Day 229 to Day 236 – only love kills war

Day 229 – fight energy

Going to watch a fight is not something I would normally do but when the opportunity is presented, I consider it to be a new and exciting experience. Unfortunately, my instincts are right and watching people beat each other up does not prove entertaining. I used to love boxing training but I remember it made me really angry. It seems to fuel a certain kind of energy, a smoky, dark fire energy that ignites the ego into animalistic traits. The gym we are in suddenly feels extremely cold and I am shivering. I can’t wait for this fight to be over so we can leave. This time I am out of my comfort zone and there is no magic happening. I feel the fire around me, as though it is closing in and my own anger reflexes are sparking. I want to get out of this situation! Krystle sees me coughing. That chest infection seems to have returned. She wraps herself around me to warm me up and radiates light and love. She is excited and watches the fight with so much enthusiasm. She seems completely immune to the dark energy that I can feel. I close my eyes and visualise a white light radiating from within and enveloping my entire body. Suddenly time seems to pass faster and before I know it, the fights are over, we are in the car and driving back to my comfort zone. Perhaps if I had done the white light before leaving the house my experience would have been different. Perhaps I was just sick. Either way, the white light protected and healed. Energy is something we radiate, it is something we can change and use in any situation. It is our greatest power and yet we so easily forget about it. When I walk in my door, I feel myself stepping into a cloud of pure white light. This is home. This is sanctuary.

 

Day 230 – sunshine and the clouds

The clouds have lifted and the day is warm. I quickly change into a bikini and sprint down to the beach, but the wind is still cold and the scattered clouds gravitate towards the sun, stealing the warmth. It’s like the only cloud in the sky is working against me. It is too cold to be down at the beach with shorts on. Eventually I give up and go home. I am meditating on this when I start to look around me, feeling sunshine through the window. The light is seeking me out. I stare out the window at the blue sky and there isn’t a cloud in sight. I guess that is the irony of life. Sometimes there are clouds when you don’t want there to be. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes it storms. Sometimes you find yourself warm in a blizzard and sometimes a little wind can chill you to the bone. If there is one thing that constantly reminds me of the changing nature of life it is the sky. Life is change and even in the cold, dark and stormy times, there is beauty. Warmth, like energy, like light, can come from within. The sun is always shining on the inside, so that we can reflect it back on the outside. Deep inside my true self, there are no clouds.

 

Day 231 – smile and dial

My first day of telephone calls at work. We call prospects for 50 minutes and then take a 10 minute break. I dial the first number. Smile and dial, they say! Apparently a smile can be heard and nobody wants to hear from someone who doesn’t smile. A smile is about so much more than just the mouth, though and if you are speaking with your mouth, the smile changes anyway. I remember watching America’s Next Top Model (I know, it is my one weakness in reality television) and Tyra Banks was showing the girls how to smile with the eyes and not with the mouth. So a smile happens in the whole face. In Qi Gong, I was told to imagine the body filling up with smiling energy. As you move this energy around the body, you feel everything brighten up. So a smile happens somewhere deep in the dantian, below the belly button. It isn’t just necessary to flash your teeth when you make the call, it is also essential to find that smiling energy. People can sense over the phone what kind of person I will be and that will determine whether or not they will take time out of their day, let me into their homes to show them wine. Many of my calls are rejected, people are either not interested or they do not drink or they don’t remember filling out the survey and giving us their phone number. But many are also excited and pleased and I can feel them smiling right back. When I look around the room at the other reps, I see their own smiling energy, like a little aura of yellow around their faces. Smile and dial. “Hello, this is Elizabeth calling from Pieroth wines…”

 

Day 232 – you have what it takes to succeed

I don’t normally listen to motivational podcasts but I have found one about sales that is more of a holistic approach. Jason McClain of Personal Life Media, who records short 5-10 minute talks called Evolutionary Sales, offers a method for self hypnosis. I take out my notebook and write 3 sentences that I really need to hear, addressing myself in the second person:

1)   You have what it takes to succeed

2)   You know exactly who you are and have the courage to be your true self

3)   You are valued and respected

I then take my place in front of the mirror and stare directly into one eye (shifting between the eyes does not have the same intensity, so it is recommended to choose just one eye). I repeat each sentence five times and then notice any emotional reaction. I am supposed to do this twice a day for three days. The first round makes me feel a little bit silly but eventually I start to feel different. It is powerful to talk to oneself so directly, with such firm statements. I find my voice getting a little louder and stronger. I am more certain of the words. I feel empowered. I feel successful. I feel valued, respected, courageous. I feel me.

