I meditate to avoid being an asshole ~ by Vicky Cook

I introduced you to Vicky last year when I wrote about the reiki treatment she gave me.  I really dig this woman and love what she has to offer.  She has a committed meditation practice and has taught meditation series’ for a while now.  Meditation is gaining recognition in mainstream society.  It’s necessary.  We’re barreling forward, like a fast-moving train, toward a life of complete connection to machines and devices and technology.  To a lifestyle where, each moment between awake and asleep is filled with projects and tasks or pressure, stress and trying to achieve better and more of whatever it is we think we need, and want.  The problem then, is that we are not spending enough time doing nothing. 

Meditation then serves as a practice, not of checking out, but of checking in to ensure that all the ‘more of’ that you’re doing, is actually serving you.  Meditation helps create the life you want, not check out of the life you have.  Here, Vicky tells us her journey through meditation, gives us some tips and resources and takes the mystery out of the practice.

When Lyn asked me to write a piece on Mediation I was surprised, I practice meditation, I’ve taught meditation but I never really considered myself an expert on meditation.  I sat down to write this and many thoughts flooded my mind (this happens when I sit down to meditate too…)  and I wanted to write a prolific piece on the many benefits of meditation, the beauty and peace of the practice, but a voice kept coming to me WHY do you meditate, why?

So, time to get honest. I meditate mostly to avoid being an asshole.  When I don’t meditate I find I am often annoyed, slightly irritated by local traffic, I am impatient with my son and can be quite a smarmy bitch to my husband.  This isn’t my regular behavior by nature, I believe I am a kind-hearted and compassionate person. I’ve created or learned some pretty gnarly coping mechanisms early on in my life to deal with deep insecurities and retraining myself not to react but to act has been a lifelong process.

Simply put meditation is a necessity for me, it is not by some virtue that I found the practice; it was out of desperation and desire that I found it.  There is a saying I heard early on in my journey “religion is for people who don’t want to go to hell, spirituality is for people who have been there”.  I had been there and meditation is a way out.  

I picked up my first book on meditation almost 20 years ago, its concepts and ideas were leap years beyond anything my mind could comprehend and I clearly was not ready, but the seed was planted.  I have found myself, over the years, drawn to meditation in strange ways but they always seemed to be attached to a deeper commitment than I was ready to make.  About 15 years ago I was introduced to Raj Yoga and attended weekly meditation for a brief time, but they were recruiting for their center in NY and the rebel in me still wouldn’t let me join anything. I did find I liked the way I felt after our weekly meetings and desired that feeling for many years to come.

I found Reiki & Yoga about 10 years ago and that began my real practice of a consistent meditation.  Coming to a regular practice is hard; I have had some resistance towards it for most of these years.  My spiritual experiences have always come as more of the educational variety anyway, and so has it been with meditation.  This has been a benefit because it has allowed me to slowly evolve and steep myself more into an authenticity I never knew existed.  It has allowed a process of becoming rather than just changing.  I am who I am meant to be at this exact moment and I even believe that some of the time!

How do you do it, you ask?  I’ve learned all you have to do is just sit and be quiet and you can do this anywhere.  But… when you are beginning you should create a ritual (a set time, so you have something to commit to) create a space, I have an altar, but this can be a chair in your favorite room, you can have candles, a deity or any other object that softens your heart  Right now I mediate on my beautiful porch overlooking an English garden.  I found it easier to start in a quiet space with very little distraction.  Now, on my porch I hear cars go by, birds chirping and general neighborhood noise which I embrace, it teaches me I can find stillness anywhere. Next, set a timer, as little as 5 minutes a day can make a difference. I’ve found that rarely is my mind ever void of thought, so don’t get discouraged when you start creating lists or when random thoughts invade your space.    The practice of meditation isn’t to become void, but to become as “full”y present as you can be in each moment.  It teaches you to act rather than react, to begin to know yourself, without judgment, but with clears eyes and an open heart.

