Hemma Blog

Why Practice

Several years ago I had the fortune to attend a workshop with Robert Bly, Michael Mead, and James Hillman. The workshop was focused on male self development. One of the aspects that all three presenters spoke about was the importance of daily practice. For Robert it was the practice of poetry, and he spoke of how each day he would awaken and begin his day by writing a poem.

As far as I know he continues this tradition to this day.

Two years before, I attended this workshop I had embarked on a 6 month training in yoga therapy. As part of my training I was required to have a daily practice of hatha yoga and meditation, and to journal about my experiences. For any one who has had a practice, you know that its not all sunshine and chocolates. There were many days when I awoke and wanted nothing to do with yoga. Dragging myself to the mat, at times simply going through the motions, disassociated from my body’s movements. Inevitably though by the end of my practice, engaged in journalling, I would feel a deepening connection to myself and to the world around me, and a sense of accomplishment at having conquered my inner demons. As one month turned to the next I felt this daily ritual strengthening my body, and grounding my spirit, connecting me with a greater sense of me. I developed an inner strength and an inner sense of self that was palpable as I went out into the world and engaged with others. In fact 21 years later I can still connect and feel those feelings as I write these words. Thus is the power of practice.

When I began I had no goal in mind and no understanding of what the practice would bring me. In fact I think it is better to divorce oneself from expectations when embarking on self practice. The purpose, if there is one, is simply the practice. Since then I have explored several practices — music, running, writing, and of course yoga. Each has waxed and waned. Each one though has served as a powerful anchor, especially during stormy times. Back when I was practicing my 6 months of yoga one of the greatest motivators for me was knowing that there were others within my course who were also sitting in their rooms doing the same thing as me. Somehow I could feel the collective energy of all those souls kneeling before their mats, and it helped get me through my resistance!

Join us in March for 30 days of practice and let’s inspire one another. Who knows, maybe we can all go from 30 days to 365 days!

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We are OPEN on Family day!

On Family Day, Monday February 9th, we are OPEN regular hours for Yoga and Acupuncture. Come and spend some time with the Hemma family!!

 

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doing the dishes

Last Friday morning some of the hemma staff and I served 438 breakfasts at Our Place. Our Place serves breakfast every day to hundreds of people in need. On days like Friday, when a business sponsors a breakfast, they are able to cook and prepare a special breakfast that is much appreciated by those who take their meals there. My favourite part was doing the dishes. I love the simple yet important task of washing plates — the work so clearly laid out before you, the satisfaction of the hot steaming plates emerging from the machine, being stacked once again on the shelves, ready for the next meal, the next person standing in line.

There is an amazing sense of community at Our Place, people helping people, serving one another, the basic necessities of life — food, shelter, kindness, compassion. Serving there puts things in perspective and connects you to the simple things in life. Seva, or selfless service is like that, it feeds ones spirit. That’s why I sang as I washed the dishes, and why I felt so energized after an early morning job of serving breakfast.

Once the holiday season is over, the special breakfasts only come around once, maybe twice a week. Imagine if 180 businesses or organizations sponsored one breakfast a year, that could happen every other day, 365 and it could be an every day event! There is no simple solution to ending poverty and homelessness, but it can start with a simple gesture of serving a meal, of washing a plate, of realizing that none of us are really so different from the other when it comes to our basic needs.

I haven’t changed the world, or much in Victoria, after having spent a morning at Our Place, and a few days with Reverend Al on his early morning coffee runs, but something in me has changed. I feel a connection to the people I meet on the street that I didn’t have before, I see someone from my community as opposed to a stranger I should fear or avoid.

Take time to practice selfless service in some small or large way this year in your community. In my opinion doing the dishes is one of the best spiritual practices there is!

Michael

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