Archive | June, 2013
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I Just Want To Wish You Well

27 Jun

Amy Pohler

Shiny Song #12

26 Jun

I fear the cold!

But right now, my desire to be amongst nature is outweighing that fear and I’m getting up for a run in the icy mornings…And I’ve noticed something lovely.

Yes, it’s cold and my ears and nose hurt. But the dew on the trees catches the light in ways I’ve never seen it before. The air smells cleaner somehow. The people who are out there on the streets and in the park with their dogs smile and shrug at each other’s madness. It’s a shivery, crazy joy.

And sometimes, like this morning, it looks like this:

Perth Winter

This song reminds me that it’s always about embracing right now:

“Breathe, breathe in the air
Set your intentions
Dream with care

Tomorrow’s a new day for everyone
A brand new moon and brand new sun

So follow, follow the sun
The direction of the birds
The direction of love
Breathe, breathe in the air
Cherish this moment
Cherish this breath…”

And for those of you catching Melbourne trams in the icy cold? This might just get you through…

I’ll be there with you soon…

Xavier Rudd – Follow the Sun from Tram Sessions on Vimeo.

What To Do When You’re Thwarted

25 Jun

A couple of nights ago, newly returned from an inspiring visit to Bali, the supermoon rose and bathed the sky with light.

Supermoon!

Full moons always feel like a special time to me, more than the new moon. They seem powerful, life and energy giving. An opportunity to pick yourself up and try again.

To reinvent. To renew. To recreate. Renovate! Innovate!

Yet here I sit, only a couple of days later, feeling utterly thwarted.

All great changes...

I’ll admit, I naturally grate against those conversations where people encourage to “go with the flow.”
These past few years of my life have been a practice in learning to be more flexible, to let things lie, to be calm about what I cannot change.

When things aren’t moulding into the shape I want, I used to go out with my sledgehammer and MAKE them into what I wanted. With brute force or sheer force of will, I would doggedly attain a goal. It made me stressed and rather unhappy.

Nor does my current lifestyle seem to serve me. The nebulous plans, constantly shifting and changing, being without a base – it’s hard to grow anything without roots.

 I’m straddling the divide of two lifestyles: one where I wake up in the morning and don’t need to be anywhere doing anything in particular and one where there are expectations and deadlines and juicy projects.

This year was going to be about putting down more roots. Putting my head down and working in a more intentional way. Focussing energies.

Yet this last month has seen several of the doors I thought I was going though, close. Events and projects I have been organising have been thwarted or cancelled or had cars run over their feet.

My usual course of action, if I’m honest, would be panic.
Then I would roll up my sleeves and DO, DO, DO: whatever is needed to make it happen.

But I’m noticing for the first time, I’m not panicking. Instead, I’m watching the situation with more than a little curiousity. Why is this happening? How did we get to this space?

I’m lightly exploring alternatives, but mainly, just sitting with the situation as it unfolds.

One Way Or Another

Coach and therapist Martha Beck calls these kinds of moments in our lives “rumble strips”.

“What virtually always happens is that when destiny swerves, we proceed straight ahead. We step on the gas, ignoring the fact that we feel trapped in the dead relationship, stifled by the secure job. We go blind to the landscape and the road signs, steering by our assumptions about what life should be, as unaware of those assumptions as a sleeping driver is of her unconsciousness. 

Et voilà: rumble strip. 

Suddenly, everything’s shaking, jolting, falling apart. We have no idea what’s happening or why, only that all hell has broken loose. It gets worse and worse—until we wake up, see through our false assumptions to the deeper truth of our situation, and revise our life maps. This isn’t punishment. It’s enlightenment dressed as chaos.” 

You can read her full article here. It’s certainly helping me make sense of what’s happening right now…

And when we’re in it? Driving down a rumble strip? Beck advises we stop. Take a breath. Take stock. Look around you. What are you missing?

Be Still and Know

Could this be that balance? The space between dynamism and passivity? Between stress and apathy?

I don’t know yet. But I feel calm about big changes for the first time in my life, and that has to count for something.

The Art of Giving

21 Jun

If you’ve ever been to Ubud, you might be familiar with the cafe conversations.

There’s a LOT of talk: some existential, some gossipy, but mostly, there are a lot of people here trying to work things out.

This particular topic – “giving” – is definitely something that comes up amongst yoga teachers and practitioners: how can we reconcile the giving nature of our professional work with the demands of our lives and the people around us?

Giving to Others

So, I was delighted to read this piece by one of my favourite yoga teachers, Shakti Mhi.

As usual, she doesn’t pull any punches, but her teaching is straighforward and illuminating.

You can find more of her wisdoms at Prana Yoga College.

GIVING
by Shakti Mhi

 I was sitting in a beautiful cafe in Bali, hearing over my shoulder a young woman complaining to her friend, “I keep giving and giving and giving so that now I feel completely depleted. Now it is MY time to give to myself.”