Some techniques that helped me out early on were to simply count my breath, it was the first real deliberate meditation practice I was consistent with. It gave me something to do while I was trying to be (you can’t go from “doer” to “be-er” overnight).  I tried a Zen meditation where you count to ten and then begin again, this never worked for me as I would always go past ten then berate myself for not doing it right. Counting my breaths 108 times (a single breath being a complete cycle of inhale and exhale) was a regular practice at the beginning.  I’ve used mantra which is also very powerful.  This can be a Sanskrit mantra or just a positive statement such as I am peaceful, I am happy, I am loved, I am abundant or I am here.  Just the repetition of a beautiful phrase in and of itself is healing, but repetition is where the true practice of meditation begins.

Many people close their eyes during meditation, which was very helpful for me early on.  I now practice with a steady downward gaze my eyes looking over the bridge of my nose a foot or two in front of me.  This is a common practice for meditation in Reiki which is my regular practice. There are other meditation techniques in Reiki I use and they can be found in the Japanese Art of Reiki http://us.ihreiki.com/shop/product/the_japanese_art_of_reiki. My Reiki teacher has a new meditation CD out with guided meditations and is very helpful when you are first beginning (or something fresh for the seasoned practitioner), it takes all the guessing out of it http://www.thereikijourney.com/The_Reiki_Journey/Welcome.html. If you prefer print, I am currently reading Be the Change by Deb and Ed Shapiro which shares personal experiences from many modern-day practitioners http://www.amazon.com/Be-Change-Meditation-Transform-World/dp/1402760019.  There are many great resources and ways to meditate, but the only way to begin is to begin. Ask people around you, read excerpts on Amazon, find guided meditations, anything you desire, there are many resources, just look.

I’ve found meditation is strong and grounding, which surprised me when I started. It should help immerse you into the world, or perhaps it will be a bridge to find your place with in it.  Either way the practice of meditation is never about moving away from the world, but finding your true “seat” within it.  Don’t expect anything, don’t expect a quiet mind or a more peaceful life, don’t ask it for anything.  Meditation will give you more than you ever knew existed, I promise.

**If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll like this one too: “What is all this savasana & meditation stuff anyway?”

I saw the meaning of life…..

I am staring at a blank screen.  I take a deep breath.  I settle.  I need to take another one.  I settle again.  I decide just to type this, a stream of consciousness, since anything else seems too forced, too far reaching.  Inauthentic?  Not sure.

Right now Olafur Arnalds is playing on my ITunes.  I recently tweeted that his music, to me, is the sound of a deep breath; if it could play the piano (or an orchestra).  I need this music in the background to keep me from not moving; to a new screen, to wash the dishes, to make a phone call.  It’s keeping me still.  Here.

I am delaying because it almost feels too big to write, what it is I want to write.

What do I want to write?

That I was witness to the healing power of Love?  Ugh! Too cheesy, too obvious, too…..I don’t know…..common?

That I saw the meaning of life?  Yeah, but now I just feel too pompous though it’s a little closer to the truth.

That I saw the meaning in Love?  I’ll stick with that.  For now.

The violin is being played now and it makes the whole room ache for something to hold on to.  Now the piano, one key at a time, like a little child tippy-toeing across the room, playfully, to scare an adult.  Who already knows the child is coming.   Afterwards they will laugh wildly, unabashedly.  Since, children bring that out.

Anyway – I digress.  If, in my last post I was crying for no reason but a simple feeling of self-induced disconnect, in this post I would be crying for the unadulterated feeling of complete connection. Except, I’m not crying, I’m astonished.  It’s wild what lies ahead for us.  What we cannot foresee.  What we can’t even imagine possible.

I’ve learnt this week that, regardless of how hard we strive, you’ll always be lead to what you’re meant to learn.

The day after my birthday, exactly 2 weeks ago, my Mum, who was visiting from Australia, called me early in the morning.    My Nan had taken a turn after her operation and the hospital had called my Pa, and a priest.  She didn’t have long.  My mum changed her flight and left that day, leaving me to wonder what to do.  Do I wait for a funeral, or do I go right away?

