Day 173 – a luminous friend has a gravitational pull stronger than the sun

I actually got to sleep before 10pm last night so when my alarm goes off at 6am, I am happy to just lie in bed doing breath regulation. I realise how long it has been since I last did this. Exhale ten seconds. Inhale five seconds. I watch the second hand move on my watch in the darkness. It is so cold outside this bed. At 6.29, a whole half hour of watching my breath, I finally get up and get ready. The sunrise is beautiful as I drive down to Cronulla. There is a beautiful running track that leads to Kurnell. I still feel tired, but the run fills me with energy. I have a long and slow day at work before teaching yoga. My life feels like I am sprinting just to keep up with it. I don’t even have time to go home, so I get ready at my friend Krystle’s house. It is her birthday today so we get pretty together like girlfriends do, sharing makeup with our glasses of wine.

This girl is amazing. I have never met someone so incredibly grounded and self-assured. She is the kind of person that will randomly hug herself tightly and say, “I just love myself so much!” She sees the glass as neither half-full, nor half-empty, but with the knowledge that you can always fill it up again! She is also the kind of independent woman who responds to a meditation CD with the thought, “You can’t tell me what to do!” She is vibrant and energetic. Her energy is infectious and since knowing her, I think I tend to jump around a whole lot more. She curses the hairdryer with her Irish accent and then applies her ‘drag-queen’ makeup. We go out and she spends half the night running around to say hi to all the people she knows. I haven’t eaten dinner, so I rifle through my bag and find some dried strawberries that I brought back from India. I completely forgot I had these. They smell like India and I am taken back to my friend Rupali, who, even with her broken leg, insisted on going out and trudging through bucketing rain just to show me a famous mosque. Krystle reminds me a lot of her, actually. They have the same radiance, the same high energy, and the same strong independent personality. I realise I am also wearing an outfit I bought in India for $8 when I was with Rupali in Pushkar, that same day it rained so heavily. Sitting around talking to some friends, a man tells me he wants to jump across the table and kiss my forehead. I am a little shocked, so I say, “forehead is an interesting choice. It is almost a little fatherly. May I ask why you would kiss my forehead and not my hand or my cheek?” He told me that he believed the forehead had a special quality about it, that it had a strong energy and that he really liked my energy. Where do these people come from? It’s like I am a magnet for spiritually minded strangers who talk to me about energy. It isn’t like I am dressed like a hippy. Although this jumpsuit is from India, it is black and has been carefully matched with bright red pumps and my favourite red lipstick. This is carefully orchestrated fashion. You wouldn’t know I was a yoga teacher looking at me today, especially with a glass of sparkling in my hand. And yet, here I am, talking to a perfect stranger about the power and attraction of the third eye centre in the middle of the forehead. Thankfully, this man stays on his own side of the table, and my forehead remains unkissed.

With Krystle radiating like the sun, her gravitational pull so strong that we all bond around this central person, I have made such close friendships that I am now feeling deeply attached to Sydney. I tell her that for the first time in a long time, I am not looking at flights to Africa or India or Paris. I don’t feel like I am running away anymore. I feel like I am running towards this brighter future. I feel like I am present and enjoying being here now and now here. Thank you, Krystle. Happy Birthday. xx

Advertisements

Day 172 – what is the best thing that happened to you today?

A couple of years ago, working behind a bar I remember it was not the best of days. A customer approached and as I poured his beer, he asked, “What is the best thing that happened to you today?” I was a little surprised but after a moment I told him that I got a really awesome car space when I got to work. He said, “Good on you! That’s great!” I told him how wonderful it was to be asked something so simple, that making me think about that one positive thing has just turned around my day. He said that he loved to ask people that. “It was only once that someone couldn’t give me an answer. This young boy walked away to think about it, but when he came back he told me he still didn’t have an answer but that simple question just changed his whole life.”

