Day 31 – sensational simplicity

A month into this journey and I am looking back at my time, the various spaces where I have found peace and the people who have affected me along the way. I have, so far, kept most of my own story out of this project, but it has come to a point where the meditations make no sense without the story. Rather than being a separate part of my life, meditating has now become a deeply intermingled part of my life and especially my travels. I guess it would be fair to introduce my fiancé, Andrew. He is like… um… He is a bloke. He is the blokiest bloke you have ever met. He is, in his own way, possibly the most spiritually enlightened being I have ever met. He knows how to just BE. His whole life revolves around the ocean- swell, winds and anything else that can effect how perfect a wave he is going to slot himself into. Even Osho once wrote that surfing is the greatest meditation that anyone can ever do. Andrew, known by most of the world as Bevo, lives, works, owns and exists on a surf charter boat in the Mentawai islands. I have lived on it, on and off, for the past two seasons amongst him, five Indonesian crew and ten other Aussie blokes. It is paradise, when the testosterone overload is not driving me completely insane. The boat stories are for another space, though, because this bliss project may see some boat specific meditations in the future. For now, I am in Mexico.

Last night in Cabo, we went out for some drinks and food. There was probably more eating than drinking going on… by the time we ate a few tacos, creme brûlée and a late night quesadilla, we couldn’t even fit in another sip of water, let alone another Margarita or cerveca. When I woke up this morning, the last thing I felt like doing was meditating. I was still full and bloated and feeling a little ill. Especially since the late night quesadilla leftovers were somewhere in the hotel room. We got ourselves together and were soon in the rental car on our way back to Los Cerritos. Yes, that is the same spot of desert we were yelling at each other in yesterday. But it is the only place with waves, so it is the only possible place we can be! But this time we have a car! So I’m wishing I wore a sports bra as we bounce along down the dirt road in this tiny little dodge, the surfboards are jutting out next to my head and a little “Ow!” from the other side of them tells me that Andrew just knocked his head on them. ANYWAY so we finally arrive at San Pedrito Surf Hotel where the owner, also Andrew, is kind enough to clean the only available room for us so that we can haul in for the next two nights. As soon as we pay and get settled in, my Andrew is asking if we want to leave early… Because there are no waves!

Let’s walk down to the beach. It is my only answer. We tumble down the sand to the right hander that is barely breaking and stand in ankle deep water among some rocks. I stand for a moment when Andrew asks if I am meditating. Good idea! So I sit on the rock next to him and close my eyes, knowing that an idea will come to me… Outdoors meditations are pretty easy. There is always some beauty waiting to be noticed. I close my eyes and think of the elemental sensations around me. Fire from the sun, the earth of the rock beneath me, the water gentle caressing my feet and the wind softly kissing my skin. I bask in the feeling of these sensations until I naturally open my eyes to find that I am alone. I look around, notice that I am completely alone and finally decide to walk back to the room, assuming that is where he went. I can’t help but feel a little annoyed. How come meditation can’t just evaporate negative emotions? Then I realise- meditation doesn’t evaporate anything. Life still happens. The only thing that changes is me. One month ago, I might have gotten a little annoyed when I realised I was left alone, but this time I just… get over it. I find him walking up behind me on the beach and I run back down. He starts running too. Have you ever watched a dog run because he is excited? Like every dog is just stoked out of their minds to be outside and running is the best thing in the whole world? That’s how I feel running down to the water. Like, hey, you don’t have to growl at each other, you can just run around and wag your little tail and dig a hole or something! People always say, if only life was that simple. Sometimes it is. We just try to make it difficult.

Meditation is just making life simple. The sun. A rock. The water. The wind. Sensational


Day 30 – centre yourself meditation

We get off the bus at Todos Santos. It is early. It is cold. The bus driver offers to drive us further down to Pescadero, where all the surfers go. So we put our luggage back in and climb aboard again. About 10km out of town, he shows us a dirt road that goes straight down to the beach. Only a 400m walk, we should be able to find a hotel down at Los Cerritos.

