Day 259 to Day 265 – resistance to love

Day 259 – resisting the lines

 You just can’t expect the unexpected. If there is one thing I have learned from this year of bliss, it is that change is the only constant. The path is never straight, especially where I am concerned. All my lines are squiggly, curling and sometimes crossing over. When I found myself on a date for the first time in months, I just took it in stride. When it lasted three days and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, I started to freak out. This was not part of the plan! I ran away from commitment, became chronically afraid of emotions, morally against the disease they call love and firmly protected behind my supposedly impenetrable wall of prickly toughness. Ah, how wrong I was. When I first got back from India, the palm reader at Embrace looked at my hand and said that my next big relationship was coming. I begged him to take it back. I rubbed at the lines on my hands, desperate for some years of solitude, but he just laughed at me. “How much time have I got, Ric?” I may as well have been asking about a terminal illness. He asked how old I was. When I said 25, he said I would meet him before I turned 26. Whatever, Ric, I thought. Palm readers get shit wrong all the time. Though, admittedly, Ric has told me some pretty accurate and specific stuff in the time I have known him.

Well, here I am, sitting in this guy’s kitchen, watching him cook me a wheat free, dairy free, vegetarian Pad Thai and I realise that this is the first time I have let a man who was not a direct relation cook me a meal without having to pay for it. I have always taken charge in the kitchen but for the first time in my life, someone is making me a meal for no other reason than the fact that they want to.

Suddenly I realise why I have had stomach problems the past couple of weeks. It was the resistance manifesting in my body. The more I wanted to stop the flow of energy, the more it all got stuck and caused dis-ease. The universe has made all the decisions for me this year and up until now, I had just accepted. This was the first time that I tried to fight it. Well, the universe thinks Matt is a good idea and I have to agree.

 

Day 260 – the chance to turn it all around

I had intended to detox this week but we had new wines delivered so we have had tasting at 10am both mornings. Ok, detox starts at lunchtime. We are having lunch out, a farewell for one of the consultants. Ok, detox starts after lunchtime. How many times can I bend these rules? When I get home, out of pure habit and exhaustion from a long day, I pour a glass of wine. Dammit I forgot. Ok, detox starts tomorrow. I am still making lentil hotpot when I put the wine down and make the decision to just STOP. It takes consciousness, it takes awareness and it takes strength. My friend, Liz (not myself, another Liz), who is a personal trainer, made the analogy: if you dropped your phone and cracked the screen, would you run over it with your car to finish the job or would you keep using the phone? ‘Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.’ – Penelope Cruz, Vanilla Sky

 

Day 261 – one of those days

First it is needles from the doctor.

Then I break a full bottle of Hungarian muskat in my samples case.

Then my car gets stuck in some gravelly sand where a road has just been excavated.

My last client is a complete no- show.

When I finally flop down onto Matt’s couch, I can’t help but laugh. What else could I possibly do? This would be the perfect moment for a piece of dark chocolate and a glass of Hungarian wine. That one that I broke earlier. Luckily.

Well, not every day flows. Not every day stays unbroken. My car got out of the ditch. I got to finish early and the only wine that was tempting me was not available anyway. So when I turn the day around and see it from another angle, it was actually quite beautiful!

 

Day 262 – fluorite to settle the chaos

 It is going to be a long day of work, with lots of driving around. As soon as I wake up, it is time to put the game face on. I just want to keep sleeping all day. I open all the windows, light some incense and stop to look out into the morning light. The huge piece of fluorite on the windowsill is there, solid and strong. Flourite is supposed to settle chaos. I bought it after our first weekend of chaos in this house, after the neighbours complained about our loud house warming. Krystle’s nickname is chaos. As soon as I brought it in the house it was instantaneous calm. She kept patting the crystal and spent the whole week being more settled than I had seen her in the whole time I had known her. Now it is my turn. I place both hands on the crystal and allow my breath to calm. When it is time to go, I say goodbye to the Chaos Crystal and hug the Krystle Chaos. Busy does not have to be chaotic. Success is not measured by exhaustion. I can do this my way. No rush.

