Tag Archives: Meditation

Purpose And The Art Of Fearlessness

5 Feb

I woke up this morning full of fear.

Fear of what happens next, of where I’m going, of how little control I have over so many things. In my meditation today, I noticed I’m not only afraid of what might happen, but also of what might not. For the first time in a long time, I emerged from my morning sit feeling more anxious than I went into it.

I read an old piece I had written about bravery and still felt stopped. Feel the fear and do it anyway? Not today.

Rather than rush headlong into the day’s to-do list, I headed to Pete Guinosso’s Candlelight Flow class to try and give my anxiety some space to move and sweat.

At the opening of the class, Pete mentioned that today is civil rights activist Rosa Park’s birthday, which is celebrated in California as Rosa Parks Day. And he read us this quote:

Rosa Parks

As I moved through my sweaty vinyasa, twisting, balancing, I noticed how my movements had purpose. I have been practicing asana for a long time and my body knows what to do. Pete says “down dog” and without needing to think, I can move into that shape.

I know what must be done and I do it.

As we built and opened through the class, I worked through little difficulties: warming the hamstrings, noticing my resistance to one more strong abdominal hold, balancing in ardha chandrasana (half moon). These poses challenge me, but they’re possible. A little effort and I can get there.

We move into parivritta trikonasana (revolved triangle) and I remember how difficult I used to find this pose. As a new yoga teacher I was frightened to teach it,  because it required so much concentration to stay balanced myself, let alone balance and talk students through it. Almost nine years later, it’s effortless, to do and to teach.

I think I can

Our peak pose this morning was parvritta ardha chandrasana (revolved half moon). Already sweaty with exertion, I pushed myself into it. I felt that moment of wobble as I moved my eyes skyward, noticed the attention that was required to lift, extend and open. It really took something to hold the pose today. I could feel my muscles straining, my heartbeat in my ears, my breath working hard to be smooth.

But as I worked into one side and then the other, I was filled with a sense of achievement. It was hard and I did it. I didn’t fall. I kept breathing. I overcame.

I look at my life and I see how easy it would be to just keep doing the poses I know: to do things I find effortless and easy. There is a safety in doing what is right in front of you; of taking the options that are being offered. But I know choosing those options doesn’t bring as much growth. Life can be simpler, but it’s not as expansive.

I don’t want to be safe. I want to be BRILLIANT.

I want to inspire and be inspired. I want to have the kind of life that lives up to MY expectations, to do things that make ME proud. To be pulled into every day with purpose and passion.

Living from that space, there’s no room for fear.

Life a daring adventure

Keeping Quiet

12 Jun

Meg Meditate 2

Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth, let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second, and not move our arms too much.
It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines;
we would all be together in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea would not harm the whales
and the man gathering salt would not hurt his hands.
Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors, would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about…
If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems to be dead in winter and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go.

– Pablo Neruda

Going into Fear

12 May

Whenever there is fear, never try to escape from it. In fact, take hints from fear. Those are the directions in which you need to travel. Fear is simply a challenge. It calls you: “Come!”

Lightbulb Darkness

Whenever something is really good, it is also scary, because it brings you some insights. It forces you towar certain changes. It brings you to a brink from where, if you go back, you will never forgive yourself. You will always remember yourself as a coward. If you go ahead, it is dangerous. That’s what is scary.

Whenever there is some fear, always remember not to go back, because that is not the way to solve it.
Go into it.
If you are afraid of the dark night, go into the dark night – because that is the only way to overcome it. That is the only way to transcend the fear. Go into the night; there is nothing more important than that. Wait, sit there alone, and let the night work. If you fear, tremble. Let the trembling be there, but tell the night, “Do whatever you want to do. I am here.”

After a few minutes you will see that everything has settled. The darkness is no longer dark, it has come to be luminous. You will enjoy it. You can touch it – the velvety silence, the vastness, the music. You will be able to enjoy it, and you will say “How foolish I was to be afraid of such a beautiful experience!”

– Osho

How to Yoga Festival: Reflections on the Bali Spirit Festival, 2014

20 Apr

I was so lucky to be involved in this year’s Bali Spirit Festival.

Mandala

In the past few days, I’ve been reflecting on what made this festival so enjoyable – aside from the incredible people and program, of course. Like most things, I can see how much my attitude is the key.

1. Let It Go

Bali is one of those places that will give you what you need – and for all you sticklers for time and control freaks, this festival is an exercise in surrendering. Yup, it might rain. You might get muddy. Motorbikes won’t observe the road rules you know from home. Meals might not come out at the same time. Roosters will wake you. Gamelan will play. But the Balinese will smile hugely at you, the hot weather will help your body open and you’ll learn more about who you are in life than you ever thought possible.
And don’t worry, we’re all sweaty. Gimme a hug.

2. Patience

Those crazy paths wending through the festival are the bane of my life when I’m rushing. People stop at any given moment to chat, hug, think about whether they’re in the right place…When I’m in a hurry, I feel my jaw clench, my elbows set and my feet stomp. All it takes to get around that is a little sideways step. Yes, sometimes into mud, but that’s also going to slow you down and make you walk mindfully.

bruce-lee-water
3. Be Adaptable

You can’t be in two places at once. (Unless you’re one of those astral travelling yogis, in which case you should definitely run sessions at next year’s festival. Simultaneously.) Sometimes the class you desperately wanted to join is full. Being able to let that go and try something you would never have tried otherwise could open you up to a new style of yoga or a teacher who could change your life. FOMO doesn’t serve anyone.

4. The More You Give, The More You Get

If you’re working with a partner in a class, give them your everything. Pay careful attention to your teachers. If you see trash on the ground, pick it up! If you see someone frowning, give them a smile. There was a woman in Jamie Catto’s workshop who shared something that touched me deeply. I stopped her and let her know. It made her day. Minutes later, I was being fed delicious Sacred Scoops icecream by a generous friend. I don’t usually think Karma works that quickly, but it certainly seems to here!

Ferris Bueller Life Quote

5. Stop. Appreciate.

Take (at least!) a few minutes each day to stop and drink in the delicious madness that is the Bali Spirit Festival. Look where you are! Drink in the green! Curl your toes into the grass and stretch your hands to the sky. You’re in Bali! You’re surrounded by conscious, amazing humans who are as interested in yoga, dance, music and connection as you are. Drink it all in.

bali-spirit-festival8

 

Why You Are Here

23 Feb

Life will break you.

Apple Tree

Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning.

You have to love. You have to feel.
It is the reason you are here on this earth.

You are here to risk your heart.

You are here to be swallowed up.

And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness.

Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.

~Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

Lost

17 Feb
Zambo early morn
Stand still.
The trees ahead and the bushes beside you Are not lost.
Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows Where you are.
You must let it find you.
An old Native American elder story rendered into modern English by David Wagoner, in The Heart Aroused – Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America by David Whyte, Currency Doubleday, New York, 1996.

The Summer Day

12 Feb

Zambo sunset

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean– the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

– Mary Oliver,
The House Light Beacon Press Boston, 1990.

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

Gratitude for Today

19 Jan

Bird in Flight

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginably You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

– e.e.cummings

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.