstrong in his class on Diwali: Festival of Lights, Vedic Celebrations Illuminated reminds us that the ritual of “relighting the lamp when it starts to get dark is a metaphor for the relighting of ourselves, for the trimming of the wick inside of us”. Our spiritual bodies may be self-luminous, he says, but our bodies here on earth are often covered in matter, in shadows, in “gu” (hence a “guru” being someone who has the power to disperse darkness). Jeffrey also suggests that a part of eastern wisdom that has been lost in western civilization can explain why it is that around this time of year our thoughts turn to gathering together with family: “now and further on as this darkness increases people will cluster together inside of an environment, and so on another level what’s happening is your ancestors are available and in that darkness those who are stuck within matter also come out”.
Our heightened emotions at this time of year, then, can be seen as our own “ghosts and goblins” and also the ghosts of our departed ancestors who aren’t at rest: “their spirits are moving and the spirits of our ancestors are real because their souls are eternal, but sometimes your ancestors are stuck in the gu because of things they did. You’re their only hope because your body is the result of what they did so your dream code is the radio they know how to broadcast on because your ancestors had similar radios.”
Deepawali Festival. Photo: Ashish Kanitkar (CC-BY-SA-2.0)


The relighting of a candle for Diwali or the gathering together of loved ones for Holiday celebrations are important rituals. Coming together helps us remember how alike we all are, how connected we are, how “covered in gu” we are, and when we recognize these truths, forgiveness naturally follows, for ourselves and for others – in all their forms. Simply bringing awareness to our true needs to forgive and gather together at this time of year (as opposed to the “wants” of the material world) can help our own light to shine and the gu to dissipate. In this way, we are tending our own wicks. As the poet Richard Howard says, “the corridor leading into the conscious life seems to me the right tunnel to find light at the end of.”(1)

However you interpret the emotions that surface over the coming weeks, taking time to accept them can be an important part of your personal journey. To help with this, you could try lighting a candle for 5 minutes every day, sitting silently with the flame, inviting the contrasting emotions in and watching them as they drift away, focusing on what is truly needed in your life, and creating more space within yourself and the world for light, warmth and joy.
To listen to Jeffrey’s talk in full, visit his website and navigate to the downloads section: http://www.jeffreyarmstrong.com/category/store-free. Find out more about how you can hear Jeffrey impart his wisdom first-hand on a profoundly inspiring journey to India that he will lead in March 2013 by visiting http://sacredearthjourneys.ca/current-tours/once-upon-a-time-in-india/tour-description.
(1) Richard Howard quote taken from an interview with J.D. McClatchy in the Paris Review, “The Art of Poetry No. 86”.

~ Kim Bridgett

 

Why embark on a journey of self-discovery as a youth?

 
What if we all had the opportunity to start discovering who we truly were when we were teenagers? What if we took the time to find our true nature, transcend fears and learn important life skills such as communication, self-acceptance, building trust and being autonomous when we were teens? How much different would our 20s and 30s be? Very different I’m sure. Maybe our 20s would become like our 30s where we are more confident and sure of who we are and in our 30s we will were equipped with tools to live a more fulfilling life and interact harmoniously with others.

Think back to when you were a teenager. Did you have a mentor in your life? Was there someone that guided you to be your true self and hear your inner voice? From my personal experience this presence was mostly absent or stubbornly ignored as it came from my father. Unfortunately as much good advice as our parents may have had for us or as parents we may have for our kids, we/they may not be ready to listen. Sometimes it takes a third party for this message to stick.

Personally, most of my life learning’s came from world travel over a period of 9 years in my 20s and dramatic experiences such as a bike vs car accident. What I’ve also learn from all the experiences besides who I truly am, how to be autonomous and how to treat others is it’s ok to make mistakes and grow and we should not feel bad about ourselves or judge others for doing so.  Wouldn’t it be great if your children could learn this too without going through so much pain and making so many mistakes first?

Thanks to personal growth and transformational programs like Teen Journey, teenagers now have this amazing opportunity to start their journey of self- discovery a little earlier and with proper guidance. Sure it may not be possible to discover everything in the space of a week, these skills take years to build but wouldn’t it be a great start for youth. The program also offers monthly gatherings to facilitate further support and guidance. The final outcome may also inspire young people to continue on the path of self-discovery and personal growth themselves. Maybe it would also prevent them from some inevitable pain and confusion if they were more equipped with valuable knowledge. These programs teach kids skills that school really should teach us if the education system was set up in an ideal way.  So if you have teenagers or know any that would benefit from a program like this I encourage you to play your part in changing their lives for the better.

For more information about Teen Journey click here.

Check out the Teen Journey brochure.

Written by Kelly Weiss

A Sacred Time

With the holiday season in full gear, there is much activity going on these days. As we busy ourselves with organizing, shopping, gathering and celebrating, we often lose sight of the sacred in these times. Lost in a haze of crowded streets and parking lots, we shuttle ourselves and our loved ones from one place to another, barely taking the time for a full breath, let alone pausing to enjoy the beauty that is all around us. If this sounds like you, don’t feel so bad as you are definitely not alone. I, myself, have felt bewildered and disoriented in the process of “getting stuff done” during these times. I’m struggling with it at this very moment. If you are beginning to feel like you are floating adrift and are hovering somewhere outside yourself, here are some suggestions on grounding and finding your centre, and returning to what is sacred, which is really what we should be focusing on at this time. 

Firstly, find a quiet place where you will be undisturbed for a few moments. You may want to dim the lights, or light a candle. Create a serene and sacred space for yourself. Make this time special. Next, find a comfortable place to sit upright. Sit strong and aligned without slouching, but do not strain or sit stiffly. When you are seated comfortably, begin to focus on your breath. Breathe deeply. Breathe as if you are taking your first and final breath. Focus on deep breaths for a few minutes. Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 3, breathe out for 3, and hold for another 3 seconds. Allow yourself to be fully filled with your inhalation while taking your in breaths and allow yourself to be fully emptied with each exhalation. Repeat this pattern 5 times. Begin to breathe in a natural rhythm once more.After you feel more centred and calm, begin to focus on what is important to you at this time. What do you hold near and dear? What lights up your face and makes you smile? What warms your heart and spirit? Think about the people who bring joy to your life. Think about random meetings with strangers that made you beam with delight. Hold these people and these times in your thoughts and breathe them all in. Imagine a glowing light filling your entire being and shining out towards all those you have just thought of. Feel yourself being filled with gratitude.

Upon closing your meditation, write a few special notes to people you wish to thank. Don’t forget to include yourself in that list. Write yourself a letter, put it in an envelope and mail it to yourself while sending out holiday cards. Let it be a nice surprise to yourself when you are sifting through all your regular mail in a few days.

Try to find a few moments to practice this meditation daily or at least every few days. Take the time to enjoy the festive scenes around you – the shimmering lights and candles, beautifully adorned trees, holiday decorations, holiday music. Relish all the sights, sounds and smells of the season and rejoice in all the beauty that surrounds you. Reconnect with what is sacred in your life and find time to appreciate it and be grateful.

~ Daniela Masaro