 

Day 263 – the people I meet

My final tasting for the day is with my new friend, Daniel. I met him at Ravesi’s after City 2 Surf and we connected over each other’s awesome hair. That’s how you meet friends. Exchange a compliment, connect on facebook and now we are friends, forever connected by the internet. His other friends are just as beautiful and while they taste the wines and we chat non-stop, I feel immensely grateful for this random encounter. Climbing the branches back, I make the tiny connections that have led me to this point. If I had never shaved my head to go to India, I would never have had short hair for Dan to notice. If I had never started running in India, I would never have done City 2 Surf. If I had never started meditating, I might not have gone to India. If I had never had such a bad break up, I might never have started meditating. If I had never experienced some of the worst moments of my life, I might never have experienced some of the best. Everywhere I end up turns into magic and for this beautiful realisation, I am here amongst people that were strangers at the start of the night and then friends by the end of the night. One of whom, Jess, calls herself Miss Spiritual and has just returned from a meditation journey to Bali. These people are no accident. This is a part of the path, an important and significant moment. I have no way of knowing how this will affect the path further on, but I look forward to the moment in the future when I can look back at this and connect the dots, climb back through the branches and see where this point has lead me to.

 

Day 264 – six degrees

I knew that eventually I would turn up at someone’s house to do a wine tasting and would know someone there. The law of averages dictates that this had to happen, but it is still a pleasant surprise when I see the same painting in someone’s house as one in Krystle’s room. When I am looking at their wedding photos and spot a friend who grew up in the house across the street from me. The current population of Sydney is about 3,641,421. The idea that everyone is only an average of six introductions away means that I should be able to do this every week. And does facebook make it smaller? Does social networking make the degrees even less? Now that I can look up a person and see our “Mutual Friends”, does that not make the degrees even less? Then, the spiritual theory- we are all just recycled matter, all connected by a higher divine presence, a collective consciousness, and all made of stars; original energy from the big bang, reconfigured into everything that has come into existence. Not only do I know the boy down the street who once lived with my clients, I was also once related to Buddha, drank the same water molecules that once washed Jesus’ feet and have also been the same chemical compounds that made up a rock. This is the train of thought that can work its way across my brain in less than a minute as I stare blankly at other people’s wedding photos. My eyes return again and again to the person I know, simply because it is recognition. When someone says, ‘you look familiar’ and they aren’t trying to pick you up, maybe it is true? That past life, when were both cats? We climbed that tree and ate that rat together. Remember? Good times!

 

Day 265 – just say it

There are so many things that I say that I shouldn’t and so many things I probably should say but don’t. I hold back, I hesitate and I keep my mouth shut. Fear? Uncertainty? The barriers fly up again like security shutters on a bank and at 3am I find myself waking up in anxiety, wondering what the hell is this snake of negative thought doing slithering around in my brain? So I just say it. I talk about it. I open up and slowly take down the barriers, softening and being honest. When I can say the worst, I finally feel ready to say the best. Well, I don’t exactly scream it from the rooftops, but I whisper it and as long as he hears it, that is all that matters. Say what you mean and mean what you say. That is why I keep quiet. Tell me anything as long it is always true. And then you will always know that these words mean more than the sum of the letters that they appear to be. When I say that I love you, it isn’t just because you said it first. It isn’t just because I want you to hear it. It is because I love you.

 

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Day 203 to Day 211 – moving out and on

Day 203 – knowing when to let go

It is never easy to break up, but it seems that when girls break up with friends, it is never without a few tears. It is almost like courtesy, like an offering. I can’t be your friend anymore but here is some clear liquid from my eyes. It isn’t anybody’s fault- nobody wants to seem bitter or angry. Usually girls fall out in a bitchy fight over something that was said or about a boy. This girl is different. She says we are too stressful for her and she doesn’t need the drama in her life. Krystle and I aren’t really sure what she means. We are both quite highly strung so what stresses out our friend Kelly doesn’t seem like a big deal to us. What makes Kelly cry only gets a shrug and a laugh from us. We understand the cyclical and ever-flowing, ever-changing nature of the universe. Kelly is ex-military so her way of thinking is completely different from ours and we have come to a point where we have to part ways with love. I don’t argue or try to change her mind. The true nature of selfless love is knowing when to let go.

