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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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

What is enlightenment anyway?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been thinking about this for some time wondering what on earth ‘it’ is all about.  Not life that is….I think I have figured that out to a degree, but now I am focused on the concept of ‘enlightenment’.  A term which is bandied about as much as ‘journey’, ‘consciousness’ and ‘self-discovery’. Yoga is now being used to advertise yoghurt and ‘gurus’ are being sought like personal trainers.  With depth being devoured and authenticity plummeting, do we actually reflect upon the true aspiration of yoga? Enlightenment.

Is enlightenment living on some remote rock face in India infused with so much ganja that you don’t know whether you are coming, going or in fact being here now? Travelling through India as I do, I am often dubious about the ‘enlightened’ beings I encounter.

I guess enlightenment is synonymous with the Dalai Lama; his constant laughter and luminous smile!  He can’t be that happy all the time.  Or can he?  I doubt whether he is smoking anything!  He just ‘is’!

Actually, he is my pin-up boy!  I have a picture of him in this very room, hoping that I shall ‘catch’ everything he exudes – warmth, compassion and selflessness as a start.  His total love of the human race – and that infamous giggle!   Now that would be good.

Some years ago I was in Kerala, India.  I was on my way to visit a friend and in order to get to his home I had to traverse a narrow pathway in the middle of a paddy field.  It was sultry and warm, with a velvety black sky.  I was serenaded by the night choir of insects; the sounds of summer that nestle in the hot humid air; and the distant chants emitting from the temple priests that were echoing through the village….so mystical, charming and ethereal.

It ‘occurred for a split second (or so it seemed). Everything merged as though I was cocooned into an instant.  I was in a timeless place. No past.  No future.  The ‘now’.  The knowing of ‘now’.  The joy of that one enchanted, albeit fleeting, moment.  All had merged and I KNEW that I was exactly where I was meant to be and I was experiencing a glimpse, just a glimpse, of what it must be like to be totally present.  And I mean….totally!  I didn’t think ‘it’.  I felt ‘it’.  I didn’t analyse ‘it’.  I knew ‘it’.  Oh for the joy of that instant to be relived again and again.

I get ‘it’ intellectually.  Not being controlled by the ego.  Not being burdened by the past.  Not fearing the future.  Not being caught up in my thoughts.  Not reaching, seeking or striving.  Just being right here now.

I did get a true glimpse!  And that is enough for me to keep expanding.  Not being limited by this physical world but expanding beyond the realms of my own self.  In other words – getting out of my own way!

It’ happens now and again and it is divine.

Letting go of preconceived ideas, habits, beliefs and behaviours that contract rather than expand my persona is part of the deal.  Easier said than done of course!

I asked a friend last evening what she considered ‘enlightenment’ to be.  She simply stated “waking up to your truth”.

A question you may ask is that when the great masters become ‘enlightened’ what changes?  Are they still human?  Do they still have foibles and make mistakes and behave like us?  I asked this of one of my fellow yoga teachers one day.

His response:

“Before enlightenment: chop wood carry water… After enlightenment: chop wood carry water.

So enlightenment doesn’t change the day-to-day expectations and demands (but obviously quality of life changes to the max…)”.

And what does Deepak say?

“You resurrect your soul.  Your soul gives you a life of joy, effortless spontaneity, love, compassion, kindness, peace, equanimity, joy at the success of others…..unlimited imagination and creativity. To be enlightened means to be ‘in the light’ – literally.  To be free!”

One can only hope.

How do I look?

“Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important”. Janet Lane.

Over the past three weeks I had the intention of writing whilst I unhurriedly made my way through the charming streets of Paris. However, there was simply too much to see and too much to savour and in this instance crème brulee and chocolate mousse simply won out. Not to mention the Pantheon, Saint Chapelle, Monet’s gardens and all the sumptuous iconic sites, book stalls, and tea houses of this extraordinary city.

I love to observe and had time to do so sitting in cute little cafés whilst tapping into my school French! I was constantly in awe (and sometimes in shock) of how people carry themselves both physically and emotionally. What can you see when you observe? What attracts you to another?

As always, travelling is about the people you meet. It is about those special moments when a smile lifts your heart and knowledge is exchanged. Whether one is donned in Chanel or Dior, nothing is more attractive than a smile! And it was a 6-year-old’s smile that connected me to Paris.

I was sitting in a café nestled alongside a little boy and his mother. I noticed the child when I entered the café. The waitresses were pouring affection upon him and he was chatty, bright and exuberant with large inquisitive eyes and a personality of sunshine. As I was chatting away to my friend opposite me, the boy’s mother politely interrupted our conversation to say that her child, Noa, would like to say how lovely my ear-rings were. I turned around to him and melted into his big smile and replied how thankful I was for the compliment. With that he asked permission to kiss me! (They mature early in France!). And alas a friendship was borne!

Thus followed an animated conversation with Moira and Noa and a consequent day spent together learning about life in France. Nothing was too much trouble….fun, laughter, hospitality and kindness! It’s moments like these that make your stay so wonderful. The photo above is of Moira’s children. You can see the delight and joy in these little beings.

Only yesterday I had a new student express to me that one of the things she wanted to gain from yoga was ‘to smile’ more often. Of course by being internally peaceful and happy one will then exude warmth and in turn connect positively with those around them.

I know I am always talking about smiling and the expression one carries, but I realize more and more how important it is for us to become mobile portraits of ‘joie de vivre’, the exultation of spirit.

“Look up not down; smile don’t frown; live with grace, gratitude and kindness” Annemaree