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!

 

 

 

 

An Eloquent Offering…

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Let the child living within us to live freely, happily and simply.

A little while ago a friend sent these words to me believing them to be written by the current Pope, Pope Francis.  That is the claim, but as it turns out, not the truth.

I have been reading them out to my yoga classes as the words are so poignant, profound and gentle.  However, the second time I read them aloud, I listened to the whispers in my body, and intuitively discovered that these words are more yogic than a catholic discourse, or at the very least more poetic.

So I questioned Lord Google, and yes, as it turns out, no one really knows who wrote them. This is despite the fact that they have been attributed to many authors, quite convincingly I might add, and specifically to the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa who died early last century.

Of course, they are subject to the time spent in cyberspace and the numerous translators’ perspectives.

So, what can I say?  Except ‘thank you’ to the author/authors/translators and my friend.  These words are delightful and pertinent to us all.   So in light of these words being offered to me, I now offer them to you, so that you may read, re-read, adopt and enjoy!

(I doubt that Fernando Pessoa is turning in his grave worrying about copyright).

“You may have flaws, live anxiously, and sometimes get angry, but never forget that your life is the biggest enterprise in the world. And you can keep it from going bankrupt.

 There are many people who need, admire and love you.

 I wish that you always remember that being happy is not having a sky without storms, paths without accidents, work without fatigue, relationships without disappointments.

 Being happy is finding strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in fear, love in disagreements.

 Being happy is not only appreciating the smiles, but reflecting on the sadness.

It is not just celebrating the success, but also learning lessons in failures.

It is not only to feel happy with applause, but finding joy in anonymity.

 Being happy is recognizing that life is worth living, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings and periods of crisis.

 To be happy is to stop feeling like a victim and to become your destiny’s author. It is crossing deserts outside of yourself, but being able to find an oasis in the secret of your soul.

 It is being thankful for every morning for the miracle of life.

 Being happy is not being afraid of your own feelings. It’s to be able to talk about yourself.

It’s the courage to hear a “No”. It is confidence in the face of criticism, even when you feel it is unjustified. It is to kiss your children, pamper your parents, to live poetic moments with friends.

 Being happy is to let the child living within us to live freely, happily and simply.

 It is having the maturity to say “I made mistakes”.

It is having the courage to say “forgive me”.

It is having the sensitivity to say “I need you”.

It is to have the ability to say “I love you”.

It is having the humility of receptivity.

May your life become a garden of opportunities for happiness …That in spring may it be a lover of joy?  In winter a lover of wisdom. And when you go astray, start again. You will find that to be happy is not to have a perfect life…

But use the tears to irrigate tolerance.

Use your losses to refine patience.
Use your mistakes to sculptor serenity.
Use obstacles to open the windows of intelligence.

 Never give up hope.

Never give up the people you love.

Never give up on people who love you.

Never give up on happiness, for life is an incredible show”. 

 

x Annemaree x

 

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!

From Here to There…..

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‘Where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet’

 

How do I find my way?

How do I journey from here to there?

Where am I now?

Where to now?

Why am I here?

No matter where I go, my shadow lingers behind me, a kaleidoscope of broken dreams, distant memories and fearful rides. Best to tip-toe out of it gently, I think, but not too abruptly or the future will draw me into its untenable illusion.

Be silent. Be still. Be present.

I  seek the sunshine, to step into its light and feel the warmth on my back

And I know, I must keep dancing on the sun drenched stage. Alive with desire, awakening to dawn, realizing my gifts, knowing myself, coming back home to me! To that place that was, that was here, that is there, that is now.

The more I observe, the more I am present, the more I feel.

As I stand still amidst the flora of my existence, I watch with curious eyes and I hear with awakened ears the toll of time…this moment….this precious moment.  I learn what has brought me here and where I must go.

Is my ‘meaning’ for living, my purpose? Or is my purpose the path I create and pursue to fulfil and validate the meaning?

I tell myself to know my purpose I must understand my values….