Day 204 – pranayama class

At Yogatime, the teachers are now bringing a focus into certain classes and posting that on the facebook page. Today it is my turn so I have offered a pranayama class. We begin with simple breath regulation:

Extending the exhale for twice as long as the inhale, I invite the students to breathe in for 3 seconds and breathe out for 5-6 seconds. When they are comfortable with that, they extend the inhale to 4 seconds and the exhale to 6-8 seconds. Eventually they will be breathing an inhale for 5 seconds and an exhale for 10 seconds. This means that instead of breathing for the usual 12-18 breaths per minute, they can slow their breath rate to only 4 breaths per minute. The sages say that before each soul begins a lifetime, we are given a certain quota of breaths. This defines how long each person shall live. If you save 14 breaths per minute, the idea is that you can live longer. For example, small birds that breathe extremely rapidly live only a few years, whereas a turtle that breathes slowly, less than once per minute, lives over a century. It is hugely underestimated how much the breath can improve life. Simply noticing the breath, becoming aware, keeps us in the present moment. When we are overthinking or stressed, it is the breath that immediately suffers. It gets short, shallow and moves up into the chest. Although the lungs do actually sit in the chest it is better to use diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing. Most people only use the top third of their lungs and breathing in that space stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, the fight or flight mode, releasing massive doses of the stress hormone cortisol. This causes anxiety, insomnia, stress, skin conditions, over-active appetite and poor concentration. Unfortunately, fast-paced city life has us living in this fight or flight mode constantly. It takes awareness to bring us back to a calm and centred breath rhythm. The best way to do this is to pay attention to where the breath is happening and then use the belly to breathe. Once the belly is expanding on the inhale and contracting on the exhale, the muscle that lies below the lungs, (the one that is actually intended for breath), the diaphragm, is working.

Through the class, we incorporate Lion’s Breath, Wood Chopping Breath and full horizontal stretch to feel the lower ribs expanding into the floor, practicing diaphragmatic breathing. To finish, we do my favourite: Nadi Shodhana, the alternate nostril breathing. This balances Ida and Pingala, the Yin and Yang of the body. Ida and Pingala are flowing rivers of energy that spiral around the central channel, Sushumna, which travels up the spine. The lunar Ida, the left side is feminine, it is the yin, the calm side. When the left nostril is dominant (more open), we may be about to sleep or just woken up, or in a very relaxed state. The Pingala nadi, the right side, is solar, masculine, energy. When we are active, agitated or excited, the right nostril will be more open. The nostril changes dominance every 90 minutes. My yoga teacher in India claims one only needs four hours of sleep; two hours for each nostril.

By the end of the class I realise how much information there is to share about breathing; I have only just touched the surface. There are so many more breaths to be taken…

Day 205 – Just another Tuesday

It would be a lie if I said this day was truly like any other. This week I have taken the time off from work to just focus on teaching yoga. One of the other girls is away so we are covering extra classes and this afternoon I am teaching two classes, back to back. I go for a run in the rain, checking the weather. I believe when it says clearing that I will end my run in the sun. Unfortunately the rain seems to be feeling rebellious and it starts pouring down the hardest as I come back towards home. My spray jacket proves how non-waterproof it really is, but when I get home the success is that I have run 10km in much the same speed as I did in the Sydney Harbour 10k Race! I haven’t been able to get to that speed in ages, but it seems the rain gave me motivation to want to get back home! I keep stressing out, thinking I am still in a hurry and that I still need to rush to get somewhere or do something. I don’t think it has sunk in just yet that I can focus on yoga. Tomorrow I will even get to practice a class! I remember being at classes every chance I got and now I rarely step into a yoga room unless I am teaching. I think the justification is always that since I am a yoga teacher, I can teach myself but I never quite push myself out of the comfort zone on my own… And life begins at the edge of the comfort zone. That’s why I run faster in the rain.

Day 206 – cracking open my heart 

I lower myself back down from the fifth back bend, Wheel. I am hot and tired. I wish I had not done the sprints before class, but here I am in Misha’s Progressive class at Yogatime. Everyone is in the mood for backbends but I need to teach the next class and I know that backbends always lead to massive energy shifts and can seriously affect us emotionally so I am a bit nervous and try to just take a step back. I take a rest from another backbend. I can feel my heart cracking open as I rise up for another one. This time it is like an explosion, like a wall being broken. A wall is broken. That wall that I built around my heart, one brick at a time. Each time I felt disappointment in a relationship, I got out a trowel and put another brick down. Now that has just been bulldozed and as we go to the wall for handstand to realign the spine, I can feel the energy pouring down into my head and out into the ground. The dust of that wall falls away. In Savasana I can’t stop crying. In silence, I wipe away the tears. Finally, I can admit to myself that I am vulnerable. I am not made of stone and steel. I can pretend to be, but inside, there is a softness and a sensitivity and there are still wounds that need to heal. I know that if I saw my ex fiancé, my heart would still skip a beat. I know that when I see my dad, I feel guilt that I don’t spend more time with him. I know that despite my never-ending optimism, my ability to laugh it off and see the light in any situation, that I can also allow myself to feel pain and sadness. Those darker times just make us ready for even brighter times.