Many of us had or maybe have the feelings we give too much to people in our lives. As a result we may feel: depleted, empty, consumed, exhausted, drained etc.

The question is, do we really give when we “think” we give?

Giving is an action.

Pet Peeve

In general there are two types of giving.
The first one is an action that comes with the definition of “giving”. In this case, “giving” is trapped in time and space; it has a beginning and an end. It has a reason. In this type of “giving”, the giver is fully aware that she gives.

Because this type of giving comes with a reason, often we as givers hold expectations for certain outcomes and recognitions. On top of it we do not let go of “the giving”. We hold on to it, we write it down in our invisible little inventories of giving and every now and then, like bookkeepers, we make all kind of calculations around our giving

We calculate:

How many times we gave against what we received?

What did we get as an exchange to what we gave?

How much acknowledgment we received for our giving if at all?

Was the recognition we received for our “giving” in the right proportion for what we gave?

And it goes on and on…

Giving

 In the above category of “giving” it could be us as parents that keep reminding our children how much we gave them by sacrificing ourselves and our lives for them and how little we receive as an exchange.

It can be us as lovers complaining to our partners and spouses how much we gave them and we got very little in return.

It can be us as friends becoming bitter for “being always there for you but when I needed you, you never showed up.”

 In other words, when we give as the above we do not let go of the action of giving; we keep holding on to the action as if we own it.

The other way of giving is a selfless giving.

It has nothing to do with us. Giving goes through us, we manifest it without ownership. It is a giving through service. You do what needs to be done and no trace of it remains in you.

As a metaphor for the two actions of giving :

You are walking on the street and there is a small rock sitting in the middle of the way that you are aware can be a hazard for people that may stumble on it. So you move it to the side and you keep going with no trace of thought about it.

OR

 After you moved the small rock to the side you write your name on the rock, in big letters, so every one knows you are the one that did it.

Then you stand beside it and anyone that comes by it you let them know you moved the rock to the side for their benefit. When some people do not thank you or not appreciate your action you get disappointed and even bitter and you tell yourself that you will never do such thing again as people do not deserve your “giving”.

 To the people who didn’t return your gesture of giving the way you expected they will, you keep reminding them about the rock and compare it with the little they give you as a return.

True giving

As spiritual seekers we should have a commitment that every day we give more than we take, as giving through service is the greatest way for taming the mind and ego. When you give as a servant you become secondary, it is not about you anymore, it is about the universe. And the universe may present itself as a cat or as a dog, or a person you do not know, your children, or your lover, or the person that stands beside you in this moment.

One of my brilliant students asked me: “So how do you know you give more than you take if you are not supposed to hold an inventory of your “Givings”?”

Well, if you constantly feel depleted or in doubt or you are full of heaviness while you give to the world then you know your giving is lacking in giving. In this case giving is more of an enhancement for your state of being a victim.

When you give as a service without owning it, you flow on high frequency energy. Your heart may be heavy from time to time due to circumstances, but never your spirit.

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Courage

18 Jun

Courage

Leave Your Job Today

17 Jun

The brilliant Jamie Catto strikes again…

Jamie Catto

I’ve been slowing down recently. Something about living with Raisa Breslava who’s rhythm is uber-presence and slow sensitivity, or perhaps it’s all this focus on ‘full-body-listening’ and exploring all the creative genius that ’emptying and listening’ can deliver that has made me realise:

a life fully lived at the correct pace simply leaves no time for a job.

I’ve been slowing down and I notice that the amount of time it takes to chop and peel the fruit in the morning, to eat or drink it consciously, appreciating every mouthful and every taste as if it’s the first time I’ve ever tasted it – to be present with my whole body, not just the sensations in my mouth but my whole body, as my genius system of tubes and chambers delivers and harvests the nutrition – then washing myself slowly and gently, unhurried, limb by limb, stroke by stroke –…

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Shiny Song #11

12 Jun

We Have Come To Be Danced

by Jewel Mathieson

We have come to be danced
not the pretty dance
not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
but the claw our way back into the belly
of the sacred, sensual animal dance
the unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
the holding the precious moment in the palms
of our hands and feet dance

We have come to be danced
not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance
but the wring the sadness from our skin dance
the blow the chip off our shoulder dance
the slap the apology from our posture dance

We have come to be danced
not the monkey see, monkey do dance
one, two dance like you
one two three, dance like me dance
but the grave robber, tomb stalker
tearing scabs & scars open dance
the rub the rhythm raw against our souls dance

We have come to be danced
not the nice invisible, self conscious shuffle
but the matted hair flying, voodoo mama
shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance
the strip us from our casings, return our wings
sharpen our claws & tongues dance
the shed dead cells and slip into
the luminous skin of love dance

We have come to be danced
not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
but the meeting of the trinity: the body, breath & beat dance
the shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance
the mother may I?
yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance
the Olly Olly Oxen Free Free Free dance
the everyone can come to our heaven dance

We have come to be danced
where the kingdom’s collide
in the cathedral of flesh
to burn back into the light
to unravel, to play, to fly, to pray
to root in skin sanctuary
We have come to be danced
WE HAVE COME

Fit Your Own Oxygen Mask First

10 Jun

We’re halfway through our retreat.