Cut to an hour later. My partner is literally growling. Like an animal. And I am laughing. Can’t he see the funny side of this? We are dragging our luggage around in the dirt, none of the hotels have a vacancy and the only one that does is up a hill and through some impassable cactus fields that we can’t seem to get around. There are three puppies staring at us despondently, (the typical male is promising me they are about to attack). Ultimately, the only one about to attack is the animal walking beside me, cursing everything around him. Finally, his bad mood infects me and I start yelling right back. We are standing in the middle of a dirt road, kilometres from a bus station, no taxis, surrounded by nothing but cactus and every hotel seems equidistant and further away than ever. I finally walk back to the first hotel and find someone to drive us back to the bus stop where we head for Cabo San Lucas.

Later that morning… We are driving around Cabo, trying to find a hotel near a wave. There are no big waves here. This is the Sea of Cortez, not the Pacific Ocean. If we want Pacific Ocean waves, we are told, we should go to a place called Los Cerritos. We were just IN Los Cerritos! Finally we find a hotel and have a much needed shower and before I even get clothes on, I say out loud that I need to meditate, even if it is just for ten minutes. I have to argue to get the ten minutes, though, because hunger and lingering frustration is still surrounding us. This is a sure sign that a quick meditation is needed even more than food.

I stand up and close my eyes. My feet are slightly wider than hip width apart and my knees slightly bent, so that I have a really wide and solid base. This is a relaxing and grounding meditation. I learnt it from a Shamanic friend from New Jersey named Shane who I met in an Ashram in Bali. He taught it to me to help bring me back to my centre when I start to get negative and argumentative with people around me. As soon as I find my breath, I imagine cool, relaxing waters washing over me. They begin at my head and wash down over my body. The next round, the water enters my crown chakra where a thousand petaled lotus opens up to receive the cooling energy. The water washes down past my third eye, which also opens at the centre of my forehead. As the water washes down my throat, it passes through it like a water wheel, then down my heart where a rose opens, its vines stretching out through my chest and down my fingertips. The water washes down through the fire of my solar plexus, through the conch shell of my sacral womb and then out the roots of my base, deep into the earth. The first visualisation is slow, but as I grow accustomed to each image; lotus, third eye, water wheel, rose and vines, fire, conch shell and roots, I can see the water flowing faster and smoother. I can feel a state of deep enjoyment wash over me with each round of visualisation. Its effect is calming and reassuring. It is also immediately effective upon myself and my partner.

By the time I close my meditation, a mere 10 minutes later, the energy in the room has shifted and an unspoken feeling of forgiveness has enveloped both of us. By the time we eat we laugh about our morning. After all, the hardest parts of the journey are always the places we learn the most.

Day 29 – star meditation

Sitting on a bus ride, I am aware of the 15 hours of travelling journey ahead of us. This is longer than the plane ride but for some reason, less exhausting. It is also easier to sleep. I am tired but not sleepy and looking around me for some kind of anchor into the present moment when my eye catches the moon. It has been bright the past few nights, even though it is in an early waxing crescent stage. I also notice Venus who has been shining brightly for the past few days. I don’t have my glasses on, so I probably see less than half of the visible stars. I am short sighted and even the stars that I can see are blurry, but that makes them all the more special. Like they shine extra bright just so those of us who are vision impaired can actually see them. The bus winds around mountains and bumps along the desert road to Cabo, in the south of Baja California. I feel my body hurled against the wall, my head knocks against the window and I just let go and allow myself to be rocked by the movement. I feel as though I am in space.

For some reason I know that it is cold in space but if there are no particles, then how does anything hold a temperature? And if there is no atmosphere then how come the sun isn’t making space just a giant sauna? I love thinking about space, supernovas, black holes,worm holes, hyper-speed, time/space continuum, or just whether there is some other being really far away looking at the same star I am looking at and wondering if I am here? But to just sit and look at the stars and allow my mind some respite. There is no need to think. There is no need to wonder. Just be in the space. Be here, where I am. Because regardless of how much oxygen separates us from the big black nothingness, we are still just people standing on a planet, hurtling through space, around a distant and enormous sun that dictates our entire lives.