I went right away.  I flew out on a Sunday night and arrived by her bedside on Tuesday night (Australian time).  In the meantime my family and I; Aunts, uncles, cousins, brother, sister etc., reached out to each other, in a way we hadn’t before, to stay informed of our movements, and update on her progress.  Her progress was never good.

Since most of our family are scattered around the country, the decision to go to her was not easy.  Leaving work obligations and considering financial strains were all considered, weighed up, and then made insignificant against the need to be by her side.  The family rallied.  We were all headed to her bedside.  My sister, a single mother, and my brother bundled up my niece, jumped in the car and drove the 2 days from Melbourne to Brisbane.  My Nan’s own brothers and sisters drove 2 days to Brisbane.  Cousins flew in, Uncles and Aunts flew in and the family members who were local kept vigil for the family, bearing the initial burden of a worry that had wrapped itself around us all.

We were coming together.  Ironically, it was the reunion my Nan would have dreamed about.

But this wasn’t a dream.

Here’s what you should know about my Nan.  She is a warrior.  A true warrior of love and faith and spirit, with a fierce love of her family.  Tough, for sure, I mean this woman vacuums out her oven.  That doesn’t sound like a kick-arse kind of action but let me tell you, you never want to mess with a woman who keeps her castle that tidy.  Fun was had, after the dishes were put away!  She’s always known her worth, and when my Pa tried to court her, 61 years ago, she gave him the run around for weeks.  She recently told me “I was never going to be easy!”  Nor was she going to be a “farmer’s wife” she wanted a grander life than that.

My Pa was grand!

This is another thing you should know about my Nan.  She is a woman of faith.  She’s a devout Catholic, with Irish blood.  Now you know her warrior spirit.  She told us all that week that nothing fazed her, whatever was in God’s hands she has accepted and she’ll fight but, she was in pain and didn’t have much in her and in the end, she said, ‘it was up to him’.  We told we loved her no matter how much fight she had and then we went to the chapel and prayed.

As it happens, when you’re staring into the jaws of grief, something bigger takes over.  Vulnerability; you see men fight tears.  Courage; you hug more; hold tighter, you say sorry (or not).  Perspective; you realize the bad never seemed that bad, you think of an empty space and how you’ll fill it.  Nostalgia; the good times are gold.  Faith; you suddenly know you need it.

As each day passed, as time filed passed us minute after minute, we waded through, waiting.  Every day a new member of the family arrived, or news of another person arriving filled the conversations.  It was a constant stream of arrivals and with each person, her eyes got brighter.  Her body was barely there, but her spirit kept showing up.

By Thursday, almost a week after the call, the doctors had told us there was no change in her condition and it was ‘only a matter of days’ which, heard through the commotion of grief and worry, translated to only a matter of days to live.  “A kick in the guts” my Pa called it for he was, amongst us all, the most faithful in her recovery, without the protection of a God.  A conversation with the doctors later that morning shifted perspective a little bit when it turned out that the ‘matter of time’ should have been, had a regular civilian delivered the news, ‘we have to wait and see what happens.’

Suddenly now, any hope we reserved was insignificant to the faith and belief we now had.  She had a chance.  So, we had a BBQ and drank a lot (we are Australian, don’t judge).

It’s interesting how the sequence of hearing news can be so impactful in how it’s received.  Perhaps, if we’d originally believed we just had to ‘wait and see’, we wouldn’t have felt so free to relax around the BBQ and celebrate the family stories that night.  Perhaps, faith would have given way to impatience.  But, because the first bit of news was so heavy, it made the new translation so much lighter.  My Pa’s face was priceless that night as he basked in the family that he and Nan have created, my sister particularly holding court (one of the funniest people in the world to me).

The next day I woke and thought; “F@*k positive thinking.  It’s unnecessary when you believe.”

By Friday every one of her closest family members (but two cousins, who were very missed) would have arrived by her bedside.  After this, we all surmised, she would decide her path.  After this, we would wait and see what happens.

So, what happened?  On Saturday she got up and walked.  Her swelling went down, they reduced the pain medication and they moved her condition from acute & critical only a week ago, to stable.  The doctors were amazed, baffled even.  The character in her face came back and we knew she had her life fight back when she started ordering Pa around and joking (teasing) the doctors.  She has quite a wit.  Surprised?

