The wisdom of snails and other things…

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The magical world of snails captured by photographer Vyacheslav Mischenko

The magical world of snails captured by photographer Vyacheslav Mischenko

 

Day 13 of my dawn meditation practice. A 15 minute guided meditation (my brain was all excited and jumping around – sometimes it can be hard to concentrate when it’s like this, so I use a guided meditation on these mornings), a half hour asana sequence and then on my road for a half hour walk. Just me this morning – I often have one or both of my children with me which I like too, but it means a shorter, slower walk. It was cool, crisp and clear, the rising sun sparking off the mist. I walked past a pond where 5 different birds were drinking, one which I had never seen before. I stopped and watched for a while, wondering. The last bird left was a white egret which watched me back. I walked on.

The Eastern Great Egret

The Eastern Great Egret

A bit further I saw a white bull in a little lush valley of grass and wildflowers. I stopped again to gaze at  the bull, serenely cropping the grass. The whole scene reminded me of the romantic art depicting Taurus…Ah! That one was easy – the sun has just moved into Taurus, my sun sign. Behold, the Festival of the Cow is upon us :)

Taurus by Josephine Wall

Taurus by Josephine Wall

Turning around to walk back home I saw a fibre-glass snail, as big as a garden gnome, wedged into the cliff. I live in a rural area, and I walk this road regularly. It was odd. I would have dismissed it as just being someone’s weird fancy, if it wasn’t the third snail message I’ve had this week. First was a dream where a snail was climbing up a rainbow pillar of light. Ugh, wtf? I thought, and dismissed it. The next day I saw a photo article on the Elephant Journal that showcased stunning macro photos of snails. They were delicate, graceful and divinely beautiful. I felt charmed and chastened all at the same time. And now, today, another snail. Am I the snail?, I asked. No, came the response: you’re not the snail; but the snail energy is helping you.

I looked it up here, finally:

Patience, water, winter, release deadlines and goals, focus on the small things – details, textures; protect yourself, slow down, retreat, sacred spiral.

Ah. I see.

Do you pay attention to the signs around you? What do you see?

Why aren’t I enlightened yet?

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So, the good news. I’m on day 10 of a 40 day meditation commitment. The bad news? I’ve just figured out that meditation does not make me a nicer person.

Up until today, I was under the illusion that a daily mediation practice would at some stage make me nicer, kinder, more patient, gentler and softer…and probably a saint, or at least enlightened :)

Otherwise – why the fuck are we doing all of this for?

Well, why indeed?

You know, meditation is a funny thing. There aren’t any benefits.

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In fact, up until now, I have never been able to sustain a daily meditation practice, although I have been able to stay with a regular home yoga practice for more than 18 months. But with yoga, the benefits are so obvious – I feel fitter, stronger, more flexible, confident and I can maintain my weight better. I feel more connected to my body, mind and spirit with a regular practice, and if I miss some days, my body demands that I make time for it.

But meditation? Sometimes it works, and I feel great – present, connected, filled with light and love and brimming with insights and understanding. Often though, meditation is difficult – monkey mind, restlessness, unable to settle. And even if it does work, I am often even more cranky, more irritable, and unsettled for the rest of the day. Weird, huh?

So, meditation is not something I stick at: rather, it’s something I do spontaneously when I feel the need to rather than as a discipline. Until now :)

A couple of weeks ago, Tanishka (known as The Moon Woman on Facebook) created an open event: a daily Sunrise meditation commitment where every morning we would get up at dawn, meditate for 15 minutes, do 15 minutes of yoga or other stretches, half an hour of physical exercise outside, then journalling of our dreams and insights. I had been wanting to change my morning routine of tea, emails, social media and work (also in social media) but hadn’t known what to replace it with. This sounded perfect!

A few days into this commitment, Kara-Leah Grant from The Yoga Lunchbox and 40 Days of Yoga, launched a 40 day meditation practice. Knowing the magic of a 40 day commitment (completing 40 days of yoga gave me a regular home practice even now, 18 months later), I readily extended my commitment and carried on.

After a few days I noticed that although I was really enjoying the practice in the morning, that was about all I was enjoying. I felt depressed, disordered, frustrated and worthless. And above all, as I complained to my mother,

I wasn’t even enlightened yet!

