Weekly Inspiration #39

Autumn is slow in coming this year, with hot still nights that tangle our sheets around us and send mosquitoes whining against the screens. We are in between two eclipses and the Easter school holidays are inching closer as well; but meanwhile we seem to be hovering in a state of suspended animation, neither one thing or another. It’s an odd feeling being in between two seasons and two eclipses – much like pushing through deep, sucking mud while a storm rages above, tossing branches and old gumboots at your head. I can’t say I’m enjoying it much ;).

I’m having to pull out all the stops to manage my mood and keep my temper in check this week with varying results – yesterday the Bear came home from work for the first time this week while I was taking our youngest to tennis practice  (a whole other story, don’t remind me) – and we managed to have an argument straight away about the etiquette of dinner preparation – who asks who and how much notice they should give to that person. It took me 0.5 seconds to reach the Vesuvius level on the temper dial, where I start dragging lightning bolts out of mid air and flinging them around indiscriminately. Maybe not literally, but you get the picture, right? I look at dinner in the oven, figure I’ve got at least half an hour, and decide I need a major intervention – time for the river.

Australian water dragon
Australian water dragon

I drag on my swimmers and drive down alone – thank the Goddess neither of the kids wanted to come. Just before the driveway to the river, I am stopped by a water dragon. He is in the middle of the road, head cocked, waiting for me. He looks me in the eye, one dragon to another, and lets me through. The river is still perfect, deep and clear, and I don’t do any of my normal dilly dallying on the edge – I just dive right in. The water draws me in and under and I swim deep, eyes open, surfacing with a feeling of relief. The river Goddess laughs at my hotheadedness and tells me to go under again. I coast down the rapids, turn over on my back and float, looking up at the trees and the sky, then flip over and swim in easy freestyle back up to the rapids and do it all again. On my way home, the same water dragon has returned and is sitting on the road again, waiting for me. We eye each other warily and then he lets me through. I feel a bit like a pressure cooker that has been taken off the heat and popped into a sink full of cold water – there’s still pressure and heat there but they are rapidly diminishing :).

It wasn’t the only time I have had to stage an intervention on myself this week – On Tuesday I decided to drop any plans I might have had for writing and instead dedicate the day to some house-witchery. I vacuumed, mopped, dusted, tidied, scrubbed, did laundry, wiped down walls, cleaned windows and even the ceiling fan which was fast becoming its own eco system. After I finished each room, I lit an incense or chimed the singing bowl to balance the energy. The cleaner and clearer my house became, the clearer and cleaner I became. Have you ever noticed that?

Some other things that I might do to lift up my energy when it droops or to calm myself down when my temper or anxiety starts burning a hole in my manners are: do yoga, meditate, watch a good movie or read a good book, phone a friend, put on my favorite music and sing loudly to it, get out barefoot in nature – and if all else fails, have some good chocolate :).

What about you? What are some ways that you manage your moods?

Best Short Read

The Wisdom of No Escape: Pema Chodron on Gentleness, the Art of Letting Go, and How to Befriend Your Inner Life by Maria Popova for Brain Pickings.

This article is about a series of talks (now a book) given by Pema Chodron at a month long Dathun meditation retreat she led, aptly named The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness. This is a delightful article with many gems of wisdom, but to tempt you over, there is this:

Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.

[…]

The problem is that the desire to change is fundamentally a form of aggression toward yourself. The other problem is that our hangups, unfortunately or fortunately, contain our wealth. Our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Best Graphic

I used this graphic a few days ago on my Practical Mystic Facebook page when I called out for 3 likers to take me over the 100 liker mark – and ended up with 30 new likers <3. Happy dance 🙂

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Best Therapyhand therapy

Jin Shin Jyutsu – a Japanese art, philosophy and health technique.

When I read about this therapy in the Elephant Journal earlier this week, I had all the problems. My main issue was figuring out which finger to focus on, so in the end I decided to just do the thumb and the palm. After five minutes, I couldn’t remember any of my problems. I decided I was a convert :). If you would like to read about Jin Shin Jyutsu click here. For those people who are allergic to clicking links, here is a brief summary:

The hands represent our bodies and emotions, much in the same way that the feet do in reflexology. Each part of the hand represents a different energy meridian, which is associated with certain body parts and emotions. In this simple therapy, you hold a finger, thumb, or press on your palm, close your eyes and breathe for one or two minutes, imagining all of the tension associated with the particular part of the hand draining out of your hand and into the Earth. For a complete body balance, hold for longer and do all of the fingers, thumbs and palm. 

