In presence of the moon…

 

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I have often heard it said that beauty is not in the face. Beauty is in the heart. What is truly attractive is when a person walks into a room, carrying themselves with ‘attitude’, straight and tall, exuding self-confidence, smiling and showing their inner spirit through their kind and gentle persona.  This is ‘presence’. This is loaded self-esteem. This is powerful!

In presence of the Moon nobody sees stars.” ― Amit Kalantri

I remember when I was in my early twenties and I was sent to the Maldives for my work. I was alone, lacked confidence and was shy.  I would walk into the restaurant each evening and sit myself down hoping I would not be noticed. One evening an elderly woman came up to me and actually admonished me for not holding my head high, showing courage, smiling, acknowledging those around me and having as she called it ‘presence’.  A little harsh perhaps?  Clearly the experience caused me to reflect, listen, observe and to be more aware. Obviously it affected me deeply as decades later, I am relating this to you. Whilst her words were delivered in a critical way, they helped me through life

So what else has this concept of ‘presence’, taught me?

Presence is when you believe in yourself.

People with presence do what they say and manifest their intentions. People with presence are influencers, creators, leaders and the silent walkers on this earth…

Their presence speaks before their voice does.

They are free to make their own decisions and to follow their own path. Yes, they will doubt themselves. Otherwise they would not grow. However they listen intently and learn studiously but are not into controlling others nor are they controlled in any way.

In fact many influencers on this earth walk through the world without realising their impact.

They walk cloaked with humility and understanding.

Those with presence –

They don’t just talk – they act.

They don’t just hear – they listen.

They don’t just see – they watch carefully.

They don’t just dream, they manifest.

They are compassionate and empathetic.

Their kindness is what roots them to the earth so that they are grounded and fair.

Just because of the way they are, many are attracted to them.  Heart and soul. Not brain and ego. They want to be like them. But not in image – in spirit.

And…often those who feel they have to boast about their circumstances, image, or money are the very ones who have little presence.

For isn’t it true, the most admired qualities in the human race cannot be bought?

No matter how much you own or how much you don’t own, you are the master of your destiny. Money cannot buy inner peace, integrity, love, health, trust, patience, dignity, time or happiness.

These are found ‘ within’ and subject to the choices one makes each step of the way.

But there is also another really important lesson here. Your presence is enough! Yes, enough!

Recently I offered a hand out to a friend who is very ill. Not only did he often shirk my offer, he taught me that it was up to him to heal and my presence was simply enough. I didn’t need to offer help, words, sympathise, stalk or support him. For me, this truth is hard to bear when I see another being I care for suffering. However, it is as it is…and my challenge was and always will be to accept this perspective.

“When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million, empty words.”  Thema Davis

So I have to set aside what I call the ‘healer’s ego’ ( i.e. understand that my role is to heal myself and not impose my way of living on another being).  Lighting a candle; making a cup of tea; playing soothing music, may be far more treasured than beseeching one to follow my path or for me to create a plethora of healing remedies in the hope that they will be pursued.  In the end, all my friend wanted was ‘nothing’ – what he appreciated was ‘my presence’.

I do my best to live by this lesson, especially when my students open up their hearts to me. All I can do is be present, silent and to listen.

Poignantly the words ‘silence’ and ‘listen’ have exactly the same letters!

 

“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”  Thich Nhat Hanh.

 

With love,

Annemaree xxxx

 

 

 

 

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I write my own tune….

 

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It has taken many years, much yoga practice and constant self-enquiry to live by the creed ‘I write my own tune’ and to understand how irrelevant and unimportant other’s judgments of me are…..

I don’t focus upon other’s opinions of me…. for I am doing my best.  And I trust that somehow, somewhere, and for someone, (particularly myself), being ‘me’ is simply enough.

I am also much wiser in realizing that when I am mindful I watch my experiences and thoughts as they pass by and I try not to be tempted to dramatize, exaggerate or create illusions. It’s rather likened to watching a movie, scene after scene passing before my eyes; I observe the story but do not become a part of the plot!

