Day 150 – bite the cake!

It is my nephew’s fourth birthday so I know I am going to have to battle my desire for sugar today. I decide I need to try a meditation I got from a friend at the ashram in Rishikesh. She had heard I was collecting meditations so she gave me this one to try by Yogi Bhajan:

Beggar’s Meditation

Yogi Bhajan 5/15/73

‘Sit straight in easy pose. Make a cup with the hands by putting the right hand over the left. The fingers will cross each other. Put this open cup at the level of the heart centre. The eyes look only into this cup. Begin the pranayama by inhaling deeply through the nose. Exhale through the puckered mouth. The exhale is as if you spit the air into the palms, but it is a dry, long spitting motion of the air. Meditate on inhaling a particular desire and spit it into the cup with the breath through the mouth. Pick a single strong desire and focus only on that desire throughout the meditation. It will calm and fulfil this desire. Concentrate and imagine, “Whatever you need at this time, no matter how dirty or sublime that desire is.” Continue for 11 minutes.

‘There is a whole technology and science of self-hypnosis that can change the pattern of thought flow in a person. A desire is an energy pattern. Some desires stay with us a long time and are not just physiological needs. Whatever the desire is, it needs to manifest or transform on some level of your being. Until it does, it is maintained by a self-hypnosis pattern. This meditation works on the pranic energy in the aura and changes a particular area of the brain. The brain area is called the “conflict personality area”. It is located at the back of the head, 1/3 of the way up from the base of the skull and 2/3 of the way back down from the hairline. At this point, there is a place under the solar centres that can work out and manifest the desires. Yogi Bhajan said that there are blocks of desire in the personality, which are “itchy” and persistent and “they sit in the heart of the person. But if you put the hand in the heart, you will never find them. They are in the 1/3, 2/3 are of the brain.” The meditation is the technology to deal with desire. It is a trance-like meditation once you master it. It removes the block of too much desire so you can manifest yourself.’

So when I walk in the door of my brother’s house, my nephew shows me four fingers and says, “I’m not little anymore, I’m this many now!” I managed to survive the whole of yesterday without chocolate and I can feel the latent desires arise as I am drawn straight to the cake being covered in bright blue icing. I end up taking way too many photos of this amazing cake, but I am grateful I had so much for breakfast because I don’t actually feel like eating any… yet. While my brother sets up the impossible tricycle, my mum starts a game of pamba. Basically she just starts bashing people with balloons until we are all involved in this balloon brawl. It ends up being the only game that doesn’t involve food. We are Mexican, so obviously, there is a piñata, out of which lollies rain. I don’t even like lollies but I make the conscious decision to just have one, since it is a 4th birthday, so I pick the strawberries and cream. Finally, my brother sets up a string for the donut game. He ties donuts to the string and we have to eat as much as we can with our hands behind our backs. I pretend to have a go, not really wanting any but then the donut swings into my mouth and a crumb of glaze gets lodged on the edge of my tooth. Oh no, I can feel myself tumbling off the wagon. My pupils dilate and suddenly the string is taken away and I go running after it, practically kicking and screaming. My niece is trying the same tactic, but has already had enough sugar for the night and so she leaves he kitchen with her head hanging low. I would feel bad for her, but is better at that game so she ate half her donut anyway. I walk casually over to the box and eat half a glazed donut. At least it isn’t chocolate… but no, then a bite of chocolate covered donut ends up in my mouth just as my niece walks over like an avatar of divine authority and wags her finger at me, the other hand on her hip, “No, no no! Tia (aunty) is having a donut!” I slink away, wiping glazed sugar from my mouth. At cake time, we have this tradition where you bite the cake and be careful of my brother trying to push your face into it. My poor, sweet, innocent little nephew doesn’t know any better yet so he ends up with icing in his eye as his own dad drowns him in the blue sugar. I politely decline but then my legs have a change of heart. They follow the cake to the kitchen and then my hands join in the rebellion and grab a tiny sliver of a piece. In a final act of defiance against my will power, my mouth succumbs to this bite of cake and I know that this desire (addiction) for sugar is going to take more than 11 minutes to kick.

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Day 146 – the Rocks are vivid right now

First day back at work… And it is AWESOME. I am lucky enough to work with some of the most beautiful people in the world at Embrace, Miranda. It is a spiritual, new age store that is kind of like walking into another dimension when you step inside. The kind of place that always smells amazing from the scented candles and incense, where the energy seems to resonate at a higher level, where you are surrounded by crystals, where children (and grown-ups) can believe in magic, where hugs are free and the laughter flows freely. I only had time for a ten minute meditation in the morning, but it feels like enough because I am already beyond excited to see a couple of my friends and I am singing the whole way to work. My short shift flies through and tonight I am meeting some girlfriends at the Rocks for some chocolate.