By Sunday night we were resting easy.  As the family filled my grandparent’s back yard for a BBQ (no shrimp on the ‘barbie’! – I know you Americans love to ask – but my Aunts insanely delicious prawn fritters! ), I noted to myself ‘my Nan would love this, she lived for her family and now, it’s her family that has helped her live.’ (I’m also pretty sure she was going bananas knowing that we weren’t vacuuming the oven and she heard I set the fire alarm off cooking my Pa breakfast!)

I’ve been writing about love for a while now. Exploring it, cursing it, struggling to find it sometimes and just like that, it showed up.  Again!

On the morning after I saw my Nan for the first time I wrote this to a friend:

“I saw the meaning of life in my grandmother’s eyes last night as we took each other’s hand, she held mine tight like she did when I was a little girl and she looked right into my eyes and said everything, without saying a word.  Love, gratitude, the power of family, of commitment, of faith and of staying true to one’s own meaning of that.  When she spoke, she told me how lucky she was, how lucky she felt and we talked about all the little things we did when I was a child, all the long walks we went on and the plants we planted – which never took, they were too exotic for a household garden.  We talked about the power of music, she loves Irish music.

I watched her, and watched my grandfather and the 61 years of being together that lay in between them and realized that this is the moment that counts.   All of the questions, the pain, the enduring and fighting and wondering what will happen – none of it matters and the only thing to know for sure is that this will happen and  when you’re close, do you feel lucky, and did you know Love?”

Olafur played twice.

I’m crying. Again?! (but don’t worry, it’s all good!)

On Saturday I had one of ‘those’ days where it felt like the whole world was conspiring to keep me feeling shut out.  Every person I called (last minute) already had plans or didn’t pick up their phone (no one picks up their phone anymore and I haven’t released the memo that I am calling more often and texting a lot less).  For various reasons It was one of those cry into a pint of ice-cream kind of nights (literally.)  It was so cliche I could have been in the latest Jennifer Aniston flick (does she even have one out?  I have no idea – but I would have been one of her cheesy, painful characters).

It’s comical to look back, now miles away from those feelings.  Thinking back it’s like watching a character being played by me wondering who the hell that chick was.  It was so dramatic that when I went to the grocery store to pick up the ice-cream (the only thing I bought) the girl behind the check-out asked if that would be all, my response was (with tears streaming down my face) “Should I get another pint?”  She didn’t answer and proceeded to ask if I wanted a bag.

“No, thank you, a bag is not necessary.”

“Do you need a spoon?” she asked kindly.

I considered it for a moment then responded “it’s not that bad, but thanks anyway”

I went home and decided to watch Breaking Bad on Netflix, a T.V. series that was recommended to me four separate times in one week. While the show is phenomenal, I was basically watching the downward spiral of another human completely f*@king up at being a human and it just left me feeling depressed and anxious.  I was feeling failed all on my own, so I turned it off and decided to write instead.  Random thoughts, mini edits, idle words with no purpose.  I basically gave up any attempt at being happy that night and, you know what?  I felt really freaking great the next day!

Now, before you throw a pity party for me – I’m fine – there was no major catastrophe, I have a roof over my head, my friends are amazing, I have work, I have food in my fridge, no major accidents or injuries.  Just a little burnt out on over-thinking and over-achieving really.  Yes, I’m turning 36 in a few days and we all know what happened around last year’s birthday, but actually I’m feeling great about the new number, so no tears around that.

No, sometimes tears don’t need an event.  They just need to be released once in a while, for while the world is amazing and beautiful and hopeful and full of blessings….it can also bloody suck! (oh god I hope that doesn’t deem me a failed yoga teacher now too ;))

I am revealing this for no particular reason but to give permission for you, if necessary, to do the same.  You see, there’s a whole heap of talk out there about cheering up, learning lessons, being grateful for the bad stuff and being the champion for your dreams.  I’m the first to admit – I’m all over that sh#t – clearly!  But I have to tell you, I purged on Saturday night and I reckon I birthed Satan (after feeding him Ben & Jerry’s!) and no amount of self-help talk was appropriate.

