The New Reality

The Courage to Be Your Beautiful Self:

The Legacy of Darcy Belanger

Part 3

Continued from part 2: Steering Our Ship Through the Storm

Image credit: Jeff Gerald, photographer; Jellyfunk, art direction

Many of us at Parvati.org were awake most of last Sunday night. We were all in varying degrees of shock and disbelief that Darcy, our dear friend and Director of Strategic Initiatives for Parvati.org, had been on the plane that had crashed in Ethiopia that day. We also had countless logistical tasks connected with Darcy’s passing that needed immediate attention. He had given so much to the successful realization of MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. There was no way we would let his voice and the optimism he carried be silenced in the rubble of the crash.

The family asked that Parvati.org keep the news amongst ourselves until we had their permission to share it publicly. They asked us to then be the point of contact with media on their behalf. I knew it was for me to step forward and protect their privacy and fulfil their request to make sure the world knew why Darcy was on that plane. I wanted to honour all he had given to MAPS and Parvati.org, and all he had given to me personally, through our friendship. He always had my back.

Behind our social media blackout on Monday was a blur of activity at immense speed. I worked on notifying and consoling our volunteers and fielding a wide range of questions. I also crafted a press statement with my friend and colleague Pranada. Writing it was painstaking and took hours. How could any words even come close to doing justice to Darcy and the work he did for Parvati.org – and us all through MAPS?

The United Nations Environmental Assembly had begun in Nairobi, Kenya. A man we had never met before, Meredith Beal of the African Media Initiative, was at the event. He had heard of Darcy’s death, was moved by MAPS, and kindly offered to act as a physical presence on the ground so that Vandana could conduct every meeting Darcy had set up. By video chat from Vancouver, she was the official, legal voice for MAPS.

Once we had the family’s permission later that day, Pranada began making calls under embargo to news outlets to let them know who Darcy was and of the tragic loss, while we finalized the official Parvati.org statement. I oversaw the updates made to our websites so that they would be current before we went public. I also had a good talk with Darcy’s wife and sister. I was in awe of their steadiness, open-heartedness and wisdom. They too had been feeling that Darcy was with them.

That evening, our core volunteer team joined Rishi and me at our home and remotely for a much-needed crisis bereavement and planning session. Our usual meetings are lively. Serving MAPS for the good of all is meaningful and energizing. In the wake of the tragic news, the room was quiet. People were clearly shaken, raw and red-eyed. However, a palpable unity filled the space. Our hearts had entrained to the same pulsating truth: our love for Darcy, our sense of loss, and our commitment to see MAPS realized for the good of all.

I had not stopped since the news and knew I needed a moment to prepare to lead the meeting. My spiritual practice has been the foundation of my life for as long as I can remember. Just as I had the day before when I first heard Darcy was missing, I knew I had to turn within for meditative guidance and prayer. I went to my room to be alone and shut the door. I set my timer to make sure I was present for the meeting in 20 minutes, and lay down on my back. My arms stretched out alongside my hips, my palms rolled open and my eyes slid closed. I allowed my yoga practice to lead me towards greater stillness, wholeness and healing. I sensed my body softening into the ground, as the boundaries between me and it dissolved into light.

As I went deeper, my awareness settled on the understanding that my body, my breath and everything that has form are energy. For the first time in 36 hours, I was allowing myself to truly process the news. Images of the crash flew through my mind. I still felt Darcy with me and well, as clearly as I had the day before. I could hear his voice, as though he was speaking right beside me. I opened to possibly sense what Darcy may have felt as he understood that his flight was about to hit the ground. So with sincerity and innocence, my heart moved to simply ask him.

I was immediately shifted into a new reality, one beyond the limitations of form. It was similar to the awakenings I had when healing from the spinal cord injury that had left me paralyzed from the waist down in 2011. That recovery had been deemed medically miraculous. As I lay on my bed now, alone in my room, the bed, ceiling and walls disappeared. I felt that I was within an infinite field of light. It was not vacuous, but profoundly intelligent, beyond the grasp of my thinking mind. I felt no wanting, loss or absence. Everything simply was in perfect, harmonious balance.

