Belonging…

Belonging

A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people.  We are biologically, cognitively, physically and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we are meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.
Brene Browne

From the time I was very young my mother would tell me to gather as many friends as possible and to value them deeply.  My friends are my family.  ‘No-one can have too many friends’, she would say.

Those whom I have met suffering from depression and deep sadness are often those who have cut themselves off from those around them.  Often they believe they are a burden to their friends and families because they are ill or low, but in thinking so, they hurt those who love them and isolate themselves so much that loneliness abounds and a sense of hope is often completely lost.  Self-esteem plunges and the meaning to their existence shrinks to bafflement and then ultimately to questioning ‘why exist’? Depression thrives in isolation. I truly believe people die from a lack of love.

In Victor Frankel’s “Man’s Search For Meaning” I recognise this is what he was realising whilst being imprisoned in Auschwitz.

“A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which a man can aspire.
Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. His survival depended upon his belonging”.

It breaks my heart to meet people who breathe without truly ‘living’ and who fail to experience this beautiful world and the fabulous people in it. But…we have to make the effort. Summon up courage and mingle! We cannot blossom without being fed and watered.

When we connect we feel valued, heard, seen and strong, not to mention full of joy and excitement. I generally speak to a friend a day ‘to make sure they are ok’, something I have done since I was 11. Something to the chagrin of my father when, as a teenager, I would hog the telephone all night.  Now of course I have my own phone and connect with someone, somewhere, daily (face-to-face, or voice-to-voice, not through FB). For what is the point of living if I am not connected to other beings? I can talk to myself and laugh at myself (but it is not as much fun as sharing). I also believe we can drive ourselves mad through loneliness.

And I wonder how many people who are about to leave this world, lie back and wish they had spent more time at work, or worked-out harder?  Few I would imagine.  I would be fairly sure they had wished they had spent more time with loved ones and more time playing.

In the end I want to be able to lie back and remember and laugh at my library of sweet memories. When I was barely coming out of toddler-hood, my great aunt taught me ‘never to look back and wish I had’.  I apply that to my friendships all the time. Ring them now not later. Visit them now not next month. Hug them at every given opportunity. Tell them you love them. Hold hands. And play!

We need our beauty reflected back to us….our friends do that. (Make sure your friends are kind to you though, if they are not, then fire them – they are not your friends).

I am not saying that we have to be dependent upon another being, I am saying, we need to belong to something to connect with those who are like-minded. Play groups like – Book clubs, Movie clubs, Yoga schools, Charities, Dance groups, Tennis clubs, Football clubs, Cooking tours, Art tours, Gallery tours, Cafe societies…whatever….oh it goes on and on!

In Emily Esfahani Smith’s book “The Power of Meaning”, she writes: “In our age of isolation, it is more critical than ever to actively seek out social groups and work hard to build close relationships especially because many forms of community are dissolving. Across society, people are spending less time with friends and neighbours and more time in front of T.V., screens, phones “privatising” our leisure time”.

We need to belong!

And if you think you are too old to play, then you have lost the plot!  For the rhythm of life may be unfathomably cruel at times but it is also playful and full of sunshine, delight and adventure.

 

Annemaree x

 

Thank you Jake Corke for this gorgeous photo that you took in Cambodia.  I look at it often and reminisce on the fun we had putting my tour together.

 

 

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Why worry?

Thomas & Luke

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

-Corrie Ten Boom

 

I have been ‘looking back’ this week, which is unusual for me.  But I have been looking back reflecting on how much I used to ‘worry’ and drawing to mind exactly what I ‘worried’ about.  Oh, how much we all worry.  I see it written all over the anxious and frown-lined faces of my students. (Nothing that a smile could not break though). What’s the point of worrying?

I, like you (in all probability), used to worry about things like being accepted, being loved, being good enough, being heard, being understood, being different, passing exams, walking in high heels, what I would do when I grow up, which colour lipstick is best, saying ‘no’, being alone, being left behind, being single, being poor, being everything other than in the good nick that I am generally in!  

But what is important?  I have my sanity (although some would question that), I have two good legs on which to walk (take out the ‘good’), I lead the quiet and peaceful life that I aspired to, I travel the world, and I live in a beautiful, safe country and I am not wandering the earth looking for a home.  Plenty of food and a roof over my head. Most importantly I am well.  Most importantly I am WELL!

The above photo shows two of my beloved nephews.  The little one Luke adores his big brother Thomas.  I look back at my challenges (real or imagined) and ask myself again and again, what did worrying resolve?  Little Thomas faces a life of nothing but challenge. He has Cystic Fibrosis.  And I am writing this knowing that once again he is in hospital for treatment, and then home hospital for a while, and through no fault of his own, simply because he was born with a recessive gene. It is a tough little life.   I am not here to speak about his illness, I am here thinking about how beautiful he is, how courageous, how compassionate and how important it is for him not to worry and for me not to worry about him.  The best I can do is be by his side, keeping him calm and laughing a lot. And that entails ‘living in the present’.  Putting all my judgements aside and loving him with every fibre in my being.

Just as we learned he had Cystic Fibrosis, I wrote these words for him.  They still apply, some nine years later, even more so now.  He has them framed by his bed and apparently reads them from time to time.

I send them back out into the universe with all good intention, hope, love and peace.  May they manifest for him into a life of less worry and much mirth …..

A calm spirit and a happy soul….that is what I wish for him! And for you!

 

 

“The first time I held you I felt my heart ignite with joy.

Your dear little face and your big brown eyes delve into the core of my soul.

