Violence

“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”

― Jiddu Krishnamurti

Life, the Universe and Everything…

Cannot believe it has been three whole years since I started this blog. So much has happened since then, and so much of what I wanted to happen when I first set out to document my experiences has come to pass. I do meditate every day now (give or take!) and I also blog a few times a week too! Just not at this address anymore…

Am returning here for a time though, on an off, to record my thoughts and write words down that feel right to me. You see, over at my other, bigger blog I feel like it has taken on a life of its own. Like my personality has shifted online – I’m much blonder, nicer, fluffier and soppier over there than I am in real life.

In reality it might be true that I’m nice and kind-hearted – I wish for world peace and all of that. However like any human worth their salt I have a darker side, I swear and get pissed off at things and have opinions that really wouldn’t go down very well with everyone I know and love. For example, I’m a yoga teacher and make my living as such. Sadly, I don’t think my other prettier-blog-self couldn’t fully express all the yoga-skepticism that I truly feel and think about. Is there a God or a higher realm? I don’t think so. Can you manifest what you want in your life? I fucking hate the word manifest. Abundance?! Don’t even get me started on that shit!!

So what do I believe and why do I teach yoga? Well, the internets loves themselves some lists, so here’s mine. I believe:

  • That use of the scientific method is the best way to sort though the bullshit out there.
  • In human kindness and the power of compassion.
  • That we shouldn’t eat animals, but I do occasionally anyway because it’s really really hard not to and salmons taste yummy. Sorry salmons.
  • That everyone could do with sitting the fuck down, shutting up and focusing on their breathing a little each day. Seriously, life is easier to handle and it really helps put shit into perspective. Plus, it’s all kinds of amazing to look at your own mind and see how crazy it can get in there!!
  • We churn yoga teachers out a dime a dozen and this isn’t a good thing (more another time)
  • Feminism is still (very) important
  • People should care less about clothes, celebrities, what they ate yesterday and who said what about who.
  • That we really are all connected – scientifically – and that looking up at the stars and contemplating our place in the cosmos is one of the most awe-inspiring breath-catching things you can do. We should all do this more often.
  • Fairytales are for children, and man-made stories about a divine realm that we can’t prove should be accepted as stories written by man. If there is a higher realm, or a spiritual realm that is somehow different to the material universe (I’m agnostic not atheist feel that we can’t prove it either way)  who are we to think that we can explain it all in human terms?
  • Meaning in life is created by pursuing things we enjoy, questioning everything and spending quality time with those we love.

I teach yoga because since my first class nine years ago I have never regretted getting on the mat and practicing. Each time I do I learn a little more about myself, and feel better for the rest of the day. Yoga has helped me lift myself out of depression, keep my anxiety at low levels and I genuinely feel it has added to my life in a profound way. As such, I want to pass this on and share as much as I can.

That’s it for today world. I will be back to bitch, rant, muse and ponder in this anonymous little corner of the web sometime soon.

Thought of the Day

I have this quote pinned to the board above my desk at work…

“Be content with what you have;

rejoice in the way things are.

When you realise there is nothing lacking,

the whole world belongs to you”

~ Lao Tzu

We need to remember to be grateful for what we have, and appreciate the present moment.

I would like to be here right now…

Lake Louise Cabin

Image by Daniel John Buchanan

Snuggled up warm with a good book, no TV, no Internet, just a stove to boil tea and a fire to keep me warm. Complete darkness and silence when I want to sleep, and fresh air and bright light to help wake me up in the morning. I could really do with retreating to this cabin at the moment…

I’ve been away from this blog for a while, because I have been too embarrassed to post and admit that I haven’t been doing anything to achieve a calmer life. I haven’t been meditating, I’ve neglected my yoga practice and my anxiety has come back full force. Starting a new job, transitioning to life post-university and dealing with other personal issues has lead to stress and panic. So, very simply I haven’t wanted to sit with or meditate on my feelings recently, let alone write about it!

Today however, out of the blue, I felt compelled to come back here. Back to my little neglected blog. I have decided to take a different approach. This will still, slowly but surely, document my path to greater awareness and mindfulness, but it will also be my little online refuge where I can post beautiful pictures and inspirational articles/quotes that I find.

This is the first of these posts, my little cabin in the snow…

Sit, breathe, meditate.

It’s so easy to fall back into old habits. After being overseas for three months, I was determined to get home and continue my newly formed meditation habit and keep up this little blog. I saw myself waking up early, making a cup of tea and and savouring the early morning quiet. This would be followed by a half hour meditation, which would leave me refreshed and ready to start the day.  I thought I could come home after work and spend half an hour to an hour writing a thoughtful and possibly helpful blog post, related to my experience that morning.

Alas (I love that word, old fashioned but it fits don’t you think?) it wasn’t quite that simple. I got home two and a half months ago and so far I’ve meditated on my own at home a grand total of… twice.

Now, a few weeks ago I decided that this blog was silly, I can’t add anything useful/insightful/new in any way and I haven’t meditated in who knows how long. However, this morning I am inspired. I mean, this is reality right? Finding time to meditate around a full time job is tricky! So, maybe I do have something to add, maybe my journey to regular meditation practice will be useful for someone. If I can provide at least one person with a good read, or inspire someone to start meditating, then this blog will be worth it.