As I begin to speak to the next class, I am surprised to hear my voice is shaky. All of that energy that has shifted and exploded from my heart is still bubbling away and I have to take a moment in silence before I speak again. After class I eat with a friend and then take a moment in my car to just be with myself, to hug myself and just allow the dust to fall away. Another pivotal step in the journey.

Day 207 – the universe will provide

By some twist of fate, the money for the bond of our new apartment has not transferred and is still stuck in banking limbo. I am running around like a mad lady, picking up pay, counting out my tips and separating coins. It is just enough to cover the holding deposit. I spent my whole childhood feeling my mother stress about money and always told myself that I wouldn’t be like that. I just feel like if I put faith in the universe, know that abundance will come and just allow the energy to flow, then I will always have enough. I have never felt poor. Even with nothing, I have had an amazing life and feel like I have never had to miss out on an experience because of money. As we sign the lease, I am aware that I have no full time job. I am teaching yoga, working sporadically and yet here I am, signing over every dollar I have to move into a beautiful little art deco apartment in Coogee. I have faith that I will get the perfect job for me. I trust the universe to provide.

Day 208 – get yoga stoned

We have moved! It takes us all day but we move beds, the fridge, the boxes, clothes… The new apartment is beautiful. The morning sun shines in the windows and the floorboards stay warm all day. I can’t even remember the last time I had a room of my own. I have my own space. I have my own bed. I feel settled and ready for this new life. Our unit number is unit one. This means new beginnings, which is quite appropriate for this period of drastic change in my life. New job, new home, new friends… I love change. When everything is changing like this I feel like I am in the flow and things will just all fall into place. I have to leave Krystle setting up her bed while I go to teach yoga. Friday night’s Flow n’ Let Go class is one of my favourites to teach. I get to slow the pace down, play relaxing music and watch the students get nice and loosey goosey. By the end of the class, a short meditation, I love seeing everyone open their eyes lazily and look around from that place of peace and calm. “Yoga stoned?” I ask and they all nod. Ah, the natural high of yoga. I used to do a Yin Yoga class every Sunday afternoon and then go straight to work at a cocktail bar in the middle of Kings Cross. Everyone thought I was getting stoned because I was so relaxed and my eyelids would be a little droopy. That is true yoga, the union, the balance, the stillness, the natural high. If you walk away with only one thing from my yoga class, then I hope it is your sleepy smile.

Day 209 – to each his own

Some people eat meat and some don’t. Some people like AFL and some like League. Some people want to get married and have children. Some do not. The older I get, the more sure I am that I never want to eat meat again, that I will never understand AFL and that I don’t want to get married and have children. And the funny thing is, this seems common among women. It is usually men that still want the traditional lifestyle. I remember watching a documentary about relationships and it said that marriage was initially created as a contract of ownership. As humans evolved, they initially began living together in small groups of ten so women only had one or two options to procreate as they would instinctively go for someone who was not a direct relation. This ensured the survival of the species. As the groups got larger and humans began living together in groups of one or two hundred, then it became possible for a female to procreate with multiple partners within her monthly cycle. On a primal level, males needed to ensure that their own DNA was the one being passed down and so, in order to keep the women under the control of a single male, the contract of marriage was created. I always said I never wanted to get married so it is amazing to me that I was ever actually engaged. As a single woman enjoying her freedom, I find that I often get into this conversation with people, particularly with men. They want to know why it is that I choose to be single? Why is it that I don’t want to get married? Why don’t I want children? Is this all really so unusual? I see the world, an overpopulated, consumer driven society where people die of obesity on one side of the world and people die of starvation on the other side. I see a world of beauty that is slowly becoming extinct, one species at a time, because of the human race. I see my niece and nephew in their parents’ SUV and know that by the time they are my age there will be no more polar bears in the world. How could I want to bring another human being into this planet? It is through selfless love that we care for our children. It is through selfless love that I choose not to have a child. As to marriage, why would I sign my life away? I would never criticise another person’s decision, nor question it. Allow me to be who I am. Let me eat tofu. Let me watch League. Let me be alone.