Perhaps my most treasured value at this time is freedom….to flow freely in body and mind….to love freely….to be free from illusion and old tensions…to be free from complexity, hedonism and selfishness –  to ‘know’ peace.

Could it be that my purpose is to discover who I am? Who I am becoming?  And then? How to nurture who I am?  To love and understand myself at the very deepest level.  To develop strength, resilience and courage to guide myself back to ‘me’ when I have lost my way? And as is often considered ‘to step outside of myself to connect, to serve the world and to attend to others”.

And then surely the crux of my ‘meaning’ and my purpose (once recognised), must be to give and to love….is there another? To give to others, to give to myself, to love others, to love myself.

Is having meaning then something I do rather than something I feel? And finding this activity, this job, this eudaimonia, shall I then live a life of ‘human flourishing’?

And so this passion I feel within me….this joy….can only surely stem from the knowing…the understanding of my deepest desires?  My inspired mission.

It is said: ‘He who gives, gathers’   I would add: ‘He who loves, lives’

How do I become so sure of my path?

I come to silence and allow the truths to surface….the answers to come…..and no matter how I resist this understanding, until I accept my power, my skills, my knowledge, my true self, my ‘meaning’, I can never pursue my purposeful path, nor seek the warmth and adventure of a passionate nature.

Thus my quest!

Yours?

Annemaree x

 

 Something to reflect upon:

“Leading a eudemonic life, Aristotle argued, requires cultivating the best qualities within you both morally and intellectually and living up to your potential.  It is an active life, a life in which you do your job and contribute to society, a life in which you are involved in your community, a life, above all, in which you realise your potential, rather than squander your talents”.

The question is how to do your duty, how best to contribute – or, as the theologian Frederick Buechner put it, your vocation lies ‘where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet”.

 

(Excerpts taken from Emily Esfahani Smith’s book ‘The Power of Meaning’.

 

What my mother taught me…

Mum at 21

During one of my recent yoga classes I was walking through the maze of students who were spread out on the floor, lying in Savasana, and I tripped over a block, narrowly avoiding landing spread eagle on top of an unsuspecting body!

Unsuspecting? Or so I thought!

Then I heard the words ‘pick your feet up’.  I chuckled to myself as I was transported back into my past and heard my mother (Pauline) saying exactly the same thing when I was a languid teenager, though she generally attached ‘for God’s sake’ to the sentence.

Along with…. ‘don’t chew gum or you’ll look like a cow’; ‘stay out of the sun or you’ll shrivel up like a prune; (I ignored that piece of advice), ‘stay out of trouble, (I did, most of the time); ‘don’t just sit there, do something’ (there is an irony to this comment as I now teach meditation and do just sit there!); ‘put your shoulders back’; ‘put some colour on your face –  you look as though you have just been dug up’ (white lipstick was in); ‘look on the bright side’; ‘swear and I shall wash your mouth out with soap and water’; ‘do the best with what you have so that others will be proud to be in your company; and, ‘if you think you are going out looking like that then you had better have another thought coming’. (This latter comment came with her physically blocking the doorway).  I could go on and on.  Couldn’t we all?

But what I remember mum for most of all, and certainly with great gratitude and love, is her advice to:

Always look deeply into the eyes of those you meet and try to understand what is behind them.  She often spoke about not understanding another until you walked a mile in their shoes which of course was adapted from an old Native Indian proverb.

Fabulous, heartfelt advice from a woman who was so beautiful on the exterior but suffered so much on the interior with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Clinical Depression.  On a superficial level often she would be fine, especially when she was laughing…but often I would look into those eyes, and see the sadness, pain, vulnerability and fear behind them.

Her words prompted me to write this little mindfulness practice:

In your eyes,

I see you in me

You see me in you.

But rarely do I realise this is how I am seeing you or you are seeing me.

It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul.

If I see you clearly, my heart shall then recognise your heart

My mind will recognise your mind

My spirit will speak to you – for you are me and I am you.

We are not so different – we share similar emotions, joy and pain, sadness and laughter.

We hurt as each other.

We laugh as each other.