It is through a conversation with a friend that I realise how different my thought process is now to how it was at the beginning of this journey. My automatic reaction to life is now set on the positive side and I seem to be attracting more of that around me. Speaking to my friend, I had asked her about a first date. She had a few too many wines and jagerbombs and when the guy kept talking about his ex-girlfriend, she snapped at him. Coming back from the ladies’ room, she looked across the busy bar and decided to just leave without saying a word. The poor guy waited for her and eventually sent a message to say that he enjoyed the afternoon and was sorry she had to leave early. When she told me this story, I said, “Good!” and she said “No, Liz, it isn’t good. You don’t treat people like that. Especially when he was so polite and I really did like him, I just kind of… snapped!” I saw what she meant, but my default reaction had been to say ‘Good!’ and smile about it. Seeing how guilty she was feeling, I told her that she should trust her instincts. Especially when drunk, the higher self often steps in and takes care of us. How else could we explain how we make it home some nights? After a big night partying, I once woke up with socks on. Knowing I didn’t have socks on the night before, I had to say a prayer of thanks to the self who took care of me enough to worry about my feet getting cold while I slept. I assured my friend that she left for a reason and to trust her intuition because if it led her out the door, then maybe she dodged a bullet. She agreed, saying her instincts were usually pretty spot on.

As she left I had to do a double take on my brain. Is this the same mind that once stood in the Mexican desert arguing and on the verge of tears? Is this the same mind that once suffered from chronic anxiety so persistent that she couldn’t eat? Is this the same mind that used to dwell on loss and grief and struggle to smile? In this simple exchange, I look back on 172 days of meditation, of luminous moments that have changed and shaped the person I am becoming. The road to this higher self has been long and rough. Sometimes it feels like an uphill struggle up slippery rocks, but it is these moments that I can feel the internal sun shine in my heart. I realise that if someone asked me what was the best thing that happened to me today, I would say, “Being here right now.”

Day 164 to Day 171 – what am I running away from?

Day 164 – the Third Eye Sandwich

When we imagine the breath, we usually just visualise the in and the out around the nose. In India, we were taught to loop the breath, exhaling down the front of the body to the tips of the toes and then inhaling up the back of the body to the crown of the head. This morning I use this breath to centre myself, to calm down and focus my mind. When I feel ready to bring my attention to the third eye centre, just at the centre of my forehead, the loop continues and creates what my friend, Chantal, calls a ‘yummy third eye sandwich’. But when I remember this after only 10 minutes, I find myself thinking of a real sandwich. It is mid morning and I still haven’t had anything to eat yet. I need to go running and before long my mind is racing with a whole list of things to do before I start work this afternoon. I can’t focus. I give up and decide to get ready. I can tell it is going to be a long week.

Day 165 – time to sleep

I have had less than four hours of sleep and despite the early morning rise, I feel alive and energetic. Waking up early and missing out on sleep can happen for many different reasons; anxiety, insomnia or work… but it is yoga that makes this truly worth it. After I teach, I practice for another hour by myself in the studio. Time moves too fast and I need to race through breakfast in order to get to work. Once again I am chewing as I get dressed. I really miss eating with reverence and peace. I always seem to be chewing while driving or showering. It isn’t until halfway through the afternoon when I hit the wall and need a coffee so desperately, I barely taste it. It is in this brief moment of pause between cleaning beer taps that I realise how quickly my life is moving now. I barely have time to sleep, let alone practice, let alone eat! In between training for races, teaching yoga, working and trying to make sure I get time to practice and then write about it, I feel like I never actually stop to catch my breath. Life is just a never-ending sprint. This is the whirlpool if city life. I recognise it. I have been here before. I can’t wait to sleep in. Then another voice chimes in from deep within my latent habits… “you can sleep when you die.”

Day 166 – feedback

Nobody likes bad feedback, but without a little criticism we can never improve right? Well, the ego still takes a little beating. I try not to look sad about this but I can feel this inner disappointment with myself and I want to just yank it out like a grey hair. I talk to my mother about it as I put on my makeup. I am getting ready and even though I am training for a race in a few weeks and nervous about injuries, I still make the decision to wear my new ridiculously high heeled boots, because let’s face it; high heels can make a girl feel like she rules the world. As my mum listens, she tries to find something wise to tell me from the book she is reading. It is called The Magic and is the sequel to the bestseller, The Secret. I have heard that this book is all about gratefulness. Well, I look at her and tell her thank you for listening and reassure her that everything will be fine. I have so much to be grateful for, but especially grateful for the feedback that will help me move forward as a yoga teacher. Feedback is just like that vegetable you don’t like eating. You learn to love it because it is good for you!