Day 210 – first supper

I love to cook. I race back to mum’s house and get a few pots and minimalist items for the kitchen. I take all the curry spices. Mum never makes curry anyway. I look up a recipe but I don’t agree with it so I throw everything in my own way. Krystle’s last housemate cooked a lot of Greek food so she jokes that I have a lot to live up to. I am confident as I serve her the quinoa and vegetable curry. We eat on the floor like Morroccans. Someone has offered us a lounge but since the house is so small, we feel like it would be cluttered with furniture so we just sit around on the rug with cushions everywhere. This is common for me. I am a floor dweller. When I come over and get offered a seat, I usually sit on the floor anyway and lean against the carpet. People probably think this is strange but it is probably just the yoga mat. I have grown accustomed to being low to the ground and I feel strange sitting on chairs and sofas, especially if there is nice carpet. We eat our first meal in our new house. I have suitably impressed Krystle with my food making. I had looked up a recipe but dismissed it and decided to just follow my instinct. So here is my curry in a hurry:

CHICKPEA and SWEET POTATO CURRY

Ingredients:

1 chopped onion

1 tsp chopped ginger

1 diced capsicum

1 sweet potato, cut into chunks

half bunch silverbeet

1 can chickpeas, drained

1 can coconut milk

1 tomato, chopped

fresh coriander

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground turmeric

half tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp curry powder

salt

pepper

dash of hot chilli powder

Heat oil in pot, add onion and ginger and cook for 3 minutes. Add capsicum, cook for a further 2 minutes. Add spices and mix well. Add vegetables and enough water to almost cover all the contents. Mix well and cover. When sweet potato is softening, add chickpeas, coconut milk and spinach and fresh coriander. Cover and allow the spinach to cook in the steam for two minutes with the stove off. The heat of the pot will steam the spinach, keeping it raw enough to still enjoy as much of the nutrients as possible.

Can be served over rice but I prefer to use red quinoa. Boil one cup of quinoa in two cups of water with a pinch of salt.

Delicious.

Day 211 – inspiring the kids

Krystle is an artist. When I wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom I find her in there, her hand is blue and she just looks at me and says sorry. I look up at the mural on our bathroom tiles. I hug her. This is what I love about this woman. Freedom. Love. Truth. Beauty.

A young 15 year old girl is doing work experience with us at Embrace this week. She is timid and quiet. I keep forgetting she is in the shop. I take her for a walk and we have a chat. I know exactly where she is in her life because I have been there: too shy to be herself because she is still figuring out who she is. I talk endlessly and she tells me that my life sounds awesome. I end up giving her this whole spiel about how positive energy attracts more positive energy. Put out the awesomeness and you receive awesomeness. (I guess this is the 15 year old version). “Every person you meet is a reflection of you, honey, so send out good vibes and you will be surrounded by great things. The best thing I ever learnt is that I can do exactly what I want to do. As long as I always do things with good intentions and come from a place of love then there is no reason to feel guilty for following your heart. It has taken me a long time to do that but I feel that I am walking my own path and that it is right for me.”

She asks me if I ever feel bad when I think about other people, like my ex-fiance when I broke up with him. I tell her of course it is hard to hurt someone but if you don’t want to be in a relationship, then you will hurt the person more by staying. “You need to live for yourself, you need to love yourself first before you can love others otherwise you expect them to make you happy and then you make their life miserable when they can’t.”

She grows quiet. I guess it is a lot to take in. I draw some cards from the Angel deck, thinking about my career and how this junction of change I am in will affect me. When I start pulling cards, I am more and more amazed at the result.

Trust – trust your feelings and dreams to guide your career path.

Meditation – Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.

Yoga – your life is enhanced by yoga, stretching, and exercising.

You’re on the Right Path – keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s working.

Travel – Your life purpose involves travelling.

I realise the Yoga card has another card stuck to the back of it so I pull it out…

Writing – You heal, inspire, teach and entertain with the words you write.

