Just like you and me

Just like you and me

I was wondering what I could possibly write about in my blog this month and feeling intimidated by the famous names in meditation and mindfulness such as Jon Kabat-Zinn, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hanh and our own Ian Gawler. When they write a post about something I anticipate wisdom and credibility. What could I possibly say that they haven’t already said, but better? Then I realized, they are just like you and me. Like you, it takes commitment for me to practice meditation every day. Like you, I feel like there is so much to learn and understand. Each time we choose to meditate, we have to be disciplined to devote that ten or fifteen minutes to practice stillness, to practice getting in touch with the mind of awareness, instead of the busy active aspect of our mind. If it is like that for us, then it must be the same for them too. Surely? Before I started a regular daily practice of meditation I believed I was hopeless at it, and even though I had tried meditating in the past, I had given up; because that monkey mind was racing and I incorrectly thought I was supposed to be able to just switch it off. Wrong. Fortunately for me, at a time in my life when my health was starting to spiral downwards from too many years of burning the candle at both ends, I attended a retreat with the Capricorn Yoga teachers where they had invited Paul Wilson to teach us to meditate. I almost didn’t go because I described myself as ‘the world’s worst meditator’.  It...
The Power of Love

The Power of Love

The Christmas present from my son included a Typo calendar, which has little discount vouchers on the bottom of the page each month. In January, I could get a half price notebook. Being addicted to stationery and happy to take advantage of a bargain, of course I used it . It is here on my desk now, and the cover says “THERE ARE SO MANY REASONS TO BE HAPPY Cat videos. Weekends. Pizza.”  Perfect. So in this amazing country of ours where there is plenty for all (especially pizza), why is there so much fear, hate and sadness popping up in the media; and especially, why in my facebook newsfeed? Authors such as Russell Brand and Bruce Lipton caution us against swallowing the hype of the mass media which ultimately gives control to those in power by creating a culture of fear and powerlessness while we direct the blame to anyone who might seem like they are different. They are not to blame -and to blame for what, you could well ask. If we all realized the power of our massive numbers we could amend so many ills in the world, including war, hunger and disease. Focus therefore on the characteristics we have in common. Focus on the love we each feel for our families; the sport we enjoy watching or playing; the recipes the cooks enjoy swapping; the art and music that speaks to each of us regardless of the barrier of language. Look for the shared passion in another and forget about the differences. The ones we need to fear or mistrust are not our neighbours but the corporations who have no heart. Refuse to be led by them...
Three Days of Silence

Three Days of Silence

The silence became my three days of solitude, with mostly silence; because I quickly realized that silence is not practical when you are practicing at home with your beloved dog and cat. Leo the dog was especially bewildered by my absence of verbal cues, staring up at me and clearly trying to anticipate what we were up to. To continue in total silence would have been cruel. Misty, being a cat, simply persisted in meowing at me until she received the appropriate response to her demands. So really it wasn’t quite solitude either, with them in attendance, but I pressed on determined to experience what I had planned for my three days between Christmas and New Year with all the family away. I began my journal, and had my first epiphany early on that first day. For many years I have wanted to write a book. I knew what I wanted to share in my book, but after a few false starts, I doubted if it was meant to be written. However, as soon as I began the journal of my three day practice at home, I knew I had found the context within which to write my book. I was ecstatic. This blog therefore is a tiny sample of what I hope to create and share eventually. Apart from the silence/solitude/’pets at home’ debacle, I also found that the time was evolving quite differently to my very loose plan for the three days. My fridge was stocked with fresh fruit and vegies, and nuts for protein. I would be drinking only water and green tea: my version of a cleanse....
Manifesting