And as the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti so astutely stated:

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”

Ummm…it’s really tough though not to judge.  Really, really tough.  If only I was that clever!

We judge, often because we have been conditioned to do so.  We create habitual responses to what we suppose is better/worse, good/bad, right/ wrong, ugly/beautiful, fair/unfair and dangerous/safe; what I must do, what I mustn’t do……  When we are imprisoned by our primordial behaviours, we simply cannot grow.  We cannot be free to be our true selves.

Constantly judging everything we say, do and experience is exhausting and often painful.  Not to mention – often inaccurate and disparaging. We become emotionally ‘stuck’.  Same patterns, same opinions, same fatigue, same intolerance, same life.

People will often judge me, I know that, and therefore I accept that they will often misunderstand me and gossip too.  I am my harshest judge as it is, therefore I have to say “go for it”.  I am busy enough focusing on how not to beat myself up.  Others’ opinions are not my concern.

And….it has also taken me a lot of self-enquiry (Sanskrit ‘vichara’) to understand the psychologist, Carl Jung’s words:

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”.

So every time I judge, I need to turn the mirror around to face myself and to be completely honest with how I perceive the world and those around me.

How do we reject our judgmental frame of reference?

In the yogic world, we speak constantly of compassion.  Be compassionate.  Be compassionate towards others.  Be compassionate towards oneself.  Be in a state of love.  Be present.  That’s how we do it!

Of course, easier said than done, but something to reflect upon nevertheless.

There is a man called Scott Stabile, whom I discovered cruising the net, (as one does)…..and I absolutely resonate with his words and his passion……

He wrote this…and these words may (or may not) make a difference to you……Let’s see!

“Let them judge you

Let them misunderstand you

Let them gossip about you

Their opinions aren’t your problem

You stay kind, committed to love,

And free in your authenticity.

No matter what they do or say

Don’t you dare doubt your worth

Or the beauty of your truth.

Just keep on shining like you do”. 

Thank you Scott……

 

And thank you Ed……

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Annemaree x

 

P.S. Created by Kjpargeter – Freepik.com

 

 

 

A Picture of Peace….

“You have peace,” the old woman said, “when you make it with yourself.”                  Mich Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

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I went out to dinner with a husband and wife team last week and following a slight altercation between the two of them over something that I can’t even recollect now, I just happened to ask them what they did  ‘in their spare time’.  ‘We fight’ they said.  An answer which caused much gaiety, but in their case I might add, is probably not far from the truth.  They are Italian after all, and erratic passion is in their DNA or so they tell me. 

The next comment from them was ‘we don’t have spare time!  ‘No, come to think of it, we don’t actually rest ’.  Peace?

And so, if I asked you to pick up a camera, a paintbrush or a pen to explain what peace looks like….what would you create?  It seems that ninety-nine percent of the people who attend my yoga classes are seeking what they consider to be an ‘elusive state’, that is the ‘state of peace’. Surely this is the precursor to ‘happiness’.  The very essence of ‘happiness’ is experiencing peace in your heart, body and mind?  Is it not?  And yet it is difficult to find – or is it?

We all have ‘peace within us’.  It is just that we don’t know how to tap into it and are too busy looking for it elsewhere.  Searching outside of ourselves appears to be our most active and futile past-time.

Would the photograph you envisage be that of a beautiful sunset, waves rolling into shore or a lone fisherman on a lake?  Would you tell me that a holiday on a deserted island, or the sound of the sax, or a beautiful ode gives you peace?  Perhaps the clouds in the sky, a glass of red or a ‘Xanax’ or two would do the trick?  Yes, all of these can give you peace – for an instant!  Ah… all so temporary, obscure and irritatingly intangible.  Let’s face it, these solutions are just delusional diversions to keep you firmly bound up in your ego, blocking your ability and/or your will to find that which truly brings you composure.

So if it is within us, where is it located?  Where do I look?  What picture do I create?