Best Long Read

bird by bird

Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott

Have you read this book? It’s so good. This wonderful little gem for writers on the writing life is by turns wise, funny, sad, enlightening and entertaining. There’s this:

I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who are not even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.

…and this:

My friend Carpenter says we no longer need Chicken Little to tell us the sky is falling because it already has. The issue now is how to take care of one another. Some of us are interested in any light you might be able to shed on this, and we will pay a great deal extra if you can make us laugh about it. For some of us, good books and beautiful writing are the ultimate solace, even more comforting than exquisite food. So write about the things that are most important to you.

For me, the things that have stayed with me after reading this book are that when you are writing (and reading) non-fiction, beautiful writing, a light touch, blistering honesty and humour are absolutely golden for engaging the reader. Like Anne says, if you can make people laugh about the misery of the world, people are going to love you all the more.

Best Recipe

Following on from our fabulous pomegranate harvest last week, I must tell you about a delicious salad I made using the pomegranates. The kids and I had it for dinner as a side one night, and then Alani took it to school for lunch. As I walked past Alani at lunchtime, I saw a bunch of kids clustered around admiring her salad, and then the plaintive request from one child, “Can I come over to your place this afternoon, Alani, so I can try some of that salad?” Gold :). Here it is:

I cup of couscous37257_l
3 shallots, finely sliced
1 lebanese cucumber, chopped
100g feta
2 tbl of fresh coriander, chopped finely
2 tbl of fresh parsely, chopped finely
2 tbl of fresh mint, chopped finely
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
Juice of 1 lemon

Prepare couscous according to packet directions. When the couscous has cooled sufficiently, add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste. Enjoy!

That’s it from me this week – enjoy your weekend <3.

PSSSTTTT

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20 comments

  1. This is getting spooky. I subscribe to Maria Popova’s weekly newsletter and I loved the line “If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom.” I hope that’s true because I think I’m stuck with the neuroses! Also, I have read ‘Bird by Bird’ at least twice. Love it. I hope you are more relaxed and ‘at one with the river’ again. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is spooky! My kind of spooky 🙂
      Actually, I thought to myself this morning that I feel like I’ve popped out the other side…here’s hoping 🙂

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  2. Sara,my moods have changed. While most of my life I’d get angry for the fun of it, I am rarely angry now, possibly because my kids have all grown up and no longer irritate me. And of course you never get angry at grand children no matter what they do to you. My wife and I spat with each other from time to time, just to stay in shape. But nothing seems important enough now to get angry about except sometimes my favorite sports teams. I am a great believer in equanimity–what a wonderful word, keeping quiet and untouched that tiny core of stillness deep inside. Disappointment, of course, is a different matter. A very nice post as always. Thank you..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Equanimity. What a beautiful word that is. I really, really do strive for equanimity in my life, and you know, mostly I achieve it. Maybe that’s why those times when for whatever reason I can’t, jar me so much. Also, I have a couple of trigger points – disrespect and lack of appreciation – which whip me out of equanimity.
      I have noticed with my dad, how much he has mellowed over the years – he was a hot tempered demanding Leo when he was younger, and we often clashed 🙂 and now he’s a mellow pussy cat, and much easier to be around! So, here’s hoping my equanimity is easier to hold on to as I get older. Thanks David, so much xo

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  3. A wonderful reflection of how you are feeling and how you have created a space for that feeling to get a smooth sailing…being in suspended animation. Yes, we get into this state and we try many things to occupy one stable state, your love for water and diving that’s revealing. Hmmm, that encounter with the dragon lizard and the way you have analyzed with the pressure cooker says it all.

    Doing different things and things not done for long makes you feel better and of course getting onto doing hands on task and cleaning and re-organizing the room and shifting things in the place you occupy, elevates you and your thinking, and makes your living much better and yes, I do it periodically to keep me excited to the place I reside. No doubt about that a good book or a lovely song changes the mood and moves into a zone of meaningful engagement and exciting expectation.