Ok, universe. Message received. Loud and clear! Thank you for the reminder. Thank you for the opportunity to share what I have learnt and thank you for the beautiful people who remind me where I have come from and where I can potentially go.

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

Day 151 to 156 – run, climb and come out of the fog

Day 151 – exams are supposed to be stressful

I am standing alone in the yoga room in pre-dawn darkness wondering if any students are brave enough to leave their warm beds. It is still and silent before the birds have woken up in Sydney. I don’t even want to move in case I disturb this space, so I stand next to the heater and wait. Three people end up coming for early morning yoga and we flow through the sequence, saluting the rising sun. There is a magical quality to pre-dawn yoga that just can’t be compared, even to a morning in bed.

My exam for Indonesian is today but I know I haven’t studied enough. This would normally make me nervous but I know that any last minute cramming is useless so I decide to enjoy the brief sunshine and go for a run instead. The sages of India say that the true self is all-knowing, that ‘learning’ only serves to take us further away from the innate wisdom and realization we are all seeking. The “I” knows all the answers and it is only through turning inwards that we can find true wisdom. Well, the “I” seems to have forgotten the Indonesian word for ‘appointment’. Despite the confusion about passive and impassive verb use, I leave the exam hall feeling successful. I have managed to get through an exam without stress. I managed to enter calmly and recall more information than I thought possible considering I hadn’t studied. It was like, in that calm presence of mind, I was able to tap into a deeper level of consciousness; a state in which the memory was clear and sharp, and infinite knowledge can be accessed. Perhaps the secret to examination success is meditation? Well, I guess only time will tell, when I get the results back in a month.

Day 152 – the 7km high

Last night I registered for the City 2 Surf; Australia’s most famous run. It is 14km from the centre of the city to Bondi beach. I have never done it before and looking at the training schedule, I need to start my long runs with 7km. I think yesterday I only did about 4.5km. I decide to run to La Perouse, the birthplace of our nation and the explosive scenes of Mission Impossible 2. It is roughly 5km from my house, so including the run back, it should make it about 7km of run and 3km of walk. When I reach the bay, the sapphire pacific is charged with deep blue from the bright winter sun and the green grass is springy beneath my feet. I feel no hesitation as I jog uphill, making my way around the small hill and then back up to run home. I have checked my distance on the City 2 Surf app and found I am close to 6km. Before I know it, the wind of achievement has swept me forward and I forget to stop until 7.1km. I feel like I could keep going forever! The sense of achievement, the beauty of the destination, the fresh coastal wind pushing me on… It is like when I first stood on my head in yoga, or when I first felt my toe touch the back of my head. This overwhelming distance that sounded so daunting and impossible has been surpassed with ease and I am left wondering what else I could do. The human potential for success is limitless. I always tell students when I teach yoga that no pose is truly static; that we are always expanding exponentially, growing as the universe does. Even when we feel like we are still, the energetic body continues to open, forever moving with the space of the universe. There is no end, there is no finish line, there is no last breath. There is always one more step, one more kilometer, one more exhale.

Day 153 – rock climbing

I have signed up for a mountaineering course in August and there is the assumption that we know how to do basic rock climbing, knot tying and belaying. First of all, I am not entirely sure I know what ‘belay’ means. Google says, “A belayer is belaying behind a lead climber.” Hmmm.

And at the Sydney Indoor Rock Climbing centre at St Peters, it seems my friend Luke doesn’t know either. He is looking at the people around us to see how we hook up the harness… I have done this once before, so I approach the wall and try to remember what to do. Well, the idea is to just climb, right? We start easy and then move onto the inclinations. At one point I can feel myself relying entirely on the rope and then realize that if this was a real rock and I was really climbing, out in the open, on the side of the mountain, I couldn’t just hang onto the rope and pretened to climb. I would have to literally pull myself up. So I do. I grab for a nearby rock and use my feet to push further and further up, reaching the top of the wall. I almost thought I couldn’t make it, I almost gave into fatigue, but ultimately, the power of will took over and I pushed and pulled myself up. That’s just it- the best feelings always come after an uphill struggle. Life is just one giant rock. You can either let it roll over the top of you or you can climb it. I choose to climb!

