Chasing Happiness when it is living inside you.

Relax Happiness resides inside you. says the ancient teaching.

Lying on the mat in my yoga class I always melted when my teacher said the words “You already have enough,
you already know enough,
you already are enough.”

But sharing this is often fraught with difficulty.
Shanti was reminding her students that the keys to happiness are already with in us, though we need to make the effort to turn the key. Shanti also reminded us that life is a journey and that we cannot sit on the fence and expect everything to be handed to us.
Have you ever thought what is it that makes you happy?
I encourage you to think on this, the laughter of children, sun on your back
Lying on your back and looking up at aster filled sky, walking on the beach, bare foot on grass, listening to music, creating whether it is with paints textiles,dance or movement. Doing some yoga in the evening. Quietly drinking a cup of coffee, as you feel the warmth of the cup in your hands. Reading a good book, walking with your children in the park. Joining the fundraiser so that you can help others, visiting an older relative/neighbour. Perhaps your team at work have worked long and hard to achieve something. Savor the moment. Have you finished your studies, completed an exam. Celebrate.

You see each time we create A breath a moment of joy and expand it outward, we’re sending out happiness and changing that world for the better

But why? you may say if happiness is already within us, there’s nothing we need to do. I can be happy Reading my book, all day. Someone is happy slouching in front of the television all day, these temporary moments do not make for long-term happiness. I speak of a state that is always bubbling just below the surface of our life. We can be swept up in a temporary hail of emotions and anxiety but our equilibrium swings back to happiness. Happiness is like a rare perfume. Spill just one drop, its essence and its magic fills the room around and lightens the hearts of those who inhale it.

Leo Babauta’s blog zenhabits.com explains you don’t need to do anything to be happy you have happiness from within, and you can go about your day and have just about anything happen and you’ll still be happy.

Leo Babauta explains it as the choice of two forms of happiness.

“Choice number one if you sit there and watch TV or do absolutely nothing, and you’ll be happy. Lets call this choice number one.

Or you can take actions to make others happy, to relieve their suffering, to see that they have the tools for happiness already. Focusing on the happiness of other’s. choice number two.”

He further explains
“Now with either of these choices, you’ll be happy. You can do either, and it won’t necessarily affect your happiness. But with choice number two, you’re increasing the happiness of the world.”

He argues that choice number two is better

“And this choice, to dedicate your time to helping others, relieving their suffering, making them happy……. This is the motivation you can use
For doing great things, for building something useful, for creating and working and being a good parent.” A good teacher A good human being.

“Not about increasing your own happiness, but the happiness of others.”
And like the rare perfume, some of it, well all of its essence will wash over you and sweeten your life.

You are inspiring, you are positive,remember you change the world around you.

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Why Meditate?

The internal dialogue is your greatest enemy to Peace.

Annalisa sent this to me from Lessons learned in life.com

When you attend a Yoga class you will be asked to remove your shoes and leave them outside the class.

Yes it free’s your feet from boots and shoes and your feet enjoy that. I begin my classes with relaxation saying something like – “When you are nestled on the mat your legs stretched out, arms resting by your sides, head and neck relaxing, back sinking into the mat.
Legs relaxed and heavy, feet flopped apart, heels turned inward toes dropping out, your whole body relaxed.”

You get the idea, Hatha Yoga classes are a balance between stillness and movement so the relaxation aspect is as important as the movement. A balance needs to be achieved.

Removing your shoes symbolises, removing the world,with all its hurry and rush. And so you leave your shoes outside the class, the world of movement and activity remain outside the Yoga class.
I invite you to also leave your mind, for a brief time outside the door.
Mind filled to overflowing with war-ing concepts,often only knowing stillness in sleep.
To lead a balanced life we need time in our day to remove mind from the mental hurry and rush. We need space, the mind needs to open like the petals of the lotus. Often when we sitting in meditation, the thoughts that arise are self-destructive, critical, even cruel and these thoughts, the inner critic, rise to the surface. Understand these thoughts surface to be healed so then we can become the observer observing our inner war. Meditation can free us from the internal wrangling and pain.

Step one is the awareness. Just think, yes this is a thought that is arising, just a thought and then a new thought will arise. Simply observe this.
As the tides flow so the mind flows.
As day follows night, sun rises and sets, nature flows in her own rhythm and so we must harness the rhythm of mind and bring it back to its place of peace and calm and by doing so we reap the benefits, that flow into a wider life. (At one particularly stressful time in my life I used Meditation and prana breath practice to lower my cholesterol.)
Life that feels more joyful, as you relax into every situation it is not as fearful, meeting new people is no longer frightening, anxieties lowered, blood pressure remains low and each day becomes more exciting and interesting.