To be sure, I hardly remember what it was that I was crying about and whatever it was turned into crying for the pain of the world.  I was crying of the kids in Africa in war zones, for parents who have lost children, for single mothers doing it on their own, for all the heartbreaks and disappointments and missed family. I think I might have even cried for the loss of my dog jimmy when I was 11years old and our little bird Aussie who we only had for 3 days before he ate himself to an obesity induced death.  It was a session I tell you!

It was extremely cathartic and cleansing and I think we should do more of it but here’s the thing, it felt great all on my own.  No need to reach out, no need to call a friend, no need to talk and put it out into the world.  It was nice to take myself down, ice-cream on my chin and all, all by myself and then – pick myself back up again.

I’ve written about the power of a good cry here, I’m revisiting it again because crying is good.  It’s healthy and necessary and so good with ice-cream!

Modern Love feature in NY Times.

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning is to sit with a coffee and read the NY Times.  It’s the bulkiest paper of the week, chock full of articles and stories and features and images.  I love Bill Cunningham’s On the Street; a quick morsel of real life fashion and style from the street’s of NY.  He has been capturing candid street style for more than 40 years, I would highly recommend watching the documentary made of him.

Quintessential Bill Cunningham

But that only takes a few minutes of my newspaper read.  What I look forward to most is the Modern Love feature.  Each Sunday there is a submission by a regular, writer (not employed by the NY Times) about their trials through Love.  And you know how much I love to think about that topic!  What I find the most attractive about this column is the diversity of writing styles and, of course, the window into all the many real life relationships I get to peak into.  This includes the trials and tribulations and, sometimes, observations that come along with it.  While I enjoy the writing and the storytelling, each week I am reminded that there is no right way nor is there a formula for real, modern love.  From spousal sex changes, to long distance heart-break, to first love reunions and many other stories, I devour each article with the same slow, appreciative sips I usually reserve for my only coffee of the day.

This week’s article was  no different.  I thought it appropriate to share, based on my last post about game-changers.  I suppose my theme is often about looking at things in a different light.  Sometimes we can be so myopic about our own life-story, even when it involves another person, that we forget to look at another’s side.  Again, it’s so easy to justify our misery, or our wounds and what people ‘did to us’ that we fail to acknowledge that we had, and continue to have, a role in the way things play out.

Check out the article – I think you’ll know what I am talking about.

A visit, and what really happened.

Game changers.

Game-changer: a person, an idea or an event that completely changes the way a situation develops

Game changer is my new ‘word.’  If you’re in my circle of friends you might hear me say “that could be your game changer” or “those shoes?  Game changer!”

It basically keeps you engaged and actionable (sorry, hate that word too!) in your life because, without one, it’s easy to stay committed to your misery.  A game changer is basically a condensed version of the ‘if you keep you thinking the same way, you’ll get the same results’ adage.  In other words, if you’re complaining about something – you need a game changer.

It’s your sliding doors moment and it can be something simple like trying a new grocery store – the one an extra mile away, or more obvious and complicated like quitting your job and taking a life sabbatical.

A few years ago, after a 7 year waiting period, I received my green card.  The wait, however, was painful and exhausting and all-consuming.  Close to the end, I became slightly obsessed with research and working to find out all that I could in the hopes that I might find the answer to speed up the process.  My days went like this: wake up, check email, INS website, green card chat rooms, shower, go to work, check email, INS website, green card chat rooms, do my work, google things related to ‘green-card’, go for a walk at the beginning of my lunch break to return and eat my lunch at my desk and check INS website, green card chat rooms and google anything related to green card.  You get the drift.  I, of course, thought my research was helping me and informing me but it was actually hindering me and worse – I was stressed to the point of physical pain.

