Weekly Inspiration #41

11134007_10153258616610850_1694264362528695951_n

It’s been a week of large defeats and small victories.

Let me tell you about some of the small victories first before I tell you about the large defeat – or in other words, I will tell you the good news before the bad.

On Easter Sunday, a memory-thought flashed into my head: I remembered how I had always longed to study English Literature at University. The idea of studying the great works of literature was and still is, very exciting to me; but I put it aside as a young person because I couldn’t figure out the practical benefits of doing such a thing. For me, everything, including education has to have a practical outcome – and education is not free in this country.

I know something now that I didn’t know then though – our small minds are not always capable of grasping the potential benefits or otherwise of a particular action – and really, the only thing we have to guide us is a feeling of joy (or its opposite). If we move towards what brings us joy (and her friends happiness and excitement), we can’t go too far wrong. So, I found this great free online University called Saylor Academy that runs degrees for free. You can read all about their charter and how and why they do it – but the result is that I am now studying an English Major, just for me. Cool huh?

Is there anything in your life that you have put aside as being impractical or impossible that you could revisit?

My other small personal victory is that I am on day 12 of my 40 day meditation challenge, a discipline which has been of great benefit considering the other events of this week. Unlike the first time I did this challenge, I have not been slapped around the face with my own glaring imperfections, and I am not disappointed because of my lack of enlightenment :). I am smiling as I write this, because it seems a bit silly, but I really thought that a daily meditation practice was actually going to make me into a nicer person :). Now that I don’t have those expectations, I can just enjoy the meditation practice for what it is:

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”
– Thích Nhất Hạnh

What has your experience of a daily meditation practice been? Have you found it difficult?

250969_233142496805478_1032327450_n
Terrence, my second Dad ❤

Now for the bad news.

My second Dad* fell off the roof of his house while cleaning the gutters on Monday. He was rushed to hospital where he was examined and treated for a few broken ribs, a sizeable cut on his hand and impact injuries. It was generally thought that he had been lucky to avoid a head injury and a broken back – and there didn’t seem to be any internal injuries. Two days later though, he suddenly took a turn for the worse – he couldn’t breathe, and worse, when they out him on oxygen, none was getting through to his blood. They put him on full life support, narrowly avoiding a cardiac arrest.

My poor mother. I live the closest, so she had called me when he fell off the roof; to which I responded by packing up the kids and heading straight over to her house for the night. She also called me first when he was put onto life support, so I raced straight up to meet her at the hospital.  It was completely surreal to see my second Dad, a big, strong bear of a man, in an induced coma, being breathed by a machine. He looked peaceful, like he might have been sleeping as he lay there on the bed.

They had discovered that he had many more broken ribs than 5 – more like 20 – and on the point of impact, the ribs had caved in, damaging his lung. There had also been damage to some of his vertebrae, although not his spinal cord, and one of his lumbar discs. They were treating him for a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that was blocking the main artery leading into his lungs – they didn’t know for sure, because to move him – even down to the next floor to do the tests, would kill him. The treatment of administering blood thinners is dangerous when when a person is so injured, but to leave it untreated would definitely kill him.

Overnight, he rallied – they needed to give him less and less oxygen, his lungs needed less help to breathe and he was using the machine rather than it using him. His condition is critical but stable. He was well enough to get a CAT scan later in the day, which confirmed the lung embolism, but he didn’t enjoy that process at all and became unstable, needing more support from the machine. And so we wait.

Some small blessings:

  • A trauma mobilises people like nothing else: my brother arrived that night, my second Dad’s sister arrived not long after. For a long time there has been a rift between him and his children, my step-brother and sister – that was put aside, and they arrived as well.
  • My mother’s family and friends have also rallied and their support has been wonderful. My second Dad is much loved and valued in our community and his work with the environment and later with Aboriginal communities has had far reaching impacts.

So. That’s my week in a nutshell, in all its varied and bloody glory. I hope your week has been a little less tumultuous!

*Second Dad – my mother has been married to my second Dad for 30 years, ever since I was 8. He raised my brother and I like we were his own children, and for that reason I have elevated him above the level of step-father.

Best Short Read

4 Questions to Change Your Life: An Interview with Byron Katie, Creator of ‘The Work’ by the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies.

I am sorry to say that I have not yet read Byron Katie’s Loving What Is – Four Questions That Can Change Your Life – although it is on my to read list. I have however read and watched her talk about her ideas and I think her work is very powerful. Katie summarises her work thus:

Katie: The Work is a simple, very powerful process. It’s a way to identify and question the thoughts that are the cause of all the suffering in the world.

First, you write down the judgments you are thinking about other people, and then you put these judgments, one by one, up against the four questions of The Work.

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

4. Who would you be without the thought?

Omega: You stress the importance of writing down the inquiry into each thought. Why is it important to put it on paper?

Katie: If you try to do The Work in your head, without putting your thoughts on paper using something like the Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet, the mind will outsmart you. Before you’re even aware of it, it will be off and running into another story to prove that it’s right.

But though the mind can justify itself faster than the speed of light, it can be stopped through the act of writing. Once the mind is stopped on paper, thoughts remain stable, and inquiry can easily be applied.