Let me give you some clues….and remember these are only my discoveries.  You will need to find your own!

However, in saying that, I am happy to help …..it has taken me many years and many paths to reach this point…..so I would like to share some short-cuts to set you on your way.

I do feel peaceful now more often than not, and it is a place I intend to dwell in.  It is so deep, energizing and tender that I couldn’t imagine living in any form of restlessness ever again. 

That ‘something’ unchanging inside me simply had to be found.  I was on a quest.

You may be asking by now – how?

There are many, many avenues….let’s take two for the moment shall we?

‘Go out of your mind’.

The mind is the seat of emotions, feelings, impulses, likes and dislikes, judgments and what-not.  It is mental agitation that gets in the way of peace because we simply listen to our minds and become embroiled in its nonsense.  60,000 – 70,000 thoughts a day.  Most of which are useless.  And around seventy percent of which we had yesterday!  Go figure!

Give the mind some space by creating a blank canvas. Close your eyes for a few moments and draw your attention to the breath.  Do this often and with full awareness. Over time, you will notice the calming effects as you ‘still your mind’.

Don’t just read this!  Do it!  Over and over and over again.

Pride and Prejudice

Peace comes when we don’t have any conflict with ourselves.  When we believe we are part of a whole, a cog in the ‘Samsara’ of life.  We feel neither inferior nor superior to any other being.  We walk the path of equanimity and identify our own skills as contributions to the world at large.  We understand that there is a special place in this world for each of us and that it is our responsibility to gift our skills. 

It is just as narcissistic to feel inferior as it is to feel superior.  The latter causes one to ‘look down’ upon others and to believe we hold all the answers; the former is to be totally ‘self-absorbed’ by dwelling in our own illusory ego.

We need to drop our pride and prejudice, come to realize our true value, and live in the peace of that knowledge. 

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More peaceful posts to come……..

xAnnemareex

What is enlightenment anyway?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been thinking about this for some time wondering what on earth ‘it’ is all about.  Not life that is….I think I have figured that out to a degree, but now I am focused on the concept of ‘enlightenment’.  A term which is bandied about as much as ‘journey’, ‘consciousness’ and ‘self-discovery’. Yoga is now being used to advertise yoghurt and ‘gurus’ are being sought like personal trainers.  With depth being devoured and authenticity plummeting, do we actually reflect upon the true aspiration of yoga? Enlightenment.

Is enlightenment living on some remote rock face in India infused with so much ganja that you don’t know whether you are coming, going or in fact being here now? Travelling through India as I do, I am often dubious about the ‘enlightened’ beings I encounter.

I guess enlightenment is synonymous with the Dalai Lama; his constant laughter and luminous smile!  He can’t be that happy all the time.  Or can he?  I doubt whether he is smoking anything!  He just ‘is’!

Actually, he is my pin-up boy!  I have a picture of him in this very room, hoping that I shall ‘catch’ everything he exudes – warmth, compassion and selflessness as a start.  His total love of the human race – and that infamous giggle!   Now that would be good.

Some years ago I was in Kerala, India.  I was on my way to visit a friend and in order to get to his home I had to traverse a narrow pathway in the middle of a paddy field.  It was sultry and warm, with a velvety black sky.  I was serenaded by the night choir of insects; the sounds of summer that nestle in the hot humid air; and the distant chants emitting from the temple priests that were echoing through the village….so mystical, charming and ethereal.

It ‘occurred for a split second (or so it seemed). Everything merged as though I was cocooned into an instant.  I was in a timeless place. No past.  No future.  The ‘now’.  The knowing of ‘now’.  The joy of that one enchanted, albeit fleeting, moment.  All had merged and I KNEW that I was exactly where I was meant to be and I was experiencing a glimpse, just a glimpse, of what it must be like to be totally present.  And I mean….totally!  I didn’t think ‘it’.  I felt ‘it’.  I didn’t analyse ‘it’.  I knew ‘it’.  Oh for the joy of that instant to be relived again and again.