Day 233 – meditation creek

I wake up early for a run down to Bronte to meet a friend. When I get there, he hasn’t arrived yet so I wonder up the gully and down to a small waterfall. I sit down on the cool rocks and change from the running music to Wah!, listening to the soft chanting of Hare Krishna as I meditate on the flowing water. My eyes notice several pieces of rubbish scattered along the other side of the creek. I try to refocus on the water, knowing I can get the rubbish when I am finished, but I can’t concentrate. I step over the creek and start picking up what looked like a small amount of rubbish, but end up with a pile of plastic, foam and drink bottles that I can’t even carry. A man stops to say thank you, which I find odd for some reason. I guess if Mother Nature can’t say it herself, she sends someone who can… Rather than feeling like my meditation was interrupted, it kind of just morphed into an act of seva. I still feel the same flow of energy that I get from meditation, maybe it is just a little bit brighter.

 

Day 234 – the first swim of summer

It is hot today! Who would have thought we would already be in the ocean in mid-August! The air is soft and balmy and even though the ocean takes my breath away when I first jump in, I move around and soon feel comfortable in it. I realise it has been months since I was last in the ocean. Bali, maybe? In March. I allow the water to embrace me and I remember a poem I once wrote about the ocean being a lover. It is warm and inviting and then without warning can turn cold and uninviting, thrashing me around, rejecting me back to the shore. And obviously we always love the chase, because we keep coming back for more.

 

Day 235 – sisterhood

I have a three-hour break to go and visit my sister in law, Veronica. She is 7 months pregnant and starting to show. My four-year-old niece is playing with her cousins in the other room while we talk. It was only a month ago that they found out they were having a boy, but my niece, Bella, knew all along. She said she knows her little brother and that his name is Oscar. Veronica was once told by a psychic that they have been siblings in a past life. Even before Veronica fell pregnant, Bella would tell other children about her little brother Oscar who just “wasn’t here yet”. As soon as they found out a baby was coming, Bella was adamant that it was Oscar. Nobody could doubt her when she says it with such conviction. As we talk, he starts to stir and I get to feel the little movements this tiny life is making. Even though I can’t see him, I already feel a connection to this little boy. He is my blood, my family, waiting to be held by us, already loved by us. The miracle of life growing inside is still something I find so profound and incredible that I am not sure I will ever have the courage to do it myself. But it is still amazing to watch it happen. Can’t wait to meet you, little man…

 

Day 236 – standing up

Unfortunately, haters gonna hate.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

I know that my chronic optimism and happiness can piss people off, especially when they are stuck in their own cycle of negative thought. I know that people take an expression of kindness the wrong way and sometimes think there is malice behind a compliment. I know that not everyone understands pure love from a stranger. When a girl I barely know snaps at me and starts to say personal and spiteful words, I begin by very calmly telling her not to talk about it. I guess the Christian way to deal with this would be to just accept, know that she is simply misinformed, angry and suffering. Then again, even a spiritually evolved person can only take so much. Eventually I fire up and my anger gets thrown right back at her. Without swearing, without yelling, I tell her more than firmly that she is talking about my life, which is none of her business. In the end, the circle of friends around us has to yell at us both to shut up and I feel like I have failed. In hindsight, had I said nothing, her it might have felt better to walk away but I also feel like sometimes it is more than necessary to stand up for yourself.

Sometimes people judge, however I believe that everyone is a reflection. What is it that this situation is trying to show me about myself? Have I judged myself too harshly? Do I allow myself to criticise my own happiness? There are always two things to ask; how am I responsible and what did I learn? I am responsible for my reaction in this situation, for my anger and emotions. I learnt that I am human, I can still hurt from unkind words, and that if I can forgive the person who said them, then I can also forgive myself for being hurt by them and still send love to the person who said them for she must be hurting deep inside.

