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.

 

 

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Dwell in Possibility…

Mother Teresa in Calcutta

‘Dwell in Possibility’ – Emily Dickinson

As I teach more and more yoga I observe more and more behaviours on the mat related to stress, striving, winning, comparing, judging, hurrying, fear, impatience, lack of confidence, grief and I could go on and on.

I know that my students reflect my attitudes and behaviours and thanks to them I have learned more about myself than any personal development book/wise man/guru could teach me!

In doing so, it has taken me many years to understand how much of these behaviours stem from the need/desire to be ‘successful”‘.  What on earth is success? If you ask a Western child today, what do they want to be when they grow up…..often the response now is ‘to be famous’!  Really? That is seen as success to so many. Yes, success wears many cloaks but having thousands of Facebook friends doesn’t cut it for me.

What is success to you?

I recently was in the home of a lovely friend who pointed out how successful her husband was because of what he had provided for her and her family.  However, she didn’t seem to see, in any way, her own so-called success.

Apart from the fact that I was sitting in a beautifully designed home; speaking to her charming son; and having just walked through a stunning garden fit to be in Vogue Living (all produced, designed and nourished by her I might add); she saw her husband as successful but not herself. In fact she sees herself as one who lacks ambition, and is without drive or purpose.  However, how I see her is not how she sees herself.  She is simply not aware of how she has dwelled in possibility and potential and has created a magnificent haven/ environment for her husband and her children.  Success?  Surely!

Yes money can certainly be a sign of success if put to good use but so can a garden. For what is more beautiful?

A dollar note or a gardenia?

And how blessed can you be to not feel as though you have to strive every day. Have you considered what it is like just to be aware, to potter, to be present?

Ask someone who has been given 5 years to life, what success is? I did ask this question this week.  And the answer was simply: ‘to live in the present with those I love’.  End of subject.

Sometimes I play a beautiful piece of music in my classes which is interrupted for a split second with these words…..’When our bones turn to dust the two most important things in life will have been how much we loved and how much we gave’.

When I reflect upon the act of ‘giving’, I recall the times I have visited Mother Teresa’s (now St. Teresa’s) homes in Pashupatinath (Nepal) and Pondicherry (India) and have seen first-hand (whilst being humbled to my very core) what she created in her life and what these lively little nuns (yes they all seem little) do for the disabled, poor and abandoned. Giving and loving – in a nutshell.

Surely these are the two greatest qualities of the human race?  Surely what stems from these is happiness. And isn’t being happy – success?

Oh if we all just ‘loved and gave’…..what an idealist I am!

So when you feel you are not ‘being successful’, think again or plant a tree!  That will do it.

Or… simply dwell in possibility and potential for others and watch how your success unfolds.

And remember, a small gift given to the earth can give shade, safety and joy and all it takes is a thought, a seedling and a moment in time.

 

Love   x Annemaree x

 

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Thank you to those who took these photos….whomever you may be….for they are beautiful!

The tender side…

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“No beauty shines brighter than that of a good heart”.

This photograph uplifts me in a way I find difficult to express, shivery in a soft and beautiful way.

It exudes tenderness, warmth, compassion and love. Aren’t these emotions the crux of our humanity?

And then… I turn on the radio and listen to the ‘News’ and want to shoot myself! The more I teach yoga, the more vulnerable and exposed I feel. But I also realise that an open heart leads to greater pleasure and joy and therefore greater pain and sorrow. One cannot have one without the other. Pleasure and pain are inextricably entwined.

Thanks to the media we are constantly exposed to heartache. Heartache over things that we cannot control, help or even identify with. Do I need to be exposed to every murder, flood, landslide, car accident, bashing, bully, terrorist, fire, bombing and shooting?

Could I not just look at the tender side of life?

Perhaps not always… but much of the time?

Recently I listened to an interview with the Australian actor Samuel Johnson.  Sam, with his foibles and gut-wrenching honesty is what I would consider to be a wonderful brother! Lost his mother to suicide; the love of his life also to suicide; and his sanity temporarily to drugs. But always by his sister’s side and she by his. He created ‘Love Your Sister’ charity to help raise funds, as he put it, to annihilate the indiscriminate venom of cancer.  Something which his sister Connie had been fighting for 23 years. And sadly Connie lost her battle with aggressive breast cancer only a few weeks ago. Sam does something to fight back. In his own interminable manner, he attacks that which hurts him most, but with great zest and tenderness.