Our tears come from the same place,

Our kindness stems from the same depth.

I honour you…please honour me,

so that there is little distance but much love between us.

 

 

Namaste.

Annemaree x

 

P.S. This picture was the one my father carried with him.  She was 21 in the photograph.  When he died I asked mum if I could have it. She was taken aback that I would want it….and would be surprised to know that I look at it every day, to this day, constantly being reminded of her courage and wisdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all my heart…….

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It is said that the people we have in our lives are here for a ‘reason, a season or lifetime’.  This expression rings so true to me.  Many have left my life whether by death or circumstance and at times I have felt as though my heart would break in two.  Actually I think my heart is simply an accumulation of cracks, more than even I realise.  And yet, I also reflect on the words by the poet/song-writer, Leonard Cohen, ‘There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in’.

How often, do we explore why someone landed on our doorstep; entered, re-entered or left our life completely; brushed past us in the street with a smile; or picked us up and dusted us off without question or the desire for something in return? Oh, the times I have been so loved and cared for without recourse would fill a tome.  And I feel so privileged that so many have stepped into my world even if only for a ‘season’.

In my home I have dedicated a whole wall to photographs saying “Thank you.  I love you.” It is my ‘gratitude’ wall.  I constantly look at it (sometimes with a heavy heart and sometimes with a joyous one) and enquire as to why that person actually paid me a visit.  What did they awaken within me? What beauty did they bring to my spirit?  Why do I love them and what was their greatest gift to me?  Sometimes I also wonder – What was ‘their reason’ for finding me?

People to me, my friends, are as much a part of my make-up as my DNA.  So when I lose them it hurts…..it really hurts.  It is said that the depth of sadness is equal to the depth of the love. Sometimes I am a little sad and at other times I feel as though I shall shrivel up and dissolve with the pain.

On the other hand, I also realise that in the words of the great philosopher Krishnamurti, ‘Sadness is a vain attempt to possess’.  One has to ‘let go’ to free the spirit of binding attachment.

And what is pain?  Teaching yoga opens me to understand every small nuance of pain.  I conclude through my own experience that most of the physical pain we feel is a camouflage for an emotional issue.  Physical pain takes our focus away from the self-enquiry, from confronting ourselves and bringing ourselves ‘home’.  Of understanding our sadness.  What is it I am not observing?

Of course so much of our ‘pain’ is probably unconscious tension, years of it, accumulating over time…..and perhaps the only way to rid ourselves of it is to be ‘aware’ of this very fact.  Perhaps the issues will not surface for us to recognise them exactly, but will surface enough for us to accept them?  Only an idea really!

And immediate emotional pain?  Well, ‘fear’ is a word that resonates with me here.  And again that goes back to self-enquiry.  What have I experienced in the past that has come back into this moment to give me grief, to haunt me?  Is it desolation, abandonment, isolation?

I have also come to learn that in order to let of the waves of sadness and to understand that ‘this too shall pass’, is to sit with the sadness for a little while (after all one is only human), and then to revert the experience to a more positive picture preferably peppered with snippets of love and laughter.  Likened to dissolving grains of sugar into a glass of warm water.  The drink of memories will always remain sweet.

I believe the ‘unsaid’ needs to be ‘said’, even if just ‘quietly’…….

‘Thank you.  I love you’

Annemaree x

 

P.S. This photograph is of my 9-year-old nephew, Thomas.  I think he is perhaps an old soul who has come to visit me.  Who knows?

 

 

 

Planting Seeds……..

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No doubt you know those who are often or always looking on the negative side. Always complaining. Always anxious. Often dramatic. Nervous. Full of doom. Ruled by the negative stories in their head. Owning pain. And using their pain as a badge of honour. Easily irritated.  Immersed in a belief system that the world is ugly, corrupt, miserable, frightening, mean, falling apart, hopeless etc.  I am not speaking about those who are ill and enduring the suffering of clinical depression.  That is a different story.  I am speaking about the average you and me.

We all experience pain. But pain like a mistake is a lesson for growth.