Day 28 – campfire meditation

It would be hard for anyone to look into the depths of a fire and not meditate. I have waited all day for our campfire just to meditate. I don’t even need to tell the people around me; they are all entranced by the beautiful flames licking the wood and cold night air. In the darkness we see a field mouse dash across the fire circle. We shine the torch on him, which sends him into a flurry of confusion. He suddenly runs into the fire and then promptly bounces straight back out of it. We crowd around him to make sure he is ok and then watch him scurry into the night. What makes any of us run directly into the hottest part of the flame? Fear. But watching the fire, I feel no fear. Just awe and respect at its beauty and power. I don’t even need to write more.

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Day 27 – desert ocean meditation

We are at the top of a hill looking down at a wave that I’m not allowed to write about due to surfers’ censorship. I am wondering around the cliff top looking at pieces of quartz when I get this feeling in my gut. I have to sit down on a rock and meditate.
So I do.

I look at the ocean and stare at the calm blue water. From up this high I can’t see the breaking waves. I’m sitting in the desert staring at beautiful ocean. My mind clears up and becomes as bare as the desert as I focus on the constant movement of the water. The wind blows gently and the sun is warming my skin but not burning it.

I sit for only 15 minutes at the most because I can feel the boys waiting. They have collected firewood and are standing around, grunting impatiently. As we come back down to camp, I start to place a pile of rocks in a circle for the fire while the boys stack up the dry trees. I become entranced with making this fire circle as the car radio plays some earthy African music and I still feel like I’m meditating. I remember one of my teachers, Twee, saying, “make every moment sacred.”
This moment feels sacred. After I meditate, every moment feels sacred.
I keep staring at the desert. It seems to hold some kind of magic. Well, nature holds magic in it. This week of camping will be an exploration of outdoors style meditations, focusing on the beauty of nature.

Day 26 – meditation happens

The mind is like the ocean. The salt is all the thoughts. They never go away, but sometimes they are more still than others. I am sitting watching the gentle waves breaking up against the beach of Playa Esmeralda, where we are camping. The white wash is like my mind, a swirling mess of thought cascading over itself in an endless barrage of waves.
Then I stare at the horizon. Past the breakers, the ocean is glassy and blue. Meditation is like trying get out past the breakers. Today they are beating me back to the shore. After about twenty minutes of getting moved around in white wash I stand up and walk away. Sometimes it’s ok to forgive myself and walk away.
Later in the afternoon the persistent jet lag is threatening to throw me back to sleep so I go for a walk on the beach. It’s low tide but the dark wet sand is still cold on my Barr feet. The Santa Ana winds are blowing me down the beach and a swirling mist of dry white sand is dancing around my feet, guiding me forward. I stop and stand in this swirling magic and through the wind I can hear a vulture in a nest above me, warning me away from her young.
Sometimes meditation happens to you, even just a moment, but you will know exactly when it does and somehow you are more grateful for those surprise moments of bliss, like a gift from the universe.

Day 25 – inner temple meditation

Driving down to Baja California, Mexico. We woke up late and had to rush through packing the car and picking up some last minute quinoa. As we were getting set up, a surf movie called Drive Thru New Zealand was on tv. One of the surfers described the worst of the road trip, “you’re sitting there with some guy talking in your face and loud music you don’t like… I don’t meditate but I had no other choice.”
As soon as I’m in the car I understand. We won’t arrive at the Baja Cactus motel until late this evening anyway so meditating in the car sounds like a good idea.

I put my earphones in and try not to hear the radio personalities yelling profanities at each other. Quickly, I find myself walking into my favourite meditation. It is a visualisation i came up with alone and i use it when I know I need it the most. I begin by visualising a dirt path. It goes up a hill that faces the ocean. The hill drops off as a cliff face and the very top of the hill is layered in a fine mist. As I ascend, each element of the visualisation represents a chakra. The dirt path and soft green grass is my root chakra, the water of the ocean is the sacral chakra, the shining sun is the solar plexus chakra. The place I am walking to, halfway up the hill, my inner temple, is my heart chakra. It is the centre of myself, where my higher self, my atman, true self, resides. The smells of the flowers and sound of music represent my throat chakra, the warm wind is my third eye and the soft white mist is my crown chakra.

As I ascend to the temple, I notice the smell of the flowers, the gentle warm wind and the feeling of home returns. I find my higher self waiting in the temple as always and a feeling of unconditional love comes over me. I stay in this temple for as long as I can before moving to the top of the hill and standing in the light of the mist. When I am ready to leave, I thank this space and each element of it as I descend the hill back down the dirt path.

