How to Feel Connected, Joyful and at Ease, by Darcy Belanger

Dear friends,

This month’s Parvati Magazine, going live later today, is a special commemorative edition dedicated to my dear friend and Parvati.org colleague Darcy Belanger and all he gave to MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. Tragically, Darcy recently lost his life on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. He was on his way to the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, Kenya to represent MAPS.

Here are his insightful and inspiring words about MAPS and the ease and flow it has brought to his life. He wrote this article a month before he left for UNEA.

May his legacy of courage and confidence inspire you this week. May we all live with awareness of our inherent interconnection that gives rise to compassionate action for the greater good.


The Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS) has taken me on a journey. As part of my responsibilities to secure signatures from world leaders on the MAPS Treaty, I have traveled to United Nations conferences in Europe and Africa, presented MAPS at Earth Day in Texas, went to Fiji to speak with heads of governments, and have met with everyone from students to CEOs. I have created friendships and memories along the way that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Working on MAPS has exposed me to people who, through their convictions to a healthy world, woke me up from the delusion that our current lifestyles are sustainable. They understand our interconnection with the planet and each other. These people have helped me to reclaim the sense of reverence and stewardship for nature I used to have when I was a child. For this I am profoundly grateful. But this reconnection and reconciliation with my values was only the first stop on my MAPS journey.

Being involved in a project as extraordinary as MAPS brings with it some very unique opportunities for self-discovery. The first question I had to ask of myself when I first committed to MAPS was, “How much of my time am I willing to give to realize MAPS?” Five hours per week? Ten hours per week? Since we are an all-volunteer organization, everyone who devotes time to MAPS does so above and beyond their day-to-day commitments. What would be reasonable based on the commitments I have to my family, career, health, and personal pursuits? It was difficult to come up with an answer to this question at first. I struggled for a while to find the right balance between “my time” and “MAPS time”. Relief came when I realized that the question itself was off the mark—it assumed a division, a separateness, between me and everything else. No wonder the answers I was coming up with weren’t satisfying! My entire perception and approach to MAPS was being colored by a belief that I was separate from this work—that somehow my very life didn’t depend on the water and air I was trying to protect.

When I realized that I was approaching MAPS from this perspective, I paused. What if the belief system that I was separate from MAPS and the rest of the world was inaccurate? I challenged myself to find a perspective that would produce the greatest amount of ease and flow. What would need to shift to find this peaceful state?

I soon realized that when I felt the most connected, joyful, and at ease in volunteering my time to MAPS was when I reminded myself that MAPS would have positive benefits for all life on this planet. When I reframed MAPS as a vehicle through which I can contribute to the health and wellbeing of people, animals, and plants everywhere, my resistance immediately evaporated and I was left in a deep sense of interconnection and gratitude for the opportunity to be part of this work.

On an even deeper level, MAPS has shown me the misperceptions and old stories to which I’ve been attached, that have gotten in the way of my success. With awareness comes the opportunity to choose my response to each moment. My entire experience of life has shifted as a result. I’ve learned to use uncomfortable feelings as signposts to point me to an even deeper part of myself. Inevitably I discover something I no longer need, but am afraid to let go. Clinging to it is impeding my ability to move MAPS forward. Once that thing, whatever it might be, becomes clear to me, I can often integrate it, heal it, or release it. I am receptive to each moment as it unfolds because I no longer feel that anything is happening to me. Rather, I’ve become part of a grand dance and I’m enjoying the appearance of every person who steps onto the dance floor with me.

MAPS has taught me how to live life from a place of playful curiosity. From this place there is no “my time” that I’m trying to parcel out to serve an illusion of separation. There is only a peaceful flow state when I choose to see the world and my place in it from this perspective. This experience is profoundly liberating—and it is mine to claim in each moment. This has been the true gift that MAPS has given me.

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That was really beautiful Darcy 🙂 I’m glad to have met you.

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WHY YOGA IN THE NIGHTCLUB

I am often asked what inspired me to bring yogic expression into the club scene. I answer easily. Yoga In the Nightclub is a natural expression of who I am as a musical artist and dedicated yogini. Yoga is not a physical practice but a way of life. It is about learning to be present in all one does, to see the divine here, now, in this moment. As such, yoga is everywhere. It is about feeling connected to something much greater than our limited ego or will. It is about being in service to life, feeling interconnected to that very life force. Yoga In The Nightclub is a celebration of life and a reminder that we can find awakened presence everywhere.

Yoga in the West is mostly known as a series of bendy physical exercises. Yet there is much more to it than fitness. Yoga’s systematic breath and body exercises, designed to clear the subtle channels in our energy system, prepare us for meditation, through which we may experience a life inspired by our interconnected, multidimensional true nature. Our body, that once was seen as “mine”, is no longer our identity, but a gift on loan from the divine. We care for it, but we are not attached to it. The practice of yoga offers us the opportunity to experience the transmutation of matter into pure light, embody the multidimensional and rest in the eternal.

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WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, is just one of many aspects of yoga, which range from selfless service to astrology and prayer. The Sanskrit word “yoga” most simply translates to “union”, implying that the practice of any yoga will bring together our perceived sense of separateness. As a whole, yoga is an ancient science of life. It is a practical method of shedding excess and bringing us back from the self-delusion of separation from the divine so that we may realize our inherent interconnection to and ultimate oneness with it.

As we begin to understand that yoga is everywhere, we come to see how we are all connected in vast ways far beyond the limitations of our personal will and ego. What I do affects you, and vice versa. We are one earth family. At the heart of it all, we share the same heartbeat. Breathe to be. We are one.

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AWAKENED LIVING

When we are open, life blossoms, just as a flower opens to welcome the morning sun.  We see that the sun, though it is millions of light years away, has a tender yet powerful relationship with the flower, as do the rain and the clouds. From this perspective we see that we are part of the whole. Life is a symphonic masterpiece with which, when we are open, we are completely resonant.

As we come to understand our oneness, we can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that an illusory, isolated sense of self could possibly be in control, and open to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute perfection. Our actions become not about “me” but about the whole. Each moment is integrated within the whole. No one decision is separate.

When we begin to see that each decision we make affects not just ourselves but everyone and everything on the planet, we act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, we realize the impact of our actions and we naturally want less and practice more kindness. As stewards of the Earth, we each are called to learn to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and our planet. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth.

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THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRACE

In each moment, there is infinite grace. By becoming more conscious as we practice yoga on the mat, at work, at play or in the nightclub, we let go of the unnecessary and develop greater internal spaciousness which blooms throughout our lives. In this space new life and possibilities arise.

As we rest our awareness on the simple purity and grace of the breath, we realize - we are alive! We let go of wanting things from the future and the past and open to what is here and now. We feel as vast as the sky and rooted in the richness of this moment.

When we “breathe to be”, we understand our interconnection. We see that we are not the doers but a part of the whole, the same energy that is in the flowers and in the stars. We know that our essence is divine - from which we have come, to which we return.

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I am light!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gone, gone beyond. Oh what awakening!
Gone, gone beyond. Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
I am the light, liquid gold light
I am in delight! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

I am the light (gate gate), liquid gold light (paragate)
I am in delight (gate gate) transforming the night (paragate)

Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Oh what awakening! (paragate) (I am)
Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight
I am light, dancing through the night
I am light, in delight
I am light, dancing through the night

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (gate gate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (paragate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light

I am light!

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