Pause

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PAUSE….

What is a pause?

A pause is when something ceases just for an instant or two….

Life’s intermission, a stillness between two moments…

When things are calm, quiet, floating, an instant in which we can restore and refresh, a suspension of life’s play

When we allow ourselves to loosen our grip on life and be free, for freedom is our destination

Freedom from all pain, tension, fatigue, worries and sadness

How often do you pause?  Really pause?

Sometimes the most important things in a day are the pauses between your breaths and the spaces between your thoughts.

I invite you to…..

Pause – to take a deep breath

Pause to arrive.

Pause to settle.

Notice the pauses sitting between the breaths

In your imagination, pause to look around you and be aware

What can you see in your imagination.  What can you remember at this moment?

What do you see, hear and sense around you?

Pause to hear the sounds around you. Is it the sound of the breeze, birds chirping, dogs barking, children laughing, distant conversations, walls gently creaking, music softly playing, the puttering of a candle, distant planes, the beating of your own heart or the sound of your own breath….

Or just pause to take a deep, quenching breath….

and to listen o…

The body whispering it’s messages

Does your body need rest?

Sometimes we just sit in the pause awaiting the arrival of the next breath

Sometimes we lengthen the pause just to cherish the moment of stillness

We need to pause to learn, to know, to grow

Pause to be still

Pause to be a ‘human’ just ‘being’

A human being……

x Annemaree x

 

 

‘Pause’ features on the meditation App ‘Insight Timer’.  Insight Timer Pause

Photo by Eunice Stahl on ‘Unsplash’

 

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Being

Being

 

When you are here,

You are there…..  

When you are there

You are here…

In fact, at most times you are everywhere but here!

And yet ‘here’, the ‘now’ is the only moment we truly know.

The only moment that is promised to us.

And the only instance in which we are truly aware……

The mind constantly traipses back into the past or skips off into the future

But what about now?

How do we reach this precious present?

We can learn from little ones, you know.  Observe a child just ‘watching’ and ‘listening’ – a child gazing at a flower in the park or listening to the birds.  The child stops in its tracks; comes to stillness; observes and examines; becomes fascinated; absorbing all that is in this handful of moments; and exists completely in the present.  And to ‘watch’ the child ‘watching’ is so, so peaceful.

The child has tapped into its senses.  Listening, knowing ‘stillness’, watching, feeling,

When you are completely in the ‘now’ this deep, deep peace emerges……you are residing in the universe’s sigh of contentment.

And yes, the mind will frolic about and saunter off on its own…..for that is what minds do.

Reach out and catch it and bring it back to the now, back to the present – draw it back gently to this incredible moment.

When you are fully in the ‘now’, the beauty, mystery and magic of this world are unfurled and its gifts are laid before you.

 

x Annemaree x

‘Being’ features on the meditation App ‘Insight Timer’.  Insight Timer Being

Photo by Lucille Borderioux on ‘Unsplash’

 

Courage…

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“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” William Faulkner

Whether you are feeling weak or courageous today, remember, that there is very little difference between the two states of being.  Both have fear.  It is said that the coward listens to his fears and becomes frozen by them and/or controlled by them.  The courageous person puts them aside and pushes through or meanders around the obstacles and refuses to be ruled by dread.

Courage is strength to face pain, grief and anxiety and to act with valour and unashamed assault.  It doesn’t mean fearlessness, because fearlessness can lead to reckless abandon and therefore real danger, but it means confronting the unknown in spite of fears.  Understand the difference between apprehension and the irrational triggers of fear.  Fear confines us, keeps us ‘stuck in the mud’, and limits our ability to grow and to experience a harmonious life-style.

When we feel threatened, vulnerable, and fragile or weakened, FEAR rises like a powerful, comic-book monster ready to disarm us and carry us off emotionally on a trail of negativity and hopelessness.  Doubt and false assumptions set in – weakening us more and more.  Sometimes we have to face immense fear in our lives especially if we leave the shore of our personal safety and shelter.

However, fear is not tangible nor is it visible, but it does exist in our minds.  We bring it to life and then act upon it and out of it – often to dire consequences for ourselves and those around us.

Fear is an emotion – a distressing one at that.  But it is just an emotion, caused by threat, real or imagined.  And it is felt in many, many forms. Fear of spaces, heights, social situations, commitment, spiders, the future…..and it is so potent at times that it can cause us to become confused, illogical, and anxious.  Acting out of fear can also become habitual and can cause us to spiral downwards whenever we are confronted by something that hurts us or that we don’t understand.