I was joking (sort of) but still – why did I feel I was riding a stationery bike – all pedalling and going NOWHERE? My first clue came when I read Danielle La Porte’s article: Leaving the Church of Self-Improvement for the Temple of Me where she says:

…spiritual passion can become punishing when it arises from the hollowness of our psyches rather than the fullness of our Souls. Striving from a sense of deficiency only fueled an obsession with self-improvement that kept me running in circles right ’round what I was looking for: the pulsating, nourishing place of my true nature, which is the doorway to fulfilling all my desires.

Mmmm I thought. Interesting.

And then, this morning, on day 10, it hit me. I had woken early, meditated, done some yoga and hit my country road for a walk. The morning was crisp, cloudless, clean and clear, the kind of clear that invited clarity and joy right into my soul. And as I was walking, the understanding came to me that meditation is never going to make me a nicer person. The thing is, meditation is not going to mysteriously transform me into a saint (damn!) or make me into a gentle motherly person like, say, my own mother.

What meditation does is bring clarity. Clarity to see myself as I am, to know myself. Clarity to know what I want and what I don’t want, what’s working and what’s not. Clarity to see all of me, light and dark. I should make this clear – clarity is not the same as comfort. In fact, it’s distinctly uncomfortable. And that’s what I was missing before. It’s not about being comfortable. It’s about being truly connected to yourself and your life. And once you know something, you can’t un-know it, right?

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Meditation does not build the ego up; it whittles it down, slice by slice. This process does not feel good, and friends, it makes me cranky as hell some days. But everyday, I turn up. For just 15 minutes a day I do myself the favour of not hiding, not being distracted and not bullshitting myself. And sometimes it’s awesome, and sometimes it’s not. It is what it is.

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And this is what I am: I am sharp and discerning, I am a truth see-er, and a truth teller. I am committed, loyal and hard working. I am also kind, gentle, patient and loving, except for when I am judgmental, impatient, irritable and bad tempered. I am a human being, and I am what I am.

Do you have a regular meditation practice? What has your experience been?

Motherhood and Me

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Spirit of the Elements by Fantasy Artist Josephine Wall

I’m on a little journey to find out what makes the mother in me tick. I want to uncover what my real motherhood values are underneath the values imposed upon me by by my society, culture, upbringing and random shit that I have picked up along the way.

I began this journey, like so many others, with a conversation. In my last post, I wrote about the things that I most valued about the way I was mothered. In this post I want to dive down into myself, right into the core and reveal my core mothering values:

  1. Motherhood is sacred. In our bodies, two cells join to begin the journey towards life. Within our bodies, we grow a complete and utterly beautiful being. When I was pregnant I felt like a bountiful Goddess; ripe, glowing and filled with the fecundity of the eternal Mother. Pregnancy was the first time that I became in touch with the sacredness of the feminine – even if that sacredness sometimes resembles Kali, the Goddess of Destruction, it’s still sacred, people :)

2.  Mothering is responsible. This is important for me. I thought motherhood was too big for me for a while, and vowed to not have children. As it turns out, it is too big for me, but I do it anyway. Mothering is not something I do on the side. Raising my children to become functional, healthy, loving adults is my core duty. I take it very seriously. It is my responsibility to provide a loving, safe, secure home for my family. In order to do that, I must be here, I must be straight (as in not on drugs or drunk), and I must be watchful. That is all.

3. Effective mothering is not about what I say, it’s about what I do. If I want my children to speak well, be kind, have good manners, have healthy habits, be able to apologise when they are wrong and to develop certain values, then there is only one thing to do: I  must show them. This does not mean that I must be perfect, but it does mean that when I am less than any of those things, that I acknowledge, apologise and strive to be better.

4. Mothering is about being myself. Much of my motherhood journey has been about discovering who I truly am, and manifesting that in as authentic a way as possible. I want to be the person I am meant to be, not only for myself, but to show my children that it is not only the length of life that should be lived, but the breadth and width of it as well. You know, our children chose us. They chose us because there is something within our true selves that they need to reach their full potential. In that way, the most important thing for us to do as parents is to truly be ourselves, because that is what our children need from us. That and a bucket load of love.

5. Motherhood is important, but it is not everything. I never wanted to be one of those mothers that dedicated everything to their children, and then when they left, were left with nothing. As it turned out, I didn’t have to worry: I have a core of fierceness that protects what is mine. I need to have my own space and my own time, and I will do whatever I have to do to get that time, even if it means waking up at 4:30 in the morning.