The side effects of meditation are like removing your shoes, allowing your toes to wiggle and be free unconfined and innocent. And so mind finds it has not to fight, no battles to win no armies to muster and no enemies to slay. We can understand that each person has his or her internal dragon’s that they must slay, they’re own internal stockpile of weapons and enemies.

Meditation teaches us compassion and the side-effect is a life of joy and peace.

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Heart warmer not heart destroyer.

“Drawn by Lorraine Willcock”

Returning from visiting my Mother I was travelling by Interstate train and bus.The interconnection of strangers always amazes and delights me. Travelling in winter the common thread was discussing the weather and the prospect of snow on the nearby hills. I bought coffee to warm myself at the train ‘Shop” having first thought to ask the lady across the aisle could I buy her one as well, and yet I hesitated and didn’t.A few days later at home found me flicking the pages of the Australian newspaper,to read my favourite article in theaustralian.com by Nikki Gemmel I saw, she must have read my mind.

“We practice kindness for self-preservation it helps us live stronger,and more optimistic, serene and loving lives. Kindness is the most effective circuit- breaker and even if it’s not reciprocated, or appreciated, or even noticed, it’s a gift for the giver. It’s like an armoury of serenity, but people often don’t realise its potency until they’ve accumulated a lifetime of experiences involving it- or not.” “Err in the direction of kindness,” Saunders urged. “Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. “That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality your soul, if you will- it is bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as mother Teresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.”

Nikki writes American author George Saunders spoke on the importance of kindness in his speech to graduates last year. “His biggest regret; failures of kindness in his own life. niggling little moments, stretching to right back to school, when he recognised that someone needed a healthy dose of kindness and he responded only mildly, or sensibly, rather than vigorously. He is still haunted by those failures;”

“When I think of my own childhood I know what you mean Nikkey Gemmill says “People on the margins who I extended a hand to, Yes, but that touch could have been stronger, firmer, More courageous; more distinct from the crowd.”
As Saunders says, “To look at it from the other end of the telescope: who in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth? Those who were kindest to you, I bet.”
Nikki Gemmel says “Often it is the smallest gesture that can make a heart singsing. And in doing so, the giver is plumed with goodwill as much, if not more, than the receiver.”

Nikki reminds us “There are periods in all our lives when our kindness is absent; those sour, inward times when our face isn’t looking up strongly into the world, square on; when our lives feel flinched. We can climb out of those dark times by noticing others, practising a generosity of the soul, in a lowering which is also a strength.”
As Saunders says, “this confusion in each of us, A sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure.”

Albert Einstein noted: “Strange is our situation here upon Earth. Each of us comes for a short visit not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of others…… For the countless unknown souls whose fate we are connected by a bond on sympathy.”

Energetically Kindness changes us, softens us,warms our hearts and the hearts of those we are kind too.
You could say our hearts open.

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Fire and Ice Relaxation, Fire meditation.

The time of year when ice forms in the valleys and mountains and we delight in a fire. We started today with an early morning walk.Crunching over the rime of frost and ended it gazing into a crackling fire. I suspect it will be the same all week..

Frost illuminates the grasses.

Frost illuminates the grasses.

The meditation of just being – being with the firelight as it dances on the ceiling,as its warmth and it’s glow flicker over your skin and the furniture around you. Just sit comfortably, spine erect and allowing your eyes to rest within the fire.

Perhaps you wish to give thanks first to the energy that grew the forest, shading the birds animals that move through the branches and across the ground. Perhaps you would give thanks for the rain that created the Bush, Forest and then you can give thanks for the room you, the body you sit within, Just let your gaze rest on the fire, let the outside world drift away and you’re simply allowing your eyes to rest on fire light. Gazing at the changing of the colours that flame and die,gold, orange, white, every now and then a pure cobalt
blue or emerald-green, some of the minerals within the timber as they flare and die and then your eyes will become steady and one pointed from steadying your gaze deep within the flames. Sometimes you will shift your focus to the warmth on your skin, the support of the chair beneath you but simply focus deep within the fire if you choose you can allow your eyes to close me not to sleep just to let the outside world finally disappear, it’s almost like coming home, coming home to the still point within.Coming home to the peacefulness, this is your natural state as your body relaxes around you as stillness and peace flow inside and out, that you’re mind knows rest as your body relaxes

Loose body awareness by gazing into the flame.

Loose body awareness by gazing into the flame.

Gaze into the flame
with total concentration, Absorb the whole of your consciousness, become centered in your eyes, to the extent that the rest of the body awareness is lost.
With practice, you’ll find it easier to gaze for a few minutes at a time. Over time without moving your eyes or blinking. If your eyes water or start to blink just close and relax them.

