Meditation brings the best out in you.

Bread won't rise

Bread won’t rise.

“My students are complaining the muffins and cakes aren’t rising. I keep telling them it’s because everything is so dry we have not had any rain in months and because the earth is dry and the air is dry the materials that you use to create a chemical reaction between flour and the yeast is not occurring as it normally would.”

Janine is one of those school teachers who mould your life for the better.

Passionate

articulate

interested and always finding new ways to teach her food technology.

Her comments she set me thinking how meditation affects the one who practices the discipline and the atmosphere around them.

Meditation changes the atmosphere around us, it influences those who share our life, just as the cake will not rise and the bread does not come to its normal height because the flour is affected by the dry atmosphere, the lack of rain. Our lives are affected if we do not have stillness, calm, peacefulness if there is a lack of these within our lives we cannot rise to our best and our greatest. Our full potential is never realised. Something is lacking the flavour is going and gone.

I encourage you to find a meditation teacher, shop around, as the more formal types of religion drop away we realise the journey is to be made by the individual. Teachers come and go in our lives and some stay in our hearts forever.

Germaine Greer on her convent education: “The nuns bought out the best in me and it needn’t have been brought out – it could have stayed right where it was.”

Nikki Gemmel speaks of her convent upbringing of one particular nun sister Philomene Tiernan.

“It felt as like there was a still centre to her being; A conviction that she was strongly, joyously here, In this place doing exactly what she wanted to do in life. She glowed with contentment. Chatting;warming and stilling with her presence.”

In her article “a life less ordinary”

In the Australian Weekend Magazine August 16-17 Nikki continues speaking of the nuns.

“Many whom I’ve come across having an intriguing core of stillness. They’re not completely a part of this world, not swallowed by it like the rest of this, have the strength to be something else.”

Mine was not a convent upbringing, my yoga teacher Shanti Gowan’s guided us through the steps of meditation. Born in India,with her connections, I was lucky to have sat at the feet of many travelling monks Shanti and her husband hosted in their home. And today so many excellent teachers have written books on the meditation experience and how to embrace this

inner light,and powerful presence.

I invite you to explore this inner well of eternal peace. You will be surprised how you can bring peace and grace into the lives of many.

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Meditation to help soldiers with PTSD

Post Traumatic stress syndrome is finally being taken seriously by both the military and the wider population.

Triggered by a terrifying event or series of events people return home to find they  do not belong, their family are confused and emotionally battered as they watch a loved one reel between anger, hostility and the extreme of being numb to all around them. They cannot sleep and no longer manage to engage in life.

Movies are made and people are seeing the results of ‘living off your nerves”Just as constant physical pain wares away at a persons Adrenal system, the lack of sleep, and the worry have been shown to cause emotional dis-ease, a constant state of anxiety arises, for the soldier for the Doctor/ medic, drill seargent,what ever capacity a soldier served in, theirs is the burden  of Post traumatic Stress.

Sadly many returning service men and women do not seek treatment as they feel it may affect their career. They will be seen as weak, unable to cope with stress. Solidarity, holding together, mutual dependance, community of interests, feelings and action.

Often when we try to manage or overcome pain we are actually entrenching the suffering, remember “What we resist persists”.Learning to reach out to Yoga or Meditation will break that cycle. It is better to find something that moves you away from pain.

Diane Callan  founded Wellness for Warriors in 2009 to teach military families

 about integrative lifestyle solutions such as yoga, chiropractic care,

acupuncture, and nutrition has seen the benefits first-hand. “I personally believe that when you are able to  experience or elicite peace of mind from within you can share that with your spouse, your family, your community and the world.’ she said

from

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Beach picnic and meditation

Footprints in the sand

Footprints in the sand

"To see a World in again of sand."

“To see a World in again of sand.”

Sitting in meditation this morning and not being able to concentrate, my mind was running in circles.I decided my mind needed more space. There are many ways to achieve this. One is to physically place your self where the horizon is vast and open,with little to hem in your vision. ( city dwellers can gaze at the sky or the velvety darkness of night, sometimes spangled in stars.)

Spontaneous decision, instead of walking our dog on the familiar route lets breakfast on the beach.Our dog sensed a change in routine as he followed me round as I cut sandwiches, boiled water put fruit and yoghurt into the backpack, informing my man let’s get dog treats we are beach breakfasting. Ever practical he packed the ground sheet while I was searching out the folding dog water bowl.

We arrived to an empty beach, the very early morning walkers had left their footprints, the swimmers, well it was windy,what I hadn’t factored in was the rising wind, you know the wind that whips the sea to white caps and blows the sand, skittering along the beach into every crevice including your cup of hot water.

Sitting on the ground sheet gazing out to sea I could feel the tension dropping away. Good practice for stilling the body to prepare for meditation.It was too windy to do anything but sit still, look ,listen and be part of the spaces around me.

Remember like the footsteps in the sand, blown away, the beach wiped clean each morning, the transitory nature of things, this moment will never come again.
We tend to think that everything is permanent, unchanging,the person you are will be different from the time you started reading this article to the time you finish it. This beach beneath me, the sand once a mountain or worn from the surrounding cliffs.Even it’s original colour is no more, sun bleached and sea-washed

The water once a mountain stream in the far Himalaya’s, having travelled in the form of snow, ice melt and evaporated to rise as clouds and fall into the endless ocean now flowing as waves to this shore.

“And there are the particulars of the moment that only exist, right now. The combination of sounds and colors and shapes and smells around you will never exist in this particular combination ever again. The way your body feels, the thought that pops into your head in the next moment, will never exist again, ever.”Leo Babauta expresses -this capturing the moment beautifully.

This body, it’s cells constantly dying and renewing,The Sages told if I could only see myself truly in all my magnificence I would fall to my feet and worship the light within.

Or the eternal beauty from the poem by William Blake
(Fragments from “Auguries of Innocence”) Poetry lover’spage.com

To see a World in a grain of sand
and a Heaven in a wildflower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

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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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