6. Motherhood is fierce. Motherhood has really honed the fierceness in me. It starts in pregnancy, with the fierce protectiveness we have about our unborn children. It is fired in labour with the tremendous force, pain and relief that is a safely delivered baby. It is honed over years of child raising and all that it entails. What about that feeling you get when someone else mistreats your child? We get a true understanding of the Kali archetype then, don’t we?

7. Motherhood is Love. Now, I don’t mean that wishy-washy hallmark card type love, no sirree. I mean the kind of love that is 24/7, the kind of love that cleans up piss, shit and vomit, that will sit up all night with a sick child. The kind of love that wants a certain type of community, nay world for our child, and then sets about creating it. I’m talking about a love that is unconditional and honest. Real love that says I am here for you, no matter what. Thick and thin, I’m yours. You know?

8. Motherhood is about connection. Now, here’s something I didn’t know about motherhood until I became one (I know, right – add it to the list). The connections we make with other mothers are sacred. The friends I made as a mother of young children with other mothers at similar stages of motherhood are some of the deepest connections I have ever made. You see, we were all being fired in the kiln of motherhood at the same time. Those friendships, they saved me. They still save me.

9. Motherhood is about community. Now, here’s something else I didn’t know about myself until I had children: community is vitally important to me. I am not one of those mothers who needs to have total control over everything that my child experiences. For my children, it is vitally important that they have as broad an experience of life as possible. I know my own shortcomings – I cannot provide everything to my children, and nor should I be expected to. I want my children to feel a part of their community, to have connections to lots of different types of people. Community gives us roots.

10. Motherhood is about letting go. Oh, hey, we all know this one. As soon as we birth our child, we begin to let them go. We wean them, we let them go. They have their first sleep over at their grandparents, we let them go. They have their first day at pre-school, we let them go. They go to school – omg they are gone. Not really, they come back and they go again, just like we did, playing with independence and safety. And when they really go, we will be so practiced at letting go, we release them with grace and let them go so that they can live their own lives, their own way. Right?

What about you?What are your core mothering values? I would love to know!

 

You are the Universe expressing itself as a human for a little while

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sara:

I don’t reblog things very often – but this is something very special. I still remember when I first listened to Neale Donald Walsche’s Conversations With God…I laughed, cried and was filled with the joy of truth and Being. It was wonderful. Here is a little excerpt, with a beautiful clip. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Spiritbath:

View original

A poem: The Impeccable Lover

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I found this poem today, and I wanted to share it with you.

oh, how I wish I knew who the artist for this image is! Do you know?

oh, how I wish I knew who the artist for this image is! Do you know?

The Impeccable Lover

Oh, Gentle man, what do you see
when you look out at me with eyes
of desire and longing?
Eyes that reach out and surround me
with your heat and passion:
passion of wanting.
Eyes that say, “I must have you.”
Eyes that plead, or eyes that lust.
Eyes that say, “I’ve been lonely so long.”

Oh Gentle Man, do not look to me
with these eyes.
Go to the looking glass with these eyes.
Relief awaits you there.
And when you see the conqueror,
the knight, the hungry man,
tell that one to lay down his sword,
surrender his armor and shield:
Tell him the war is done.
Then put your arm around his shoulder
and look him in the eyes.
And when his sword, his armor, his shield
are locked and put away,
and he has cried and called you, “Brother,”
then, Gentle Man, may you come to me
with your soul’s light shining through
from behind your eyes,
able to see the Light and Essence that I am.
Then I will look back when I see
the love and respect in your eyes.
But when I see desperation and lust,
or the need to conquer and own,
I promise you this:
I shall look away.

Oh, Gentle Man, how would you give your gifts to me?
Excitedly, like a child
who picks a flower for his Mother
then runs inside to receive the praise?
Would you give to me to show
how thoughtful and kind you are?
How generous you can be?
To impress me with your charm?
To win my love and reward?
Would you give what you think I want
with the hope for pardon and mercy,
that you be deemed worthy
of all my attention and love?

