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Repairing the Broken Marriage ~ by Karoline Kulhanek

Karoline Kulhanek’s article about how she became aware of Michael Stone and the Centre of Gravity originally appeared on the Centre’s website.  It is a lovely description of her introduction to yoga practice which many of us can relate to. We are so pleased that Michael is joining us this August 24 – 29th for Yoga, Meditation & Deep Healing.

The first time I heard about Michael Stone and Centre of Gravity, I was in my bathroom.  (Buddhism is more of a laxative than a sedative, no?)  I picked up the book that lay by the sink, “Inner Tradition of Yoga,” my Beloved must’ve left behind.  Andrew was leaving  soon, one-way to India and we were bidding farewell, a dreadfully painful event that effectively triggered 38% of all my holding patterns.  It came to be, at Union Station, standing face-to-face with my departing friend, my face soggy from tears and feeling empty, I wanted to leave him a parting gift, but after years of nearly drowning in a well, enacting a Jackson Pollock painting with him while singing Leonard Cohen hymns, my heart was full, but hands empty.  Dear Andrew: what can I possibly give you?

“Go to Centre of Gravity,” he says, “…and take care of you.”

Centre of Gravity? Really? You mean ‘do’, not read? What if others see my darkness?  Am I flexible enough?

Let the stories come.  I made my way over.

I came upon an oasis in an arid Sahara!  I drank in the humour, the intellectual challenges, the bibliographic references, the invite to be still.  I drank in the palpable respect and love arising in formality, in chant and the accepting discussion after dharma talks.

I kept returning.

Exchanges ensued: pride for gratitude, certainty for curiosity, fear for courage.  Fatal habits were replaced by life-giving ones and self-centered tendencies by compassion.  My office-mate tells me “something’s changed with you;” friendships become deeper; and I’m no longer searching for a path through a mangrove swamp of old, stale patterns.  The integration of the aspects of being began and Centre of Gravity became like my very own couple’s counsellor, repairing the broken marriage between how I express myself and what is meaningful in my life.

Truth be told, I hate sitting.  It’s like washing dishes: not exciting and somebody else should be doing this!  When I just don’t want to, I feel the room full of people who are sitting as well.  The person next to me sits humbly on their cushion, but is my pillar.  I sit straighter and return to the breath.  That’s when I learn there’s so much crap I’m holding onto that makes it so hard.  Weeds.  Shunryu Suzuki says we should be grateful for weeds, that we pull them out and then bury them near the plant to give nourishment.

My plant has grown since I’ve become part of the sangha.  The small place that thinks that love is finite gives way to this wave of sprouting buds, and the next thing I know I’m growing fruits and planting new seeds; I can feed others!  But then I learn it’s not me doing the feeding or the planting, or who I think is me, and then I begin work with people dying in their homes and I look back and wonder how it is I came from a spiraling-down place of anger that was leading rapidly to mortal death 2 years ago, to being here now.  Is this what is meant at Centre of Gravity when I’m reminded to be grateful for my life?

The reintegration of self through physical asana practice, yoking the breath with my mind and looking deeply into my psychology with instruction from how the masters did it, heals me and strengthens relationship. 

I had no idea the impact of that book would have, sitting on my bathroom counter last year.

Born in Toronto, raised along the Golden Horseshoe, Karoline Kulhanek currently lives in the city in the east end with her cat, Saturn.  Karoline paddles in a sea kayak on Georgian Bay or in a canoe in Algonquin; she sleeps in a tent as often as she can, and occasionally frolics in mountain valleys, and rides her bicycle in good weather.  When she’s not doing the aforementioned, she’s reading non-fiction or coordinating clinical lymphoma research at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Karoline volunteers with Hospice Toronto.  She spent much of her life reading about philosophy, then spirituality, and is now hitting the cushion, not without resistance.

Michael Stone
Michael Stone

Michael Stone is a renowned yoga teacher, Buddhist teacher, psychotherapist and activist. Based in Toronto where he runs the Centre of Gravity Sangha, Michael teaches internationally in yoga studios, monasteries, academic institutions and clinical settings. He is the author of five books on yoga, mindfulness and social action.

Join Michael for Yoga, Meditation and Deep Healing  from August 24 – 29th on Cortes Island.