Is that perhaps one way of recognising our purpose?  By fighting back for something we believe in so deeply?

Is that what we all need to do? Brandish the sword of justice in some personal way? Whether it be to donate our pennies, our time or our organs; to support a cause; walk for peace; offer a helping hand; smile at a passer-by or to offer our service for no apparent reason. Imagine if we could toss the coin of harshness in the air and each time it landed, it landed on an about-face – the face of ‘tenderness’. That means we have to tear open our hearts, be prepared to hurt, give exponentially, let go of having so much, give more than we thought, and be courageous! All of us can display narcissistic traits, but all of us can also be empathetic.

We need to look at the gentle side of life….seek the beautiful stories….mix with sensitive beings…….cut off from that which we cannot cure, help what and when we can. Do something no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

Don’t you think?

Every kind action will manifest a karmic ally somewhere, somehow, even if we never recognise it’s unfolding.

Let’s face it…..the tender side is always more digestible!

 

…as I keep reminding myself.

x Annemaree x

 

P.S. This photo found its way to me.  I am not sure how or when.  I have pasted it on my wall in the room where I am writing this and I frequently just sit and look at it.  I honour the person who captured this moment. Thank you.  Thank you.

 

‘Being’

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 ‘Being’ –

As I look back, I realized that even as young as 7 years of age, I would crave to find a place where I could be ‘quiet’ so that I could be still and listen to the waves rolling into shore, watch the sun sparkling on the ocean and surrender into the arms of nature.

During my childhood nothing gave me more pleasure than escaping from the Rowley brood (I was the eldest of five) with my pencils, books and music (transistor in those days) and ‘just sit’ and ‘watch’ or ‘draw’ and ‘create’ amidst a soundscape of sea-gulls, summer breeze and dulcet melodies.

It was the state of ‘being’ that kept me calm and centered, just as it does now.  ‘Being’ is such a powerful and healing quality of humanity that is so often neglected.  Yes, it means ‘to stop’!

Doing next to nothing you may ask?  Really?  It was probably a ‘sin’ at school.

And I can still hear the words: ‘don’t just sit there, do something’.

Ironically one of my most loved expressions is by the Vietnamese monk and Pacifist, Thich Nhat Hanh, who wrote ‘don’t just do something, sit there’.  Upon reflection, the latter words and practice are far more useful to me!

Perhaps you will find one of these practices useful too…they are not difficult to remember:

When the eyes are unmoving, so is the mind.  Focus upon an image, real or imagined.  The mind calms, stillness comes.

Take one deep breath, then another.  There is much to be said about just stopping to take a deep breath.  Breathe in deeply.  Breathe out slowly.

Make each breath longer than the last.  To slow down, imagine each breath is fuller, more nourishing than the last one.

Make your out-breath longer than the in-breath.  Yes, it is the same amount of air!  But it is the in-breath that energises and the out-breath that soothes.  Slow the out-breath down and feel its soothing quality.

Observe beauty.  Don’t glimpse it…..absorb it!  I took this photo of a friend of mine on a Burmese shore.  She stood there for a long, long time….what does it say to you?

Be ‘aimless’.  Sit and plan to do nothing.  In this very moment, ‘achieving ‘ is not the pre-requisite – things are just as they are meant to be.

Be ‘mindful’.  Observe the apple that you are eating, the tea that you are sipping, and the sounds that you are hearing.  You are in the present. .

Visit the ‘gap’.  In between our thoughts there is a ‘gap’.  Rest there.  Peace is present.

Retreat within:  Find your outer haven:  a room, a beach, a park.  Then enter your inner sanctuary to find your quiet place.

 

Will this help?  A free Mindfulness Timer App?

http://www.thichnhathanhfoundation.org/#!mindful-bell-sounds/c14kg

Remember……

“When you are fully in the ‘now’, the beauty, mystery and magic of this world are unfurled and its gifts are laid before you”.  

Annemaree

Creating an Innovation Mindset

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I have just returned from three weeks in India. There is nothing like travel, a new environment and a break from normal routine to challenge our thinking and create a mindset. India assailed my senses and my preconceived ideas. What struck me was that the Indian people I encountered emanated a sense of energy and excitement about the future and what they believed was possible. Despite all the challenges, I saw that ordinary people are indeed capable of extraordinary innovations and novel solutions.