Each time I gently kiss you on the forehead or the tip of your nose you hold your breath and close your eyes.  It is such a sweet vision, one that I imagine as I wake in the morning and when I think of you throughout the day.

What do I wish for your future?

That you may always view the world in awe; be truly peaceful; seek truth; be kind to yourself and compassionate towards others; take lots of deep breaths; do everything you want to do; live with wonder; treasure each moment; smile at everyone you meet; explore the world; read books; laugh a lot; create memories for others to cherish; open your heart; listen carefully; speak with warmth, learn everything you can; and believe you are beautiful.”

 

Annemaree  x                                                                                                                January 2009

 

For more information on Cystic Fibrosis….www.cysticfibrosis.org.au

The photo of Thomas & Luke was taken by dad.  A very proud dad.

 

 

Live in the breath…..

restorative-yoga-001

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
― Amit Ray

So many of my students come to me suffering with moderate or extreme anxiety.  In fact, I was actually asked the question this week, “isn’t it normal to be anxious?”

Of course we get anxious when we are confronted by negative influences or when we have to face great challenges in our lives, but no, living in a state of anxiety should not be considered ‘normal’. 

It may become ‘normal’ for some people to exist in an anxious state and to be trapped in its tethers, but there are ways to break free of it, or at the very least to ease it when it overwhelms our being.

One way to manage chronic anxiety is to ‘live in the breath’.  It sounds simple, and I know that those who suffer with anxiety would be saying ‘as if’!

But these words are being written by one who suffered with extreme anxiety for a long, long time years ago. Me!  I understand. That is why I do what I do and wish to pass my knowledge and experiences on to you.

Truly ‘the breath’ is a panacea….once recognised as such, and once practised efficiently.

There are many, many ways to breathe effectively and many practices that can help one do this.

However, a beautiful and greatly effective yogic method is ‘Maha Yoga Pranyama’.

(Maha – meaning great; Yoga – the union between the body, breath and mind; Pranyama – extension of the life force that we take in when we breathe deeply and slowly).

This YouTube is for you.

A complimentary session.

7 minutes long.

Invaluable benefits.

Please try it!  And practise not once but often….

Maha Yoga Pranyama

The importance of breathing need hardly be stressed. It provides the oxygen for the metabolic processes; literally it supports the fires of life. But breath as “pneuma” is also the spirit or soul. We live in an ocean of air like fish in a body of water. By our breathing we are attuned to our atmosphere. If we inhibit our breathing we isolate ourselves from the medium in which we exist. In all Oriental and mystic philosophies, the breath holds the secret to the highest bliss. That is why breathing is the dominant factor in the practice of Yoga.”

Alexander Lowen, The Voice of the Body

An Eloquent Offering…

Re-sized

Let the child living within us to live freely, happily and simply.

A little while ago a friend sent these words to me believing them to be written by the current Pope, Pope Francis.  That is the claim, but as it turns out, not the truth.

I have been reading them out to my yoga classes as the words are so poignant, profound and gentle.  However, the second time I read them aloud, I listened to the whispers in my body, and intuitively discovered that these words are more yogic than a catholic discourse, or at the very least more poetic.

So I questioned Lord Google, and yes, as it turns out, no one really knows who wrote them. This is despite the fact that they have been attributed to many authors, quite convincingly I might add, and specifically to the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa who died early last century.

Of course, they are subject to the time spent in cyberspace and the numerous translators’ perspectives.

So, what can I say?  Except ‘thank you’ to the author/authors/translators and my friend.  These words are delightful and pertinent to us all.   So in light of these words being offered to me, I now offer them to you, so that you may read, re-read, adopt and enjoy!

(I doubt that Fernando Pessoa is turning in his grave worrying about copyright).

“You may have flaws, live anxiously, and sometimes get angry, but never forget that your life is the biggest enterprise in the world. And you can keep it from going bankrupt.

 There are many people who need, admire and love you.

 I wish that you always remember that being happy is not having a sky without storms, paths without accidents, work without fatigue, relationships without disappointments.

 Being happy is finding strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in fear, love in disagreements.

 Being happy is not only appreciating the smiles, but reflecting on the sadness.

It is not just celebrating the success, but also learning lessons in failures.

It is not only to feel happy with applause, but finding joy in anonymity.

 Being happy is recognizing that life is worth living, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings and periods of crisis.

 To be happy is to stop feeling like a victim and to become your destiny’s author. It is crossing deserts outside of yourself, but being able to find an oasis in the secret of your soul.

 It is being thankful for every morning for the miracle of life.

 Being happy is not being afraid of your own feelings. It’s to be able to talk about yourself.

It’s the courage to hear a “No”. It is confidence in the face of criticism, even when you feel it is unjustified. It is to kiss your children, pamper your parents, to live poetic moments with friends.

 Being happy is to let the child living within us to live freely, happily and simply.

 It is having the maturity to say “I made mistakes”.

It is having the courage to say “forgive me”.

It is having the sensitivity to say “I need you”.

It is to have the ability to say “I love you”.

It is having the humility of receptivity.

May your life become a garden of opportunities for happiness …That in spring may it be a lover of joy?  In winter a lover of wisdom. And when you go astray, start again. You will find that to be happy is not to have a perfect life…

But use the tears to irrigate tolerance.

Use your losses to refine patience.
Use your mistakes to sculptor serenity.
Use obstacles to open the windows of intelligence.

 Never give up hope.

Never give up the people you love.

Never give up on people who love you.

Never give up on happiness, for life is an incredible show”. 

 

x Annemaree x