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Silence and Song

by Susan Osborn

Susan Osborn shares her thoughts on the purpose of song and her intention for her upcoming program on Cortes, August 10 -15th.

Singing is a fundamental creative act. It is an essential part of the human emotional digestive system and a gift intricately woven into our design as human beings. Over time, as we have separated from the natural world around us and our own nature, we have relegated singing to the extracurricular, and entertainment. We left this basic human expression to the specialists. This exploration is about reclaiming the original power and purpose of singing.

Singing is a practice in Continue reading

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Gifted Musician Todd Boston Returns to Hollyhock

Todd Boston is coming back to Hollyhock and we couldn’t be more excited. The well-known recording artist came to Cortes last summer for the first time as a co-presenter with Snatam Kaur. Like many of us, he fell in love with the place.

“I….fell in love with the people, nature, food and amazing energy of Hollyhock and Cortes Island,” he said. “My first thought was, this is a magical place and that more people need to know about it. I felt the need to come back, invite some friends and create a transformative musical retreat.”

Todd Boston

In a lot of ways Todd’s music is a perfect fit for Hollyhock on Cortes Island. His sound brings together his love of music, nature and technology. He believes music is healing and continues to explore the deep relationship that exists between music and movement.

Todd has numerous albums. The most recent, Touched by the sun, is produced by Will Ackerman of Windham Hill fame. We could go on, but we invite you to listen to his music yourself.

Check here for music from Todd Boston .

Todd  has followed through on his initial thought on Cortes and is returning this summer to lead an amazing musical retreat. This is an opportunity to explore and express the music inside of you in a pristine natural environment where the waves of the ocean, the song of the forest and the joy of community, music, song and dance come together as one.

Todd Boston’s workshop is happening August 15 – 19. Register here.





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An Interview with Dr Marilyn Atkinson 

The following interview with Marilyn Atkinson was conducted and documented by Irina Shabalova. We have reprinted it here in it’s entirety.

Underneath all the various ‘wants’ of humanity we find the aim for true love and happiness. We invest so much of our time, energy,money into things that are aimed to attract love into our life. These include material things; fine clothes, car, job, cosmetics, health, fitness, education…we even invest money into other peoples lives to make them love us. However we can invest directly into the skills and knowledge of how to open the source of love in our life and this investment is much more direct and guaranteed.

Developing Heart, The Human Journey is a program that is very practical. Marilyn Atkinson is a practitioner with more than 30 year experience, and she doesn’t do theoretical trainings. Her programs are all about learning and practicing real skills. It is very open and is immediately useful. It is designed for instant application. It provokes lots of practice groups, long-term commentary, and people wanting to review it later. The program has been taught for 25 years, and people in seven countries have kept it in continuous demand. In fact, there are as many as 75 persons in a course in the various countries where it has become well known.

Each participant receives useful practical experience and tools as to how to build and deepen true relationship both with self and others, and how to move beyond inner blind spots. People discover simple ways to be loving and happy as they practice the 9 Disciplines of Developing Heart which constitutes the body of this program. The program is full of exercises.  People explore them personally and determine if they work.

The program is entirely personal; it really is about giving up Continue reading


10 Reasons Why Adventure Travel Is Good for You

Please note, this article first appeared in Olaf’s CornerThe Official Blog of Natural Habitat Expeditions. We have reposted here because it seems like good advice.

By Candice Gaukel Andrews

For the past two-and-a-half years, I have been writing about adventure topics for The Adventure Corner travel blog, on everything from the merits of bumpy roads to tracking devices on narwhals. From my own thoughts on adventure to the latest scientific research, we’ve covered a lot of ground together.

Looking over all of these articles since my first appeared here on February 9, 2010, I realize that one theme keeps showing up: Adventure travel is simply good for you. So I’ve compiled a Top Ten list of the reasons why.

While there are several physical health benefits to adventure travel (see Nos. 1, 2, and 3, below), the advantages for your mental wellness are just as impressive (Nos. 4, 5, and 6). Too, adventure travel can enlighten your soul (Nos. 7 and 8 ) and even help save the world (Nos. 9 and 10).
Can you think of anything else that can do all that? Continue reading