Manifesting

The definition for the verb ‘manifest’ most often includes synonyms like display, show, reveal, or make public, materialisation or appearance; or in the spiritual sense, the incarnation of something or someone. Have you ever had an experience of manifesting in your life? Many months ago I decided to trial manifesting for finding car parking spaces. It was something simple and something which I believed would cause no harm or loss to another. I only need to ask for it before I need it, and believe a space will appear. It hasn’t let me down. I always easily find convenient spaces to park, even at very busy and congested times. So this led me to wanting to better understand this phenomenon. In 1925 Florence Scovel Shinn wrote The Game of Life and How to Play It, and followed with three more books. She was famous for helping thousands of people solve their problems through affirmations and revealing the power of words and positive thinking, the metaphysical, with an immense understanding of things spiritual. In her books she relates dozens of examples of manifesting. For example, a woman needed some large paper clips but had no time to buy some. In looking for something else, she opened a drawer and found a dozen large paper clips. Convinced, she then asked for money to appear when she needed it, and it usually did. Does this mean if you are in need of money that it will magically appear. Possibly, if you ask for it; and possibly not. You can still plan your own investments, but don’t rely on your plans completely; and likewise don’t rely...
Active Mind. Still Mind.

Active Mind. Still Mind.

The two aspects of our mind can be reflected in our body. An active mind leads us to be doing. We need our active mind for survival. The planning, thinking, achieving aspect of the mind motivates us to get out there and provide shelter and food and community for life.  However, at times it can lead to too much doing and no place for stillness: active body/active mind. We need the balance of engaging with our more passive, still mind. The practice of mindfulness creates the place for simply being. It is in this place that we switch to growth and healing within the physical. Not surprisingly, this can be learned best by becoming still, relaxing the physical body, and practicing mindfulness that leads us into the stillness. I have been teaching the Mindfulness Based Stillness Meditation course for a number of years and have seen evidence of how peoples lives change for the better once they have an understanding of how to use this practice. Then we can generalise the mindfulness into our doing, and move and act in a mindful way. Still body/ still mind leads to active body/ still mind At the recent meditation teacher training with Ian and Ruth Gawler, we were learning techniques for how to use the active mind for meditation and how this can also have a profound impact on our wellness. That is me with Ian in the photo. The first of the two programs focused on imagery. Ian’s definition, ‘Imagery is the conscious development and repetition of affirmations, mental images and associated feelings for a creative purpose’, immediately indicates that it is more than visualisations; but includes...
Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Preparation for the meditation teacher training at the Gawler Foundation that I will be attending next week requires reading a number of books, including Ian Gawler’s “The Mind That Changes Everything.” In the chapter, Healing The Heart, Ian addresses forgiveness, including the things that forgiveness is not. For example it is not saying it was OK, not forgetting, and not easy.  I was reading the chapter this morning and practised one of the exercises. This was still very much in my mind while I was showering. Then while drying myself with the towel, I heard the ipod speaker play a few notes of a song in my bedroom. Expecting my grandson might be up and playing with the ipod, I opened the ensuite door to say good morning; but no-one was there. The few notes of music occurred twice more before I decided to go out and investigate. I was certain that I had turned it off the day before, and this had never happened before so I was feeling quite curious . Wrapped in my towel, seated on the edge of the bed, I nudged the ipod to see what was going on because it still looked to be off. To my surprise and bewilderment the song “Last Goodbye” by Jeff Buckley began to play. The original title of this song is “Unforgivien.” There is no doubt in my mind this was a direct message to me, and not some strange coincidence. Of course the message is a personal one and not the stuff for blogging, but it is clear that there is more to our existence and the journey of Life...
Things I Hear People Say

Things I Hear People Say

There are some things that people say to me about yoga and meditation that I hear regularly, and if you recognise them as something you say, then I hope my responses might help: I’m not flexible enough to do yoga. My lighthearted response to this is “That’s like saying I’m too dirty to take a bath.”  or “Yoga is for everyone: the fit, strong and flexible, but more importantly, for those healing, imperfect and stiff.”  Sadly this is a common misperception about yoga which is helped to persist by magazines and social media promoting people in poses that you rarely see in the average yoga class, and even most of us teachers can only dream of achieving. We all need to begin somewhere, and putting off doing yoga because you already feel inflexible in your body is like not taking up tennis because you can’t hit an ace when you serve. I can’t imagine many people buy a tennis racket or set of golf clubs and go straight into playing competition. No, of course not. You get lessons first and practice as often as you can.  The good news is that all of yoga is lessons, and there is no competing. It’s just you re-connecting mind, body and spirit. The flexibility comes with persistence and patience. I can’t meditate because I can’t stop thinking. I am familiar with this one because I used to say it too. Here’s the good news…The thoughts will always be there. It really is quite impossible to stop thinking, but what we are trying to  do when we meditate is turn down the volume on...
Old Wives Tales or Old Wives Wisdom?