As Kahil Gibran wrote in his work The Prophet:

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that

Encloses your understanding

Even as the stone of the fruit must break,

That it’s heart may stand in the sun, so must

you know pain”

I was recently immersed in the centre of an absolutely pristine pool in India at one of the world’s most beautiful yogic spa and healing centres. I was observing the beautiful blue, glistening water and luxuriating in its warmth and nurturing properties.  A few of the staff were looking into the pool too perhaps observing its clarity or beauty – who knows.  A woman suddenly swam past me and said ‘I wonder what they are doing, I hope they’re not looking for snakes?????

Negative people need to be the centre of attention by drawing in sympathy from those around them or ‘belonging’ by joining the negative mob. Consciously or unconsciously.  However the very thing that is wanted, that is attention, is the very thing not received as many will move away from the negative cloud of energy that one exudes.

These people are often irritated, irritable, remorseful and angry. Falling and falling down the rabbit hole at the rate of knots into a state of gloom and emptiness and so much so that they lose their place in the world and are unable to clamber up the sides of the cavern – because it all seems all useless and pointless.  Beauty is beyond reach and isolation pervades. Is this you? Of course it is or can be or has been at some time. We are wired to think the worst and to fight or flee to protect ourselves. Ancient brain.  And……We all so often allow the stories in our head to rule us and others.

Some of the wisest words I have been offered and ones upon which I have reflected upon many times are: “if you plant negative seeds, you will harvest negativity”.  You may say that you are not being negative and denying or being resistant in some way to owning up to this truth. Or not even aware of your default pattern of existence. If you plant an apple tree you will not get oranges. Let’s face it. If you plant negativity you cannot expect to harvest positivity. You can only hope for it. And hope will not provide it.  Not this time. So there is no point just waiting, expecting to pluck an orange off an apple tree.

One needs to do the hard work by planting different seeds. Continuously. Season after season until the garden is abundant. Don’t blame the lack of fruit or the soil or lack of rain or the cold. It is from you that the seeds will fall. Beauty is from within…..let it blossom.

We all need to be mindful of how we are approaching the day. Do we wake up and immediately think things are going to be arduous?  Or do we wake up thinking how amazing it is to be still breathing and above grass?

It is often said to me that ‘I don’t have the energy to make change’. That’s a negative and you are right. Of course you will not be able to make change if you have planted that seed. Of course negativity will deplete your energy too. It becomes a vicious circle. Negativity – low energy – low energy – inability to make change.

When living in darkness the days seem long. When living in light one feels vibrant.

And so…..

What are you planting? Which seed will empower you?  Which seed will not?  What does the garden of your mind look like? Is it full of colour, beauty and vitality….

Roses or weeds?

The choice is yours…….

 

Annemaree x

 

P.S. I would like to honour whoever took this photograph. It came from Pinterest to me, I and I am unable to find out who took it. But I thank you, whoever you are. It says it all.  It is so full of joy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace is Calling…….

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Peace is calling.

Peace is always calling me.

Sometimes I hear its beckoning but move on oblivious to its imploring plea.

Sometimes I simply stand still and feel its presence, time and thought suspended, heart gently pulsing, hearing the sound of my own breath and feeling its energy coursing through my veins

Sometimes I stop dead in my tracks and then find I am taking a different path, consciously aware that peace is holding my hand and drawing me closer to it.

As though there is nothing more to be done and nothing more important than taking my next breath

No inner turmoil.

No outer distraction.

Complete, whole, content, strong.

And then I move on into the next moment calmly, clearly, gently, as though I had left that ‘me’ behind and placed the ‘true’ me in its stead.

I do love these words by Jon Kabat Zin, one of the great advocates of mindfulness –

“That what you knew and what you didn’t know,

That what had been and what was yet to come,

And the way things are right now

No longer held even the slightest hint of anxiety or discord? ”

These words to me identify the feeling of being truly peaceful. And what I do now know is that despite such calming influences as waves rolling into shore; the sound of rain on a tin roof; or the sweet bird-song of Spring; peace does not come from them, it is simply enhanced by them. Outward peace is simply useless without inward peace.

