‘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

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Just Breathe

Three years ago I received a telephone call from my youngest brother, Paul.  I shall never forget the anguish in his voice as he explained that his first newborn, 6-week-old baby Thomas Rowley, had just been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis.

I felt the pain well up inside me as he spoke and I tried with all my might to stay calm for his sake, but alas the tears started to flood as I realized how significant and challenging this little boy’s life could become.  Not to mention, the pain and strain on his lovely parents, Paul and Tania.

My yoga training flew straight out the window….or so it seemed.

I cried and cried and cried.  I simply couldn’t stop.  I hibernated and tried to be calm, making copious cups of tea and laying my hands on anything that might be soothing  chocolate and licorice mainly).

Yes, it sounds as though it was all about me, and it was at the time!

I was of no value to anyone who came within a tear drop’s distance of my whimpering self.  In all, I cried for 24 hours non-stop.  I awoke throughout the night sobbing.  I sobbed doing the dishes, in the shower and walking along the street.

A headstand was out of the question because I simply would have drowned.

With red-rimmed eyes, a throbbing head and a heavy heart I attended a class being held by my yoga teacher, Shanti Gowans.   Ironically she arrived into Melbourne that weekend. I attended her class and tried to remain inconspicuous amongst my yoga teacher friends.  Yes, there were inquisitive looks.  Puffed cheeks and swollen eyes were not characteristic of my persona and when one asked me if I was OK, I immediately broke down like a wailing banshee and grabbed at anyone who would hug me.  Yes, ‘I’m fine’ I said.  Well, that was authentic – not!

Shanti didn’t breathe a word and not a word passed between us on that day.  I laid down on the floor to take part in her 2-hour yoga class.  The tears came and came until my yoga mat was flooding.  I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t smile.  Wavelets of water slid across my chest and every time I tried to do an inversion the tears would back-track and slide straight up my nose.  But…deep down I knew that something would eventually turn the ‘tap of tears’ off and prepare me to be of support to wee Thomas in a calm and peaceful manner.  But what?

Have you ever attended a crowded yoga class and believed the teacher was specifically and exclusively talking to you?

All I could hear her say was “if you think your life is falling apart, just breathe”.  Over and over. “Just breathe”.  “Just breathe”.  “Just breathe”.  In and out, softly, gently, deeply.  “If you think your life is falling apart, just breathe”.  The breath will heal you, hold you, and comfort you.  “Just breathe”.

I tried.  I really tried.

That afternoon I was committed to take my own yoga class. I didn’t want to disappoint my students by cancelling.  The room was dark so I assumed they wouldn’t notice my face’s disfigurement.  And….. most of the class was done with the ‘eyes’ closed.  I bottled up the tears and when the students had all departed from the room, I sat alone in what seemed like the very trough of misery, and howled.  And then…. ‘just breathed’.  Again.  And again.

The more I focused on the breath the more the pain in my heart started to subside.  The tears began to diminish and within a few more hours, I calmed right down.  I had grieved. It was no longer about me. Anyway, I greatly dislike being absorbed ‘in me’. It was now to be about Thomas. I had stepped out of my own way and was ready to be of service.

…to be continued

(with love from ‘Auntie’).

(and thank you Fiona Handbury for taking this beautiful photograph of our Thomas).

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’.