January – New Year, New Look, New Bliss Project

This year the 365 Days in Bliss has changed slightly. Each month I will be doing something new for the whole month, blogging about the journey and updating my experience. Last year, the necessity to blog everyday was a huge commitment and when work made it difficult, I started to stress a bit. This was completely counter-productive to the purpose of the blog so this year, doing a monthly project gives me a bit more freedom to write as I go and still offer up a bit of Bliss Exploration as the journey continues. For the month of January, I have decided to take a picture everyday. I have already found a couple of days where this has become difficult; I either almost forgot or just took a random picture out of necessity. There are also some days where I find more than one thing I want to take a picture of, so I have included multiple pictures where I found it necessary. The idea is to find the aesthetic beauty of each day. In the meantime, here are the first 9 days of photos. Tomorrow we leave for Vietnam so I can imagine the next ten days of photos will be FULL of amazing shots!

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Day 358 – Christmas Eve, the family meditation

Traditionally, my family celebrate Christmas on this evening. We would wait until midnight to open the presents but since my brothers have small children now, we tend to do the present opening during the day. This year I am not with them, but I still call to wish them a merry Christmas. Both my brothers sound busy, though my eldest brother still manages to throw in a bit of a lecture about tattoos and not drinking too much. My mother tries to get upset about my plans to get a motorbike license and for once I am a little bit grateful not to be around them all today- it seems they are in the mood to have a dig. I know it comes from a place of love, but it is interesting to look at my journey and see that the things I have done that have worried them the most have also made me the happiest and ultimately, left them the proudest. Not that they will always agree with tattoos or riding motorbikes, but one thing I will always know is that if they see me following my bliss and finding happiness, then they are happy for me. My mum may worry when I travel to third world countries alone, or when I go camping in the snow, but she has always told me that my only job is to be happy, so I know that she will support me no matter how crazy my adventures get. I do miss them, even when they are shaking their heads and rolling their eyes at me. It is beautiful to spend time with another family, to feel the love they have for each other and be reminded of how much love I have felt from my own brothers and sisters. Meditating on family love, I realise that the first part of this year, I had to escape everything from my life in order to find bliss. I had to find myself. I had to be alone, to totally remove myself from the world, from my relationship, from my family and friends and strip back all the layers that had influenced me and hidden my true self. Now, knowing who I am, being comfortable enough with my true self to let it shine, I am ready to share my bliss. I am ready to find bliss with the people I love; and with one in particular. Now, finding bliss isn’t about escaping but immersing and experiencing.

Day 288 to Day 294 – the dharma wheel

Day 288 – knowing self

Rachel, a work colleague, and I go to lunch at a sushi train. It is the first time we have had a real conversation. In a workplace environment, the initial topics which strangers find acceptable are usually work related. Unless you are women, in which case we make friends by complimenting each other’s choice in shoes. Humour is also perfectly acceptable, and in a room full of sales reps, all very experienced in “breaking the ice”, there is plenty of humour to go around. Sitting down to eat with a glass of wine, Rachel tells me her impression of me. I love hearing what people think about me. It is like stepping outside the window and looking back in on yourself. I know what I see in myself, but it is always very interesting to hear what another person sees. She says she sees someone who knows herself. Someone who can’t be shaken, who has not even wondered what other people think of her because she is so comfortable in her own skin. Well, she is right. I don’t often wonder what other people think of me beyond a mild amusement. There is always something nice in hearing someone say that you know who you are. It is definitely better than being told the you seem lost or confused or even worse… fake! Above all, I am just pleased to have moved beyond talking about shoes and wine. I think that is the point where a work colleague becomes a work friend.

 

Day 289 – sleep how I miss you

I can’t remember the last time I slept a full nine hours. My yoga teacher from the ashram in India insisted that one only needs four hours of sleep per night. Two hours for each nostril. But he is a fanatic. I like 9 hours. I am even satisfied with 8 hours. I know that I can manage on 4 hours but today I haven’t had any of that. I think I slept for 3. I kept waking up. Noises, disturbances, nightmares… So coffee is the drug. I love having my morning mocha. I don’t need it to wake up, I need it to keep functioning. I can live without it, it is only one a day, but in a diet of deprivation (no wheat, no dairy, no alcohol, no sugar), it is the one thing in the day I can look forward to. My issue at the moment is the plethora of information about which milk to use. Dairy is evil, but skim has less lactose so it is ok to drink. But then skim is evil, because it is unnatural and goes through a chemical process to remove the fat, so we should probably drink soy. Unfortunately soy is apparently evil too. Not only does the Brazilian rainforest suffer in order to produce soy, it also apparently causes hormone levels to increase and fat cells to accumulate in the visceral region (the area where excess fat is most likely to cause diabetes and heart disease). Not to mention, every naturopath says to stay away from coffee altogether. But caffeine free green tea just doesn’t cut it today. Not when I have missed out on so much sleep. Not when I have to be calling people all day, trying to send lots of energy through the phone. So today, coffee is keeping my head off the desk.

 

Day 290 – Living my dharma

So many questions turn up on the yoga mat. Somewhere in between sun salutations lies an infinite number of question marks. Clearing the mind today is a process of opening the mind to answer these questions. The ‘I’ knows the answer to all of them. The ego just needs to listen. From the silent depths of my heart, or perhaps even deeper, in my gut, there is a gnawing question. It arises as only a whisper, but stronger it grows with each breath until I lay down in Savasana and ask: “Am I living my dharma?”