So for those of us who are looking towards making 2014 an exceptional year adopting an innovation mindset could make all the difference.

As I started exploring this concept of an innovation, I discovered that quite a few change experts and entrepreneurs are focusing on this idea as a way to manage the high speed, rapidly changing business and social environment in which we live. I believe in making things simple. In order to achieve this I needed to research, clarify my ideas and look at what practical steps I could take to create this mindset.  This is a work in progress so I will share my thoughts and discoveries so far.

Starting a new year is symbolic and most of us start the year with good intentions. The fact is it is easy to fall back into old habits and predictable futures.  So I ask the question “What amount of your day is surprising?” If your answer is that basically you know what your day or week is going to look like, then you may be living a predictable future. Surprises and not knowing are prerequisites of innovation and creative thinking.

An innovation mindset requires using your imagination, trying out new ideas, introducing new or improved ways of doing things; being bold, courageous and daring!

As I read my words there is part of me that wants to run for cover. If I write these thoughts I am committed to put these ideas into action. So this process is not for the faint hearted. It requires permitting the possibility of failure, facing fear and going into the unknown.

Like all successful processes, innovation requires one step at a time. For me the first step is to imagine what I would like to happen in 2014. What is possible? What is impossible? What do I really want to accomplish and why? What would be a breakthrough? What would it look and feel like? I know from working with clients and my own experience that setting your goals or targets too soon limits thinking and possibility. It is valuable to have a variety of people involved in this process. Those who are integral to making things happen as well as people from other industries, fields or perspectives.

The next step is to explore the gaps and the chasms you may encounter.  Often this necessitates uncovering what we don’t want to see. It involves considering the things we need to improve, remove or refresh. Innovation requires action. What steps will I take to bridge the gaps? What hypotheses and assumptions will I need to test? Innovation requires resourcefulness to power through the obstacles.

The essence of the innovation mindset is an open mind, one that challenges convention, embraces diversity and explores the inconceivable.

Here’s to an exceptional 2014 and a mindset to match!

Melinda Spry – Transitions Coaching Solutions    www.transitionscoaching.com.au

Melinda is a friend, mentor and a beautiful being.  She showed me this article and I asked her permission to offer it to you.  A truly yogic perspective – one of courage, power, exploration and embracement.  Thank you Melinda.

Annemaree

Think brightly

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
and trouble will follow you
as the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.
Speak or act with a pure mind
and happiness will follow you
as your shadow, unshakeable.

Dhammapada, The Buddha

There is one thing about which I am certain and that is we create who we are by how we think!

We are what we think and the person we become over time is simply a summation of our thoughts.

Have you ever noticed that kind people always speak kindly of others and are generous by nature?  Inspirational people are positive and curious?  Interesting people are inquisitive and lively?  All actions are born from thought.  All that is created comes about through thought.

Faces are sculpted by thought.  Anger, anxiety, contempt, jealousy, sadness are clearly identifiable on many faces that surround us. If these emotions, that are sourced from thought, are clutched on to for long enough, they become ‘set in concrete’, defined by frown lines and clenched jaws.

What is the antithesis?  Well, a smile of course.  And smiles come about through a beautiful thought.

One of the greatest influences in my life is a book called ‘As a Man Thinketh’.  It is my bible. Written in 1902 by John Allen, it has sold in the millions. A tiny book with enormous impact, it has been one of the greatest influences for authors and philosophers alike, such as Napolean Hill and his contemporary Anthony Robbins.

John Allen was probably very much influenced by the Buddhist scriptures too.  Philosophers simply pass these thoughts along……

The following excerpt from this tiny treasure could be deemed as my personal mantra:

“A calm, strong man is loved and revered. For when he is calm he ceases to fuss, and fume and worry and grieve, and instead remains poised, steadfast and serene. The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater his success, his influence, his power for good”.

Yes, thoughts drive us nuts at times, particularly the very annoying negative ones!  If I observe a negative one appearing, I create the image of kicking it out my head like a footballer kicking a ball. Off you go into oblivion so you don’t annoy me anymore!

What can we do when the shadow takes over?  Smile; be with those who are bright and light; create a project with a great cause; seek more knowledge; read something gorgeous; watch something entertaining or simply do a good deed for someone else – that will soon make you feel better!

Mind is the Master-power that moulds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills:-
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Enivornment is but his looking-glass.

John Allen