Day 223 to Day 228 – City to Surf to Wine to Blood

Day 223 – too excited to sleep

I am still buzzing of the natural high I got from climbing and I can’t seem to sit still. I want to run around and yet I know City 2 Surf is on tomorrow so I need to rest. I roll out the yoga mat and get to downward dog, which is where I stop. I can’t move. It feels too good. Finally I have stillness! Most people probably wouldn’t think that downward dog is much of a rest but I love this pose and with rhythmic breathing I can stay here for ages. So I do. About twenty minutes later I finally move into a forward bend. This is the kind of practice that I need right now just to calm myself down. I can feel the whirlwind of excitement slowing down. I move slowly, with intention and do no more than about 6 poses in total. I feel completely different when I stand up. I barely slept last night so I finally realise how tired I am and decide to have a lie down. It doesn’t last. I feel the energy rise up again and I decide to get ready and go out. I just want to see people. After being isolated all week, I want to be surrounded by a crowd, to have to say hello and goodbye to everyone I know. When we leave the house the road outside is wet from the rain and in two steps I take a tumble and graze my knee. I will later graze the other knee on my way home. I hold the bloody tissue in the taxi, shaking my head at the irony. Seriously, Liz, you can go mountaineering for a week and come away with nothing more than a couple of bruises but the moment you try to put on high heels you fall over and start bleeding?! I know my vata energy should be calmed in some other way but this feels like more than just the erratic winds of vata blowing me about. I feel the fire of pitta burning away inside of me, charging me about. I feel like I have been ignited and I can’t possibly just stay inside in case my energy burns the house down. It is an amazing feeling to be so bright and light. I am in bed by midnight and finally can sleep. When I wake up I will run 14km.

 

Day 224 – City 2 Surf

I wake up early and can’t get back to sleep. I am way too excited for this race! I get out my running gear. It seems cold so I am grateful that I managed to wash my thermal Skins in time. At the start line, groups of people chat to each other. I stand alone, listening to music. I am uncertain about this. I know how tired I should be. I am still running on the fire energy that I have gathered from mountaineering. I can’t believe how little sleep I have been getting. I close my eyes and turn inwards, taking a moment to see that fire. This fire can carry me up a 2km slope carting a sled of human faeces. I have no idea what heartbreak hill is supposed to be like but it can’t be as bad as that slope. The crowd starts to jog and I begin dodging all the walkers and prams that were in front of me. Before long I find my own space in the wide open road of William St. Emerging from the tunnel, the sun is sparkling out over Rose Bay. I love Sydney. I take a moment to be grateful for this chance to see so many people places as we run towards Bondi beach. I know that the hill happens at the halfway point, but when it is over I am unsure. Was that it? I don’t want to sound arrogant but wow, it really was nothing! It was a long uphill run, yes, but I never really found it hard. I guess it’s all relative. After the slopes and hills I have been climbing this week, that paved road was nothing. The last km is the hardest. To be so close and yet so far, it is like my body finally allows itself to admit how tired it really is. It is at the last few hundred metres, coming around the bend toward the finish line that I feel the last surge of energy. I sprint toward the finish 93 minutes after I left the start. I had wanted to finish in under 90 minutes but considering all the factors at play here, I am pleased with my result. I did it and I did it easily. I never felt like I was pushing myself harder than I could handle and I came out the other end alive. Time to go home and lie down again. One of these days I will figure out what rest means.

 

Day 224 – grass blessings

I am walking back to Bondi to pick up my car. The coastal walk is eerily empty of people. A cool wind whips at my face and I look out to the horizon. The ocean is a dark grey colour, but I even love when it looks dark and stormy like this. There is something romantic about it, like she is heartbroken, crying over a lost love. I walk up some stairs towards my car, holding my hand out to run my fingers through the tall grass. The smooth blades slide across my skin and I stop to say thank you to them at the top of the stairs. I feel like rolling around in the wet sand, like smelling damp earth, like just making love to mother nature. I stop at my car, not even sure if I want to get into it. I know I have things to do today, so I need to get in and drive but I have just had the most beautiful walk, feeling entirely part of this universe. I get in and despite the cold, wind down my window and enjoy the air on my face. I guess that is the beauty of wind. It gets in everywhere and even when encased away from nature, a window can always be opened to let in the sunshine and the breath of god.

 

Day 225 – last yoga class

It is not without some emotion that I teach my final yoga class at Yogatime. It is a busy class and as I find the rhythm of my voice moving along with the pace of the students, I start to wonder if I am making the right decision. When the class leaves and someone tells me it is a shame that I will no longer be teaching there, I almost want to cry. What am I doing? To be honest, I am not sure but this isn’t the first time this year that I have wondered about this journey. All I can do is trust that the path I am walking is exactly where I am supposed to be. If I walk away from teaching asana, it does not necessarily mean that I will no longer be a yogi so I place my faith in the path and allow the allowing.