At the bottom I take a few deep breaths, gently move my fingers and toes and bring awareness back to where i am in the car. The rap music is still loud and I open my eyes to find myself still completely absorbed by a feeling of ecstasy. I haven’t ever felt this so strong before. It is like pure energy is resonating around my heart. I’m almost floating from this feeling of pure bliss. I need to ground myself a little or I may be shocked back into this real world I am surrounded by of rap music, surfers and military territory as we drive further south. I take some moisturiser out of my bag and rub my feet, gently massaging the soles and cracking my toes. I stare out the window at the rolling California country, the hovering vultures and the distant coastline.

We stop in San Clemente to buy a surfboard so I get out of the car while the boys are in the shop. I still feel like I need to put my feet on solid ground or else i might float away but i still feel so blissed out. I take a walk towards the beach and back to the car where I climb a tree. I sit in it and feel myself come back down to the earth. I’m still feeling really good but the intensity has passed so I feel ready to re emerge into the world.

After a week of grounding meditation, I have come to realise the importance of this simple practise. Especially when working with meditations that bring you into the upper chakras or work with ascension, it is necessary to practice grounding. I am starting to think that it should prelude and conclude any meditation practice and should probably happen daily. When working spiritually, I notice that I become more sensitive to negativity and when I am not grounded I can get a little airy. It becomes harder for me to deal with emotional ups and downs and the world seems to take on a certain sharpness. Staying grounded is really important in order to be able to follow a spiritual path and yet still live in the real world and amongst other people.

Note: I held back from describing my inner temple or this inner place as it is a sacred home and I believe it should be unique to each person. For someone else, there may be no ocean, but there may be water in some other form or there may be no hill at all but a house with stairs. There may be some other symbol for root chakra like trees, or stars instead of wind or mist or there may be coloured levels instead. Either way, there is an ascension as you move up through the chakras to open them and a descending as you close them on the way back down to end meditation. Choose a setting that resonates with you, make it entirely your own and know that whenever you come to this sacred inner space at the centre of yourself, you can find your true essence.

Day 24 – walking meditation

An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day – Henry David Thoreau

A walking meditation is also great for jet lag, I have found, since you have to be awake to walk. You also need to have your eyes open. Today we are walking down the pier of Manhattan beach, LA, so I decide to make the entire pier a moving meditation. An important thing to do before a walking meditation, if you are with people, is to let them know that you are meditating. If they don’t know you are meditating, you may seem rude when they try to talk to you, or you will get seriously distracted when they say “look at that!” The one thing that separates walking meditation from just walking is the practice of mindfulness. So we already know from the pranayamas and other meditations that mindfulness is just the focusing of the awareness on the subtle part of the practice. For walking meditation, it may be the feeling of the feet on the ground, or the steady breath as you walk.

When walking for exercise, it is easy to let the mind go on overdrive and when I am walking around I often find a stream of consciousness that goes something like this… “Wow what a nice day. It’s a bit cold. Don’t forget to put that jumper in your bag. Oh and then take that other bag out of the car. Ooh look at her shoes. That bird just swooped at that bike rider. Careful, there’s a car! That car is dirty. My car is dirty. I need to go to the car wash. I can do that after I get a coffee. Look at that…” And so on. When walking for meditation, there is nothing to think about besides walking.

To begin the meditation, it is best to bring the attention to the sensations of walking in the feet, then the ankles, calves, knees, hips, pelvis, stomach, spine, shoulders, neck, face and head. As I find my centre, my body relaxes into the rhythm of walking. I focus on the feeling of clothing as I move and the physical aspect of walking as well as the weather. Today it is cold, windy and there is a light rain. My sunglasses are slowly flecked with drops of rain and my fingers and face feel the chill of the winter winds. I withhold my usual habit of reading every piece of text around me and I try not to notice the curling waves on either side of the pier or the beautiful big pelicans surfing them. At the end of the pier, I circle the small kiosk and as I come to stand still I am greeted by the sight of some massive dolphins swimming around by the pier. I stop to watch them and when the rain starts to come down heavier, we decide to leave the pier. As I walk back down, I once again enter the rhythm of the walking meditation. Getting back to the car, I stop and stand for a few moments, grounding down through my feet and allowing some deep breaths to bring me out of the meditation and back into real life. Although I have been in the real world the whole time, I also feel like the walking meditation had me on another plane, spiritually.