“The eyes are the doorways to the mind, and intimately related to it. Fix your eyes so they are unmoving, and the mind also becomes unmoving.The thinking process automatically ceases as concentration increases and deepens.” Shanti Gowans. Shantiyoga.com

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Meditation posture

Symmetrical and still

Symmetrical and still

Meditation Posture.

The way of sitting, how comfortable you are will make all the difference to the depth of your meditation experience.
Sitting is the traditional way to meditate. You will find with practice what works for you. It will need to be in a place and time where you can be still, where you have the opportunity to be inspired, sitting often is a little uncomfortable, your knees or hips may grumble until you wiggle and find a better place, to ease them. the position needs to be symmetrical.
Still; uncomfortable;symmetrical and inspired.

Lying down sends a message to the body that this is your sleeping position, and it is often difficult to stay awake, much less meditate.

Preparing to meditate,remove your shoes, your feet will enjoy the freedom. Keep warm but not too hot. If the room is cool a warm scarf or head cover helps the body relax. Loosen your clothing, remove your belt if you wear one.Wear clothing that is loose and comfortable.

Sit with a straight back, the idea is to let the muscles hang comfortably on your skeleton. So first you form a base. So you can sit erect, realign your spine from the base upward. Think that you are placing each vertebrae, each directly over the one below it.
lift your waist by pulling your navel toward your spine. Feel that instant support. You will relax this as you deepen your meditation, but can pull it in when ever back is tiring or you begin to lose muscle tone and slump.
You may be seated on a chair with your feet flat on the ground or on a pillow so that feet are flat and comfortable. Push your tailbone into the back of the chair. Try not to slump, remain seated with your spine straight.
Suggestions for seated posture. Elevate your back, lifting from your tailbone upward pull your waist in. Release the tension in your neck and shoulders. Your ears positioned above your shoulders so that your head floats on a long and comfortable neck.
If you are seated on the floor you may choose to place a pillow under your tailbone elevating it

Tips on how to drop your knees if they are too high when you sit on the floor.
Swami once instructed us to pile two telephone books one on top of the other and sit crossed legged on the books. By removing a page each day we would gradually train our knees to relax and rest on the floor. See my photo above.
There are also Yoga postures that are very helpful to let the body unwind enough to sit comfortably on the floor. after all the postures or Asanas are so the body is prepared for Meditation.

“Meditation can transfer the energy from the destructive process – this disturbed and turbulent state, into a creative and peaceful orientation.” Shanti http://www.shantiyoga.com

Meditation instructions from Tilopa in “Song of Mahamudra”

“Do naught with the body , but relax.
Shut firm the mouth and remain silent.
Empty your mind and think of nought
Like a hollow bamboo,
Rest at ease your body,
giving not nor taking
put your mind at rest.
The great way is a mind that clings to nought,
Thus practising in time you will reach Buddhahood”

Meditation posture enables us to sit,holding the body still so the mind may reach into the eternal, unchanging “I”
The still point within all existence.

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Coffee with the cows

The nature of mind is like the skye

The nature of mind is like the sky, clear and bright.

On a beautiful Saturday morning we car pooled collecting people as we went, each one bringing, a seat to sit on and a mug,  some food to share.We packed in the portable barbecue and folding tables, people squeezed in chatty for the adventure at  the  dairy farm, to have yes coffee among the cows. By now you will have gathered we are mostly city bred.

The morning was crystal bright with the promise of becoming hot. We followed the rising dust trail, created by the cars on the dusty road that winds into the farm, remember our country is in drought.The road rises to give glimpses of shining water held in shrinking dams. Dropping into forest, sunshine high lighting certain trees and falling over the spiky ground ferns, The air-filled with eucalypt and dry earth smells, it’s the stillness of tall standing trees that hold your eye.

And then to approach the farm. Open land and cows all solid and calm. We cross a bridge and stop to see if fish are in the muddy water. Lasy and fat they float just below the surface.Drive in past the dairy, tractors and utilities.

Our hostess directs us up to the bridge. Yes they have organised a generator so we can have our coffee on the half completed bridge.We are having coffee with the cows ,so we can celebrate the first bridge building.Not having ever constructed a bridge before these men are justifiably proud of their effort. Three large trees were placed across the creek, above a 15 foot drop, they were levelled using an adze to slice off a top layer, the tractor then bought in the very heavy cross beams, these were manhandled into place and needed to be screwed down to secure them. In case of flood, yes they have had one that submerged the bridge and ripping out the top planks, the bridge now slopes lower on the upstream side to keep planks  in place, if there is another flood.