We sit down to chat and for the first time, I am with people who have no idea about the break up. They ask casually how wedding plans are going and I have to explain that they are not going. At all. Or ever will be. They gasp (loudly) at the news and then offer consolations, but I am already leaving the table. No, I am not going for a cry. We are at the Guylian cafe and there are more important matters to attend to- like choosing which cake I am going to eat. They all look so amazing, I know this decision is going to take a while. I know that eventually I will have to tell them what happened, but they are understanding and it helps to be stuffing your face with chocolate when you have to relive matters of the heart. Eventually the sugar and caffeine overload has us all leaning back into the cushioned seats, lazily licking spoons and trying not to feel guilty about the ten thousand calories we just ate.

Vivid Festival is on right now in Sydney so we wonder around Circular Quay taking photos of the light sculptures. The sandstone of the historical Rocks, usually so rustic and ancient, is splashed with neon lights and across the water, images are being projected onto the beautiful Opera House. Screams call us over past the angelic bicycles and enormous naughts and crosses where we find a wall that lights up from the sound of screaming people that stand in front of it. Young girls run over in groups to squeal at the wall, making the metal pieces flap up to reveal a row of lights and we are surprised at the small crowd that has gathered to watch. Like a Mexican wave, the crowd starts to scream together and the wall opens is nearly blinding. A single man walks over and roars so loudly he even gets a bit of applause. We wonder on to make shadows on the walls of the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), and then ponder the meaning of the blocks of melting ice. My friend Jenny walks away, shrugging; “it is probably some kind of statement about global warming”.

With the city looking so beautiful, the crowd is littered with photographers and tripods as they open their shutters to get beautiful images. I feel a little embarrassed that I have only my humble iPhone camera, but then again I would probably be more embarrassed carrying around my SLR and pretending to know what I am doing. Sydney has such a vibrant energy, it is perfectly embodied by these shining neon lights. I love this city for its ability to be all things at once. In between ancient sandstone beginnings, The Rocks, and its sparkling light show, Sydney is a beautiful place to discover again.

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Day 136 – indulgence

Indulgence. Why is dodging my practice an indulgence? Shouldn’t my practice BE the indulgence? Am I getting too regimented in my daily sadhana? When I love a song, I am very careful not to listen to it too much for fear that I will get sick of it. Right when I want to hear it the most, I make sure I play something else so that when I do hear it I get more excited. Should I be treating my practice the same way? I have never been one to do the same asanas every day- no two classes I have taught have ever been the same, so now that I have a list of pranayama and asana to do, by the time I get to free flow with some vinyasa, I am kind of over it and just want to sit for the meditation. Then when I finally sit, I am barely lasting more than fifteen minutes before my mind just chatters me out of the room and I stand up and walk away. So two hours after I first approach the mat I feel like, “Phew, now that’s done I can get on with my day.” It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, or look forward to it, but I am worried that my meditation is no longer the highlight of my day, but rather this unattainable goal that seems, still, so far out of my reach. Our teacher in Rishikesh said that if we are trying to meditate, it is not meditation. He says the meditation just happens and everything before that is just set up. Well, I don’t want to get sick of the set up or I may never get there so today I am ‘indulging’ and I am skipping my whole practice. Instead, I am going to get a coffee.

Two hazelnut caps later and I can be seen in stuffing my face with chocolate brownie covered in chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce. It is divine. I think I am having a foodgasm. THIS is indulgence, I think. So how can I make my practice a little more like chocolate sauce and a little less like cleaning up for the chocolate sauce that is nowhere in sight?

I spend the day at the market. It is hot and exhausting and I feel flighty, distracted, and all over the place. It probably has to do with the fact that I ate chocolate in three forms for breakfast, so no doubt I am still riding on that sugar high. I try to focus my energy on the task at hand but my mind is as colourful as this bazaar I am in. The flowing saris, scarves and skirts flick in and around my head, perfectly matching what is going on inside it. I am at the Bapu Bazaar in the centre of Jaipur, the cheapest place to get clothing and textiles. There are small handicrafts and stalls selling spices. Around the corner, the market becomes the Johri Bazaar and is the best place to buy silver with gemstones by the gram. There is some seriously beautiful stuff in this market and I only regret that I haven’t brought more money with me. When we stop for a lassi and a samosa, I am excited to drink something out of a clay cup and try not to think about how unhealthy I have been today. It’s like my food habits are matching my yoga habits. I skipped practice, so now I am just going crazy?

This evening, Rup is planning to take me out so I have only half an hour to myself. As I get dressed I decide to stop and sit for meditation. Only five minutes, I tell myself. What is an extra five minutes? It takes five minutes just to quieten down the mind and focus, but once I am there, it is beautiful. It is delicious and it is pure indulgence. When I open my eyes and step out, it was only 15 minutes. The two and a half hours of asana, pranayama and preparation does help most days but indulging in the silence and stillness is the most important part. Without it I am just a crazy hippy running around on a sugar high.