Buddha

As I lay in savasana, waiting for our afternoon practice to begin, Belinda invited us to come up with an intention, a sankalpa. I usually start putting words into my brain: abundance, love, joy – all the things I enjoy and have a connection to.

Belinda asked us to repeat the word in our mind, like a mantra, inviting it in, feeling it in our bodies. As I started my litany, another word arose, unbidden.

Nourishment.

It took me by surprise. I know how to set my intention! Where had this come from?

But as I stayed with it, I saw how perfectly it fitted right now. I saw how much I have been running around, making things happen, helping, pleasing, being “nice”.

But amid that activity, I am leaving myself behind.

Key to Success

I’m starting to notice that most moments of stress or feeling harried arise from a sense of taking on too much. Not for myself, but for other people.

I have so many projects I want to be working on – yet I’ll do a favour here, help someone out there, “just quickly” attend to something which will mean I won’t have time to do something that’s important to me. That’s not to say the people in my life are not important, but there needs to be a balance.

I’m reminded of the all too familiar line I’ve heard hundreds of times on an aeroplane: Fit your own oxygen mask first before helping others.

Fit your own mask first

What does it feel like when someone does something for you under duress, or out of obligation?

I’m starting to see how saying “no” can be a gift. That it can be said with grace and respect. That doing a favour with resentment is not a favour at all.

By nourishing myself, by taking care of myself first, I will be able to give more freely, lovingly and with greater generosity.

Because I’m worth it.

Why Definitions Are Limiting You

7 Jun

I’m back in Bali.

Back amongst the green, the aroma of incense, the bright skies and cuddling humidity.

Not a bad view for a yoga space...

Not a bad view for a yoga space…

Being away from Australia, giving myself this time, always gives me the space to reflect.

I’m remembering a conversation I had recently with a lovely older friend of my parents.
“So what are you doing with yourself these days?” he asked.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I laughed. “Run around the planet helping people discover how to be more joyful?”

“Yes, but what is it that you DO?”

“Well, I run yoga retreats and teach workshops and classes,” I said. “I write articles. Sometimes I sing. And sometimes I work as a broadcaster.”

“So are you a journalist or a yoga teacher?”

“Both!”

“But what’s your discipline? What are you focussing your attention on? What are your goals?” He actually raised his voice at this point, as though I wasn’t hearing him properly.

I had to say to him that it was all those things, because for me, they’re all expressions of who I am. They use my skills in a way that feels meaningful.

You are Not your job

I’ve done some big “achievements”: I bought property at 25, was engaged, won some awards, had some really cool jobs, interviewed important people.

I was still pretty dissatisfied with my life. With myself, in general.

I also know I can go back to that if I want. I can set myself strong goals and work solidly towards them. I can be focussed and ambitious and can work 70 hours a week. Give myself a title, a definition. I know I can. I’ve done it. It’s sometimes still a struggle for me to stop working before something is perfect or complete.

I’ve just arrived back in Bali to assist on a beautiful retreat run by Melbourne yogi, coach and counsellor, Belinda Bailey. This woman walks her talk.

She’s gathered a remarkable group of people who are ready to dive deeply into themselves, to learn to set intentions and how to “juicily relate.”

When I’m here, teaching this stuff, or supporting someone who is, it takes me out of the world of “what do I do” and puts me into “what is needed in this moment?”

Chuck Palahniuk put it beautifully:

“I want out of the labels. I don’t want my whole life crammed into a single word. A story. I want to find something else, unknowable, some place that’s not on the man. A real adventure.

A sphinx. A mystery. A blank. Unknown. Undefined.”

Can you honestly say you’re just a teacher? Or a lawyer? Or an electrician? Aren’t you a son or daughter? Maybe a parent? A lover?
Patient? Kind? Happy? Sad?

We are able to choose ourselves in every moment. Putting a name to who it is that you are, based on what you do, can put you in a little box. Or maybe it can make you  feel like you’re standing on that little box. Do you judge yourself for your title? Are you judging other people because of theirs?

Forget What We are

So to answer the question truly?

My goals are to be happy, calm and centred.  To feel as though I’m making a difference in the world. My focus is to be connected, to love and be loved. To show people the ways I’ve been making that happen in my life – and show them how it can make a difference in theirs.

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Reminders For Optimal Awesome

5 Jun

Bringing The Awesome