Or…Why I Cut Off All My Hair
Is there a longing for change within you? Has it already happened? Have you told the world yet?
One of my colleagues posted this great quote on our facebook page today,
To change one’s life; Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions.
– William James
There isn’t a big enough ‘like’ button in the world for me to express how much I adore this notion. This story expresses what it means to me.
Last month I was fortunate enough to attend a week long retreat in Vancouver with Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen Buddhist Master. Eight hundred of us experienced this amazing man’s teachings of peace and mindfulness and I was profoundly changed by the experience.
Thay (‘teacher’ in his native Vietnamese) shares his message of inner peace through mindfulness all over the world and has done so since the 1960’s. Over the course of the retreat I found myself truly slowing down, being comfortable with my own company and becoming present to each moment.
These are aspects of myself that I’ve been working on for the last few years but this perfect ‘mindfulness hot house’ enabled me to sustain these states for longer than I have ever experienced before.
I’m still processing the shifts that took place in me that week. I’m slowly learning to apply the techniques to my home and work life and I have a feeling that it is the work of a lifetime.
One change that I made as soon as I got back was to cut off all of my hair and I do mean all of it. My hair was mid-way down my back and now it is 3/8 of an inch long. So what the flip was that about? (As just about everyone has asked me.)
There are a few reasons: Firstly, the retreat was run by the most beautiful people I have ever met, monks and nuns who practice mindfulness all day, every day. They are shining beacons of peace, compassion and kindness and none of them have any hair. What better role models could I have?
Two, I was very clear that I wanted to be forever changed by this experience, I didn’t want to slip back into old habits and patterns. I wanted to draw a line for myself and others to see, a line that said, ‘as of now everything is different’. Now I have a reminder of those changes every time I touch my head or catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror.
Finally, I wanted to prove to myself that big changes are possible. After all, I am not my hairjust as I am not my thoughts and I am not my past. Sometimes we feel the weight of the past too heavily on us and we think we can’t change. Only when we bravely make a change do we see that it wasn’t that radical after all.
I wanted to start immediately, I wanted to be flamboyant and I didn’t want there to be any exceptions.
I can promise you that there’s something very freeing about cutting off all of your hair but I know it’s not for everyone. This was my way of expressing inner change. I invite you look deeply and see what changes you are ready to make then, honor them in your own way. Write them down, even if it’s only for you to see. Get rid of clutter that you don’t need. Wear a colour the old you would never wear.
Live mindfully, aware of the choices you are making. Whether they serve you well or not, make them consciously.
And your reminder doesn’t need to be your hair, why not return to your breath every time you hear a bell? Your phone, the doorbell, your inbox. Each time they ‘ring’ come home to your breath and remind yourself to be present and mindful. It is as simple and as difficult as that.
Wishing you joy in each and every moment.
Immerse yourself in mindfulness practice for a day of yoga, meditation and sangha (community). Cultivate your natural ability to be present to each moment through seated breath meditation, yoga practice, discussion, walking meditation, mindful eating and noble silence. During this mini-retreat, based on the teachings of the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, we will practice, eat and walk together to find the true peace, joy and happiness in each moment. $65 plus HST
Jacquelyn is a 500 hour Registered Yoga Teacher and Reiki Level Two practitioner. Yoga has helped her to overcome paralyzing fears and chronic pain and find her true purpose in life. Her focus is on encouraging those around her to have patience, kindness and compassion for themselves and the courage to stand, fearless, in their own light. Jacquelyn has studied meditation and mindfulness in the Shambhala tradition and with Thich Nhat Hanh. She teaches Gentle Yoga, Chakra Flow Yoga, Yoga for Women, Beginners Yoga, Seniors Yoga, Power Yoga, Learn to Meditate and a variety of workshops.