Day 295 to Day 300 – the universe wants to be noticed

Day 295 – little white lies

I don’t like to lie. I don’t even like white lies. I have told too many in my lifetime and at some point I realised that it would be better to just remain silent and say nothing than to lie. Today, though, I need some yoga practice. I want to make it to the 8pm class. I know that I could get home at 8.30 and practice in my room, but it is harder when I get home. There is no space for me to practice. It’s not that there is no physical space, but people seem to think it is ok to ask questions, or give vague comments when I am on the yoga mat. When I enter a room full of people practicing yoga it is generally acknowledge that we are there for that sole purpose, so nobody is going to tap me on the shoulder and ask about my day. So, in desperate need of that time and space, I decide to lie. I tell my boss that I need to pick up my mum, that she is having her car serviced and needs a lift. My mother is in Wollongong. Her car is not being serviced. Strangely, though, I don’t feel bad about this. Especially not when I arrive to a quiet evening class and lay my mat out. This is so worth it! And I only missed an hour of work. I never really get much done in the last hour anyway. I usually fluff around in that time. This is definitely a better way to spend my time. I still wish I didn’t have to lie. I wish I could just tell them- I need yoga, I am leaving. But maybe it isn’t work that I need to be honest with. Maybe it is the people around me, or myself. If I roll out my mat and sit/lay/stretch out my body, I should be able to honour the practice enough to tell the people around me that this is my time, consider the mat to be a really big DO NOT DISTURB sign. If I just speak my truth, I wouldn’t have to bother with the little white lies.

 

Day 296 – the ‘g’ word

I know have written the word god countless times, but it comes up in conversation today… The most common thing I hear these days is: “I’m not religious. I believe in something though….” This kind of conversation causes so much turmoil that it is best to just be vague about the whole thing. Nobody really wants to get into a discussion about their beliefs. The word god can be perceived as a personification, a name, an ideal, or a corruption, depending on who is saying the word. Looking at GOD, I don’t see a name. I see a word and in that word I also see Gee Oh Dee, DOG and DOGMA and GOOD and it is little more than a word; a completely inadequate word to describe something that is probably beyond our human capacity to understand anyway. I prefer to say “the divine” but sometimes I feel like that sounds too much like I am talking about grapevines, with a stutter. Maybe that is because in my job I am always talking about grapevines. Anyway, if you read the word god here, know that it is little more than an insufficient label for the universe, the flow, the “source”, the light, the ether, the energetic divine spark of life that sits at the centre of every being, from a rock to a tiger, to a royal. God is just a word for ‘something’, but I don’t know what. If I knew what that something was, I guess I would be enlightened already.

 

Day 297 – traffic

I stayed over my friend’s house in Manly last night and now I have to sit in motionless traffic across the Spit bridge trying to get home. It is 8am and my first client is not for a few hours. I see the turn off to go to a secret beach I know about that I used to come to all the time when I lived on this side of Sydney. I decide to escape the traffic and go to the beach instead. I have swimmers in my car so I get changed in my car and lay down on the beach to read. The early morning is still quite fresh, but the sun is already strong in the sky so my skin slowly warms up as I read. I am so grateful that I am not sitting in my car right now, cursing the traffic. Instead I am alone on a quiet hidden beach, staring out at the flat clear water and gently bobbing sailboats. I will choose this over traffic any day! I get home an hour and a half later. Probably a little bit later than if I had just stayed in the traffic, but my headspace is just right for the rest of the day. Not only did I physically pull away from a road blocked up with traffic, but mentally, I got the chance to escape the stop-start, over congested, frustration of a busy mind.

 

Day 298 – left or right or wrong

In yoga, a common technique to encourage presence is to switch up the regular practice. My friend, Emma, is teaching and instead of going to the right side first in the standing poses, she teaches the left side first. Not only does this cultivate awareness, but it asks the brain to break up the deeply ingrained habits of a well-known practice. I love when teachers do this. It is like turning the whole room around and teaching from the “back” of the room. Or walking backwards with no shoes on wet grass. Tiny changes that break the mould, push us out of the boundaries, gently coax us into the unknown. Shit, I stuffed up and I am in tree pose on my right leg. It doesn’t matter how aware we think we are, the moment we let the mind process and get away with our thoughts, the auto-pilot kicks back in and we find ourselves driving back home on the usual route. It’s like when you get home and open the fridge, just staring into it, even if you aren’t hungry. WAKE UP LIZ! Get present. Be aware. Mindful conscious awareness doesn’t just happen. It takes practice. Yoga is practice in re-learning existence as life.

