The Journey (Part 1 - Initiation into Change)
On January 12, 2014 I arrived back in Toronto after I spent a month at my Guru's Ashram in India. Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, simply known as Amma, or Mother is a fully awakened master and the embodiment of unconditional Love. In Her presence the unconditional love that lies dormant within us begins to awaken and one will get a glimpse of one's own true essence. Amma has dedicated Her life to relieve human suffering around the world.
My time at the Ashram was very healing. The word healing is often loosely used to describe many things. In the medical world, it means physical recovery from illness and disease. In the psychiatric world, it means processing emotional scars and traumas and in the holistic and spiritual world, it means letting go of old belief systems that cause pain and suffering in our lives. What it means for me, I can only describe as a softening of my heart. The harsh judgments I held against myself began to loose its grip as I started to accept those things that I didn't like about myself and those things that I was certain were disliked and judged by others. The state of perfection that I had been striving for my whole life began to loose its intensity and I began to be okay with who I was right then and there.
I began to see that I have value right now, as I am, as opposed to at some point in the future when I would have released my negative tendencies and addictive patters and reached a certain state of perfection; that state that would earn me love and respect.
In the Ashram and in the presence of my Guru's unconditional love, I began to feel safe and I began to trust myself to open my heart to myself, to others and to the world. In this state, I met some very special people and I opened my heart some more. It was magical. This is.... until the day neared that I had to return home. Home to Toronto, the western world with its rat race for money, status and power. Where people live in fear, judgment and anger. I did not want to leave my safe nest and go back to the mean world. It did not feel safe. I also felt that the life I had tried to build for myself in Canada no longer had the purpose or the passion it once had. And the community of which I had been such an integral part for so many years, changed to such an extend that I started to feel like an outsider. I wanted to stay in India. I wanted to spend more time in meditation and allow the love that had started to grow in my heart, to blossom. However, I did not have the time or resources to stay in India and so I left with a heart full of sadness.
Once home, things started to unravel rapidly. I knew I could not continue my life as it had been before. Everything was shifting and rearranging. What I once held as absolute truth was questioned. I meditated many hours at the time and contemplated what I had learned about myself, my time in India and my life in Canada; my values, my beliefs and disbeliefs. Today I read something in a book by Anita Moorjani "Dying to be me", which resonated with me when I thought about how I feel these days: "I'm at my strongest when I'm able to let go, when I suspend my beliefs as well as disbeliefs, and leave myself open to all possibilities.... My sense is that the very act of needing certainty is a hindrance to experiencing greater levels of awareness. In contrast, the process of letting go and releasing all attachments to any belief or outcome is cathartic and healing.[...] Strongly held ideas actually work against me. Having concrete beliefs limits my life experiences because they keep me locked into only what I know, and my knowledge in this world is limited by my physical senses. Being comfortable with uncertainty, on the other hand, opens me up to all possibilities. Ambiguity is wide open to infinite potential." 
Being a person who needs certainty and who is in many ways risk averse, this is a huge shift in thinking and being. Most things in my life were fixed. Everything had its place and I felt in control. What happened next was a total leap into the unknown, yet feeling 100% supported by a loving Universe. I gave up my apartment and my practice in Canada in order to take a sabbatical, which would start in Holland with my birth family and which will continue in India and will end where ever I am supposed to end up. Life, as Anita says, is full of possibilities once I let go of the false sense of safety that my "stuff" and my "doing" gives me and trust that I am part of a greater whole, which has infinite intelligence and wisdom. In this state of trust, all I need to do is simply be myself and go with the flow of life by allowing Nature to gently show me the way.
Next: Vipassana Meditation
 In her book "Dying to be me", Anita Moorjani describes her near death experience from terminal lymphoma. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is battling with disease and the fears related to it as well as anyone who is willing to let go of the limiting beliefs that hold us back from our infinite Divine Self.