Day 167 – making friends and illuminating people

I am reading an article in Marie Claire about making friends. The writer goes on a month long experiment to find new friends. As an adult who works mostly from home, she finds it difficult to make new friendships and goes about joining running clubs, writing groups, networking and other painful situations in the effort to meet a new best friend. I wonder at this predicament, but looking through my own life I realise how hard it has become to make time for all the friends in my life as it is. I am lucky to have picked up friends from yoga circles, university and pubs I have worked at but it takes serious co-ordination to make time to spend with all these friends. I am sitting in the Globe cafe in Coogee by myself eating the most amazing Haloumi stack and realise that I could easily have a friend beside me right now, but, like the girl at the next table I am extremely happy to be sitting here alone. I have spent the entire night with friends and apparently stayed up until just before the sunrise. I feel young and happy and free. And I am sitting here with my best friend. She is me.

Day 168 – Kundalini shaking

I met this teacher, Galina, only a couple of weeks ago and have not had the time to join her class until now. I want to run but I also feel tired and I am seriously curious about the type of meditation she teaches. After a short talk about energy shifts and the change in planetary vibration brought about by the planetary alignments of this year, she tells us to get up. We stand and move about our joints, circling from ankles to the neck. Then she tells us that we are doing a Kundalini meditation. It is a style of meditation I have heard about through the Osho tradition and I know it is practised at the Ratu Bagus ashram in Bali. It is a shaking meditation. We close our eyes and shake the body, moving with energy. Even as my physical body gets tired, I can feel my subtle body expanding and I start to make bigger movements, feeling like I could keep moving forever. When we finish, I feel light, as though I have raised my energy levels and now I am floating. The heaviness and tired ache in my bones from a late shift at work has disappeared. I leave to go and meet a friend for lunch and the sun seems to be shining brighter. I can even take my jacket off in the sunshine and feel hot. I indulge in oysters and arancini balls at Ravesi’s as we look towards the sparkling blue water. It is said the kundalini shaking meditation acts like ‘an energetic shower. It shakes you free of your day and leaves you feeling relaxed and mellow.’ I definitely feel showered, relaxed and clean. My day has only just begun. My life has only just begun.

Day 169 – what are you running away from?

In racing around this city, I found some time to write to my teacher in India and ask some questions that were arising. In writing the email, I referred to myself three different ways; as Elizabeth, Eliza and as Lizi. He laughs at my Vata tendencies and when I tell him about the constant running and sprinting and failing to find time to honour my practice like I did in India, he asks the simple question: “What is Elizabeth running away from?”

I stare at the computer screen in more stillness than I have felt in a long time. What am I running away from? My past? My ex? My disappointment? My fears? My doubts? Myself? My ego? All of the above? This simple question has made me stand still for the first time in days. I don’t know if I know the answer, but I certainly feel the anxiety of getting stuck with whatever it is that I am running away from.

Day 170 – I used to be a rock

I am taking my friends down the coast. We decide to check out the blowhole at Kiama, but the tide is low and the hole is not blowing. We laugh and climb over rocks to get as far out to sea as we can. The sun is sparkling against the deep blue ocean and the wind is gentle against our warm skin. I keep pointing at the rolling countryside we drive through, saying, “isn’t it beautiful!” Krystle is Irish and James is Canadian, but I feel like the real tourist. I feel like I am seeing this beautiful place for the first time in my life. We stop at a small winery on the way to Berry and taste some chocolate wines as the sky clouds over and the sun disappears. The wind picks up and we are glad we went to the beach early. In a shop we are looking at some crystals when James starts to tell us that he used to be a rock hound. His ADD kicks in mid-sentence and he ends up saying, “I used to be a rock… hey! Tiger’s Eye!” We crack up laughing about his previous life spent as a rock. It is funny, but leaves me wondering about previous lives spent as rocks, or Tiger’s Eye, or tigers, or earthworms, or grapes? Could one have been reincarnated as a vine? They say that we are definitely inhaling the same air that was once inhaled by the Buddha. There is no doubt that the earth recycles and reuses everything and continues to move things through the endless cycle of life, but does this extend to inanimate objects? And if you get reincarnated into plastic, when do you truly die, since you are not biodegradable? My head is spinning and then I remember this fast-talking Canadian’s accent telling us that he used to be rock and suddenly I can’t breathe from laughter again.