Oh, Gentle Man, please take your gifts
to your magical child,
who awaits, so lonely and afraid,
in your garden.
For he is in need
of your caring and presence.
Take this child to your breast.
Cradle him.
Stroke him.
Shower him.
And be sincere.
At last, when he sleeps in your arms,
lay him down softly
and climb the stairs to my room.
and if you see the Light of my soul
and the Beauty that I Am
and wish to honor me with a flower,
a poem, a sweet word, or a kiss,
then give to me with sincerity,
without the need for flourish,
without expectation
or the hope of reward,
but with the quiet dignity
with which you sniff the aroma
of a sweet-scented flower,
or watch in peaceful awe
the setting of the Sun.

Oh, Gentle Man, please burden me not
with the weight of your esteem,
or with the power to give or destroy
your joy, your heart, your image, and worth.
For this responsibility
is far too great for me.
Go find your peace and happiness,
your self-esteem and love.
Find them with God and Goddess;
Find them in flowers, and trees,
in the wind and the setting sun.
Then bring them with you for sharing.
Do not make me your reason
for living or dying -
my approval, the source of your power;
my touch, your salvation;
my eyes, your self-knowing-
for I would grow to despise you,
and you recent and loathe me.
This power that you would give me
I truly do not want.
At best, it could only serve
to soothe the doubts I hold,
and make me feel important to you,
and needed and worthy-
filled with a false sense of purpose-
but fleetingly.
And you would imprison me
away from my own sense of Essence,
and from the truth of my soul,
and from the Goddess that I Am,
and from my true power and Light.
You would cripple me, surely-
admiring me with your eyes that hide
your loneliness and need;
your gifts that beg for approval;
your words of praise that hide
your desperation.

Oh, Gentle Man, until the child sleeps
and is peaceful in your garden,
and the knight has lain down
his sword, his armor, his shield,
then, only then, approach my stairs.
and only then will I meet you
halfway.
When your soul is present and shining
brightly through eyes of love,
then you will see my eyes shining
and looking back at you.
When you give from your heart
and your words are not boasting,
when you know who you are without me,
then I will be free to receive you,
and to give to you fully my love.
For then, we will know that neither
of us can be destroyed.
The surrender that only can come
to two who have first
surrendered to self-
to their own inner Beauty,
and wisdom, and Essence Divine-
will be ours.
Then side by side, in blended Light,
our twin stars will shine
once again

- Amorah Quan Yin

Motherhood – part 1

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Earth Mother by Jennifer Mourin

Earth Mother by Jennifer Mourin

A friend said to me recently:

“Sometimes I don’t even know what is mine and what are other people’s ideas when it comes to my beliefs about mothering.”

We looked at each other for a moment in silence as we considered the truth of these words. Like so many things we do, our mothering tends to be a mishmash of things we’ve thrown together on the run, reactions to the way we were parented (that sucked, there’s no way I’m inflicting that on my child!) as well as snippets inspired by other mothers we’ve admired. But how are we to sift through all of this…and why do I keep getting images of laundry?

In my mind, it’s like this – we have to empty out our drawers and sort all the clothes into piles: one pile for things that we like and make us feel good, another pile for things that could be good if they were mended, a pile for things that are totally worn out and can’t be fixed and one last pile of clothes that people gave us that we never liked anyway, but kept to be polite.

After a while I said, “I bet we could journal our way through this. If it was me, I would start with things I liked about the way I was mothered, and when I had figured that out, I would write down the things I like about my own mothering style.”

And maybe then we could have some order in this damn laundry!

And so a new blog post was born :)

Ten things about motherhood I love as a daughter…

1. My mother’s warmth, affection and unconditional source of love. I didn’t have to try to be anything to get my mother’s approval. I just had to be myself (and help around the house :) ).

2. According to my mother, respect was a two-way street. She would behave respectfully towards me, and expected in turn that I behave respectfully towards her. There were one set of rules for the entire house, and I felt that fairness and justice was a priority.

3. Health was a big deal for my mother – in fact it still is: my mother has been a practicing Homeopath/Naturopath for more than 30 years. She taught me how to be healthy, how to make healthy food choices, as well as helping me to understand health is not just a physical concern, but a mental, emotional and spiritual one as well. I have been very grateful in my later life of the head start which she gave me, although not always appreciative at the time :).

4. One of the things I remember most about my childhood was the natural world. When I was 5, my mother moved us from Sydney to a 150 acre farm with crystal clear creeks, undisturbed forests, abundant wildlife and domestic animals as well. To this day I will go to the river to recharge, the birds are my friends, and the sunrise my alarm clock. Not only did I learn about cycles of Mother Earth, but I learned about my own cycles too. What a gift.