At the beginning of 2008, my first day back at work for the new year I decided I needed a new tactic.  “Where could I create more joy in my day?” was my question.  I knew I needed down time so I decided that I would give myself only one 1/2 hour time slot for green card each day.  I would also sit quietly, away from my computer to eat, and enjoy my lunch each day.  That was my game changer.  Sounds simple right?  But try telling that to someone who is so justified in their stress.  So, guess what happened that first day?  As I sat and ate my lunch away from my desk, feeling relaxed, I heard my little ’email’ notification pinging away on occasion and decided that it could all wait until I had my break.  I returned to my desk and, you guessed it.  I got my greed card.

A game changer is a change of habit.  We all have them, from the time we wake up, to what and where we eat breakfast, to the same newspaper section or online pages we check, to the route we take to work (or not) to the type of shops we go in, the yoga classes we take, the teacher we only listen to, the genre of music we listen to and books we read.  For some, we keep a hairstyle, a clothing style, a pair of earrings, a perfume…..we’ve all had the experience of people noticing when we change these things.  If you’re going through a break-up and, after a reasonable amount of time for grief, you still can’t get over it – you need a game changer.  Same thing if you’re looking for a partner, maybe you need a game changer in your technique, or attitude.

For someone like me, who is somewhat stubborn and intelligent enough to justify why things weren’t working out the way I wanted them to, I hired a life coach.  I get a serious game-changing ass kick every month and every time, I get results that change my life course (in fact, I might just go ahead and drop the ‘life coach’ title – it feels diluted at the moment with all the ‘life coaching’ out there…it’s kinda the new yoga teaching.  I might just call her my game changer!)

I think you get the drift.  Don’t make it complicated, it’s just going to give you a different perspective – or view – and that’s what changes the game.

p.s. If you like this, please share – that would totally be my game changer!

 

You’re going to be found out.

I have come to discover that we can’t actually hide.  Anywhere.  At least forever.

I recently had a conversation with a woman who had discovered communication between her husband and another woman.  Over the years, I have heard these stories time and time again.  A cell phone bill, a credit card bill, a friend spilling the beans, a gut instinct, a little snooping – whatever the catalyst for truth.  It’s going to come out.  It amazes me, time and time again, when I see politicians and celebrities and figures who have some sort of public recognition in the media with their dirty little secrets being hung out to dry!  Seriously, get this people: You’re gonna be found out!  Whether immediately, shortly after or when you’re on your death bed.  The truth penetrates.  It’s the superman of virtues.

So, if you’re doing something shitty, it’s only a matter of time before your dirty knickers are on the line (pun intended).

That’s the bad news.

The good news?  This is also the case for your brilliance.  I am coming across too many people who have excuses for keeping it under wraps.  Keep hiding it and it’s only a matter of time before it’s discovered, maybe while you’re young, maybe when you’re middle aged and for some,  if you do a good enough job of hiding it, when you’re dead and buried.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but there are also plenty of people who want to help you find it and promote it.  Seek them out.

So, decide.  When do you want to shine?  When do you want to stop being stingy with what you’ve got to give?  Holding back your brilliance, your great idea, your talent, your abilities and your spirit is like holding on to a cure for a disease.  Someone needs what you’ve got to give.

Someone needs your organic face creams, your natural teas, your new technology, your singing voice, your writing, your teaching, your stitching, your mechanical abilities, your attention to detail, your ability to pull shit together, your ability to listen or speak loudly, your clothing line, your fabric line, your cooking skills.  Whatever it is you seem to be doing a lot of, and loving, someone needs you to help them do it better.

Here’s the thing.  Somebody probably already knows you’re brilliant!  They’re just waiting for you to know it too.

Mark my word.  You’re going to be discovered, trust that.  Whether it be in this life time, or long after you’re gone.  However, it would be nice to see your clean underwear hanging out there.  To be honest.

Super Moon? Super You!

Today, May 5th, is a full moon.  I know, I know, I’m such a cliché being a yoga teacher and writing about the moon!  Believe me.  I am well aware of that.  But, bear with me, it’s not just any full moon – it’s the granddaddy of moons for the year.  The big kahuna!  The biggest one we will see.  Apparently it’s going to be 14% closer to the earth than any other moon.  A fact that means absolutely nothing to me.  I honestly have no idea how that translates into size difference when it comes to an object that lies 384, 403 miles (238, 857 kilometers) away, but, maybe you will.