 

Day 299 – the river

The road to Bundeena, and to my first client of the day, is closed. This is the second time I have failed to see him. I let it go and take my lunch down to the seat by the river. There is no phone signal here. Nobody knows where I am. Solitude has found me again.

The last river I meditated beside was the Ganges in the holy city of Rishikesh, at the foot of the Himalayas. I focus my gaze into the rippling water. Rivers represent life and the flowing nature of our existence. They say you never step in the same river twice. The water is always moving, just as life is always changing. For the first time since Bali, I see a dragonfly, a symbol of change. The ducks dip down, feeding and paddling against the current. Their lesson is to stay afloat, to keep on keeping on. A cockatoo flies past, it’s angelic white plumage and bright yellow crest standing out against the surrounding green.

And the river keeps flowing.

Day 300 – a blessing from the sea

I have only an hour to talk as quickly as I can with Luca. He is Italian so we can manage to catch up on months of our lives in less than an hour fairly easily. If we had a stenographer, there would be a lot of dot points. The cafe we want to go to is really busy so we walk along Coogee beach while we wait for a table. The humpback whales are breaching out at sea. The last time I saw whales was in Mexico, but that was more just a few sprays and the occasional tail in the distance. These giants are showing off, throwing themselves out of the water and back in again. One seems to be waving a fin towards the shore. A perfect strange stops beside us and says, “Isn’t it such a blessing that they come to show us how graceful they are?” A blessing. Grace. Then Luca tells me that he ate whale in Japan. I slap him hard on the arm and yell his name. “I didn’t know what it was until the lady drew a picture of a whale for me! We spat it out straight away!” So maybe that whale wasn’t waving at us, maybe it was giving the finger to Luca for eating its family.

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Day 288 to Day 294 – the dharma wheel

Day 288 – knowing self

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

 

Day 289 – sleep how I miss you

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

 

Day 290 – Living my dharma

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

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

 

Day 291 – rituals of writers

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

 

Day 292 – success is measured in carrots

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

 

Day 293 – catching negative spirals

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

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

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

“Why?”

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

 

Day 294 – sleepy smiles

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

Day 68- change the rhythms of your subconscious with Raja Yoga meditation

According to meditationsutras.com Raja Yoga is ‘dedicated to all the internal aspects of yoga. It is known as the Royal Yoga because it is the highest form of practice.’ Traditionally the meditation is interlaced with asana and pranayama so that any time the mind wonders or the body aches, the movements and breath can bring one back into alignment and easily back to meditation. This morning I just sit up straight on a lounge. It is comfortable enough that I can sit through the whole meditation. I read through a Raja Yoga meditation script on peace before closing my eyes. I hear the words echo through my mind and they constantly bring my mind back to the present.

The idea is that the subconscious mind is affected by the thoughts and speech it remembers. If you change the pattern of your thoughts then your subconscious in turn will change. We are constantly told about the power of positive thinking but truthfully it is hard work to manage each and every thought in our mind. But if you can change the place where thoughts are born, then maybe they will come out a little brighter on their own. Worth a try, isn’t it?

As I meditate on peace I set the intention to radiate peace to each and every person around me. It works. By afternoon I go to meet a friend who is told I already left for India. She leaves moments before I arrive in one of those ironic twists of life. Where I would usually feel frustration, instead I feel only peace… and a little amusement.

Raja Yoga meditation

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I am a peaceful soul…

I am a peaceful soul…

My mind is filled with peace…

I radiate peace to the world…

I feel the gentle waves of peace flowing across my mind…

As these peaceful thoughts emerge in my mind I feel the stillness and silence envelopes my mind…

I am the peaceful soul…

I am a peaceful loving soul…

My mind feels light and free from worries…

I realize my real nature is peace…

Peaceful thoughts flow through the mind and I feel the self becoming light…

I am a being of light shining like a star…

I radiate peace and light to the world…

The light and peace envelopes me and the waves of peace and light shine like a lighthouse…