Most Beautiful

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Never do anything standing that you can do sitting,

or anything sitting that you can do lying down.

Proverb

I am the greatest believer in the fact that if you want to feel beautiful, then you need to surround yourself with it!

I found a ‘pearler’. Or rather it found me.  Known as Shreyas (translated from Sanskrit as ‘most beautiful’), it is my special place for stillness, silence, peace and warmth.  It enfolds me and hugs me like a friend – it is a friend, a very special friend located in the heart of Karnataka, India, away from smart phones, tablets, traffic, nail salons and cafes.

I remember first visiting Shreyas and being totally humbled and in awe of its calming influence, profound teachings, its gentle souls and its snail-pace.

In between ‘do-able’ Hatha yoga classes, unquestionably delicious and healthy cuisine, meditation, private lessons, exquisite Ayurvedic treatments and massages (did I mention swimming?), I would sometimes just sit on a bench in the garden and simply watch!

Staff don’t walk here, they glide. Always with their hand to their heart in greeting and with a gracefulness I have rarely encountered anywhere else in the world.  It is actually surreal as though everyone is floating on air.

Of course, this suggests, that I had slowed down so much that I was stretching time and living fully in the present – ‘comatosed’ would be the best definition. Staying here, the past and future simply do not break through my reverie.  I always emerge from the miasma of life even if just for a brief time.

I have been there four times now.  It is my annual (thank you I am looking after myself time) and I shall return over and over.

By now I am beginning to learn everyone’s name.  You would think so! But I would get my ‘Krishna’s’ mixed up with my ‘Sureshes’ and forget where I was, always thankful to be found wandering around the grounds by an observant staff member who recognised that I was lost and/or had completely ‘lost the plot’.

The teachers are divine. Always watching over us. There is a cleansing practise called Jala Neti where one uses a little pot to pour warm salt water through the nostrils.  Ideal for people like me who suffer with hay fever etc.  Ideal for anyone…really.  One of the teachers told me she used to smile as soon as the word was mentioned because my face would contort and I would bolt out of the yoga Shala to hide amongst the trees.  She will be pleased to know that finally after four visits I practise Jala Neti at home every single day.  Does it work? Yes. So why did I avoid it all this time? Simple really…one of my brothers used to dunk me in the ocean and hold me under when I was a kid, and the sensation of salt water up my nose is a reminder of him trying to drown me. Another personal ‘issue’ subjugated.

Attention to detail is simple but so thoughtful. A tube of repellant set beside the yoga mat. The scent of Loban being waved through the yoga classes. Orange Oil burning. Hum Sa. So Hum.

Then there are the cooking classes.  I don’t cook.  I am brilliant at assembling food, but I simply don’t cook it. However, I love to eat. So I go to the classes because the chefs are so experienced and fun, and one can nibble along the way.  I have it nailed.  I take down the recipe, hand it over to any friend who accompanies me, and then suggest I come over to their place for dinner when I return to Australia.  (I’ll bring the chocolate!).

As you may know, you do not wear shoes into any yoga space.  So there are rows of shoes left on the steps.  The thing that has always fascinated me is that at the end of the class, and every time I would leave the Shala, my shoes had been turned around so I could step into them and walk away. I was determined to one day grab a mental snapshot of who does that!  Still I have never ‘caught’ anyone. The place is full of ‘shoe fairies’.
I always leave refreshed, slower, and a little taller, with snippets of philosophy I have picked up along the way reminding me of this beautiful yogic path.
“Love is flowing energy”.

“Time is the gift you have been given, use it fully”.

“Peace comes from wisdom, fear comes from ignorance”.

“Awareness travels with us through all incarnations”.

The other extremely satisfying aspect of Shreya’s is that you meet the same staff. All are encouraged to practise yoga daily (thus the gliding) and many have been with Shreya’s since its inception some 15 years ago. That in itself is a telling tale. Consistency and contentment.
The staff also have quirky, humorous retorts. Whilst being assisted into a challenging posture, one that I feel my spine had never visited before, I asked the question ‘Has anyone ever died doing yoga?”. The teacher’s quip was “yes, but they died healthy”!

Says it all really.

 

Annemaree xxx

 

P.S. I am going back in 2019. You may like to come with me and for that reason I have created a 10-day retreat.  Six spaces only.  Join me?  Or not!  I am going anyway, and would love to see you/escort you/teach you.  Then you can also take down the recipes and I shall have great delight in eating what you create.

For more details...

 

 

 

 

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Insight Timer…

for iContact

“Let Go”!

Imagine if the whole world meditated?

What a different planet it would be!

However, globally, we know there are many who are meditating at this moment and at any given moment and who bring a peaceful energy to our earth.

We need to quell the turbulent times both in the world around us and the world within us.

I have joined the ranks of meditation/mindfulness teachers on Insight Timer to offer gifts to you and to those whom you deem would benefit by my words and observations.

I hope to make a small contribution to the evolution of our planet. To make a difference to someone, somewhere, somehow……

Enjoy!

