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.

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Day 187 to Day 191 – bouncing back

Day 187 – bounce back

Finally I feel ready to run again but my first attempt is thwarted by rain. I run some errands and when I get back the rain has finally stopped and the sun is calling me out. I get going and for the first kilometre feel like maybe the wind is too cold. I want to turn back again but I push on and soon I am warm enough and it is feeling great. At exactly the halfway point I sniffle and a torrent of blood comes out of my right nostril. I’m wiping blood on the grass as  have no tissues. This is gross. I am too far away now, the walk back would take forever so I just keep running. When I get home I feel that vibrant life force pumping through my veins again. I stop and sit with this feeling, meditating on it and enjoying the pulsation of pure energy. The radiant luminosity that had escaped me is now back and I feel ready to jump back into that manic scramble for time that I am used to. When I finish work, I have to sit down again. Ok, maybe I’m still recovering. I end up falling asleep on Krystle’s couch as she continues to chatter away for another hour. Then, in an act of pure love and selfless service, she carried me to her bed and puts me to sleep. No words can describe the bond of this friendship. When I’ve lost my bounce, she shares some of hers.

Day 188 – the long table

I am getting a treatment today with my friend Doc. With a light touch against my collarbone, I instantly feel my whole body relax. There are energy blockages all over my body and as he moves around to my knees, my neck, my back, my sensitivity gets ramped up and I become entirely conscious and aware of them. He asks if I can see anything. Behind my closed eyes, I have a vision of a long table. There is someone sitting at the other end. He asks who it is and when I look closer it is me, but older and wiser. I look more calm, more settled and yet, younger and more relaxed. He asks why there is such a long separation between me and my Self. We shorten the table until it finally disappears altogether and I am standing face to face with myself. Then I change places and become the Self looking back at me. It takes a long time to be able to do this, to enter the eyes of my spiritual Self and look back at me. The me I finally see is shy, young, like a child. She is looking up at me through her eyelashes. She is timid and afraid. I hug her to me, feeling protective. Eventually I let the child-like version sit on my lap and play. We are so close we start to melt together, fusing into the same person. When the treatment is over, I feel… luscious. I feel like I am vibrating at a higher level. I feel like I am pulsating in life force, like I am the divine Self, feeling out this body and enjoying every sensation. Doc smiles. He says if I can get the lusciousness then that is the whole point.

Day 189 – Sydney Harbour 10km

After only four hours sleep, I wake up excited and with a sore throat. I probably shouldn’t run. I get back into bed for a second and then that part of my brain that is constantly trying to prove it is tough enough, gets me back up and puts on my compression tights. It is time to run. I have been too excited about this! When I get into the city, it is freezing and still dark. There are fires set up where the runners are crowding around. I join the small huddle, looking around for someone I might know. No, everyone I know is still sleeping. Even mum hasn’t offered to be a cheering squad; she is going back home to bed. The race begins in the Rocks and wraps around past the Harbour Bridge and into Darling Harbour. It is only about a third of the way through the race when we see the fastest runners coming back around, on their way to the finish line. I feel like people keep passing me. I turn back to see if I am the last person but realise there is a whole trail of people behind me too. I realise I am also passing people. The sun is rising and the morning is bright as we pass the halfway point. I feel a stitch coming on right as I approach the second water station. At the 8km mark, I realise how far I have come. I have done this and nobody else. Nobody can take it away from me. Knowing my usual running pace is 8km/hr I check the time and realise it has only been 50 minutes. Excitedly, I round the bend to see the sun shining behind the Harbour Bridge. It is beautiful. As I approach the finish line, people are sprinting for the final dash but I just keep my pace. When I get my race results later that day I find out I completed the 10km in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 57 seconds. I have completely surprised myself! It may not be the fastest, but after recovering from the flu and having only 4 hours of sleep, I have beaten my own running pace and exceeded my expectations. I may have come in 35 minutes after the winner, but in my own heart I feel victorious.

After the race, I eat a quick breakfast and go to a Yoga for Runners workshop. It is basic, with lots of long holds and stretches. It is beautiful to just be led through a practice and not have to think about anything. It is the perfect thing for my tired, stiff muscles. I fall into a blissful sleep in Savasana and finally allow myself to realise how exhausted I am. I spend the rest of the afternoon in bed, sleeping. When I wake up, I am still holding the small medal. Sydney Harbour 10km. I did this for me. Nobody else can take those 63 minutes away from me. They are all mine.

Day 190 – the journey of hands on skin

One of my yoga teachers, Twee Merrigan, wakes up every morning and kisses the palms of her hands and then slides them all over her skin. It is her way of waking herself up with love, with appreciation for her body and to awaken the senses. When I tried this a few years ago, I remember pausing at my stomach and grabbing roughly at the “extra bits”. I remember poking meanly at what I felt were love handles over my hips and pulling back the extra deposits of fat between my thighs. At the time, my perception of my own body was distorted and I did not offer it any self love. I remember this lack of compassion and I feel sorry about it, but then I am so grateful for how far I have come. I can now run my hands across my stomach, loving every piece of it. I like the feeling of my hips and thighs and their curves and shapes. And I can allow someone else to run their hands across me without feeling shame or recoiling in embarrassment. It is a beautiful thing to finally accept and love oneself unconditionally. I hold my stomach in my hands gently and give it a loving pat. No grabbing, no judgement. Just. Pure. Love.

Day 191 – standing at the back of the class

I have just taught yoga and the small class of three students are in Savasana, resting. I close my eyes to the sound of Krishna Das’ beautiful, deep, voice. There is something magical about this still space at the end of class. I am standing at the back, feeling the chant wash over me. I have had one of those typical run around like a mad woman days. From the moment I got up, I just started rushing, even when I didn’t need to. Sometimes I think if I didn’t rush, I would always be on time? Now I finally slow down and accept this moment in its entirety. There is no other moment. There is no ‘ago’ or ‘yet’. Now is the only space we have. It may not always be still or quiet but even our silence roars and even if our bodies are still, the energy is forever expanding, like the universe. Someone told me today that I look taller. It is not possible that I have actually become taller since turning 25 but it is possible that my confidence makes me stand straighter, that my energetic body has expanding higher and that I take up more space with radiance. It is a beautiful day to be standing in meditation with three resting yogi’s. I feel like our energies are still dancing together, even after we stop moving. That is the lingering space that we all hang onto after class. That is the resonance we don’t want to lose when we walk away. So we take it in, swallow it down into our hearts and our bellies and we carry this light with us, sharing it with the world. That is what makes us grow taller.

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.

Day 144 – running and breathing

When all else seems chaotic and even the pranayama, the meditation, the yoga, takes a backseat to the emotions or the thoughts, there seems to be no greater fix than to go outside and connect with the Earth Mother. Nothing is more grounding than feeling grass between your toes, more refreshing than crisp ocean air, or more calming than moving water. For once, I am lost for words. As I run down along the river and into the dense gathering of pines, this is a running meditation best described through pictures…