Yoga of Self-Development

Our retreats, intensive courses and selfless service stays support healing, personal growth and self-development. Spiritually we offer a focus on Light and the Divine Feminine, much-needed in our world today. Please note that we are only open to guests who have made an advance reservation.
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  • The Trampled Flower Resurrection: A Story of Healing

    Prologue: Once upon a time there was a gentle flower who came to be in an endless green meadow by a shimmering river between two majestic mountains. Though the flower was very beautiful, it had particularly delicate petals that could be easily bruised and torn, and roots that could be disturbed with little effort. Despite this, the flower enthusiastically opened to the world, expecting to be adored for its amazing colors. He could not have expected what was to come. This is his story. Part I – Trampled The little night light at the end of the hallway illuminated the darkness. Though sometimes my sister would turn it off for sleep, I would always turn it back on. It provided a certain sense of comfort. The screams in my nervous system echoed the yells from downstairs. I covered my ears, but the horror continued in my imagination. Even when things were quieter, I started to worry about robbers or kidnappers coming in the night. Sleep often eluded me for fear of scary dreams. Sometimes I would go lie on the floor next to my parents bed to find comfort to sleep. I was sternly told to return to my room. At the dinner table, sudden outbursts of rage. Harsh sounding words ‘Stupid.’ ‘Useless.’ ‘Asshole.’ With every yell, every threat, every fist slamming, every cold stare, every insult, and even worse the moments in between, waiting, my little body and mind became more and more overwhelmed. What was this place that I had come to? When I was a bit older but still young, I remember crying at a song in a children’s movie about a mouse searching for his lost parents. The lyrics went: “Somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight Someone’s thinking of me and loving me tonight Somewhere out there someone’s saying a prayer That we’ll find one another in that big somewhere out there.” Though I couldn’t have articulated it at the time, the song evoked within me a sense of a great, deep love. A love that I longed to experience in every moment. Where was this love? Part II – Flower I remember the first time I was called a fag in the schoolyard. It was at the beginning of grade 6. I was at a new school and some girls I didn’t know approached me in the recess yard, asking me some questions. I stared down at the ground as I responded, not having the confidence to look up. Apparently not liking the way I answered, they put this unwanted label on me. Was this what I was? That ‘f’ word, that dagger to the spirit, that poison to the mind became something I feared hearing, and something I feared might be true about myself. I knew from past experience that a man being gay or at all feminine was a bad thing. I recalled instructions from my father: ‘stop flitting around’, ‘don’t hold your hand like that’, ‘stop walking that way’. What I took in from media was no better. Of course, when I was 13 my worst fear was confirmed. I felt an attraction to boys. Those girls were right. I was that awful word. I turned against myself. My teenage years were wrought with self-antagonism. If I could mentally deny myself and reduce myself to nothing, I thought, maybe no one else could harm me. Maybe, also, what is wrong about me would change. In parallel, after a first taste of true intimacy and connection, I fell in love with my straight best friend. While there was beauty in this friendship, on my end it devolved into obsession and shame and destroyed my mental health. In the months leading up to my best friend leaving town for university (maybe leaving for good, I thought), I began to suffer panic attacks and found myself in a dissociative state that lasted for years. On some level, I am still healing from dissociation to this day. Soon after, when I finally got the courage to ‘come out’ to my parents, the initial reaction was not positive and was followed by relative silence meant to indicate tacit support. I know now they did the best they could but this didn’t lessen the blow at the time. There I was at 23 feeling depressed, anxious and totally and utterly alone. But I was also feeling something else which, like a lost memory, was surfacing for the first time since I was very young. Myself. Part III – Resurrection Allowing my truth to be seen was the beginning of healing. The Light of truth remains a healing force to this day. In my early-to-mid 20’s I started seeking happiness in conventional ways. I got a Government job, bought myself a condo followed by a nicer one, went out on the weekend with friends, started dating and even had a short relationship. This was a time of me becoming an individual, a person separate from shame and codependency. It was an important time and there were moments of brightness, yet somehow I still felt empty. Where was this great, deep love ‘somewhere out there, beneath the pale moonlight?’ When I was 26, looking for meaning I began volunteering as a Big Brother. I poured my entire self into it, even won Mentor of the Year with the Ottawa chapter. I am proud of how I supported my little brother. This was a time of practicing giving and generosity, but if I am being honest I was still trying to fill a hole in my heart. Over time I became way too attached to my little brother and too involved in his personal affairs. The relationship became strained for many years, though I am pleased that we have recently reconnected. When I was 32, while on vacation with two of my best friends in Chile, we went sandboarding (think snowboarding on sand dunes) in the Atacama Desert. At sunset, we stood together on the top of a sand