I get ‘it’ intellectually.  Not being controlled by the ego.  Not being burdened by the past.  Not fearing the future.  Not being caught up in my thoughts.  Not reaching, seeking or striving.  Just being right here now.

I did get a true glimpse!  And that is enough for me to keep expanding.  Not being limited by this physical world but expanding beyond the realms of my own self.  In other words – getting out of my own way!

It’ happens now and again and it is divine.

Letting go of preconceived ideas, habits, beliefs and behaviours that contract rather than expand my persona is part of the deal.  Easier said than done of course!

I asked a friend last evening what she considered ‘enlightenment’ to be.  She simply stated “waking up to your truth”.

A question you may ask is that when the great masters become ‘enlightened’ what changes?  Are they still human?  Do they still have foibles and make mistakes and behave like us?  I asked this of one of my fellow yoga teachers one day.

His response:

“Before enlightenment: chop wood carry water… After enlightenment: chop wood carry water.

So enlightenment doesn’t change the day-to-day expectations and demands (but obviously quality of life changes to the max…)”.

And what does Deepak say?

“You resurrect your soul.  Your soul gives you a life of joy, effortless spontaneity, love, compassion, kindness, peace, equanimity, joy at the success of others…..unlimited imagination and creativity. To be enlightened means to be ‘in the light’ – literally.  To be free!”

One can only hope.

Do you hear me?

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” Karl A. Menninger

Do you actually listen?  Carefully?  Without  judgement?  Sometimes we are simply too intent upon hearing our own voice and not those of others!

Are we losing our listening abilities?  I think so!

Recently I was out with a group of friends and I realised on several occasions on the day, I wasn’t being listened to at all. I was reminded of how little we actually ‘hear’. I spent the afternoon not being heeded.

When I speak I like to think I am being heard. Don’t we all?  After all this is called ‘communication’.

I notice all the time that people do not wait until others have finished speaking without adding their own ‘broadcasting or grandstanding’.  In fact on five separate occasions on this particular day, I was asked a question and then completely ‘talked over’. At one point I actually said “Are you not interested in what I have to say” and still I wasn’t heard.  There was simply no reaction, just a continuation of the conversation.

As I reflect, I realize I used to ‘butt in’ all the time.  I think we all do.  Our egos get in the way and we want to rule the conversation.  But now, I am so acutely aware of the need to listen to others.  I wait until someone has finished speaking and I am intent upon looking into their eyes as they do speak.  After all, everyone has their story to tell and deserves to be heard. So often these stories expound great wisdom, interesting comment and intelligent perspective. We learn from others, so we need to listen to them.  I fail at this sometimes, but I am practicing!

In my yoga classes, I teach with little visual demonstration but with a great amount of auditory guidance.  At first students look around and are nervous that they ‘don’t get it’.  But within a short time, they learn to be patient with themselves.  They learn to listen to my voice, their bodies, their hearts and minds.  They learn to enter their inner stillness and realize very quickly the rewards of being ‘silent’. They learn to hear again.

According to Julian Treasure, author of ‘Sound Business’ we are meant to spend roughly 60% of our communication time listening but as he states we are not very good at it.   ‘Listening is our access to understanding, he says, conscious listening always creates understanding.  But our world has become scary because no one is listening to one another’.

And what is his first lesson to listen better?  “Silence” he says, just a few minutes a day. How yogic!

He uses the acronmym ‘RASA’ which in Sanskrit means ‘essence’. RASA stands for ‘Receive’ which means pay attention to the person; APPRECIATE what the person has to say; SUMMARIZE so that you are showing you are paying attention and ASK questions afterwards to show your interest.

I came upon Julian’s talk recently.

It is only 7 minutes long.  Sit back and listen….it is fascinating.

http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_5_ways_to_listen_better.html

‘We need to transform our world into a conscious listening world. ‘A world of connection, a world of understanding and a world of peace’   Julian Treasure.