After all the activity we are able to sit and enjoy the peace of this beautiful farm. Tall trees stung with vines, bell birds calling in the trees and the open space beyond the bridge area. Sky so clear and an intense blue, each blade of grass a clear green,( The dairy farmer must create nutritious grass for the cows to produce quality milk. ) glistening in sunlight.

If you cannot gather for coffee withe cows let your eyes rest on the openness of clear blue sky, perhaps the stars in the evening, or even the grass beneath your feet. Introduce a sense of space into your mind, help it to release the days thoughts.

Meditation is to bring space into an over crowded mind .

The nature of mind is like the sky , clear and bright, open and all-encompassing.

To achieve this you only need to sit .

Where ever you are, among cows,  in the coffee shop, at home.  My teacher , Shanti  Shantiyoga.com     always said

“You only need to sit

do not make a great effort

do not struggle,

do not fight ,

let go of every thing as you sit.”

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Making Good on scandal of Shiva

Making Good on Scandal of Shiva.

Dancing Shiva

 Shiva, photo from theaustralian.com.au

‘‘In a region where heritage looting is rampant, we should step into the void”

Well I was really interested in the  newspaper article now.

As Shiva sometimes known as the Lord of creation danced the Universes out of the void. In the beginngless beginning from no- thing he danced and creation, life began.

I have taken the quote from the Metropolitan Museum of Art web site. “As a symbol, Shiva Nataraja is a brilliant invention. It combines in a single image Shiva’s roles as creator, preserver, and destroyer of the universe and conveys the Indian conception of the never-ending cycle of time. Although it appeared in sculpture as early as the fifth century, its present, world-famous form evolved under the rule of the Cholas. Shiva’s dance is set within a flaming halo. The god holds in his upper right hand the damaru (hand drum that made the first sounds of creation). His upper left hand holds agni (the fire that will destroy the universe). With his lower right hand, he makes abhayamudra (the gesture that allays fear). The dwarflike figure being trampled by his right foot represents apasmara purusha (illusion, which leads mankind astray). Shiva’s front left hand, pointing to his raised left foot, signifies refuge for the troubled soul. The energy of his dance makes his hair fly to the sides. The symbols imply that, through belief in Shiva, his devotees can achieve salvation.”

My favourite shawl that I drape around me when teaching is edged in representations of Dancing Shiva.

Meditation shawl of Shiva's dance

My Meditation shawl of Shiva’s dance

Shiva the lord of the dance who yoga legend tells us danced the sun and the stars into creation.
Stepping on the dwarf of ignorance, he raises his other foot to kick up stars and galaxies. Gas giants and their moons, stars and nebula. Galaxies arose with the flick of his finger and comets spangled beneath his feet.Shiva is the lord of creation, the bronze shows him dancing in flaming circle.

Talking the yoga class through relaxation,I wear the Shiva shawl, and is then draped over my yoga mat as I teach the Asanas, movements of the cosmic dance held in space and time. We create the pose , breathe life into it, so it breathes life into the yogi we maintain the stretch as we breath into it. And then we destroy , dissolve that time and space moment to move into another.
Glancing at the newspaper the photo  of Shiva caught my eye.
The National Gallery of Australia owns/owned a beautiful Shiva Nataraja statue.

Michaela Boland writing for the weekend Australian May 17 -18 2014
in theaustralian.com.au
tells us “It is less than a month since the National Gallery of Australia relinquished without challenge a jewel of it’s Indian art gallery,a $5.6 million bronze dancing Shiva found to have been stolen from India.’’ Thankfully we have been honourable, and are returning the beautiful bronze statue to it’s home in the temple in India.

My teacher Shanti of  shantiyoga.com
reminded us “I am the creative principal in everything that exists.”

Unknowingly you are already dancing with Shiva
e.g Your breath- We inhale to create the inflation and fill our lungs
We maintain the breath by holding it in.
Exhaling we empty or destroy the process. Only to inhale and create the dance of life, breath again.

Unknowingly we create, co-create our lives.
What are we stealing from ourselves, by not understanding the dance of life, we waste years in unhappiness.
If I look outside myself for happiness I disempower myself. Once we realise I am the master of my destiny, That I do not need to steal my joy I can dance with the divine energy.
When we embrace the moment and dance with our passion.
( find something that you can create for you.) a painting, baking a cake, building a chair. getting lost in creating music,sitting in meditation, walking on the beach. A place that let’s your heart sing.
Something that takes you out of your everyday life, where you can co-create with the  created.
Remember Shiva danced the Universe into time and space.
When we learn to embrace the moment and dance with our passion life renews again.

In the eastern view we are already enlightened perfect whole and complete. The western view we’re born in sin and sinners.Original sin. The Eastern view  is encapsulated in the beautiful  chant Om Nama Shivaya

 

 

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