building the temple.
There’s a Buddhist temple that I walk past on my way to the yoga studio.
The first time I saw it, it took my breath away. There it stood, so grand and magnificent amidst a quiet residential street in the heart of the city. The exterior is a beautiful bright yellow with red trim, and there are statues that guard the front doors. I’ve never seen anybody come and go from the gates, and I doubt many people are even aware of its existence.
This is what cultivating peace is like. This is what the experience of meditation and the art of slowing down does for us. This is what our practice reveals is possible. We begin to build our own inner temple, shockingly beautiful and serene against the backdrop of our day-to-day lives. Unassuming yet splendid. Confident in its place regardless of whether anybody else acknowledges its presence.
So as we build our temples, brick by brick, we begin to emanate goodness naturally simply by being the embodiment of grace. We learn how to maintain inner calm despite our external environment. We stand still. And we simply be.
seeing the best in people creates the space for them to grow into their own potential. this is our service to one another as humans.
For the longest time, I never felt like I was part of a yoga community. I started practicing in my late teens, and while yoga made me feel better about myself, it didn’t make me feel much better about what other people might think of me. I would often rush out as soon as class ended, and I doubt that many of the teachers at that studio even knew my name.
During my teacher training, I was probably the youngest person in the class, and I allowed this to be a distancing factor between myself and my fellow trainees. I would slip silently in and out of the room, never giving myself a voice because I somehow didn’t think that it would carry any weight amidst the older, more experienced students. I would watch from the sidelines as people would come and go from the studio, sharing hugs and exchanging smiles, and wonder what it was about me that didn’t quite fit in. I eventually became a yoga transient, wandering from drop-in class to drop-in class and workshop after workshop at studio after studio, never putting down any roots or building any relationships.
Despite yoga being all about “union” and “connectivity”, I continued to feel very much alone in my practice and in my teaching. Even though my physical practice developed and my teaching began to flourish, it always felt like something was missing. I witnessed hypocrisy in many yoga studios, hearing teachers talking badly about students and fellow teachers. I struggled through challenging poses on my own, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong or what I could be doing better. My motivation to practice dwindled, and my passion for yoga began to diminish.
Eventually I ended up moving to a much bigger city where I quickly discovered that to make it as a yoga teacher, it’s not necessarily about what you know, but who you know. I struggled to introduce myself to studio owners and get on sub lists, feeling completely disenchanted with the dog-eat-dog world of yoga in the modern world.
Finally, I’ve landed at a studio where I feel like I have come home. I’ve become a student again, attending classes regularly, and love the experience of practicing alongside others. I say hello to familiar faces. I play witness to the amazing arc of growth in people’s practices. I’ve discovered that there’s a power that arises when you surround yourself with like-minded individuals and you come together to serve in the best way you know how. Community reminds us that we are all part of something bigger, a global consciousness that swells and grows stronger with positive intention.
Through all this, what I have learned is that cultivating community takes effort. It requires a willingness to be vulnerable, to break down boundaries, to dare to offer a smile or greeting to the stranger on the mat beside you. At the end of the day, we all need to feel like we belong and that we matter. After many years of struggling with solitude, this is what yoga has taught me: we gain more when we let more in.
The practice of yoga isn’t just about performing poses. We practice to be better, to evolve, to grow, to serve. The fact that people coming from a diverse range of socio-economic, spiritual, racial, sexual and physical backgrounds can unite in a room and move and breathe together is an incredible thing. Indeed, to participate in this cultivation of global community is a special gift. I am honoured to have found my place and to witness myself unfolding fully there.
walking the line of anger.
I recently had a conversation with someone that made me really, really mad. And not the fleeting kind of anger that arises briefly when someone cuts you off in traffic, or when the barista is rude to you at the coffee shop for no good reason at all. No, this was the kind of anger wrapped with judgment and intertwined with messy, unresolved feelings of injustice that made my blood boil, angry tears spill over, and my chest tighten with rage.
I stewed about this situation for days. I replayed the conversation over and over again in my mind, thinking of better and better retorts and comebacks trying to convey my point of view. I went to vigorous yoga classes trying to sweat the anger out of my system. I took deep breaths and tried to meditate. I wrote it down. I talked it out. I lay in bed and cried. Nothing seemed to help — I just couldn’t seem to let the anger go, which then led to a feeling of guilt and shame around the fact that I should be able to forgive.
Finally I realized that sometimes it’s not so much about letting go of anger than it is about stepping more fully into compassion. Even if we can’t release something completely, we always have the option and the choice to begin to replace the negative with something more positive. Instead of feeling so angry, I wanted to feel more compassionate and in alignment with my values and how I want to show up in the world.
So I walked the line of anger and compassion. I felt into the physical sensation of anger gripping my insides, the shortness of breath, the clenching of my heart — and then I took a step forward, and I felt the freedom and spaciousness that compassion offers. Quite simply, I realized that compassion feels so much better than anger does, and that while holding on to anger had been serving some purpose for me, that didn’t seem to matter so much anymore. Even if the situation hadn’t necessarily been resolved, I discovered that I didn’t have to feel so bad about it.
Maybe it’s not always possible to let go, or to forgive, or to move on. But it is always possible to carve out space. To feel into compassion, into peace, into love. The practice of tuning in to our internal landscapes is such a powerful tool to shaping our external environment.