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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‘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

Anapanasati – Now is the Knowing!

I adore this meditation.  It is so simple, rhythmic and serene.

Translated as a-napana “breathing in and out” and sati “to watch or to observe’, one can deeply relax whilst silently focusing upon the breath.  Our breath is the connection from our outer world to our inner world, guiding us internally away from all external distractions and disturbances.

And so, we gaze upon the breath from within, breathing slowly and smoothly.

Sit in a quiet, tranquil place.  There is no point being uncomfortable.  If being crossed-legged is too challenging, a chair is a great alternative.

Being relaxed and comfortable is the key.  Sitting up straight is important.  Slouching and stooping interfere with the natural flow of energy.  In fact, being curled over can exacerbate anxiety and not diffuse it. Forcing yourself to sit up is not an option either as this may cause tension in the body and defeat the purpose of relaxing into the moment.

Some prefer to meditate early in the morning when the mind is fresh and ready to greet the day. Others prefer to meditate at dusk in order to ‘let go’ of the experiences of the day.  Some like to meditate twice daily.  Do what you have time to do.  But, do make time!

The following is a rendition of ‘Anapanasati’ which I have modified for my yoga students.  You may wish to use these words or download Deepak’s Chopra’s 8-minute meditation which is available on iTunes.

Often I start the day with Deepak’s deeply soothing voice or just recite these words when I have a moment or two.  Whether you modify and learn the words yourself or listen to Deepak Chopra, enjoy!   Over time you will become so much more relaxed, clearer and happier.

Let’s begin –

  • Take in a deep, full, breath, from deep down in the belly 1, 2, 3, 4 hold for a second
  • Release the breath calmly and slowly, 1, 2, 3, 4,
  • Again Breathe in 1,2 3, 4, hold for a few moments and breath out 1,2,3,4.
  • Do this a few more times

And now say these words to yourself as you breathe in and out calmly and peacefully:

  • I know I am breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing out a long breath
  • I know I am breathing in a short breath, I know I am breathing out a short breath
  • I am aware of my body, I am aware of my body
  • I soothe my body, I soothe my body
  • My heart swells with joy, my heart swells with joy
  • I feel happy, I feel happy
  • I am aware of my thoughts, I am aware of my thoughts
  • I release my thoughts, I release my thoughts
  • I focus my mind, I focus my mind
  • I liberate my mind, I liberate my mind
  • I observe the impermanence of all things, I observe the impermanence of all things
  • I release all yearning, I release all yearningI am still, I am still
  • I am letting go, I am letting go

‘Now is the Knowing’.

Expand Your Heart – meditation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lie down in Savasana, somewhere warm, light and bright preferably with a gentle breeze flowing around you.

Your feet are separated about hip-width distance apart.

Your legs are long and loose and the little toes are gently falling outwards towards the floor.

Your arms are nestled beside you and your palms are facing upwards in an attitude of ‘giving and receiving’.

Your eyes are softly closed.  The jaw is soft.

Roll the head from side to side as though you are gently rocking to a melody that you love.

Release your ‘chatty’ mind into the ether.

Spread the shoulders broadly.

Soften the lower back.

It is as though the whole body is melting into the earth that supports you.

Inhale, fill the body with breath

Exhale – release all tension and fatigue.

Absorb the beauty of Savasana.

Sense the breath flowing through you like a perpetual wave.

Begin to notice the pauses between each breath.

Within a pause, bring to mind a memory of sheer beauty….an image, an experience, a sound…one that lifts and expands your heart – one that streams joy through your veins.  Ponder upon this vision.

What can you see?  How do you feel?

Focus upon that experience whilst your heart expands and expands….

Do this breath by breath, thought by thought….

Enter the next pause and the next – sensing a gentle pulsing of the heart…

You may sense a flutter like the beating of a bird’s wings, the rustling of leaves in a tree or a gentle wave tip-toeing into shore…..

Sense this beating of the heart and open it to wonder, radiance, splendor, compassion.

Sometimes we can hear the chant of the heart….’Anahata’

A Na Ha Ta    A Na Ha Ta   A Na Ha Ta   A Na Ha Ta   A Na Ha Ta   A Na Ha Ta   A Na Ha Ta

A Na Ha Ta    A Na Ha Ta   A Na Ha Ta   A Na Ha Ta   A Na Ha Ta   A Na Ha Ta   A Na Ha Ta

Balance the heart centre; feel free, empowered, joyful and bright. You will soon cease to crave for  external ‘love’ for you know that ‘love’ exists deep within…that it is your natural state.

Your heart transforms your energy into ideas, dreams and creations.

Dreams and ideas that come from the heart will manifest.

Distractions and diversions soon dissipate, and the noise of desire and attachment subside. All emotional upheaval dissolves and happiness pervades.

Feel lighter, brighter, more carefree…

Consciously choose to feel this peace, this warmth, the intention to share, to give and to connect.

For this is the expansion of the heart….

P.S. As a postscript, my brother Paul recently took this photograph of his brand new bub. A picture like this lifts my heart…for it exemplifies creation, pure love and sheer beauty.