Tag Archives: presence

Change & Judgement

10 Feb

How do you reconcile terrible happenings?

Mary-Oliver-Quote-Box-of-Darkness_edited-1

One of my very first yoga teachers, Yong Kooi, used to tell this story after our meditation practice:

In ancient China, there was once a farmer. He was poor and had only an old horse to plough his fields. 

One day, when he was working the field, the horse dropped dead.

All the farmer’s neighbours said, “What a terrible thing to happen!”

The farmer simply said, “We’ll see.”

The neighbours admired his attitude and felt sorry for him, so they banded together and gave him a new horse. 
Everyone’s reaction now was, “What a lucky man.” And the farmer said, “We’ll see.” 

A couple days later, the new horse jumped a fence and ran away. Everyone in the village shook their heads and said, “How terrible! You poor man…” 
The farmer smiled and said, “We’ll see.”

China Horse

The horse came back some days later, followed by another horse. Now all the neighbours said “Look how lucky you are! TWO horses!”
The farmer said, “We’ll see.”

Later that year, the farmer’s son was thrown from one of the horses and broke his leg. Everyone in the village said, “What a terrible thing for a young man.” 
The farmer said, “We’ll see.”

Two days later, the army came into the village to draft new recruits. When they saw the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they decided not to recruit him.
All the neighbours were jealous and said “What fortune that he was thrown from the horse!” 
Once again, the farmer smiled  - and said “We’ll see.”

Moral of the story: Your reactions to events and circumstances may seem valid at that moment, but what looks like a setback could actually be a gift in disguise, or vice versa. And you won’t know which.
So spare your  judgements. Notice how quickly you apply them. Notice how much energy they take: the drama that comes with them, the tears, the ecstasy.
See if you can sit back, take a breath and say…”We’ll see.”

Don Draper

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It’s A Trap!

6 Feb

Ego Trap

Reflections on a Mote of Dust

27 Jan

Pale Blue

We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot.
That’s here.
That’s home.
That’s us.
On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

- Carl Sagan

How To Be An Explorer

24 Jan

It has been 79 days since I’ve been on a plane.

Backpacking

This is not unusual in itself: I’ve been longer without travelling, of course. But this summer has been an experiment in staying put: in commitment, in consolidation.

It has been an interesting process. And by “interesting”, I mean, “a massive challenge.”

I’m used to a life that is not planned for more than a couple of weeks ahead. I’ve loved that I could, at any moment, jump on a plane or a train and be somewhere new. I’ve been addicted to that feeling.

I admit it’s much easier to feel that sense of awe when you are travelling. Being overseas, at any given moment, I can see something I’ve never seen before. That I might never see again! Of course it’s interesting: it’s NEW! It’s a surprise! 

The experiment has been in finding that feeling in the “every day” – how can you have a job and go to work and find time to exercise and see family and do laundry and eat well…AND maintain a sense of wonder?

It turns out, you can.

Don't remember days but moments

I started thinking of some of my best moments while travelling.

For me, they’ve often involved being outside: hiking, swimming, diving, exploring a town…
Overwhelmingly, the moments I remember best are ones where I stop, take a moment and breathe in exactly where I am.

(And, according to my photos, throw my arms wide and exclaim “I can’t believe I’m here right now!”)

The challenge of a few months in one place, my hometown no less, was to find that same sense of taking time and applying wonder.

I think when we’re back in our familiar surroundings, especially when we’re working, it’s easy to get into a grind that can make us forget all the beauty around us. The first step for me was making time to stop and notice. Scheduling a walk. Being outside at sunrise or sunset. Taking the dogs out and noticing how they interact with their environment.

Instagram has been an amazing tool for this.
(Check out my summer: @shinyhappyhealthy)

I tried to find one thing – a scene, a bird, a tree, a certain slant of light – that captured my eye. Just that act of stopping, snapping and sharing, helped me reconnect with my surroundings. And it helped me feel connected with my travelling community, when I saw how beautiful they found my hometown.

Then, last week, I came across this list from author/illustrator/creativity guru, Keri Smith. 

Explorer Keri SmithI love this list.

Here’s the thing: people come and visit where I live as tourists and exclaim how beautiful and amazing it is. Exactly as I do for places I visit overseas or interstate. The only difference is perspective.

I love the idea that I could be anywhere, at any given moment and completely surrender to and appreciate the beauty of where I am.

To be an explorer in my own life, throw my arms wide and exclaim: “I can’t believe I’m here right now!”

Reborn in the Movement

16 Jan

My feet are planted and I rise from the ashes

Like a phoenix headed toward the sun

Sigirya Rock Sunset 2

Hands connect, reaching toward the sky, and I

I am connected

I am here

I am present

And I am grateful for Mother Earth

I am grateful for the warmth I feel on my face

And as I breathe deep ujjayi breath into these precious lungs

I feel the link between the sun, the earth and myself

And I begin this practice of thanks

Through linked breath and movement

Stitching the threads of the fabric of these moments with intention

First lengthening, opening and then surrender

Flowing, not unlike Life itself

And in these moments I realize that

The differences between us

Are much slighter than they ever seemed before.

- Temple Symonds

Leafy-With-Love…

14 Jan

Canal Bank Dublin

Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal
Pouring redemption for me, that I do
The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal,
Grow with nature again as before I grew.

The bright stick trapped, the breeze adding a third
Party to the couple kissing on an old seat,
And a bird gathering materials for the nest for the Word
Eloquently new and abandoned to its delirious beat.

O unworn world enrapture me, encapture me in a web
Of fabulous grass and eternal voices by a beech,
Feed the gaping need of my senses, give me ad lib
To pray unselfconsciously with overflowing speech

For this soul needs to be honoured with a new dress woven
From green and blue things and arguments that cannot be proven.

- Patrick Kavanagh

Happy New Year!

8 Jan

I’ve been debating how I want to celebrate the opening of this year…

Today I read a journal entry from the remarkable Neil Gaiman that summed up perfectly what I’ve been trying to get at.

NEIL GAIMAN 2014

“I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.

And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple. And it’s this: 

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

Here’s to mistakes, growth, creation and a delicious 2014 for all of us.

xxx

Writing in Green Ink

24 Nov

Bird

bird-flying-over-the-field-726
It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air -
and there, night came in.

When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography -
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen. 

- Pablo Neruda, who always wrote in green ink, because he felt it was the colour of hope.

How to Add Gratitude to Your Day

18 Nov

I was so moved to hear this talk by Louie Schwartzberg.

Beauty In Nature

It is such a great reminder that there is a world around us, waiting for us to notice it.

That a moment of presence, of gratitude, can profoundly affect our mood and our ability to connect.

“Beauty and seduction are nature’s tool for survival, because we will protect what we fall in love with.”

Take a moment today to look at the sky.

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Life Moves Pretty Fast

31 Jul

Remember to stop today.

Take a breath.

Are you here?

Take a moment to feel the sun on your skin, the wind in your hair, the ground beneath your feet.

This moment has magic for you.

Don’t miss it. 

Life Moves Pretty Fast

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