Day 171 – just stand still

I am getting ready for work. Time seems to be moving quickly this morning. I don’t know how much time I will get alone, since I have to drive up to Sydney in peak hour. I am already tired. I get out of the shower and tell myself to just stand still. Even if it is only for a moment. I stop and breathe, I feel the loop and despite the mind wanting to just move and keep getting ready, I force myself to just stand still. It is like the eye at the centre of the storm. I know I need to just unplug from the world and wind down. I need a few days off. I need to retreat into silence. I look up into my reflection and I can see myself already moving towards my clothes. Time to get dressed. If time is an illusion, why can’t I just stay here in this stillness? The storm catches up to me and once again I am in the whirlpool, rushing around, trying to do a million things at once. But it is easier after I stand still. That is the secret. Stand still. Every day. Even if it is just for a moment.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Day 163 – sensorial meditations

I am watching The Buddha, narrated by Richard Gere. It is a documentary about the life of the Buddha, which means the ‘enlightened’ or ‘awakened one’. Using interviews with scholars, Buddhist monks and some animated depictions, the documentary chronicles the mythology surrounding Siddhartha Gautama from the time before his birth. Before achieving enlightenment, Siddhartha spent six years as an ascetic, forgoing food, drink, sleep or any other indulgences of the flesh. By denying the body all but the bare minimum to survive, the ascetics attempt to let go of their desire and find enlightenment. After six years, Siddhartha realises that he no longer has the strength to even meditate and on the verge of death remembers a time of unity he felt as a child, watching the insects in the ground at a spring planting festival. This connection to nature reminds him of the beauty of the simplicity of life. He eats and then finds the energy and the resolve to sit under the bodhi tree until he can find the answers to his questions about suffering and the transient nature of life. The documentary explains that Siddhartha moved away from the Vedic tradition that was steeped in ritual, and did not find solace in the renunciants path either. The tradition of Buddhism that he spread into the world is for every man, it is the middle path. It is neither the indulgence in sensorial pleasures nor the denial of what is necessary to survive.

I sigh as I step into the bath tub that smells of muscle relaxing salts. I realise I am at a crossroads in this meditation journey. Half the time I am delving deeply into the sensorial pleasures of meditation such as this bath and then every morning I spend an hour at least doing Sadhana in the austere Himalayan tradition, sitting rigidly with a straight spine and looping my breath endlessly. I know that I am walking closer to enlightenment every day, however I am not sure if I am on a straight path. It is true that I can now find meditation in nearly everything that I do, but I also find that I need the time to sit and be still and silent at least once a day. Like Buddha, I must find the middle path. I must find balance. I don’t believe I need to choose one path and follow it rigidly, but I think consistency is important and being a typical Vata personality, living in a busy, fast-paced city, I am in danger of being all over the place.

The Buddha says:

In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.

And:

It is better to travel well than to arrive.