I really like this walking meditation and when we go camping this week into the Mexican desert, I would like to try some other variations of walking. Slight variations could definitely change the entire blessing of the walk.

New Video of Moving Meditation

Check out the video I uploaded of Day 21 moving meditation, the bhumi namaskar, on YouTube!

Watch Now!

Day 23 – tadasana meditation

Jet Lag- medical term, desynchronosis, refers to the circadian rhythm sleep disorder in which a person travels across multiple time zones. The estimated time it takes to get over jet lag is one day per time zone crossed… So we should feel better in about twelve days? That can’t be right. Especially since I travel with a range of “potions” to make flying as comfortable as possible, including lavender hand moisturiser (my hands get super dry), Jurlique rose facial spray (refreshes and tones), Badger ‘chai rose’ lip balm (Ayurvedically, I am a Vata, so always dry and cold…), Origins “Peace of Mind” cream (minty, just a dab on the temples, ears and back of the neck is instant calm), Bach Rescue Remedy (in case of anxiety), moisturising preservative-free eye drops (typical Vata dry eyes) and liquid Oxygen drops (refreshes, purifies water, re-hydrates and helps with jet lag, fatigue and hangovers). That’s me- getting out my little plastic zip-lock bag and lining up the assortment of bottles and balms, all under 100mL, on my tray table and giving myself a little mid flight treatment every couple of hours.

No amount of liquid oxygen can replace sleep. At 3pm I am in bed and I can’t move, I can’t keep my eyes open and I know there is a danger I am about to sleep until tomorrow without meditating. I can’t do anything except let go and trust that my higher self knows what is best for me. At 6pm I can’t sleep any longer, so I gratefully get up and roll out my yoga mat. Honestly I believe yoga can fix anything and after sitting up rigidly for the past thirty or so hours, I need to move my body. I light the scented candle in our friend’s bachelor pad, grateful that it is red- the colour of the muladhara chakra. I flow through a gentle practice for about an hour, using certain poses to find moments of meditation. Standing in warrior pose, I inhale and draw my arms back in to prayer and then exhale as my arms extend. Integrating moments of meditation into the asana makes the entire practice more meditative and is a useful way to prepare for stillness. After a relaxing Savasana I feel ready to meditate without sleeping. I decide to stand anyway and use a grounding meditation to come back down to Earth. After an emotional argument mid-flight, I need to stand in my own power and feel my inner strength. After all, I am right.

I find Tadasana, the Mountain Pose. Feet hip width apart, four corners of each foot pressing into the ground, roots running deep into the Earth, my knees soft, hips level, spine long, chin level to the ground and the crown of the head extending up high, feeling like a channel of energy is flowing through from the top of my head to the ground. I am a mountain. Strong. Solid. Constant. Our friend comes home and creeps past me, quietly apologising for catching me “mid-med” and I smile and whisper it is fine, though my focus does not shift. Perhaps when you are so incredibly exhausted and jet lagged it is easier to be without thought. The argument playing on my mind comes back into my attention and I feel a hand grip around my heart in anxiety. I take a deep breath and with the exhale imagine that issue slipping out through my fingertips like drops of dirty water, falling to the ground, getting absorbed back into the Earth.

After 17 minutes, I reach my frozen hands up for a final stretch. All I can think about is a hot cup of tea. It is winter in America at the moment. I am looking forward to hitting some Mexican summer but for now, my hair at least is appreciating the dry cold. Jet lag may be weighing me down but I feel strong and light after this mountain meditation. In particular, the argument that was still causing so much commotion in my mind seems so small now. It doesn’t matter who was right. There is no right or wrong. It is all a matter of perception. It is easy enough to justify your own actions and the more you assert your reasons, the more self-righteous you can become but it doesn’t make it any easier. It won’t convince the other person to see your point of view because they will be doing the same. Sometimes perhaps the answer is to let it go, allow the emotions to settle and then just talk in simple terms. Because going over the problem and who was the cause of it doesn’t help find a solution. At the end of the day it is all about love and respect. If every action comes from selfless love then everything will just flow.

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