Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Do blackbirds worry?

I was a bit grumpy today - and that doesn't happen often. I grumbled a little and moped a little and wandered aimlessly around town in the sun. I had a work meeting, viewed a couple of houses and met a friend for coffee. Then I came home and decided to take my green tea to the bench outside and just sit in the sun and be.

I watch the blackbirds. There are about six on the reserve in front of me. I remind myself that these creatures are real. They are alive - they have a beating heart and a working brain. I wonder what they think about. Mostly worms I imagine. They are bobbing around carelessly not even considering the fact that I am there. They do not have any interest in me or how I am feeling, they don't care that my car has broken or that I'm due back to work next week.  It then occurs to me why should anyone concern themselves with my issues? No matter how big they seem to me, really they are not going to affect anyone else. I see a cyclist whizz past and I wonder if he has any issues today. Without serious commitments (think children, mortgage etc) any issues I have are mine and only mine. The only person I am in fear of letting down is myself, I wonder why I am so hard to please when its just me generating my own expectations.

I have a quiet word to myself and go back inside, turn the radio on and sing way too loudly. This stops my grumpiness immediately and I decide that's my quota for the next few months!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Travel Bug

The term travel bug is so relevant to me. For me it really is a bug - and travel itself acts as the curing drug . If I go too long without travel or some form of adventure and discovery I start to feel sick. Its not a sickness where I am in bed all day, coughing with a high temperature. The best way I can describe it is like being homesick or lovesick, that desperate longing and nostalgic feeling for something that is almost impossible to shake. Once I start thinking about it the feeling increases and there is only one way to satisfy that desire which is to actually do something about it. Luckily for me it doesn't always have to be an adventure overseas, yesterday I hiked a new track that provided me with different surroundings and a brand new view of Arrowtown that I hadn't seen before. I was deliciously ignorant to the world below and savored the walk. However I am aware that these small adventures always stand to bridge the gap between now and my next overseas discovery.

I have only just come back from 3 weeks in Indonesia, which means my goal to have a trip overseas is complete as well as being a thorough success. Not only did I push myself out of my comfort zone, I experienced a new culture and had an absolute blast.
I get tremendous joy just from settling into my designated seat on the aeroplane waiting for take off. I’m nervous because I have a slight fear of flying but excited because I know that whatever happens from this moment on is a brand new adventure, a break from the norm, something that will further enrich my life in one way or another! I wait patiently looking forward to whatever they attempt to serve us for food. I couldn't believe it when on my first flight en-route to Bali the couple sat next to me straight out turned down the offer of a free meal - they didn't even ask what it was. I was gobsmacked. Now I know there are many different opinions on plane food but I have never experienced or even heard of people flat out not accepting a free meal. I on the other hand was super grateful for my semi-hard pumpkin ravioli, yellowish peas and singular piece of broccoli . The food was pretty standard on that flight and my dessert was one lonely lindt ball – simple but delicious, unfortunately for me the ball rolled under my seat and I spent the next hour digging under my seat, whilst attempting to not fling my tray and the empty food containers everywhere. It was by far the most exciting thing on my tray after a few strange looks from the lady next to me I gave up and accepted the loss of my delicious ball of chocolate goodness. Instead I lie back and start to think.

As I attempt to analyze why I find travel so liberating I realize it's because getting lost really is the best way to find yourself. I was a little lost at home with a foggy brain full with thoughts and unanswered questions, once I am alone in a foreign country there is only me and my thoughts become so simple. My brain and I only concern ourselves with things that make us feel good and we choose to simply avoid or leave anything that doesn’t serve us because its easy and we can and if anyone has a problem with it no-one actually knows who we are or where we're going. We decide exactly where, when and what we want to eat without consulting others. We sleep when tired, walk when we want to walk, swim when we want to swim, leave our current residence and venture off to a new destination when we feel ready. Travel is freedom its one of the only things that really makes our lives richer.

Considering I have a job and responsibilities, as well as Phil waiting at home, the world selfish crosses my mind a lot. But on this journey I have decided selfish is not an ugly word. In the right context it doesn't necessarily indicate being self-centered and ignorant or caring any less for the people around you. For me being selfish in this situation means I am starting to care about my needs and putting them at the front of my priority list, where money and my career used to be. A dose of selfishness can do wonders for the soul. Don't get me wrong, bringing happiness and well-being to others is just as important, but it is truly rewarding when you spend time and energy on yourself for what eventually makes you a better person. I believe people are responsible for shaping their own futures therefore it is important to pay special attention to your own desires or agenda - and act on them!