Yet, that’s not the only nagging doubt holding me back from writing more regularly. There’s a dash of laziness on my part too, and a whole heap of self doubt and insecurity. Yep, the perfectionist’s conundrum once again – I am afraid to try to maintain a blog and write regularly, because I am sure that I won’t do it well and I will fail. I know I’m not the greatest writer in the world, and this stops me from writing at all. Since I have arrived home this big dark pool of harsh self-criticism and doubt has stood between me and my desire to keep this blog going.

Time for a change methinks.

Action plan!

I asked myself…

What can I do to become a better writer?

-         Write more! Practice makes perfect may sound clichéd but its true.

How will I know if I have anything meaningful to add to the blogosphere?

-         I won’t know until I try

How can I get over this nagging fear of failure?

-         Give it a try and see what happens

How can I still stay a little bit in the shadows?

-         Write this blog anonymously.

So the plan is:

  1. Write two posts a week, even if they are short.
  2. Write anonymously for now.
  3. Try to meditate twice a week and build from there.
  4. Remember that writing something is better than nothing!

 

For anyone stopping by and reading this, thank you! As I start to post more I would love any constructive criticism/advice you have.

White Light Meditation

I tried this about a week ago and found it both soothing and uplifting! Here is a step by step of how I used this meditation technique:

1. Sit somewhere quiet and calm, bring the attention to your breath

2. Focus on your heart centre (about four finger-widths down from your collar-bone)

3. Visualise a small flame at your heart centre

4. Gradually, focusing on your breathing, visualise this flame expanding and growing until it becomes a strong, bright, intense white light

5. Let this white light expand to fill your entire body. Watch it travel to your toes, and up to your forehead

6. This light is peaceful, beautiful, pure white

7. Maintain your breathing and focus for 10 minutes.

Hope you enjoy this! I found myself smiling for the rest of the day!

Bright White Sun

Sorry for absence!

I have recently returned to Sydney, Australia, after months away in the USA. I am now emerging out of my jet lag induced haze and have finally caught up with most of my friends and family, so will be back to write a post soon!

In the mean time, I love this marshmallow cloud…

…the sky in Sydney today is full of clouds like these, they always make me smile!

I’ll leave you with a reminder from a close friend I had waiting for me on a note at home when I arrived – “Breathe deep… Seek peace.”

Meditation on Loving-Kindness

Compassion and loving-kindness are central tenets of Buddhism. Just last year a study from the University of Wisconsin indicated that regular practice of compassion and focus on cultivating loving-kindness could rewire our brains for the better. By developing our empathy and compassion we can reduce stress and anger and increase our overall contentment. Learning to generate compassion for those around us can help us find peace.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” - Dalai Lama

So how do we cultivate compassion? How do we develop our sense of loving-kindness? The Buddhist scriptures encourage us to spend time meditating on the concept of loving-kindness. First we must cultivate a sense of love for ourselves, then for friends, those we don’t know, those we don’t like and eventually we can wish well-being and freedom from suffering for the universe in general. Directing love towards someone who has mistreated us, or someone towards whom we feel anger or resentment, is very difficult. However, this can be achieved, little by little, step by step.

Unconditional Love
Image from alicepopkorn

This is a meditation on loving-kindness I tried this afternoon:

  1. Sit down, close your eyes and take notice of your breath. Don’t try to change your breathing, just notice the sensations of breathing in and out.
  2. Shift your focus to your heart centre (about 8 finger spaces down from your collar bone int he middle of your chest), breath in and breathe out.
  3. Once you have settled your attention on the breath, you can begin to think the following phrases in time with your breathing:
  • I deserve happiness, may I be happy
  • May I be free from pain and suffering
  • May I be free to live joyfully
  • I can experience peace and contenment
  • I am worthy of loving-kindness

You might experience a warm feeling from your chest, and maybe you will smile. At this point, you can direct your thoughts towards a friend. Repeat the phrases above to yourself, but make your friend the object of your focus, wish them happiness and loving-kindness.

Next, call to mind someone you don’t know but you have encountered recently, a ‘neutral’ – such as a bus driver, checkout clerk or even someone you passed on the street. Repeat the exercise with this person in mind. After this, if you feel that you can, direct these same thoughts to someone you don’t like particularly, a person who makes you angry or sad. (Best not to choose anyone who you dislike too much straight away, don’t choose the person who wrecked your life or really hurt you as this may be too tough at first. Eventually, and finally, direct these phrases towards everyone. May everybody be happy and free, may everybody experience peace and contentment.

I hope this practice is as uplifting for you as it was for me. Does anyone have any other advice about cultivating compassion? How often do you try to practice loving-kindness?

References:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080326204236.htm

http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/subnav/kindness.htm

http://www.buddhanet.net/metta_in.htm

Morning or Evening Meditation?

Beautiful Sky

Photo by ~~johnny~~

Do you prefer to meditate in the morning or the evening?

I’m just getting into a regular practice, but I am yet to find a consistent time. It doesn’t help that I’m on holiday at the moment so my days tend to blur into one!

When I return home I want to establish more of a routine. Does anyone have any advice for me? Should I establish a routine or is it best to sit when I can, no matter what time it is? If it is best to pick a time of day and stick to it, is morning or evening preferable?

I find in the mornings it takes me a while to wake up, so I’m not sure if I could sit still for 10 minutes without dozing off…Then again, similarly if I leave it until the evening I might find I’m too exhausted to concentrate! Hmm, these both sound like excuses, I could probably make either time slot work for me.

Am I over thinking this entirely?