 

Day 226 – first day at Pieroth

There are worse ways to spend a first day of work than tasting premium wine. Learning how to read a German wine label takes a lot longer but once I have grown accustomed to the un-pronouncables, the rest is up to my palate. I close my eyes to breathe the soft varietal bouquet. Passionfruit, pomegranate, violets, citrus, fresh cut grass, earthy wood, spring jasmine at dusk… My brain struggles to keep up with my nose. How is there no meditation in enjoying the flavour of wine? Hand picked grapes, selected with care, the juice extracted through first press from the natural weight of the grapes. Anything made with such elegant delicacy, such love and passion, deserves to be honoured and drunk with the same meditative care.

I prefer the dry wines. The first one we try, a German white, Nussdorfer Herrenberg, steals my heart, though it feels some serious competition from the French Collier D’or. I never drink Rose, but I also never say no to a drop so when I try the Chevalier de Bayard Rose and fall head over heels in love, I can barely believe it. Drinking commercial, cheap wines, it would only take an hour before I would end up with a headache, or a minor hangover, but these premium wines with minimal additives (sulphites only), are mellow and kind. No headache or sleepiness ever appears. I feel satisfied and content as I leave my first day at work and offer gratitude to the universe for this part of the path.

 

Day 227 – help a friend out

Sometimes friends ask for help and without question we want to just blurt out all the advice we can offer. Sometimes that advice is taken on board and other times it is rejected. Sometimes it is appreciated and sometimes it aggravates. Ultimately, every experience is unique and what works for one person may not necessarily be truth for another person. Every person has to decide for them selves and no one situation can accurately reflect all the variables of someone else’s situation. Unfortunately tonight when I offer my friend some advice, I can see it has agitated him and that is the last thing I want. In the end, all I can offer is a hug. I hope it is enough, but be aware, dear friend, that the ego will make mountains out of molehills and drama out of drear. As your friend, I want to shoulder your pain and fix the problem. I want to share the embrace and light up the dark. But in reality, I don’t have all the answers. I won’t always say the right thing. Sometimes all you need is a hug and for me to say nothing but to only listen. If nothing else, I can tell you that I understand, I can validate your feelings, not tell you not to feel them.

 

Day 228 – running and bleeding

New shoes. We all love new shoes. I just wish I could buy old shoes. Wearing in new shoes can be painful and the blisters on the back of my heels are not healing. I go for a run but within the first kilometre, I have to stop and bend over because my nose is dripping with blood and I have no tissues. I stand and watch the red droplets fall to the ground. This has happened twice lately, but just mid-conversation. When the blood finally clots, I continue running and uphill my shoes rub the blisters so badly that I just turn around for home. When I get home the back of my socks are soaked in bright red blood. I can’t even run without hemorraging from my face to my feet! I don’t understand. I guess this is my body telling me to stop, to just rest and take it easy. I can feel the latent impressions coming back. The distorted body image appears in the mirror and I hear a critical and mean voice from my past make a nasty comment. I stop and look at my reflection deep in the eyes. “Liz, you just climbed a mountain last week. You ran 14km after going out all night and you still ran even after you bled from your face, only to find that you were bleeding from your feet as well! If you can’t forgive yourself and allow yourself to rest right now then you will never allow yourself the chance to recover your strength.” I take a long, hot shower and finally the negativity is washed away. I find my reflection again. “You don’t do guilt, Liz!” That is the last time I try to carry myself away on a guilt trip for not exercising as hard/strong/long as I wanted to. I wouldn’t treat a lover like that, so why do I do it to myself? Love. Pure love. Not tough love.

Day 133 – a mother’s love is unconditional

I once heard a woman say that the hardest thing a mother ever had to do was raise her own children so that one day they would no longer need her. Even my own mother told me that nobody could ever imitate the love a woman has for her child and that I would understand this level of unconditional love when I have my own children. I have not yet learned how to love unconditionally as my mother loves me.

I have loved selfishly, with expectations, judgements and attachment. When there are expectations, love cannot be pure or selfless or unconditional. Flaws are revealed and we quietly hope that change will happen. This is not love. I have realised that to merely accept the flaws is not enough. Unconditional love means to love the flaws, to love the imperfections and to enjoy the mistakes. It is to kiss the wounds as a mother would for a child, to cry harder than the child in the hope of absorbing their pain and to sacrifice even one’s own last breath in a final whisper of devotion. If I cannot treat someone in this way then my most sincere act of love would be to pray that they meet someone who can.