Then I saw Darcy in his seat on the airplane barreling toward the ground. His head was bowed, but he was unafraid. He had shifted from momentary terror into a state of unimaginable surrender. He was in absolute non-resistance to the moment. He had become the immense, luminous, expansive peace he had been cultivating every day in his meditation practice. He was experiencing what he had longed for and spoken to me about many times–a unity with all that is. Before the moment of impact, Darcy merged with total equanimity with the light that I was now seeing and feeling.

Then I saw a dark, murky sheath spontaneously pull away to reveal a long, thin cocoon of billions of tightly-wrapped light filaments. I understood this was him. Free from containment, no longer hidden, the light strands unfolded and spread into immense wings that merged with an effervescence that was everywhere.

Before the end of his life, Darcy had come to see and understand who we really are–and he was showing me now: bundles of light, masked by the layer of our ego-personalities. We think we are the thin layer of wrapping. But we are the infinite, brilliant expanse within. I had experienced periods of myself as light within the filaments of the universe while recovering from my spinal injury. Darcy embodied that sublime truth fully in the moments before he passed, and was immersed in it now.

As I lay in the field of light, I reveled in the feeling of unity. Darcy was light. I was light. We are all light, not separate but joined through the luminous filaments that are in everything and are everywhere.

Then my alarm chimed and it was time for me to go hold the meeting.

I slowly rolled over, sat up, and took a few deep breaths to integrate the gift in the experience. I was about to step back into the storm, while in a totally new reality.

As I went downstairs contemplating what had just occurred and what it meant, Pranada walked through my front door. She was on the phone with an Edmonton Star reporter who had contacted her with questions about Darcy. She put her phone on mute to quickly fill me in on what was happening and ask if I could take the interview. I agreed and quickly poked my head into the living room, where friends and colleagues were already gathered, to delay the meeting so I could take the call. Then Pranada handed me her mobile and I walked into a quiet room to answer the reporter’s questions as best I could.

I recognized the power of speech, held within the filaments, and how each of my words would now become public record. I spoke with calm care, and deep attention. I aimed to do Darcy’s family proud and do his life justice. Yet I knew that there was no way to measure the value of a life. I even said so in the interview. The thought felt like trying to fit the infinite into a teaspoon, stuff the universe’s light filaments back into the cocoon from which Darcy was now free. I focused my answers on the love and support he had from his wife, family and friends, his implicit trust in my vision for MAPS, and how he gave so selflessly to MAPS, Parvati.org and the world.

When my interview was finished, I joined my colleagues for a vigil with meditation and prayer. I shared that I had just sensed Darcy in his final moments expanding into light and I knew he was both at peace and with us. For a moment, we took in what that meant. We could each tap into the light that we are, the light that he is, and serve MAPS and the world that much more fully.

We reminisced about many of Darcy’s amazing qualities: his compassionate commitment; his fierce determination; his dry humour; his tuck-in, head-down, get-to-the-goal-line attitude with a smile on his face; his gentle yet firm nature; his deep spirituality – the list kept going. But above all, we thought of his courage.

As I had told the reporter and would tell the ones that followed, Darcy was courageous because he knew he was interconnected. Out of compassion, he was ever willing to move beyond his personal comfort for the greater good of all. He rose to each challenge he was given and shone. He did not do it for personal accolade, but to ensure everyone around the world has the basic resources needed to survive. We resolved to carry forward that legacy of selfless courage.

Darcy’s presence continued to be strong, as though he was now helping MAPS from the other side. At one point, when a colleague and I started to cry, I distinctly and unmistakably heard Darcy’s voice say, “Come on, guys!” as though he was asking us to not be so soppy. I shared what I heard with my friend and we laughed through our tears. It was so Darcy, not wanting us to make a fuss over him! He wanted us to know he was fine.

At the end of another whirlwind day, beyond exhausted and emotionally drained, I fell into bed around 1:30am or 2am. I continued to sense and hear Darcy. He was still with us, just in a different form, beyond the body, inviting us all now into a new reality.

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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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WHAT LIGHT GETS YOU THROUGH YOUR DAY?

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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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