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.

 

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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?

 

 

 

‘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

Pictures speak a thousand words…

and……so do smiles!

‘Land of 1000 Smiles’ Tour – Kerala, India by Cool, Calm & Collected.

I thought I would share some of the smiles I experience whenever I visit Kerala, as seen through my eyes and those of my fellow travellers.

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I’ve never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful.  ~Author Unknown

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Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. ~Thích Nhất Hạnh

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A laugh is a smile that bursts  ~Mary H. Waldrip

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Beauty is power; a smile is its sword.  ~Charles Reade

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Everyone smiles in the same language.  ~Author Unknown

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“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.” – Joseph Addison

Enjoy!

http://www.coolcalmandcollected.com.au/courses/land_1000_smiles_india.html

Be Beautiful

Feel beautiful; surround yourself with beauty; live in beauty; seek the beauty in yourself; seek the beauty in others; add beauty to those around you; and think beautifully.

I rang a friend on Friday to wish her happy birthday and she told me that her brother had died of a massive heart attack in the early hours of the morning.  No warning.

That same week a truly lovely woman whom I had been teaching yoga, left this world.  And, in the same week I heard news that an aunt of mine had died.

Again I reflect.  We are so busy balancing on the precarious tight-rope of life that we fail to stop and notice the beauty.  We rush, run, sprint through the hours, worry, self-recriminate and dilute the day with our angst and mundane utterances. Sometimes we stop to take a deep breath, but mostly we don’t.

We must not lose the opportunity to see something that is beautiful or to feel a moment of splendour…..for do we know the day when we will leave here too?

And beauty abounds all around us.

I awoke this morning, very early when it was still dark.  The birds were just starting to welcome the dawn.  I draped my gorgeous white blanket across my shoulders, lit a candle and sat listening to the beauty around me.  A cacophony of sweet sounds wrapped in stillness.

My breakfast looked beautiful and tasted as such.

I made sure that I rang a friend just to say ‘hello’.

I asked my negative thoughts if they would consider going elsewhere today?

I noticed the beauty in my students as I taught them yoga this morning and realized how blessed I am to do what I love.

I actually stopped to admire some of the gorgeous photography I have on my walls.

I plucked a small flower and it is now sitting in front of me.

I absorbed the sunshine and bought myself a gift.

I smiled.

I felt the vibrations of beauty flow through me and realized that my awareness of beauty surpasses my mind and aims directly at my heart.

Don’t be too busy to finish this piece…..take a deep breath and read the tale that found me today too.

It’s amazing how your heart-felt intentions come back to you dressed in words.

One summer night, out on a flat headland, all but surrounded by the waters of the bay, the horizons were remote and distant rims on the edge of space.  Millions of stars blazed in darkness, and on the far shore a few lights burned in cottages.  Otherwise there was no reminder of human life.  My companion and I were alone with the stars:  the misty river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky, the patterns of the constellations standing out bright and clear, a blazing planet low on the horizon.  It occurred to me that if this were a sight that could be seen only once in a century, this little headland would be thronged with spectators.  But it can be seen many scores of nights in any year, and so the lights burned in the cottages and the inhabitants probably gave not a thought to the beauty overhead; and because they could see it almost any night, perhaps they never will.  ~Rachel Carson