Steering Our Ship Through the Storm

03-18-2019-through the storm-tw

The Courage to Be Your Beautiful Self:

The Legacy of Darcy Belanger

Part 2

My head was spinning with the news. Since the vision for Parvati.org and MAPS (the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary) came to me four and a half years ago, I have not slept much. Our all-volunteer team has been working tirelessly to ensure that the Arctic sea ice, our world’s air conditioning system, is swiftly protected to safeguard all life. More recently over these past months, we have been ramping up for the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) in Nairobi, Kenya. Darcy Belanger, our Director of Strategic Initiatives and my dear friend, was heading there from his home in Denver, Colorado to gain support of MAPS. All seemed to be on course and running smoothly. Meetings were set. A groundswell of pan-African MAPS ambassadors was growing and active. People were working well together.

The storm hit early last Sunday morning, barely dawn on March 10, 2019. The sound of my husband Rishi’s concerned voice woke me up from a couple of hours of sleep. He told me that a plane headed to Nairobi had crashed in Ethiopia. There were no survivors—and Darcy was missing.

I sat bolt upright on the edge of my bed. I went into my default mode and became as calm as I could, looking within for guidance. With eyes closed in prayerful meditation, I tuned into Darcy to see if I could feel him. As with all those closest to me and those who work for MAPS, I could tell without speaking with Darcy how his days were going. If Darcy were in distress now, I would know it. We have always been so connected. An unmistakable sense came to me that he was strong, luminous and joyful.

Rishi, a founding member of Parvati.org, sat beside me with his laptop, scouring social media for clues of the whereabouts of his best friend. I said to him, “Darcy is in a good place. There has been no ‘ripple in the force’.” Moments later, Rishi discovered that 18 Canadians had been aboard the plane. Still, I felt a deep inner knowing that Darcy was OK. I was confident that I would have been jolted awake in the middle of the night if he had been suffering.

Misinformation and concerned messages from colleagues began to pour into my phone. Still in pyjamas, I shifted immediately into CEO mode. I encouraged everyone who knew about the crash not to jump to conclusions. After all, we had no hard knowledge of Darcy’s location. He missed connections often on his recurring travel to move MAPS forward.

But over the space of about eight hours, I received three confirmations that Darcy had indeed been on the plane that crashed.

The first came from our new friends and Kenyan MAPS Ambassadors Omesa and Bonface, who had been waiting to welcome Darcy at the Nairobi airport. Omesa had written Darcy’s name down in a trembling hand and passed the inquiring note to the Ethiopian Airlines help desk. The agent slowly checked through his list to see if Darcy’s name was on it. Then he looked up with regret on his face. In words that Omesa told me still echo through his mind, the agent said, “He was indeed on that plane. I am so sorry.”

Soon after, Darcy’s wife Amie in Denver texted the same report, this time from United Airlines, through which Darcy had booked his trip.

Staggered and confused, I could not breathe. How come I still felt Darcy so strongly? It was as though he was in the room with me. Could it be true? Had he really been on that plane? I bowed my head and went even deeper within. For a moment, I imagined him relaxed at a cafe in an airport lounge, waiting to catch the next flight. I did not know what to make of the continued feeling that he was fine. In my mind, I understood the confirmations of his death. In my heart and soul, I was reconciling that fact with my inner knowing of his wellbeing.

As Managing Director, I knew it was for me to steer our MAPS ship through this storm. First, I had to share the devastating news with our group. I gathered our core team and Omesa and Bonface, for an emergency remote video meeting. How could I shelter the team members I love, and who loved Darcy, from inevitable pain? With my eyes welling up and emotion gripping my throat, I turned to Rishi and whispered, “What can I possibly say?” The distress on his face mirroring my own, we gazed at each other for a moment that seemed like an eternity. It was for me to steady our crew and keep us on course, though my inner and outer world felt as though a hurricane had struck.

As the statement left my lips that Darcy had indeed been on that flight and had died, I watched faces of team members crumple into shock and grief. With every passing word, his death become more real. Surges of pain pressed behind my chest as though it was going to explode. But I knew that the group was looking to me, in their anguish and disbelief, for guidance to make sense of this unimaginable turn of events.

Through tears, I kept the meeting focused on gratitude for Darcy. He had shown so much courage and compassion through his dedication to MAPS over the years. We held a couple of minutes of silence and visualized angels holding him.

I returned to the unchanging feeling I had of Darcy being OK, which gave me stability and strength. I needed to share this with the group. My inner knowing had never led us astray, so why would it now?

I told my teammates what I knew in every cell of my being: Darcy felt calm, guided and protected. His exit from life was shattering. Yet it felt inexplicably balanced within the whole. I did not understand why I sensed this. The feeling simply persisted.

In the chaos of the storm, our group united in grief and love. Each one of us resolved to move MAPS forward with the same courage Darcy had. Founding member and general counsel Vandana in Vancouver immediately volunteered to shift her clock to Kenya time and make herself available virtually for all of Darcy’s scheduled meetings, which ran through the night for her. I asked Omesa if he would be willing to carry on in Darcy’s absence at UNEA-4, which he graciously stepped forward to do. I made sure our social media was silent until further notice and that no one commented publicly about Darcy before his family was ready. Like lightning in the dark, insights flashed into my mind for our next steps. I assigned tasks to my colleagues and, as much as we were able in those initial hours, we mobilized for MAPS, as Darcy would have wanted us to.

That evening, the final confirmation came. Darcy’s family had been visited by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with the formal notification of his death on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. But the storm of grief and chaos at his passing had only just begun.

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In gratitude for your limitless courage Parvati aswe navigate through this storm, continuing the work of MAPS for all on earth and with Darcy’s spirit strong beside us. Thank you for these words which give strength to the MAPS volunteer team worldwide.

I love your writing style,I thought it was too long for me but when I started reading i could not stop. Congratulations. What a sad story though.

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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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PARVATI'S NEW SINGLE - MARCH 2016
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I AM LIGHT

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SHARE YOUR YOGA
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!

© 2015 Parvati Devi
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