Old Wives Tales or Old Wives Wisdom?

The more I read and learn about ancient wisdom, the more examples I discover that justify practices which were once commonplace in my childhood; and now ‘modern science’ is ‘proving’ that some of these wisdoms are valid. For example, I was reading about the healing properties of the metal copper, which includes being antimicrobial (kills germs). So when hospitals were being made, using door handles made out of brass (copper and zinc combined) was to minimize bacteria transfer. We seem to have forgotten that they were not ornamental, but had a purpose and have switched to other materials. Incidentally, copper is an essential mineral for our survival: helps with iron absorption, regulates the thyroid, makes bones strong, and is the primary element responsible for producing melanin in our bodies. Drinking water from a copper vessel ensures bacteria are killed and the healing properties are absorbed internally. So Prince Arthur was strong in part because he drank and ate from copper utensils! I am heading to the kitchen now to find my copper goblet. Likewise, drying nappies and other washing in the sun, before the influx of disposables and dryers, had a very hygienic purpose. The sun is a natural steriliser/sanitiser. Don’t place your crystals in the sun though. It is too powerful and will leach some crystals of colour as well as their healing properties. My parents gave us honey and eucalyptus when we had a cough as children. It turns out the honey wasn’t just being used for the sweetness. Honey is antibacterial, but it is also a demulcent, meaning it forms a mucous membrane that soothes the irritation in...
Create Momentum

Create Momentum

Momentum involves movement. What I appreciate about this image is it shows how your momentum flows to other areas of your life and likely to others around and near to you. When we start something…a yoga session, a new project, writing a blog, replacing an old habit with a new and better one… we recognise the difficulty in getting started, but once we get moving with it we find ourselves rolling along and gaining momentum. Sometimes though we go through times when we feel stuck; like we are walking the same track and going nowhere new. Perhaps you have been attending the same yoga class, or doing the same home practice. Perhaps the routine which helped you to establish your daily meditation habit is beginning to feel like another daily chore on your ‘to do’ list. Perhaps you are feeling like you are boring to be with because you don’t have anything interesting to share with your family or friends. If this sensation resonates then you might be needing some momentum. It might be time to set a challenge for yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. Try something new – a different style of yoga or meditation, or change your routine and reshuffle your daily tasks. Try going faster, or slower. Look for ways to involve those around you. Wear something you always liked but were never game to try, and notice what effect it has on your mindset. Keep going. How you live each day determines how you live your life, so start building momentum now to live the life you have always wanted.  ...
Relationships

Relationships

Relationships are what we are here for. Sometimes they can be hard, but we must never give up on connecting with others. In the words of Mother Teresa, “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” Sometimes when we lose someone we love, we are hesitant to love again, because the pain can be unbearable. Even when we lose a cherished pet, we say we say we never want to have another; but then fate (or a meddling family member or friend) throws us into contact with a furry bundle and we just can’t reject them. They need us. And there is the central truth to life…we need each other. Advertising tricks us into thinking we need more and more stuff, but if I were to lose all I have tomorrow, but know my family and friends would be safe because of it, then I would happily surrender all my possessions; and I am sure I am not alone in feeling this way. Have you ever spoken to nurses who care for the dying. They all say they are yet to meet anyone who regrets not spending more time at work, but regularly hear wishes that more time was given to loved ones. So I encourage you to take the time to heal if you need it. Don’t worry if you messed up in some relationship that went awry. Dust yourself off and get back out there and connect. People need you and you need people, and not a single...