Day 154 – Bel Ami

Although it had great reviews, I think Robert Pattinson can ruin any good movie for me. It isn’t that I don’t like him. After all, I don’t know him and I can’t judge him. I just keep wondering why there is a vampire in a movie adaptation of a 19th Century French novel. My friend, Saskia, who is a medical scientist, doesn’t get the point of a movie that seems to be all about the sex lives of the Parisian upper class. She probably doesn’t read 19th Century French literature, but then again, who does? Those of us who consider ourselves the snobby literati ? Perhaps. Perhaps it is the fact that I don’t know if Pattinson has read the original book by Maupassant. Uma Thurman steals the show, with a husky voice and sparkling character, she really does make the movie. My favourite line is when the character Clotilde tells Duroy that she finds politics boring and believes in enjoyment of life. He asks her what she enjoys and, placing a cherry in her drink, she says, “Well, I don’t know… Everything!” This is the true nature of 365 Days in Bliss. Finding pleasure, harmony, serenity, enjoyment and most of all, bliss, in everything. It is about making the whole of life the cherry on top.

Day 155 – meditating in my car

I arrive at my brother’s place and I know it is about dinner time, which means the kids will look for any excuse to avoid the green food on their plates. I haven’t had a chance to meditate yet, so I take some time in the car. I close my eyes and loop the breath; exhaling down the front of my body to my toes and inhaling up the back of my body to the crown of the head. I feel instantly calmer and my mind is quiet again. I don’t know how long I sit here for but eventually the wind shakes my car and moves me into the house. The kids run at me when I walk in the door and with pleasure, I embrace them both. After the kids go to bed, my brother tells me a story from his experiences as a Paramedic

“I got called to a job, it was for a young pedestrian who was hit by a car. On the way there we got multiple calls about how long it would take to for us arrive. When we got there, it was a chaotic scene; there were people everywhere with anxious looks on their faces. Everyone looked surprised, shocked. I remember the garbage truck blocking the street, a small body in the middle of the road and a doctor eagerly awaiting our arrival. He was a GP from up the road. We found a 10-year-old boy who had been struck by a van. It had hit him with the side mirror. The driver, a Rabbi, was being consoled at the side of the accident. It was early morning so the street was busy with people on the way to work and kids on the way to school. Mobiles were just coming in, so they were uncommon at that stage. The doctor was at the head of the child and there was someone else doing CPR. I took over and asked the doctor to move to the side. I prepared to intubate. I had to uncover his face. There was a towel or something over it. My partner was a station officer and he was attempting to canulate but he couldn’t find a vein so he had to drill into the bone to get the fluids in that way. It would be painful for a conscious person but not for this unconscious child.

“I intubated this patient with a traumatic neck injury. He was ten years of age. In the midst of it all, I remember, we were giving lots of drugs, sweating, trying to maintain control of our adrenaline and our emotions. I distinctly remember a healer interrupting the sequence of events. She introduced herself as a healer and asked if she could touch the boy. I felt like telling her to “f*** off” but knew that the situation required more tact and there was a lot of emotion involved with so many people around. My partner let her touch his feet. We continued our resuscitation attempts. She said she could feel energy coming back into him. After our stern looks, she went quiet and moved away.

“We loaded and transported the boy but we had no idea who this kid was, what his name was or where he was from. I think we had a police escort to the Children’s hospital. We continued resuscitation until the arrival at the hospital. The usual thing would be for a parent or family member or someone to be with them on the way or at least meet us at the hospital but that wasn’t the case and the hospital, to their credit, continued resuscitation for over 45 minutes while they tried to locate the mother. She was in transit to work so they couldn’t contact her until later. The job was done, complete, we cleaned up and had our own debriefing as to the way the job went and if there was anything we could have done better but there wasn’t. It was just a debrief. We went on with the rest of the shift.

“Over the weekend, I felt a bit… I don’t know how to describe it… heart strangled… that’s all I can say. I needed to go for a surf so on the Monday I was off work and started looking for a wave. It was pretty flat, so that led me along the coast until I realised I was being drawn to the location of that incident. As I was driving past I remembered hearing that this boy had a brother. Apparently he had walked past the scene of the accident when it happened but didn’t know it was his own brother that was hurt since his face was covered. I saw flowers on the side of the road. It made me look up into the street where the boy lived. I saw a little kid walking up that street. He looked very similar to what this boy would have looked like on any normal day. At the time I thought it might have been the kid’s brother. So I drove around quickly to try and enter the street. I had to make a detour as it was a one-way street. I started to get anxious, swearing at older drivers who were going too slow. I finally got close to the spot I was looking for, about 100 metres away. I just pulled over to the right and got out. I sat in the car with my heart beating fast, sweating from head to toe. Then I thought to myself, ‘Shit, I must be suffering from post-traumatic stress. What’s wrong with me? What am I doing here?’