Wanna talk cliché’s?  The yogi’s are going banana’s over it about now!  Once a month, without fail, women in Lululemon pants are throwing down in down dog waxing lyrical about how connected to the moon they are, how strongly they feel the energy and teachers will, no doubt, feel the need to include half-moon pose in their sequence and use it as a ‘shout-out to the moon’.  WITH OUT FAIL.

I know – I’m one of them.  Well, sort of.  For years, after I would hear such exalted declarations of moon connections and convictions that their connection was the strongest (yes, ego and competition does exist in the yoga world..gasp!), I would honestly feel failed, because, while I have always been struck by the beauty of a full moon I didn’t every really feel any different ‘inside’ – I didn’t shift.  I would worry, did I then not have a connection with the moon?  I would sit and ponder with eyes squinted closed, breathing deeply just hoping to squeeze out a little connection with the moon (hoping to not squeeze anything else out), not really sure what it was all supposed to feel like.  I was waiting for messages to arrive, or a booming voice from the Lunar God about my next move.  I waited for special phone calls, chance meetings, signs or signals to indicate that this was a ‘different’ day.  Something to indeed confirm that this full moon had power to shift and change and this day was special.  I usually got nothing.

All I really felt was immense awe for the beauty of a full moon in that moment your eye catches it and renders you breathless.

And then it hit me.  My connection!  Gratitude  for its beauty.

One of my wise students is an outdoors guy, he tends to gardens and he is very learned in the school of environment and nature.  Naturally he has his eye on the big ball!  We talked about that moment when you catch a glimpse at the moon, particularly a full moon, and it always catches you by surprise.  He said, for years he has followed the moon’s cycle and knows what times it rises and when it will be most prominent in the sky, organizing his evening to catch a glimpse of it.  However, without fail, whenever he does see the moon it was never the moment he planned to and he always stopped by it, almost surprised by it even.

The moon will always be your best surprise.  Like all the best things in your life, if you tap in, you know they’re going to show up you’re just not always privy to when.

Do I still sit and wait for messages?  Yes.  But, I don’t seek them out from the moon anymore.  I get them from inside, I mine from that pool of knowing that sits within me, which I get to tap into while in silence.  Do I now believe I have a connection to the moon?  Yes, but no more than anyone else who appreciates its beauty and no more than I am connected to a beautiful sunset, or sunrise or just the general give of nature’s expression.

If you do want to find significance in this full moon here is a good article about how it relates in Vedic Astrology.  This is the first full moon of the Vedic calendar year and is the moon that will shift unwanted Karma.  It is a moon of abundance READ:  An opportunity to clean yo shit up!  And then hand in your ‘Santa/Karma God’ list of gifts for the year which they’d be happy to adorn you with – if you’ve done the work.

Stories and myths perhaps, but it feeds imagination and your imagination shapes your life. Considering this is also the year of the Dragon, a year for dream making – it’s no coincidence that this moon is related to clearing space for those dreams to show up.

I do think it is significant to spend a day a month, in the light of a wild full moon, contemplating your life.  It keeps you on your toes, and that renders the best view!

Here are 10 tips that might help feed your dreams:

1/. Spend an hour today writing out how you would like the rest of your year to look and feel like.

2/. Take a walk with a good friend in the translucent part of the day when the sun is setting and the moon is rising

3/. Focus on only the things you love in your life, and be grateful for them.

4/. Be with your lover, or your children (preferably both).  Really be with them.

5/. Clear your day of tasks and just do only the things you love to do.

6/. Apologize for that thing that keeps popping up in your thoughts late at night

7/. Recognize someone for something they don’t think you see.

8/. Find yourself responsible for everything in your life.  Not guilty!

9/. Be kind to someone that frustrates you the most.

