I’ve always had a strong desire to understand the world and the human mind. Coming from a scientific and secular household, science seemed the natural route to satisfy my curiosity. So in university, I took a science degree, with a major in psychology.
But the answers I received didn’t satisfy my inner longing to understand. There seemed to be something missing. I felt a growing sense of despair--a feeling of being stranded in a lifeless universe. Or on better days, a feeling that the paradigm in which I’d been trained was simply inadequate.
I was half way through a graduate degree in cognitive neuroscience when to manage depression I started meditating and reading about Buddhist philosophy.
Meditation gifted me with a series of life-altering experiences--the first-hand knowing that we are not our bodies, and that all is one, the awareness that language and perception, and even the most sophisticated science are necessary for communication and are the best we’ve got--but ultimately they are incomplete and finite attempts to grasp the indefinable infinite.
My curiosity took a turn and I began to be more interested in consciousness and spirituality. While the mind and behaviour can be explained by brain activity, what about consciousness? How does that fit into the picture? This began a ten year journey into philosophy, spirituality, yoga, and eventually astrology.
While I’d been practicing yoga on and off since the late nineties, I made a wholehearted commitment to the practice in 2010. I travelled to India and Thailand to study Ashtanga yoga, and that’s when I was introduced to astrology. Since then, both astrology and yoga have been essential to my life and practice.
Back in Canada, I committed to a daily yoga practice, and at the same time began to devour astrology texts. I continued to work part-time in psychology research, as I’d been doing before traveling to India, while pursuing yoga, astrology, and philosophy in my free time.
Finally in 2013 I took the plunge and started teaching yoga. My first class was at the Carnegie Centre in the Downtown Eastside. I am forever grateful for the beautiful souls who came to that class, and who, really, taught me to teach.
From there, I started teaching at Unity Yoga, Three Jewels, and Yogacara, as well as various semi-private and community classes. All the while, I kept studying astrology.
I never planned to be an astrologer, but I couldn’t put the books down, and then I started reading charts and there was no looking back. Astrology was filling a deep need I had to make sense of the world, to have a worldview that made sense to me. A framework in which I could situate yoga, spirituality, and consciousness.
To me, astrology represents an alternative worldview to the mainstream mechanistic, materialist framework. The destruction of the earth and disrespect for those who live in harmony with it; capitalism and consumer culture; patriarchy, violence, oppression: these thrive on a worldview that understands humans as superior to nature, that sees us as separate and isolated; alone in a lifeless universe, having to fight and compete for our survival.
In this model, the earth is composed of resources for our exploitation, the universe is random, and our existence is an accident. In such a world, economic growth is logical, competition is necessary, and violence is a means to an end. Despite that this perspective is painted as scientific, not only is it unsustainable and unethical, it no longer fits with the evidence.
From all corners, there is evidence to suggest something much more mysterious is going on: research on near death experience suggests consciousness is not confined to the brain (Penny Sartori), some academic philosophers are taking seriously the idea that consciousness is a fundamental aspect of nature (Thomas Nagel), and quantum physics changes everything (David Bohm). Some scientists are coming around to the idea that the framework they’ve been relying on for the past century or more has significant limitations, and perhaps it’s time to adopt a new paradigm (Robert Lanza).
For me, it was reading Richard Tarnas’ profound book Cosmos and Psyche that convinced me to take astrology seriously--that it’s more than merely interesting or fun, but that there is compelling evidence for it, and that it has the potential to offer an alternative paradigm to the Cartesian one that many of us knowingly or unknowingly continue to employ. Tarnas shows that there are undeniable correlations between major astrological transits and major historical events such as wars, inventions, and works of art.
Such a framework enabled me to fully embrace the yoga, meditation, and astrology practices that had been so healing to me, but that conflicted with the way I’d been raised to understand the world.
Looking back, I can see that I demanded more from science than it’s capable of delivering. Cognitive neuroscience is fascinating and offers great insight into the human mind. It’s not capable of explaining the deeper significance of life because that’s not what it’s for: it’s for understanding the relationship between brain and behaviour, and for that, it’s very effective.
Our journeys aren’t always so theoretical in nature. That’s a blessing. Intellectualizing is a defence, a way of detaching. But this is my path: from head to heart, from theory to practice.
My wish is that I may be of service, that I may make use of some of the practices and ways of thinking that have helped me ease my own suffering and come to deeper understanding of myself. I created Mystic Sandwich as a space to share some of the tools and resources that I’ve found helpful--and I hope you will too.