So perhaps my two paths are not so different after all. Maybe it is better to take the scenic route to enlightenment and enjoy every last drop?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Day 159 to Day 162 – a very long weekend

Day 159 – treading the mills

I wake up early to run before work. Even though it is sunny outside, it is freezing so I decide to run on the treadmill. I feel like I have been running for ages but the treadmill says I have only run 2.5km. How is this possible? Am I just impatient? If I turn the speed up, I get more tired and then want to stop and what I am training for is endurance since the City 2 Surf is 14km. Maybe I am just bored. The early morning Sydney news is annoying me. I guess they have to be so bright and shiny to put people in a good mood for their day. I can’t handle it anymore. I am warm now, so I keep looking out the window wishing I was running outside. Then I see the wind blow violently at the tree across the road and I shiver a little. I can’t handle this treadmill, though. It is so boring! I want to turn the tv off and turn my running meditation on but I think I would be in danger of falling asleep. I am going insane. It seems harder on the treadmill, maybe it is because there are no up and down hill slopes, no change in terrain. The plastic whirs around at the pace I set with the touch of the button. I keep flicking between distance, calories burned and the speed meter. Maybe I should try this with a book. When I finally stop running, I think I am running late to work. I rush to get ready and finally make it through the traffic and arrive only 5 minutes late but it seems nobody has noticed. I have rushed for nothing. No customers even come into the pub for hours, until well after lunchtime. Once again I feel bored, which I really don’t like to feel because I worry that I am wasting life in boredom. I sing along to the background music as I scrub at the inside of the glass washer with a toothbrush. I am dying for one of the manager’s to come into the bar and speak to me, just so I don’t chew my own arm off. Being a Friday, around 3pm the bar gets suddenly busy and my plans to get to a yoga class at 6pm are thwarted by the knock-off beer hour. I decide instead to go home and get ready to meet my friend for dinner. I haven’t seen her in ages and as we catch up on years of life, giving only the most basic of dot points of life, I try to listen as much as I am talking. Basking in the warmth of the connection one can only share with a close friend, time slips away and it is like we have never spent any time apart. Time is irrelevant when it comes to friendship.

Day 160 – observing anger

Although I didn’t sleep until close to midnight, I wake up at 3.30am with anxiety.  I decide it is a good thing that I can’t fall asleep again, as it gives me a chance to do my Sadhana practice before I teach yoga. I hear my phone beeping so after my pranayama, I check to make sure the alarm won’t disturb my meditation. There are messages from my past and, feeling compassionate to another being in trouble, I take some time to offer comfort to a person I still care about. It doesn’t take long for the conversation to turn into a bit of a carousel. Sometimes we encounter emotional vampires and in giving them our time, we allow them to take a lot of our energy. When the conversation goes around and I have to explain myself again and again and again, I soon feel drained and angry. I finally have to step away from the conversation. Nobody is going anywhere positive with this and I am seriously firing up. I have to release the build up of frustration and anger, so I stomp my slippered feet and do a silent scream; you know the ones where you open your mouth as wide as you can but no sound comes out? The whole house is sleeping and I don’t want to wake them up. I stop and stand very still, feeling the energy in my belly. I witness this energy we call anger. What is it really? The mind is rushing around, making meaning and attaching to all the things just said that have caused such frustration, so I ask it to be quiet and just observe this emotion. This energy, this anger, without meaning, without the mind, is just a fire in the belly and it feels very similar to excitement or fear or surprise. If the energy is the same then there is no reason I can’t change what it is. I re-set the mind and sit down for meditation, allowing the excitement and joy to grow from deep inside. By the time I get into my car to drive to yoga, I am bopping around to the music from the radio. Isn’t it funny how the radio seems to play the song that you most need to hear?

It is playing Wish You Well be Bernard Fanning:

Up so early feel so bright
Didn’t get much sleep last night
Freight train rattled through my head
Whistle blowing love is dead
Is dead

Heart attacked by fear and doubt
won’t be long till the truth comes out
first impressions never last
Lover’s bonds they hold so fast

Restless future burning bright
The past is holding on so tight
Never heard the warning bell
And I just want to wish you well
I just want to wish you well

Later, as I am running, my precious iPhone, my fifth limb and second brain, falls out of my pocket and as I am still jogging, seemingly in slow motion I try to grab at the cord for the earphones as it falls down, smashes on the concrete and then bounces into the gutter and down the drain. I stand, open-mouthed for a moment and then, throwing a mini tantrum, throw the iPhone case, which is all I have left, into the nearest wall. Then I decide to keep running. I have to laugh at the irony. Once again, the universe is handing me a situation and daring me to be angry. Yes, I can get angry about this. It is certainly annoying to lose an expensive piece of technology with so much information on it. But then again, I can also just keep running. I can use this angry energy for a positive experience and just run it out. I decide to push through and I end up running longer and harder than I have ever run before.