“As I began to get my breathing under control, my heart rate began to increase again until it was well over the point it had been just a moment before. I saw two ladies walking up the street at that point. Between the two, I don’t know how I knew which one was the child’s mother but I knew which one she was. As she walked closer towards me up the hill, my heart rate increased even more and the sweating started again, though heavier. As she walked past the car, I couldn’t let her walk on so I got out. I said, ‘excuse me did you know Mark?’

“Her friend became very defensive and aggressive but I ignored her and spoke to the mother directly. I told her I was the paramedic who helped her son and that there were a few things I had to tell her.

“I didn’t have anything planned, just things I felt I had to tell her. I think it was Mark telling me to tell her. I wanted to say that even though she wasn’t there, that there were people there for her son; there was always someone holding his hand and that he had felt no pain. He hadn’t yelled out for his mum, he didn’t cry and he didn’t suffer. I told her that when I arrived, he had already passed away from the impact; that it was instant and we did the best we could. She began to cry, like really sob. She said that was the only thing that was killing her, that she couldn’t find out if he had been in pain, if he had suffered or anything detailed about what had happened. There was a big gap for her and she was very grateful. She invited me to the funeral but I declined. I didn’t need to go, I had said what I needed to say.

“I instantly felt my heart was released from that vice like grip. I think that Mark was the boy I saw walking up that hill. I think he made me go there to find his mum and tell her exactly what she most needed to hear. I went to the ocean and swam in the sea.”

Day 156 – coming out of the fog

As I drive down to my brother’s house, there are 110km winds whipping the fog around the wet road. I drive well below the speed limit as cars overtake me. When I eventually come out of the thick blanket, the road is eerily quiet. It feels like I am the only car on the planet, let alone on the road. When I get to the house, the cats curl up beside the fire with me as I write an email to a friend. I am telling him about this blog and in response to his question about what it is like to be back in my old/new life, I write the following:

Being back in Sydney was strange at first… I definitely see it with new eyes. I can’t wait to go back to India in October but at the same time I am really enjoying being here. It feels like so much luxury to live in this affluent society. I am working and training so I feel like I am busy all the time, which I like! I don’t have so many profound spiritual moments as I did when I was meditating six times a day but I feel like I am more connected to the every day tasks. Like, right now I am sitting by the fire with the cats and the simplicity of being in my pyjamas in the cold with a fire beside me is making me feel extremely content. I have never felt so satisfied with life before. I have never experienced so much love coming from deep within myself. I had depression for nearly a decade of my life and in the past year have found something to be grateful for every single day since recovering from that illness. The first thing that helped me was yoga but then I had to come off the contraceptive pill. I had no idea that was the cause of my sadness but as soon as I stopped taking it, it was like someone suddenly turned the sun on inside me and I could see life and energy. I started waking up every morning, genuinely excited to be alive. Every moment became a blessing. That is part of the reason I was able to start the writing 365 Days in Bliss. I started to realise how sacred life really is.

My experience of depression was, in itself, a sacred journey and one that I had to go through to become the person that I am. From the time I was around 15 I started to feel intense sadness, uncontrollable crying, anxiety, insomnia, unreasonable guilt, isolation, feelings of unworthiness and isolation. The illness itself was isolating. It is so easy to believe that nobody understands you and that nobody can help. I wrote about it extensively and when I look back at passages I wrote, my heart breaks. To see so much sadness is awful and I see myself as my family must have seen me. It was like walking in the cold dark fog for ten years and then, just as quickly as I had entered it, I suddenly walked out and found my inner being shining bright. If I could go back to speak to my younger self, I don’t know if there is one thing I could tell her to make it better. I would start by telling her to get off the contraceptive pill! But I had to go through many of those lessons to become who I am. No experience is without value. They say the darkest hour is just before dawn. I have lived through the darkness and I have come out of the fog. And in this early morning sunshine of my life, I can feel the warmth of that inner fire burning brighter than ever.