On this trip I wish I was being selfish in style because there are no TV's on this flight, my seat is particularly small, there is only one set of toilets at the back and a very large queue forming half way up the plane and I already need to stretch my legs - I bet business class doesn't suffer like this. I stand up stretch as much as I can and decide to sleep the rest of the journey and consider what self indulgent activities I will experience whilst I am on holiday.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Meditation - slow down but not too much

My goal of mastering meditation started to slip but after reading a recent article recently that promises that regular meditation  increases immunity, emotional balance and sex life I decided I was keen to take my meditation goal to the next level despite the fact I kept avoiding any dedicated classes with all manner of excuses. Then my trusty friend Gill (the one who cornered me into the Bikram Yoga experience) calls and asks if I am keen to try out the 1 hour meditation class at the local Well Being Centre. We laugh nervously and decide its a great idea.

We turn up like giggling school girls and notice the serious face everyone else in the room is wearing. About 10 of us sit in a circle, around a single candle, holding a blanket each . The room is warm and dark lit by a few scattered candles and lamps - it feels slightly gothic. This is heightened when we are all instructed to hold hands, close our eyes and feel the energy flow. I suddenly panic that this is more of a hippy healing class than meditation and to lighten my mood start to slowly rub my thumb over the top of Gill's hand in a caressing circular movement. I find this fucking hilarious and use every bit of strength I have not to burst into a fit of laughter. I can feel Gill convulses next to me and know she is fighting the same battle. I’m not sure if it was holding in the hilarity, the panic or the actual energy but I start to get extremely hot, like boiling hot and sweaty. I am grateful when we break the circle and I can take off my sweater and recompose myself!

We are then further instructed to lie down with a large rounded pillow under our heads and knees and place our blankets over us to get nice and cosy – now this bit I like, it reminds me of being at Girl Guide camp many years ago settling down for a large communal sleepover. Its peaceful and silent when my stomach decides to makes a loud rumble sound, I cringe and pray that it stops, I do not want to humiliate myself by being the one person who uncontrollably disrupts everyone else’s quiet time.

The meditator has a very quiet voice and at first I struggle to hear him but when I manage to tune into his words I follow them intently. He tells us to imagine that we are covered in white light, then green on top of the white, then a purple light on top of the green light and then suddenly I am falling into darkness. The jolts from the falling sensation brings me back to the room where I hear the mediator inform us to pick up our glowing sword and smash down all the blocks we just built….. I'm confused I dont remember any building blocks I am concerned I may have just fallen asleep and missed some of the journey. I am now back in a conscious state and midfully holding a glowing sword but not sure what bricks I am supposed to be smashing, I look around in my created dream world (not quite inception and check but Leonardo DiCaprio is definable not there) and imagine a pile of blocks and charge at them "break them all" he tells us “insecurity, jealousy, resentment… smash them all down”. I have no idea what he is talking about so walk around with my sword and pretend I am Shearer.  A few minutes later I realize I must have drifted into my subconscious again as he asks us all to bring awareness back to ourselves and back to the room. We sit upright and he asks if anyone would like to share their experience. One ladies openly tells us that when she became a tree, and her roots embedded deep into the earth, her grounding felt so significant that hundreds of colours flashed before her eyes. I am very confused. Another lady says being a tree made her feel like never before, like her feet are firmly on the ground finally and then she starts laughing manically, the instructor encourages her to laugh further until we are all laughing - some awkwardly, some like they are having the time of their lives. I have no idea what the hell is going on – I do not remember trying to be a tree.

The mediator smiles at me a few times, I think how friendly and welcoming he is. We then all hold hands and stare at the candle in the center and for about 5 minutes we will the flame to get bigger - it doesn’t. We stare at the candle and look for a purple light, I think I see it. We then breathe our energy at the candle and he says a prayer to mother nature and father sky at which point Gill and I exchange confused looks and get up to leave.

As we walk to the car I check the time – what a rip off $10 and we were only there 45 minutes. Gill admits she didn't quite 'get the  class' and I confess that I thought it was less about quietening the mind and a little cult like. I also sheepishly admit that I may have fallen asleep twice. Suddenly Gill is in hysterics. She knows I was asleep because she could hear me - apparently I WAS SNORING!! I am assured that everyone else in the class would have definitely heard too. The instructor wasn’t smiling at me because he’s friendly – he was grimacing at me because I snored through his entire meditation. I am mortified. I ask about being a tree. Apparently the tree section went on for at least 10 minutes but I missed the entire thing because I was asleep! I joke and say maybe I should ask for half my money back considering I was only present for half the class! We laugh all the way back to the car. When I get home I am further horrified when I check my watch and realize the class wasn’t 45 minutes long. It was an hour and 45 minutes! I dread to think how long I was actually asleep and how much I likely disturbed everyone’s meditation. I am slightly mortified.

Despite my horror though I did feel a sense of calmness (probably because I had an hours nap) so have concluded that it wasn’t a complete disaster and as with Bikram I should try at least once more – and attempt to remain conscious this time – to decide if it really was as weird as I remember.