Courage…

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“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” William Faulkner

Whether you are feeling weak or courageous today, remember, that there is very little difference between the two states of being.  Both have fear.  It is said that the coward listens to his fears and becomes frozen by them and/or controlled by them.  The courageous person puts them aside and pushes through or meanders around the obstacles and refuses to be ruled by dread.

Courage is strength to face pain, grief and anxiety and to act with valour and unashamed assault.  It doesn’t mean fearlessness, because fearlessness can lead to reckless abandon and therefore real danger, but it means confronting the unknown in spite of fears.  Understand the difference between apprehension and the irrational triggers of fear.  Fear confines us, keeps us ‘stuck in the mud’, and limits our ability to grow and to experience a harmonious life-style.

When we feel threatened, vulnerable, and fragile or weakened, FEAR rises like a powerful, comic-book monster ready to disarm us and carry us off emotionally on a trail of negativity and hopelessness.  Doubt and false assumptions set in – weakening us more and more.  Sometimes we have to face immense fear in our lives especially if we leave the shore of our personal safety and shelter.

However, fear is not tangible nor is it visible, but it does exist in our minds.  We bring it to life and then act upon it and out of it – often to dire consequences for ourselves and those around us.

Fear is an emotion – a distressing one at that.  But it is just an emotion, caused by threat, real or imagined.  And it is felt in many, many forms. Fear of spaces, heights, social situations, commitment, spiders, the future…..and it is so potent at times that it can cause us to become confused, illogical, and anxious.  Acting out of fear can also become habitual and can cause us to spiral downwards whenever we are confronted by something that hurts us or that we don’t understand.

Ironically we can bring our fears to life.  Many times fear is simply a decision.  And courage is the warrior to annihilate it.  The question is how?

Shun your fears by believing in your strength and abilities.  Believe in yourself.  Make peace with your world and those around you, so that you do not create stories in your head and create angst based on false assumptions. Trust your senses, your intuition.  By doing this you will know naturally the path to follow.  Many fears are born of fatigue.  Be Mindful.  Rest.

And know this…..too busy a life can breed fear of failure, because it is simply impossible to achieve all that you want to do immediately.

And do remember, we all possess the trait of courage inherently.  It comes from deep within.  All we have to do is muster it and set it to the wind.

 

x Annemaree x

‘Courage’ features on the meditation App ‘Insight Timer’.  Insight Timer Courage…

Photo by Bryce Evans on ‘Unsplash’

 

 

 

 

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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...

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Why Am I Here? Pt.1

Mary Oliver

As a yoga teacher, I was privileged to study at the feet of the master, Shanti Gowans. One of the very first assignments I received from her was simply entitled ‘The Path to Self’. It had to be so many words (I can’t remember how many now) but it was long – well ‘long’ in thought at least! Little was explained other than to understand one’s ‘purpose’.

OK then, that’ll be easy I told myself. I sat at my computer, typed the title ‘The Path to Self’’, wrote one line that read something innocuous such as ‘My Purpose is’……and six months later I still hadn’t written another word. The journey was arduous: difficult, trying, hard, tough, tiring, severe, painful and exhausting and every other emotion I can think of to define the word.

It did my head in!!!

I was totally miserable that I couldn’t write such a simple paper. Simple???

And then of course, it dawned on me. Why was I here? I really hadn’t a clue.

As one of my students once commented when I asked her to define her purpose, she simply said, “Oh I can’t think about that! Otherwise I might get such a fright that I have been living all these years without doing one single thing about it!”

Of course, there were hints along the way. I had worked hard and long, pushing my way through life, achieving, creating, giving…..but was I truly on ‘purpose’? I expect I was too busy surviving to sort that out.

And……as I am writing at this moment and reflecting on ‘Why Am I Here”? the wonderul poetess Mary Oliver comes to mind with her gorgeous poem ‘The Journey’.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began…….
“Mend my life”!

So to truly understand my purpose, I had to first look at who I am. Ummmm………..scary!

How many blogs and pieces of information do you come across that tells you what you already know?

How about the answers? How do you work it out?

Well, I can only speak for myself, but over the next few weeks I shall give you some of the paths I took to try to understand myself and therefore discover my purpose.

I hope I can throw some light your way.

…to be continued

P.S. I am writing this for those of you who have recently commented about being ‘lost’ and not ‘on course’.