It doesn’t matter what situation life deals, we always have complete control over our minds and emotions. The human potential is limitless! We are always the ones in the driver’s seat. We can always drive in the sunshine.

Day 161 – working hard to make a livin’

I didn’t realise how entirely dependent on my iPhone I was. I didn’t set an alarm and after a long shift at work, I wake up only 20 minutes before I am supposed to teach yoga. It seems my higher self is well aware of my schedule. I don’t even have time to blink twice, I race to the yoga studio and get there just in time. One of the other teachers has signed everyone in and the collective calm of the class welcomes me and settles me right in so that when I open my mouth to start the class, that guiding energy comes straight through and sets up the sequence, the poses, the monologue of adjustments and encouragements.

After class, there is only enough time for a coffee, a coconut and half a vegetarian bagel (delicious from M Cafe in Bondi), before I have to start work at the pub. It is the Queen’s birthday long weekend. I know it will be busy, but I have no idea how busy until later in the evening… The crowd at the bar has not stopped once. We have run out of Toohey’s New and fresh lime and we eventually run out of vodka and fresh lemons. The crowd heaves at the bar, shouting to be heard. And all through this chaos, I am moving to the music of the live band playing just upstairs. I smile at the customers and when they yell at me that they were next, I just laugh and say, “I hope you won’t die of thirst over here!” They don’t always find it as funny as I do. I remember working in bars and nights like this would stress me out. Running out of glasses, running out of beer, running out of vodka, when everyone wants to drink a vodka, lime and soda… those were the things that used to send me into deep and anxious chest breathing but today I feel good. I am in a rhythm as I work. I haven’t had a moment to sit quietly and close my eyes. I have barely had a moment to drink a sip of water unless I was pouring beer at the same time. And yet I still feel connected, I still feel centred. I still feel calm. With the music making me move and a shining energy from deep within my soul, it doesn’t matter if I am teaching yoga or pouring a bourbon and coke; if I carry the light within, then I am always in a state of meditation. I can always go within, even when there is chaos without.

After we close and get through the never-ending clean-up, we sit around and eat some pizza. One of the security guards has a pen and is drawing caricatures on the pizza box. He passes it around and the next security guard draws a shape that doesn’t look like anything in particular. When they pass it to me, I draw the first thing that comes into my head, which is a figure of a woman with a sun shining from out of her solar plexus. They are asking what is up with the chick, so I tell them that this is how I would explain the manipura chakra. Surprisingly, one of the guards has heard of the chakras. I start talking about them, drawing my entire sketch and explaining the emotional associations. The guard who drew the caricatures, who has tattoos covering most if his limbs and even up to his neck, jokes that he makes all his decisions from the lower three chakras. He has no idea how insightful this observation is. I tell him he is absolutely right. Most people wouldn’t even be able to recognise that they do that. Amazed, I realise that the whole group of bartenders and security guards are watching me as I speak. I wouldn’t have though that this would interest this group at all but they are all listening intently. I hand the pizza box back and the security guard beside me, who is only 19, decides to draw a phallus. Well, I guess he had to even out this sacred feminine pizza box with some sacred masculine energy!

