Children see magic…

Blog - TEWOAF - 2

‘Children see magic because they look for it’!

Christopher Moore

I knew at the age of 11, that one day I would be involved with children in India. Whether it is the universal intelligence laying a path before me or a deep desire on my part emerging from an inner, unconscious ‘well’ of wishes and intentions, I don’t know.  However, I do know how much delight children bring to my spirit. What I love about them is their unbridled joy and their seeking of magic in every aspect of their lives.

I was invited to teach yoga to 30+ little ones in the newly established ‘Uluru Early Learning Centre’.  Yes, whilst in Australia ‘Uluru’ is the name of our most prominent cultural landmark, it is also a Tamil word, meaning ‘Land Deep Within’.  And that is where you will find The East West Overseas Aid Foundation (TEWOAF), deep in the heart of the state of Tamil Nadu.

It wasn’t difficult to teach these little ‘vege mites’, as all children can pretend to be a cat, lion, frog or tortoise.  I don’t speak a word of Tamil and so our lovely friend, Naga, translated and at the same time became fascinated at how the kids could transform their limbs into pretzel-like shapes and jump two feet off the ground whilst he could barely reach his knees, let alone his toes.

And in this warm, rural community how gorgeous it is to have a child tip-toe up to you,  take your face in their little hands, kiss you on the forehead and say ‘please come back’! How could I not?

What an extraordinary feat to create this little haven in such a remote part of the country. A children’s home for the orphaned, abandoned and destitute; an early learning centre; an environmental education centre; a health care clinic; and much, much more together with a global community of donors.  To give one child an opportunity to grow and to break the shackles of grim poverty and abuse, is surely an achievement that we can all manage. In our free society, isn’t eradicating poverty our duty?  And isn’t education the most powerful tool to do this?

And what do my visits to this foundation remind me to do?

  • Be free-spirited
  • Be spontaneous
  • Be curious
  • Observe everything with a child-like mind
  • Play
  • Be gentle
  • Be kind
  • Be polite at all times
  • Respect my elders
  • Giggle (a lot)

and…

Look for the magic in everything…

Blog - TEWOAF - 3

Blog - TEWOAF - 4

Blog - TEWOAF - 7

Blog - TEWOAF - 9

Blog - TEWOAF - 8Blog - TEWOAFBlog - TEWOAF - 13

Blog - TEWOAF

Blog - TEWOAF - 10

Blog - TEWOAF - 6

If you would like to contribute to the education and health of these children, please tap into The East West Overseas Aid Foundation’s website.  There is a lovely video on the home page which may interest you.   www.tewoaf.org.au/who-we-are

 

with love

Annemaree x

 

 

 

Advertisements

From Here to There…..

woman-at-peace - blog-001

‘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 more is there to say?”.

 

1493957180989029

 

 

 I saw this photo somewhere on social media recently and spent some considerable time finding it.  

I resonate so much with it, that I put my next blog ‘on hold’ and thought I would share this simple pic with you.

So poignant, beautiful and thought-provoking!

 

Annemaree x

 

 

Thank you to the person who took this photograph, whoever you may be!

 

 

 

 

To laugh often and much….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As I teach more and more yoga I see 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 and on.

I know that my students reflect my attitudes and behaviours too 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 some years to understand how many of these behaviours stem from the need/desire to be “successful”‘.  What on earth is that?  If you ask Western children today, what do they want to be when they grow up…..often the response is to be ‘famous’!  As a small child I don’t recall ever wanting to be famous for the sake of it!  (Infamous maybe but not famous).  It’s true that 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 she and her family, but didn’t see, in any way, her so-called success.   Apart from the fact that I was sitting in a stunningly, beautifully designed home, speaking to her charming son, and having just walked through a 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 not ambitious, nor driven and yet she ambles through life creating a magnificent haven/ambience for her family. Success? Surely!

Yes money can certainly be a sign of success if put to good use but so too can the creation of a garden. For what is more beautiful? A dollar note or a rose?

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, to potter, to be present?  Ask someone who has been given one year to live, what success is?  I did this week. And the answer was simply, to live in the present with those I love’.  End of subject.

And 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”.

Some years ago I visited mother Theresa’s (now St. Theresa’s) homes in Pashupatinath (Nepal) and Pondicherry (India) and experienced 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, abandoned etc. 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 ‘successful’, think again or plant a tree!  That will do it.

Such a small gift to the earth can give shade, safety and joy and all it takes is a thought, a seedling and a moment in time.

Annemaree x

 

“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.  This is to have succeeded”.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Pic: By Jaime Murcia, children from The East West Overseas Foundation, TEWOAF, Tamil Nadu, India.

In presence of the moon…

 

indian-statue-001

I have often heard it said that beauty is not in the face. Beauty is in the heart. What is truly attractive is when a person walks into a room, carrying themselves with ‘attitude’, straight and tall, exuding self-confidence, smiling and showing their inner spirit through their kind and gentle persona.  This is ‘presence’. This is loaded self-esteem. This is powerful!