Ironically we can bring our fears to life.  Many times fear is simply a decision.  And courage is the warrior to annihilate it.  The question is how?

Shun your fears by believing in your strength and abilities.  Believe in yourself.  Make peace with your world and those around you, so that you do not create stories in your head and create angst based on false assumptions. Trust your senses, your intuition.  By doing this you will know naturally the path to follow.  Many fears are born of fatigue.  Be Mindful.  Rest.

And know this…..too busy a life can breed fear of failure, because it is simply impossible to achieve all that you want to do immediately.

And do remember, we all possess the trait of courage inherently.  It comes from deep within.  All we have to do is muster it and set it to the wind.

 

x Annemaree x

‘Courage’ features on the meditation App ‘Insight Timer’.  Insight Timer Courage…

Photo by Bryce Evans on ‘Unsplash’

 

 

 

 

Let Go…

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This precious moment…

In the words of the late, renowned author Dr. Wayne Dyer:

“There’s an irony to this habit of letting your mind drift to other times and other places. You can only drift off in the now, because now is all you ever get. So drifting off is a way of using up your present moments. You do indeed have a past, but not now! And, yes, you have a future, but not now! You can consume your ‘now’ with thoughts of “then” and “maybe,” but that will keep you from the inner peace you could experience”.

As you reflect upon these words, become aware of your breath, in the now, and your mind will not wander off into the past and gather all the emotions that rise up with the past.

We need to let go of the past.  We need to understand that “Whatever happened back then was meant to happen”.  Nothing else could have happened.  We traumatize ourselves by questioning over and over ‘if only I had done that’ – ‘things would have been different’.  But you didn’t do that….and you cannot change the past.  So why did we make those decisions and why did those things happen?  Simply to teach us a lesson, yes, to teach us lessons, so that we may grow and heal.  We need to listen to the wisdom of our past.

We also try to live in the future.  How futile is that?  We simply create stories.  We don’t know what is going to happen in the future.  We may convince ourselves that we do but on what premise?  We worry; we fear; we dramatize; we create ‘to do’ list after ‘to do’ list; we want and want; we use so much energy ‘thinking’ about the future that we miss the ‘now’.  We miss this precious moment.

Some of us cannot escape the past and believe that the future is forever linked to it.  And so if we don’t escape our past, we carry it with us and often don’t realize that by doing so, we carry on with the same thoughts, behaviours and habits that are no longer useful.  The future doesn’t have anything to do with the past.  We just think it does. We need to let go of the future too.

Truly living is ‘living’ in this moment. The moment is fleeting.  We need to grasp it and cherish it.

I am often asked to connect this beautiful poem with the author….a poem I read to my students and one which I read to myself….often!

 

I was the type of person,

That held onto things too tight,

Unable to release my grip,

When it no longer felt right,

And although it gave me blisters,

And my fingers would all ache,

I always thought that holding on,

Was worth the pain it takes.

I used to think in losing things,

I’d lose part of me too,

That slowly I’d become someone,

My heart no longer knew.

Then one day something happened,

I dropped what I had once held dear,

But my soul became much lighter,

Instead of filled with fear.

And it taught my heart that some things,

Aren’t meant to last for long,

They arrive to teach you lessons,

And then continue on.

You don’t have to cling to people,

Who no longer make you smile,

Or do something you’ve come to hate,

If it isn’t worth your while.

That sometimes the thing you’re fighting for,

Isn’t worth the cost,

And not everything you ever lose,

Is bound to be a loss.

-e.h.

x Annemaree x

Thank you Erin Hanson for allowing me to use your beautiful poem.  Erin Hanson Poetry

‘Let Go’ features on the meditation App ‘Insight Timer’.  Insight Timer Let Go

 

Photo by Christopher Sardegna on Unsplash

 

 

 

Most Beautiful

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Never do anything standing that you can do sitting,

or anything sitting that you can do lying down.

Proverb

I am the greatest believer in the fact that if you want to feel beautiful, then you need to surround yourself with it!

I found a ‘pearler’. Or rather it found me.  Known as Shreyas (translated from Sanskrit as ‘most beautiful’), it is my special place for stillness, silence, peace and warmth.  It enfolds me and hugs me like a friend – it is a friend, a very special friend located in the heart of Karnataka, India, away from smart phones, tablets, traffic, nail salons and cafes.

I remember first visiting Shreyas and being totally humbled and in awe of its calming influence, profound teachings, its gentle souls and its snail-pace.