Dharma is duty. It is loosely translated as one’s purpose in the world. When you are living your dharma, it is said you will be full of vitality and things will seem to always be falling into place. Right now I feel drained. I feel like there are continuously tiny struggles and obstacles. The flow doesn’t seem to be happening like it used to. So what is my dharma? I know I need to go back to India. I know I want to go to Africa. Ideas start forming in my head. I can feel that familiar itch in my feet. I want to book a one way ticket and start applying for visas. Those are the processes I am used to. Filling out paperwork in an office just doesn’t have the same feeling as ¬†filling out a customs slip in an airport. I think it’s time to set the dharma wheel in motion.

 

Day 291 – rituals of writers

I keep saying that I need a day off to just write. I need some time to hover my hands over the keys and allow the words to spill out of me, dancing around the page to find the perfect rhythm of story. Well, somehow I manifest this and all three of my evening clients end up cancelling. This is a perfect evening to write, with balmy wind blowing through the windows I light a candle and face the computer. I set up my perfect writing atmosphere- Jeff Buckley, a cup of mint tea and some organic chocolate. Just creating this space is like a ritual. Tea can definitely be accredited to most of this blog. Most of the things I have written in my life probably came from a hot cup of tea. Just having this time to finally sit alone with only my words is the best meditation I could ask for today. I know it could be said that whilst my brain is working I may not be meditating, but I still feel that same serenity, bliss and calming relaxation that I feel in perfect stillness and silence. Writing. Jeff Buckley. Tea. Chocolate. Meditation.

 

Day 292 – success is measured in carrots

I am thoroughly sick of seeing quotes about success being how many times you get up after you fall, or how high you bounce when you hit the bottom. Success, at the moment, can be measure by how many times I get home so late that I can’t manage to make myself dinner. Success is how many times I have eaten a raw carrot for dinner and gone straight to bed, only to do it all again the next day. I’m not complaining. I love raw carrots. I just feel like success is not always measured by failure. Success is hard bloody work. It is constantly moving onward and upward. It is a slow and steady climb, sometimes in soft sand. Success in measured in carrots. From the carrot that dangles before me, the goal that pushes me forward, to the carrot I eat for dinner because I am too tired to cook.

 

Day 293 – catching negative spirals

For no reason at all I catch myself in a negative spiral. I have no idea what is happening inside my brain, but it is inventing some awful stuff. None of it is even real! I am driving along imagining hypotheticals. When I land on the yoga mat, I pull up my mind, not without a bit of a firm hand… What is going on? Why are you doing this negative spiral thing? It isn’t helping anybody! It serves no purpose. Is it lack of sleep? Is it stress? Is it PMS? Or are you just feeling a bit whingey? The lower mind, of course, has no answer. It kind of kicks a few rocks and looks down at the floor. It is being chastised for doing what it does best. Worries, calculates risk, hypothesises results. And what does all that achieve? Nothing! Lack of awareness. I may as well be walking around unconscious. Well, time to stop. Time to smile for no reason! Buy a tray of mangoes on the side of the road and get sticky eating them because it is a beautiful day and you are alive to enjoy it!

When I get to my brother’s house in the evening, we eat dinner and then I get to put my niece to bed. This means struggling to stay awake while I read to her and she crawls around the bed, unwilling to sleep. I choose one of my own old fairytale books and start reading an old Native American folk legend. I come across a word that my niece doesn’t know. So she asks me, “What is war?”

Ummm… How do I explain this? How do I tell her that all over the world people fight and kill each other? It would be like telling her Santa Claus didn’t exist. I would take away a huge chunk of her innocence. I try to be a little vague, but I don’t believe in lying to children so I tell her it is a big fight between groups of people.

“Why?”

There is nothing I can say to this. Really, even I would like to know why. The only other animal in the natural world that conducts war is the ant. They are the only other creature to actively plan an attack on another group of ants. Why? There is no answer that is adequate. And knowing my niece, she will just ask, ‘why?’ to whatever I say anyway.

 

Day 294 – sleepy smiles

I am wedged in the backseat between the two kiddie seats, trying to manage the children while we drive up through the dairy farms into bowral. It is beautiful down the south coast. The lush green paddocks and black and white cows stretch far on either side of the road and as we ascend the mountains, the dark green trees look like a home for dragons and unicorns. “What about Monster High?” asks my niece. She has a new obsession with zombie dolls, though she still doesn’t know what a zombie is. The whole collection of werewolf, spider, vampire and ghost figurines has come with us for the journey and they are sprawled across my lap while she plays. We spend the day in Bowral eating and looking at antiques and when we finally get back into the car, the kids full of junk food, everyone is sleepy. My brother has worked all night and has brought his pillow in the front seat so he is the first to fall asleep. My niece lays her head across my lap and my nephews hand falls gently on my leg while his mouth drops open, perfectly mimicking my brother’s sleeping pose. I pretend to be asleep but really I am just enjoying the silence, laying here covered in these beautiful children. They are so peaceful when they are sleeping. Here, basking in their love, lies the greatest meditation, a familial and homely perfection.

Day 237 to Day 244 – eight thousand words

This week I decided to take pictures in place of writing. I kept finding moments of bliss all around me that could no longer be described with words and so in the spirit of stillness and silence, I used photography to capture them. Feel free to contribute any captions that you feel would be appropriate, but most of the time when I look at these photos, all that comes into my head is; “I LOVE MY LIFE!”

Day 237 – wine tasting harbour cruise… work obligations

Day 238 – the morning rituals I can’t live without…

Day 239 – morning run

Day 240 – on the road

Day 241 – always impressed by a person who has a small collection of Buddha’s/deities in their room

Day 242 – breakfast is served: coffee and a view

Day 243 – Sydney by Monet

Day 244 – Happy Father’s Day. Let’s celebrate LIFE!