In presence of the Moon nobody sees stars.” ― Amit Kalantri

I remember when I was in my early twenties and I was sent to the Maldives for my work. I was alone, lacked confidence and was shy.  I would walk into the restaurant each evening and sit myself down hoping I would not be noticed. One evening an elderly woman came up to me and actually admonished me for not holding my head high, showing courage, smiling, acknowledging those around me and having as she called it ‘presence’.  A little harsh perhaps?  Clearly the experience caused me to reflect, listen, observe and to be more aware. Obviously it affected me deeply as decades later, I am relating this to you. Whilst her words were delivered in a critical way, they helped me through life

So what else has this concept of ‘presence’, taught me?

Presence is when you believe in yourself.

People with presence do what they say and manifest their intentions. People with presence are influencers, creators, leaders and the silent walkers on this earth…

Their presence speaks before their voice does.

They are free to make their own decisions and to follow their own path. Yes, they will doubt themselves. Otherwise they would not grow. However they listen intently and learn studiously but are not into controlling others nor are they controlled in any way.

In fact many influencers on this earth walk through the world without realising their impact.

They walk cloaked with humility and understanding.

Those with presence –

They don’t just talk – they act.

They don’t just hear – they listen.

They don’t just see – they watch carefully.

They don’t just dream, they manifest.

They are compassionate and empathetic.

Their kindness is what roots them to the earth so that they are grounded and fair.

Just because of the way they are, many are attracted to them.  Heart and soul. Not brain and ego. They want to be like them. But not in image – in spirit.

And…often those who feel they have to boast about their circumstances, image, or money are the very ones who have little presence.

For isn’t it true, the most admired qualities in the human race cannot be bought?

No matter how much you own or how much you don’t own, you are the master of your destiny. Money cannot buy inner peace, integrity, love, health, trust, patience, dignity, time or happiness.

These are found ‘ within’ and subject to the choices one makes each step of the way.

But there is also another really important lesson here. Your presence is enough! Yes, enough!

Recently I offered a hand out to a friend who is very ill. Not only did he often shirk my offer, he taught me that it was up to him to heal and my presence was simply enough. I didn’t need to offer help, words, sympathise, stalk or support him. For me, this truth is hard to bear when I see another being I care for suffering. However, it is as it is…and my challenge was and always will be to accept this perspective.

“When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million, empty words.”  Thema Davis

So I have to set aside what I call the ‘healer’s ego’ ( i.e. understand that my role is to heal myself and not impose my way of living on another being).  Lighting a candle; making a cup of tea; playing soothing music, may be far more treasured than beseeching one to follow my path or for me to create a plethora of healing remedies in the hope that they will be pursued.  In the end, all my friend wanted was ‘nothing’ – what he appreciated was ‘my presence’.

I do my best to live by this lesson, especially when my students open up their hearts to me. All I can do is be present, silent and to listen.

Poignantly the words ‘silence’ and ‘listen’ have exactly the same letters!

 

“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”  Thich Nhat Hanh.

 

With love,

Annemaree xxxx

 

 

 

 

The tender side…

964859_495226357217484_1968479078_o-001

“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.

 

I write my own tune….

 

female-singer-silhouette_1048-1142

It has taken many years, much yoga practice and constant self-enquiry to live by the creed ‘I write my own tune’ and to understand how irrelevant and unimportant other’s judgments of me are…..

I don’t focus upon other’s opinions of me…. for I am doing my best.  And I trust that somehow, somewhere, and for someone, (particularly myself), being ‘me’ is simply enough.

I am also much wiser in realizing that when I am mindful I watch my experiences and thoughts as they pass by and I try not to be tempted to dramatize, exaggerate or create illusions. It’s rather likened to watching a movie, scene after scene passing before my eyes; I observe the story but do not become a part of the plot!

And as the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti so astutely stated:

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”

Ummm…it’s really tough though not to judge.  Really, really tough.  If only I was that clever!

We judge, often because we have been conditioned to do so.  We create habitual responses to what we suppose is better/worse, good/bad, right/ wrong, ugly/beautiful, fair/unfair and dangerous/safe; what I must do, what I mustn’t do……  When we are imprisoned by our primordial behaviours, we simply cannot grow.  We cannot be free to be our true selves.

Constantly judging everything we say, do and experience is exhausting and often painful.  Not to mention – often inaccurate and disparaging. We become emotionally ‘stuck’.  Same patterns, same opinions, same fatigue, same intolerance, same life.

People will often judge me, I know that, and therefore I accept that they will often misunderstand me and gossip too.  I am my harshest judge as it is, therefore I have to say “go for it”.  I am busy enough focusing on how not to beat myself up.  Others’ opinions are not my concern.