When a relationship ends, it is easy to put blame on each other and try to rationalise and justify. To believe in love without pain is naïve. To think another person will love without expectation is blind. To see external love as a saviour is to be lost in the maya, the illusion and forever suffer in the delusion.

“For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.’ – Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

But if we turn the love inwards, towards the divine self, the essence, the truth, the light, the atman, ‘god’, then it must be selfless. It must be unconditional. It must be pure and continuous. It must fill the cup until the cup overflows with ecstatic devotion. Then that pure love will flow out of the cup and into the world. Only then can love be without pain, for pain will fall away like the layers of illusion. Only then can love be without expectation because it will be in the now. Only then can love save us for it is from within and not from without.

If I nurture my spirit as my mother nurtures me, if I feed my soul as she fed me, if I sacrifice the external world for this divine love as she has sacrificed so much for me, then I can give unconditional love.

Day 125 – the beauty of Vrindavan, Agra and Miss India

After the continental hotel breakfast, Pri and her friend Ashley and I leave Delhi. I have missed hotel food like this but I can’t help but feel guilty that I get to enjoy this luxury. It feels so far from my spiritual purpose and from the rest of India.

We stop in Vrindavan to see a 400-year-old Govinda temple where we have to keep our glasses in our pockets. The guide has told us that the monkeys will take our eyewear straight off our faces, so as we enter the temple he grabs a 3-metre pole to keep the primates at bay. The guide then leads us to the Yamuna River and speaks quickly about its significance. We ask to get closer to see it and maybe put our hands in it and although he says yes, he turns around and takes us straight back into the home of Krishna where we wash our hands with the water from the holy Yamuna River anyway. We don’t buy the garland of jasmine flowers, but continue in through the tiled walls. Each tile is inscribed with the names of families that have made considerable donations to the temple. The guide leads us in a prayer at a non-descript corner and then into the room where Krishna apparently rested after battling the cobra in the Yamuna river. In this room, a priest sitting before a curtain speaks in a barely audible whisper in what we believe is a prayer. Suddenly, in one swift dramatic gesture, he flings back the sparkling curtain, revealing a setting of statues that include the baby Krishna, his parents Vasudheva and Yusodra and the black-faced incarnation of Yamuna. The priest then he pulls out his receipt book and is asking our names. I am so grateful Pri is sitting next to me; she is switched on enough to realise exactly what he is doing. He is trying to get us to repeat that we will donate over 11,600Rs ($232 USD) for our own family tiles. He tells us that the donation will go to the widows home, feeding them while they pray endlessly over the inscriptions of our names. I start to feel guilty that I haven’t brought my wallet with me (who thinks to bring a wallet to the temple), so that I can’t even make a small donation but the priest quickly becomes frustrated when Pri refuses to agree to pay the 11,600Rs. He becomes argumentative before reluctantly finishing the blessing, tossing a jasmine garland over our heads and giving us a small spoon of sugar to eat. He all but kicks us out of the holy home of Krishna. As we re-emerge into the street amid the stalls hawking images of the young blue god and his trademark flute, the smells of open sewerage and the roaming gangs of monkeys, Pri tells the guide as he walks too quickly that Hinduism is not about that. The guide seems annoyed and as we get caught behind a rickshaw, we lose him for a moment in the winding back streets. He finally turns around and yells at us to keep walking through the crowd. We hurry back to the car. Apparently it is too late in the day to stop at Mathura, so we leave immediately for Agra and I am glad to be leaving Vrindavan.

As we enter the city of Agra, I am suddenly filled with this overwhelming feeling of pure love. I am about to see the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, one of the greatest monuments of marital devotion and the image of which I have been staring at in travel magazines for years. Here I am, entering Agra, about to see this incredible building. I almost want to cry with joy. The white dome comes into view in the distance. Although it looks like a mosque, it is actually a tomb for the second wife of Emperor Shah Jahan, Mumtaz Mahal who died giving birth to their 14th child.

At the hotel, we see a sign that says Miss India will be visiting so we make a point to dress up and then smiling at the concierge at the door, end up inside the private party. We accidentally sit in the VIP section and with a mouthful of free samosa we have to answer an official about which group we are with. Trying to think quickly, I say we are journalists and Ashley mentions the name of an American magazine. It seems her English has momentarily confused the official, who politely asks us to move to the media section. We endure the painful dance routine, wait through the short fashion show and the awkward silences on stage before Miss India finally emerges in a long sparkling purple gown. We take a photo of her and then move on to dinner as the real media circle the stage.

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