Day 162 – spaced out

I have to get a new sim card and be back into the tele-communicative world so I make a visit to the local shopping centre. It is raining heavily today so it is busy but I get through all my errands as planned. I can’t focus. I didn’t get to sleep until 2am after work last night and it was a long shift. I feel vague, like my head is in a cloud and I am floating around the shops, trying not to let myself make impulse purchases. I make an investment in a running jacket with zip-up pockets. When I finally get my iPhone replaced, I need to make sure it doesn’t fall out again! I buy my running jacket from Lorna Jane, my favourite exercise label. The jacket is made of Merina Wool so it is extra warm and has little holes for the thumbs. I end up in the store talking to the girl for almost half an hour about Sumatra and India. When I finally wonder away, I feel like I should be in a rush to go somewhere but it is my day off and for once I have nothing to do and nowhere to be. I can actually relax and take my time! I am still feeling vague and dotty when I leave, but I have decided to embrace it. I can still function in the world. I can still hold up a decent conversation and despite feeling like my head is full of air and space, I can still drive around the city and halfway down the coast. My higher self clearly knows what to do, what to say and where to go, so it is ok to surrender to that and just relax. Today I allow myself the freedom to be vague. Today I allow my brain to check out early. Today I am clocked off from the thinking treadmill.

Day 158 – the glory of morning

Teaching yoga is my yoga. I rarely sequence a class before I walk into the room anymore, but just seem to know exactly what to say when the time comes. The energy of the room seems to reverberate with whatever higher source is guiding me and I simply allow the class to evolve on its own. I love the way the room grows still after we chant the sacred syllable of om; the way the students’ breath synchronises in ujjayi, the breath of fire, like the whispering of the ocean; and the way they laugh when I try to be funny. When I am teaching I am entirely present and connected to these people in the room, whether it is one person or fifteen people. I can see the expansion of the physical body as everyone’s fingertips reach higher to the ceiling or stretch apart in Viravadrasana II. I can sense the expansion of the subtle body as they exhale and let go in Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana. And when I say goodbye and we all leave to enter the early morning at only 7.30am, the sun has only just risen. From that post-yoga glow, the entire world seems to sparkle. The ocean seems bluer and the coffee tastes sweeter. I decide to treat myself to a coffee and a breakfast roll from my favourite cafe in Coogee, Morning Glory. It is cold but I sit outside anyway in the sunshine. The sun offers light but no warmth as the winter chill has arrived early to Sydney. I sit alone and hold the latte glass in both hands. I have spent my last bit of cash on this treat. I almost told myself to just go home, but then realised that I can make this decision. I can say yes to this. It is a small luxury and one of the many things I love about Sydney- all the cafes that surround the coast. Because everybody loves a great view and a great cup of coffee in this city. Here, in this place, I am exactly where I want to be and I feel open to the brightness of the day. Thank you to the students who wake up in the dark, who come out in the early cold and who breathe loudly and smile as they practice.

Day 157 – the art of tea

It is cold and windy, so the perfect day to sit by my brother’s fire and drink endless cups of tea. There is an art to tea. The different leaves, bags, tisanes, blends are like colours. Each delicate dried flower shades the flavour, adding subtle notes and characteristics. I have an entire cupboard filled with boxes, tins and jars of different teas. Early Grey, chai, green, rooibos, peppermint, lavender, rose, jasmine, Ayurvedic Vata tea, ginger, lemongrass, lemon… Tea pots in various sizes clutter the cupboard and there is always a thermos sitting in my car. Tea is a meditation in itself. To hold the steaming cup, warming the hands, take in the aroma, sip gently at the cup of perfection… and the world melts away. Nothing else matters, it is like the whole of consciousness is within the rim of the ceramic cup. The world always seems like a better place once I have a cuppa in hand. The warmth spills down, radiating through my body. I sit on the floor beside the fire, the cats curled up beside me. Still in my pyjamas, it is past noon as I sip and read. This is bliss. For once, I have nowhere to rush to, nothing to do and I can simply exist with this cup of Chilli Kiss (black tea with dried chilli flakes and cinnamon from T2). There are many truly great quotes about the Tao of Tea, so, here are some of my favourites…

I am in no way interested in immortality, but only in the taste of tea. -Lao T’ung

 

Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage.  -Catherine Douzel

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.  -Anonymous

Tea should be taken in solitude.  -C.S. Lewis

Tea is liquid wisdom.   -Anonymous

Great love affairs start with Champagne and end with tisane.  -Honoré de Balzac

Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea.  -Henry Fielding, “Love in Several Masques”

Tea…is a religion of the art of life.  -Okakura

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries