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.”

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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 7 – third eye meditation

I begin the morning feeling a little sick so before I meditate I take a few extra minutes getting ready. I wash my face, my hands and brush my teeth very slowly until my stomach settles. I have downloaded a free ebook from iBooks called Meditation: The Essence by David Tuffley. I read through the instructions of the first meditation which seem basic enough and I sit down to mediate.

I close my eyes and focus my awareness on the space behind my forehead. The home of the third eye and the Highest Self (who we call Atman in yoga) that lies at the centre of our being. As I focus all my attention on this space I can hear a flow of internal chatter but it feels muffled, like I can’t quite hear it properly. I keep my attention on this space. Tuffley says, “You know that this place is the centre of your inner universe, your most sacred place and the very heart of who you are.” He also suggests timing yourself by counting backwards from fifty, one count on each exhale. I keep my awareness on the Anja chakra as I breath slow and deep diaphragmatic breaths. Somewhere between thirty and fifteen I realise that I have been unaware of my own counting and meditating in purity for at least fifteen seconds.

When I slowly come out of my meditation I look at the clock hit just on fifteen minutes. At this stage, the first couple of weeks, I am very content with ten to fifteen minutes of meditation a day. It is realistic and very do-able. Had I set myself the task of meditating for half an hour or an hour straight away, I may have been intimidated out of doing it. Starting slow means I can ease myself into the longer sessions.

Namaste