Download the complimentary App ‘Insight Timer’

Insight Timer

and then…

Search for me, Annemaree Rowley, and away you go to “Let Go”.

insighttimer.com/AnnemareeRowley/guided-meditations/let-go-5

 

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The boy in the bucket

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From there to here, from here to there,

funny things are everywhere.

— Dr. Seuss

Two years ago,  I was visiting one of the major historical sites in India in the state of Karnataka. Making my way to the rest room (or should I say ‘rest hut’), I noticed a woman mopping the floors. She was playing such an important role, but one that is challenging, mundane and generally not valued by anyone.  I always offer a smile and I tip these workers, grateful not only for their service, but for the part they play in my comparatively privileged life.

As I entered the doorway there were her two little boys frolicking about on the tiles. No iPad, smart phone or toy trucks. Just a bucket and water (and detergent). Surreptitiously taking my camera out of my pocket I snapped this shot. The joy and laughter were contagious, as this little one laughed, played, splashed about, lifted his sweet face to the sun and joined his hands in gratitude.  Even if he was not fully aware of the gratitude he could feel, it was natural for him, as a Hindu, to hold his hands in prayer.

I stood there for ages watching this truly delightful scene.  Whilst visiting the site was absolutely wonderful, the boy in the bucket was the highlight.

Every time I look at this photo it makes me smile. What immense power the joy of another one’s laughter has on oneself!  What power the smile evokes!  In this case the smile was from ear to ear.  For both of us….

And again that same joy is conjured just by remembering this incident as I write this for you.

In my yoga classes, I often ask my students to close their eyes and bring a gentle smile to their face.  Then I ask the question: how does that feel?  Some of my students tell me that they can’t feel the smile when they have their eyes closed.  So I ask them to turn their smile inwards. To be aware that everything will be OK, to curve their lips upward and to create or remember an image that gives them that irrepressible joy.

Then I ask them to turn their inward smile outwards and open their eyes sharing that smile with someone known to them or not; real or imagined; or even to project that smile into an imaginary mirror peering at their own image.

Blind Freddy (whoever he was) knows that smiles are contagious. The part of the brain that is responsible for our facial expression when happy or mirroring another person’s smile resides in the area of an unconscious automatic response. So if you are smiling at someone it is likely that they will smile straight back. If they don’t then they are actually ‘trying’ not to and repressing the response.

I remember once in my teens, being so sad, that a little old lady (she was probably only my age now) came up to me in the street and simply said….’smile my dear…you look so sad…let the smile mellow your worries’.   I did smile….. and she smiled for me and with me.

Share your smiles and laughter. Smile at someone for no good reason and watch what happens. You never know, maybe, just maybe, that smile that you offered so freely, actually was an enormous gift to someone who truly needed to be lifted from the doldrums at that very moment.

And whenever you need to give yourself a smile and are not quite sure how to find it, just remember…

 the boy in the bucket!

Annemaree x

 

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not ready yet…

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It’s Not the Years in Your Life That Count.

It’s the Life in Your Years.

(Who knows you wrote this, everyone is claiming it!)

 

A few weeks ago a friend of mine told me a story that I have been thinking about constantly during these past few days.

It was a brief tale about a 93-year-old grandmother.  And this is how I imagined the story to unfold:

Every year this grandmother purchases a daily calendar.  She hangs it on the wall and fills in each square with something she looks forward to.

Whether it be a visit from her grandchildren; a dinner with family; an outing to the local shops; the purchase of a special-occasion dress; writing a letter to a friend; sipping fresh peppermint tea; watching the moon at night; listening to the sound of the ocean; crunching Autumn leaves beneath her feet… or doing absolutely nothing.  Every day is something new, something special, something beautiful.

I realised as I was picturing this woman filling in her calendar, that this is what I do too.  Perhaps not in such a structured way, but I ensure that my diary is full to the brink with experiences and connections.  Some would say I do too much.  And some would be right.  Some would say they don’t know how I fit my life into my life.  Some would be right. Some would tell me to rest.  And I do listen.  But as I write this and look out of my window at the beautiful Chinese Elm shedding its Autumn gown, I realise that this is exactly what keeps me alive, joyful and excited about life. The beauty in every day.

Each morning I awaken with the questions:

  • Who shall I visit?
  • What postures shall I be teaching?
  • What book shall I read?
  • Where shall I be going?
  • What food shall I taste?
  • What shall I learn?
  • With whom shall I connect for the first time?
  • … and what shall I see that makes me ‘stand still’ in awe?

Another name for these imaginings?  Being present….

Yes, I have challenges along the way…some that tear at my heart.  However, to lay the emotions that come into play with these challenges aside, and to allay any fear that may be associated with them, I simply play a beautiful piece of music, look at a gorgeous photograph, ring a friend for a chat, eat chocolate, pick up a book or create another story, a story that takes me into ‘happy world’.

Yes, sometimes I get those pangs of ‘what if’? But as another friend of mine said to me many years ago, these pangs are just ‘fright bubbles’.  And so when they come, I burst them with a giant, carefree pin.

Getting back to the grandmother…..what does she say to herself every time she looks at the calendar to see what she is doing today?

Not ready yet!