Peace is something that you embody, patiently creating its place and space within you. When you are peaceful and emanate this peace to all around you, on a larger scale you are contributing peace to the world.  You are Peace.

And remember people are attracted to those who are serene and quietly poised.

As James Allen wrote in his masterful work, “As a man Thinketh”, dating back to 1902, “Calmness of the mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom and is the result of long and patient effort.

The more serene you become clearly the more, you will cease to fuss and fume and worry and grieve, and remain poised, steadfast and tranquil.

It is said that Peace is the warrior, the weapon of the strong.  It conquers darkness. The darkness of anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, the sense of separation, and the feeling of isolation. It is the sunshine to the psyche and the panacea to the spirit.

You must be it in order to radiate it. Calmness is power.

Peace is not something you wish for; it’s something you make, something you do, something you are and something you give away”……John Lennon.

 

May the voice of peace whisper to you,

May the voice of peace sing to your soul,

May the voice of peace speak to your thoughts,

May the voice of peace be with you to wherever you go.

 

Annemaree xx

 

P.S.  I took this photo in Myannmar in 2014.  Gorgeous children are everywhere in this world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there such a thing as Karmic Irony?

OprahO’ Oprah’s Magazine – February 2014

I was once taught that life deals its cards in mysterious ways. Sometimes you are dealt an ACE and sometimes you are dealt a JOKER.

Well since I have been following my passion teaching yoga, I have been dealt ACE after ACE. A part of my deck of dreams was to create some of the most beautiful tours I could possibly conjure in order to pass on the wonderful teachings and ‘truths’ of yoga, mindfulness and meditation.

The criteria? Well it had to be a feast of the senses. To be surrounded by beauty; to dine in the company of generous souls; to experience copious quantities of laughter; to live in comfort and style; to indulge, explore, connect, and bathe in the warmth of the sun, the lands and its people. …a nurturing experience of pure ease and tranquility.

Thus one of the places we visit on my ‘Rubies & Roses’ Tour to Northern India is Ananda Spa. Nestled in the Himalayan foothills, it is simply a breath of heaven!

Enchanting, graceful, beautiful and very, very peaceful, one’s Ananda sojourn combines the teachings of Ayurveda (5000-year-old healing system), Yoga (spiritual and ascetic discipline of wellbeing) and Vedanta (philosophy and science of the spirit). Ananda has created a private haven for those who are seeking true peace and wholeness (not to mention gorgeous cuisine and stunning treatments).

Part of the allure of Ananda is that it honours each individual, treating them on a completely equal basis and is completely respectful of anonymity and personal space.

Enter Oprah!

So here we are one morning taking a yoga class alongside Oprah. Well of course we know who Oprah is but she doesn’t know who we are. Over breakfast, munching on exotic, organic grains, our group discussed how important it was for us to respect Oprah’s privacy….she too deserves a rest, we said!

We decided not to ask her if we could pose in a photo nor put our arm around her and pretend we had become bosom buddies. The most we would do would be to say ‘hello’. Yes, if we had these photos would it impress others? Maybe! Would it be good for our businesses? Maybe! But nevertheless imposition was out. Respect was in.

What was interesting for me was how I observed people doing exactly what we decided not to do. And Oprah was so obliging and charming…….I guess that is her karma. And often we were dressed in Ananda Kurta Pyjamas, covered in oil and not exactly in our most flattering photographic element. Though I guess Oprah wouldn’t care that much. Next to Marilyn she must be the most photographed female idol in the world.

But as the universe unfolds, the pendulum swings and the dealer deals a new hand, another ACE was laid on the table. Four months after our tour, ‘O’, Oprah’s magazine hit the stands. And here we are. Our group. Yes, that’s me in the middle in black and white, flanked by the ‘Rubies & Roses’ team.

Enter Ananda’s website, and here we are again…..’What Oprah knows for sure about stillness”.  Another ACE!

Thank you Oprah. Even though you may never see this and never know who we are!
www.anandaspa.com