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5. Along with the sense of fairness and respect came an expectation that we would all contribute to the running of the house, garden and farm (there is no such thing as a free lunch, my friends :) ). My brother and I helped with the housework, the garden and jobs on the farm. Like Mum’s insistence on a healthy diet, I have come to appreciate the wisdom of this lesson more as I have gotten older (and I now have my own slaves children). One of the results of being part of the running of a household, apart from learning a good work ethic, is that we never took our mother and all the work she did for granted.

6. My mother saw our spiritual development as important, and although we didn’t go to church or have a structured religion, we talked about God, the many different belief systems, and how all paths lead to the One. I was taught to at first tolerate then embrace different beliefs, and the knowledge that everyone is entitled to believe what they wish is one that has stayed with me to this day. I suppose this may be where I also get my intense dislike of dogma from…

7. My mother was rarely critical, but she knew our weaknesses and would coach and encourage us to improve in those areas. I am a rational, analytical person and have a tendency to be opinionated and judgmental. My mother patiently taught me to respect other people’s opinions and to know that everyone has the right to think whatever they wish without some hoyden scolding them for their abject stupidity :). Later on, I learned that opinions come and opinions go, and have come to value them less and less, both in myself and in others.

8. My mother never tolerated gossip, would refuse to discuss a person unless they were there and ignored or punished all tale telling. This has been of great benefit living in a small community :)

9. My mother was young when she had me at 17; but she knew her own mind, and wanted to parent her own way. While this did result in some interesting experiments and occasional alienation of her family, she took mothering very seriously and was always looking for ways to refine and enhance her parenting techniques. These days we call it Conscious Parenting – in the 1970s there was not even a word for it.

10. My mother is a Saggitarius and was (is) renowned for her unorthodox and unpredictable solutions to problems. I could never guess what her response would be to anything! While this was a little annoying to an in-the-box Taurean, she was open to all suggestions, no matter how ludicrous, and brain-storming solutions to problems around the dinner table was common place.

When I lay it out like that…my mother was awesome! Thanks Mum :)

So, did it get you thinking? What do you value about how you were mothered?

10 things I have learned from a separation…

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To end the misery that has afflicted the human condition for thousands of years, you have to start with yourself and take responsibility for your inner state at any given moment. That means now.                                                                                     - Eckhart Tolle

  1. Sometimes, losing all hope in a person or situation can be the best thing that ever happened – especially if you are also losing all the expectations that go along with hope. In the space that is free from expectation, miracles can occur.
  2. Whatever we are most afraid of, odds are that we will have to face that fear head on at some stage. In my case, one of my greatest fears was that of being a single mother, and things had to get pretty bad before I was going to choose that option over a relationship. But do you know what? Being a single parent does NOT have to mean being isolated, unsupported and poor. I wasn’t those things before, so why would I suddenly become all of those things now? It was just a story in my mind confirmed by cherry picked examples and social stereotypes. So there, mighty fear – you are as dust! :)
  3. A person that you have known for a very long time can still surprise the hell out of you.
  4. When you act with courage and integrity in the space of divine timing, it frees up other people to also act with courage and integrity.
  5. I love having my own space. Yes, I live with two children so I still have to share – but the feeling of space and freedom, especially at night, is so nourishing to my soul I wonder how I could have gone so long without it.
  6. Sometimes, underneath the accumulated dross of life and other catastrophes accumulated over many years of living, working, bill paying, disappointed expectations and child rearing, can lie a kernel of love, completely untouched, just waiting for an injection of sunlight and water.
  7. Sometimes things disappear from a life, and we don’t notice that they have gone, except for a nagging feeling of something missing. For me, those things were joy, spontaneity and freedom. I welcome these things back into my life with open arms.
  8. Even the most intractable, insoluble situations can be radically altered in just one day.
  9. Do not limit yourself to what you think might reasonably happen given what you think is the potential of the people involved in a given situation. Our puny human minds have no concept of our true potential. So just focus on the highest good and let the Divine look after the how. Seriously.
  10. We have learned that nobody can make us feel a certain way without our permission, that we have to take responsibility for our own suffering and that if we just change our attitude about a problem, it will stop being a problem. This is all true, but I want to add a caveat: some situations are toxic, and no amount of any of the above will change it. You know?