And….it has also taken me a lot of self-enquiry (Sanskrit ‘vichara’) to understand the psychologist, Carl Jung’s words:

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”.

So every time I judge, I need to turn the mirror around to face myself and to be completely honest with how I perceive the world and those around me.

How do we reject our judgmental frame of reference?

In the yogic world, we speak constantly of compassion.  Be compassionate.  Be compassionate towards others.  Be compassionate towards oneself.  Be in a state of love.  Be present.  That’s how we do it!

Of course, easier said than done, but something to reflect upon nevertheless.

There is a man called Scott Stabile, whom I discovered cruising the net, (as one does)…..and I absolutely resonate with his words and his passion……

He wrote this…and these words may (or may not) make a difference to you……Let’s see!

“Let them judge you

Let them misunderstand you

Let them gossip about you

Their opinions aren’t your problem

You stay kind, committed to love,

And free in your authenticity.

No matter what they do or say

Don’t you dare doubt your worth

Or the beauty of your truth.

Just keep on shining like you do”. 

Thank you Scott……

 

And thank you Ed……

tumblr_m5khf2KYFl1rp741to1_500

Annemaree x

 

P.S. Created by Kjpargeter – Freepik.com

 

 

 

With all my heart…….

19400254_10156403982927468_5106228405681767172_o-001

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?

 

 

 

Differing but the Same

Image

One day I was walking with a friend, and as we passed a man living on the street, she exclaimed ‘what a loser’.  She shocked me and it saddened me deeply….that anyone, anyone on this earth, would consider this term for someone whose path had taken an unfortunate, or in fact, a different direction than ours.  I believe that the majority (if not all) of these people do not choose to sleep on a park bench, in the freezing cold or in the stifling heat, without shelter, food or a friend to talk to.

We are all different on the outside and come in different exteriors, different packages so to speak.  But when one looks inside the box we are the same. We have the same essence and for that essence to thrive we need to be able to connect with the essence in others.  Rather than thinking outside the box, perhaps we can consider there is no box. It is through that flow, that essence, that we learn about one another and in turn we learn about ourselves.  The action is called tolerance.

Just like a plant that is not watered, if you do not nurture it, and it becomes disconnected from the elements, it becomes starved of life.  It dies inside and out. To me that is what happens to those referred to as the ‘down and out’, those you see sitting against walls in street sidewalks, begging to be noticed. They were once someone’s child and now have no home, emotional, or otherwise.  They are the world’s ‘home-less’. They have lost their home.  They have lost their place.

Human kindness from others allows their essence, their nectar to flow, even if just for seconds. As my father taught me, ‘buy those on the street a meal or a coffee’. Something to nurture their body and soul.  Yes, a coin is fine too, of course.  So what if that coin is spent on a cigarette?  I don’t know what it is like not to have a roof over my head, let alone sleep out in the cold! So I am not in a position to judge.  I have learned to look into their eyes as I pass them by.  Let them know they are part of my world too!

Often I reflect upon the question – Am I connecting in my own world?

We need to remember that when we are gone, no one will remember what we wore at their party; how many honours we obtained at school; how many languages we mastered; what car we drove; how many houses we owned; or what our title was at work; they will only remember how we made them feel.  They will remember the kindness we bestowed upon them. However some will also remember being hurt or bullied, controlled or cut down by us too.  There is a choice!

There is a wonderful Arabic proverb which says: ‘The Axe forgets, but the tree remembers’.

Isn’t the greatest wealth in any being  found in their ability to connect, to offer kindness and compassion?

All of us have the ability to nurture the essence in others and in by doing so we nurture ourselves. When we feel fear, anger, hatred, envy or in some way believe we are superior to those whom we meet, there can be little, if any connection.  And not only does our own energy deplete by transmuting these emotions, we deplete the energy in others and soon they will move away.

For so long, we have valued knowledge as being the most important element in our lives, but in fact isn’t it understanding?  Is it not understanding and acting upon that understanding? Knowledge is just a commodity.  Understanding is the key in turning knowledge into something valuable.

Doesn’t this apply to how we treat others in every aspect of our lives?  Knowledge or understanding?

If we think that by behaving as though we know better, are smarter, wealthier, faster, happier, more valuable, then we are being foolish and show up our own stagnant thinking and lack of understanding and compassion.

Acquire knowledge. Understand it. Act upon it.  When our thoughts, understanding, speech and action are in line going forth……then we are in harmony.

It also takes courage to find the ‘heart’ in things. And where does the word ‘Courage’ come from?  The French word ‘Coeur’ – heart.

Do we have the courage never to cut down or look down upon another? Do we have the compassion to bestow upon those who are hurting?

If so, then we will truly thrive, simply by connecting…..

Heart…to…heart!

 

P.S.  I would like to honour whoever took this photograph.  It came to me, I don’t remember how, nor can I recognise who took it. But I thank you, whoever you are.  It says it all.