10/. Do one thing today that will make you feel the most achieved (usually the thing you’ve been putting off; a class you keep meaning to sign up to, a letter you really wanted to write, that business plan you know you would feel good about finishing).  It may be the game changer.

p.s. I have consciously NOT included a youtube video of When the Moon hits your eye by Dean Martin!  I am trying to rid myself of cliché karma.  

p.p.s If you liked this post, you might like these:

https://loveyourselfnaturally.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/new-years-new/

https://loveyourselfnaturally.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/35-years-gin-tears/

https://loveyourselfnaturally.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/a-bundle-of-miracles/

My Guest Post – About my cleanse

I am on my last day of a ______ (insert under the breath cough here) juice cleanse, a modified cleanse I like to call it.  I wrote about the half way mark over at my yoga studio’s blog (you will be re-directed).  You should check out this blog in general.  It has some great writing in it, lots of interesting voices and observations from great yoga teachers, and my friends – whom I adore!

You can read the entire piece here: Half-way to Heaven.  Here’s a little sample of the piece of I wrote:

“….The truth of the matter is, I’m bored.  I am really freaking bored of drinking on my own because, let’s face it, no one wants to eat with me.  They’ll be bored too; “wow, was that a piece of spinach that didn’t make it through the juicer?  How is that?”

 

Connection over cricket

Cricket is a big game in Australia.  It’s a ‘proper’ commonwealth game inherited by the British, revered by most Australians, which is steeped in tradition and protocol and also slow enough that you can get well drunk and barely miss the highlights (it’s that slow!).  The only redeeming quality about the game, I think, is backyard or, ‘street’, cricket.  Of which the rules are adjusted to make it a game even granny can play, and allows you to drink while playing.  Because Australian’s love the outdoors, it’s not uncommon to drive down a suburban street through a parting gaggle of kids and teenagers who are in the middle of a game.

If you go to BBQ in Australia, it’s very likely a game of cricket, or even football, will emerge.  Don’t ask me to tell you the rules of the game besides hit a ball, run and don’t let the other guys hit the ‘wicket’.  The main purpose of the street cricket, of course, is about having a good time.  I suppose, like any sport, once you take the seriousness out of winning for a living, it actually acts as a great conduit for connection.

I’m currently on a month long visit home to Australia.  The reason for this trip was my grandfather’s 80th birthday celebration; the “Antique Show” as my family called it (“you coming back home for the antique show love?” my nan would ask).

Besides raising us, my mother’s other job was keeping in touch with her family and if there was a legitimate career in this, she would have been CEO.  Uncles and Aunts and cousins and 2nd cousins and great aunts and uncles; they all peppered my life story for a good chunk of my first 20  years.  If I were to be really honest, they helped raise me.  Their influence, their nurturing, their acceptance of who I was as an individual, even though some I only saw once a year, helped shape and form who I am today.  Another reason for coming home was the opportunity to see those family members again, some family I hadn’t seen in 15  years and some I had yet to meet (a concept that seemed absurd to me).

While I was curious and excited to see family members again, what I hadn’t expected was the connection through simple lineage that emerged.  Young cousins who rarely see each other, because everyone is spread around the country, got together and started the formation of their own experience of family.  We’ve all been raised differently, in different states, with different lifestyles and values and yet, it was over a game of cricket where family evolved.

With an old shovel, a dustbin and a scrappy ball a game emerged.  Little ones were coaxed away from their portable video games, half sized ones were encouraged and nurtured out of their shyness to ‘give it a go’ and older ones reminisced about the days that they could run faster and hit the ball harder.  In a very short time any differences that might have been obvious if conversation were the only means of finding similarity, merged into a good old game of street cricket.

It was my favorite ‘new’ memory of family (besides my grandmother jumping out of her seat when a balloon popped because she thought my grandfather actually shot her with a fake gun!)

There were a few family members who couldn’t make the day but I know that the next game of cricket that we all play will pick up just where this one left off.

Play is important in life, not just for the joy of it but for forging relationships.  This game wasn’t about winning, actually, it was about being together, laughing and shouting and feigning some sort of competition to nurture banter and recognition.  For most of the day, those video games were forgotten about, kids got sweaty and their parents didn’t seem to have too hard a time getting them to bed that night.