    Have a great week end Sara… the graphic was indeed very creative.

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  4. What a soul splash refreshing welcome back read ( we have just returned from 10 days trekking, and whilst I jumped into a glacier ice river for a cleansing dip – it was nowhere near so glorious and joyful as your swim in your river!)…I loved to read your river immersion – it is one of my Australian manage my mood things to do – of a late arvo, handball kids and foodprep to my husband and luxury love it soak up a solo swim (often nude) in our nearby river. In Nepal, awareness of my mood, combined with yoga-sweet-yoga and attempts at softening my sharpness at ‘that time of the month’ seem to be going ok. Another 40day practice is a-calling though. Thanks for Pema Choeden = love her!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My river sister 🙂 There’s not many people who feel the same way about the river as I do! Holy crap, you jumped in a glacier ice river! I bet you won’t forget that in a hurry 🙂 I am starting to think I need another 40 day practice too. I am not sure what it should be yet; maybe some sort of meditation.

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  5. I love Pema Chodron. Her explanations really simplify the meditation practice. How true is it that our innate desire to always change, or fix our situations is what get us stuck in the cycle?? We tell ourselves to make it better when really it’s about just being with it as is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! It is the ultimate ‘do something, fix it’ mentality of the western mind, isn’t it? It can take us far but not as far as we need to go xo

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  6. I laughed as I compared your version of dinner prep etiquette to ours. When the G.O. and I collide it’s more a health & safety issue… Usually first home after work I hit our small kitchen running. He arrives later trying to be helpful and put his lunch plastic in the sink, rinse it etc… he or his esky might be also in the kitchen space… there’s just no room! It is the riskiest of times. A dip in the river would be the perfect antidote. Well done for taking the time out.
    The barometer of my day at that time is how loud the music is and if I have a glass of wine spritzer to accompany dinner prep. Other times if my mood is low I also burn incense, oil and I have a singing bowls CD. Sometimes all I need is a nap.
    I was going to say Ardys recommended Bird by Bird, so it’s on my Goodreads list… I see she has already mentioned it and yet more Maria Popova synchronicity.
    I really need to arrange some dedicated daily meditation time… At the moment I’m so busy my thoughts are whirling constantly. I need to give them a break and guidance so via the finger/s meditation and some sitting in my life ala The Wisdom of No Escape, and just being.
    The salad recipe using home grown pomegranites is yum…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dale, I can so imagine the two of you manoeuvring around Eskies and each other in your little kitchen :). It is a touchy time indeed. The bear is mostly away during the week, and cooking is my deal anyway, but sometimes flare ups happen, especially if I want a change to the norm. Anyway 🙂
      More synchronicities – love them so much. They are like fuel to my soul 🙂
      I need a regular meditation practice as well – it’s slipped away. I’ve got an idea for another 40 day practice, which I do a couple of times a year to get me back on track. Keep you posted 🙂
      Have a good week!

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    • It’s funny – Americans forget all the time about how there’s this whole other thing going on in the Southern Hemisphere, but we Australians know perfectly well what’s happening in the North. Hmmm 🙂 There must be a message in there somewhere!

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  7. Spring feels slow this year in this half of the world and it’s taking me some time to re-balance, but your inspiration this week is a great prompt. I’ve read Pema Chodron and found lots of wisdom there, Bird by Bird is on my wish list and my hand is tingling with energy after giving Jin Shin Jyutsu just a little go. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the equinox seasons are slow to come around this year…but I’m wearing a jumper and a blanket on my lap this morning, so maybe that’s a sign 🙂

      I’ve just included the Jin Shin Jyutsu into my morning meditation practice, and it’s just beautiful. Such a simple thing!

      Thanks for visiting Andrea xo

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah yes, those pesky moods. I find journal writing and watching something funny to be good ways of handling them. It’s hilarious to go back to those entries where I’d been so convinced my life was just one big melodrama. The Jin Shin Jyutsu sounds fascinating and so easy that there’s no reason not to try it. As always, thanks for sharing your finds and enjoy your weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Journal writing, comedy and an interval of time – the best remedies for a bad mood 🙂 I am loving the Jin Shin Jyutsu, so much. I’ve been using it in my daily meditation, and it’s beautiful.

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