In between ‘do-able’ Hatha yoga classes, unquestionably delicious and healthy cuisine, meditation, private lessons, exquisite Ayurvedic treatments and massages (did I mention swimming?), I would sometimes just sit on a bench in the garden and simply watch!

Staff don’t walk here, they glide. Always with their hand to their heart in greeting and with a gracefulness I have rarely encountered anywhere else in the world.  It is actually surreal as though everyone is floating on air.

Of course, this suggests, that I had slowed down so much that I was stretching time and living fully in the present – ‘comatosed’ would be the best definition. Staying here, the past and future simply do not break through my reverie.  I always emerge from the miasma of life even if just for a brief time.

I have been there four times now.  It is my annual (thank you I am looking after myself time) and I shall return over and over.

By now I am beginning to learn everyone’s name.  You would think so! But I would get my ‘Krishna’s’ mixed up with my ‘Sureshes’ and forget where I was, always thankful to be found wandering around the grounds by an observant staff member who recognised that I was lost and/or had completely ‘lost the plot’.

The teachers are divine. Always watching over us. There is a cleansing practise called Jala Neti where one uses a little pot to pour warm salt water through the nostrils.  Ideal for people like me who suffer with hay fever etc.  Ideal for anyone…really.  One of the teachers told me she used to smile as soon as the word was mentioned because my face would contort and I would bolt out of the yoga Shala to hide amongst the trees.  She will be pleased to know that finally after four visits I practise Jala Neti at home every single day.  Does it work? Yes. So why did I avoid it all this time? Simple really…one of my brothers used to dunk me in the ocean and hold me under when I was a kid, and the sensation of salt water up my nose is a reminder of him trying to drown me. Another personal ‘issue’ subjugated.

Attention to detail is simple but so thoughtful. A tube of repellant set beside the yoga mat. The scent of Loban being waved through the yoga classes. Orange Oil burning. Hum Sa. So Hum.

Then there are the cooking classes.  I don’t cook.  I am brilliant at assembling food, but I simply don’t cook it. However, I love to eat. So I go to the classes because the chefs are so experienced and fun, and one can nibble along the way.  I have it nailed.  I take down the recipe, hand it over to any friend who accompanies me, and then suggest I come over to their place for dinner when I return to Australia.  (I’ll bring the chocolate!).

As you may know, you do not wear shoes into any yoga space.  So there are rows of shoes left on the steps.  The thing that has always fascinated me is that at the end of the class, and every time I would leave the Shala, my shoes had been turned around so I could step into them and walk away. I was determined to one day grab a mental snapshot of who does that!  Still I have never ‘caught’ anyone. The place is full of ‘shoe fairies’.
I always leave refreshed, slower, and a little taller, with snippets of philosophy I have picked up along the way reminding me of this beautiful yogic path.
“Love is flowing energy”.

“Time is the gift you have been given, use it fully”.

“Peace comes from wisdom, fear comes from ignorance”.

“Awareness travels with us through all incarnations”.

The other extremely satisfying aspect of Shreya’s is that you meet the same staff. All are encouraged to practise yoga daily (thus the gliding) and many have been with Shreya’s since its inception some 15 years ago. That in itself is a telling tale. Consistency and contentment.
The staff also have quirky, humorous retorts. Whilst being assisted into a challenging posture, one that I feel my spine had never visited before, I asked the question ‘Has anyone ever died doing yoga?”. The teacher’s quip was “yes, but they died healthy”!

Says it all really.

 

Annemaree xxx

 

P.S. I am going back in 2019. You may like to come with me and for that reason I have created a 10-day retreat.  Six spaces only.  Join me?  Or not!  I am going anyway, and would love to see you/escort you/teach you.  Then you can also take down the recipes and I shall have great delight in eating what you create.

For more details...

 

 

 

 

Insight Timer…

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“Let Go”!

Imagine if the whole world meditated?

What a different planet it would be!

However, globally, we know there are many who are meditating at this moment and at any given moment and who bring a peaceful energy to our earth.

We need to quell the turbulent times both in the world around us and the world within us.

I have joined the ranks of meditation/mindfulness teachers on Insight Timer to offer gifts to you and to those whom you deem would benefit by my words and observations.

I hope to make a small contribution to the evolution of our planet. To make a difference to someone, somewhere, somehow……

Enjoy!

Download the complimentary App ‘Insight Timer’

Insight Timer

and then…

Search for me, Annemaree Rowley, and away you go to “Let Go”.

insighttimer.com/AnnemareeRowley/guided-meditations/let-go-5

 

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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

 

Children see magic…

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‘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…

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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

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Now’

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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