To read the rest of this article click here.

Have you had any experience with Byron Katie’s The Work? 

Best Words

I felt, as I was sitting in the hospital room, as if I was in the centre of the cyclone, with trees and the odd bit of roof flying all around me in a mad medley – but I was just still. I don’t have a ‘what if’ mind – it naturally wants to just deal with what’s in front of it, and that is what I advise others to do in these overwhelming situations. Just do the next thing and then when you’ve done that, the next thing will arise. Do that as well. Meanwhile, avoid deciding if the moment that you are in is good or bad. Just let the moment be whatever it is, and in that way, you can harvest the gold from even the most harrowing of situations.

“Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate, or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for the person who has the vision to recognize it.”
– Henry Miller

Best Graphic1508008_937110296329064_4414666233655017351_n

As I was saying in last week’s post, I traditionally struggle with Easter. I have a mind that needs to understand, and a pagan Spring festival co-opted by Christians, held in Autumn boggles my mind – and not in a good way, my friends :). Anyway, after I suffered on Good Friday, struggled for understanding on Easter Saturday, then finally emerged from the darkness of the rebirth canal on Sunday…I thought for the first time that I might, just might be getting a handle on this Easter thing.

Best Listen

I was introduced to the Mahamrityunjaya mantra in a meditation class last year. It seems impossible to learn, but after practice it became easy, and is a very powerful mantra to listen to and sing – and heart lifting as well.

Om tryambakam yajamahe
Sugandhim pustivardhanam
Urvarukamiva bandhanat
Mrityormukshiyamamritat

I found the phonetic pronunciation useful when I was learning it:

om tra-yam-BA-kam-ya-jaa-MA-he
su-gan-dhim pu-shti-var-dha-NAM
ur-vaa-ru-ka-mi-va ban-DHA-naat
mrit-yor-muk-shee-ya-maam-ri-tat

 The Mahamrityunjaya mantra is a potent combination of sounds that, if repeated with faith, dedication and perseverance over a period of time, leads, not only to victory over the fear of death, but eventually to victory over death itself or moksha (liberation). It is therefore known as a ‘moksha mantra’. It is stimulating and heating (unlike the Gayatri mantra, which is soothing and cooling). It bestows longevity, and is designed to cure illness. It wards off evil or negative forces by creating a protective psychic shield around the practitioner. It is said to destroy sorrow and poverty, and to fulfil all of one’s desires. Anyone who wishes to remove obstacles in life and overcome difficult situations or illness should repeat this mantra regularly. If chanted a minimum of eleven times, last thing at night, it will ensure a better sleep and more positive dreams. – Yoga Magazine

 

Best Ginger Beer Failure

So, my nearly 11 year old son was watching a show where they were making ginger beer in the bottle, and asked me if he could have a go as well, insisting that he knew what and how much of everything to use. The Bear gave him a couple of long neck brown beer bottles that he uses for brewing beer, showed him how to clean them – and he was off. Some hours later, we heard a disturbing sound, much like a .22 gun being let off in the kitchen. We arrive to see the contents of the bottle sprayed all over the kitchen and a rather shocked looking boy gripping on to the bottle which had just blown its top 🙂

The imprint of the bottle top left on the kitchen ceiling.
The imprint of the bottle top left on the kitchen ceiling.

The other bottle was in the Bear’s shed, so he carried it, arms outstretched, to the outside table. At 10 pm that night a deeper sound was heard, described by the Bear who uses such terminology, like a .303 gun shot. This is all that was left of that bottle.

The shards of glass with a pile of sugar on the bottom.
The shards of glass with a pile of sugar on the bottom.

We are thinking that perhaps we need to refine the process somewhat 🙂

My dears, that’s it for today. Sending you all joy for this week, no matter what your situation or predicament.

Blessings,

Sara ❤

PSSSTTTT

Twitter – follow me on Twitter to see all of my other best reads that don’t quite make it on this blog, but are still awesome – I love a chat too, so come visit 🙂.

Facebook – I have a Practical Mystic Facebook page, where I share inspirational and thought provoking ideas, quotes and art. I would love to see you there 🙂

39 comments

    • Thank you so much for your blessing. We are all okay at the present, hanging in there and hoping for the best outcome. Your blog is lovely – I’m looking forward to reading more of what you write.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Sara, very sorry to hear about your second Dad’s problems. I wish him well and hope he’s back to his old self soon. Keep us posted of course. I suppose I’m a believer in instant gratification and have been spoiled in that I’ve never put something off in hopes I’d get to it later in life. So now you’re reading great literature. I majored in that in school and am surrounded by people who did the same, wife and son included, so i know what a rewarding experience you’re having. Who are you reading?. .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you David, I will keep you posted.
      Now, somehow I knew you would be pleased for me – I didn’t so much put it off for a later time, as dismiss it out of hand as being impractical. Tsk. And I guess my family didn’t know to correct me – they were either studying various types of medicine or things to do with the environment, so that seemed sensible. I’ve only just started, so I am not reading anything except literary theories :). I’m even excited by that, even though I wonder if they think about things too much 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love reading literary criticism, but I agree with you that it can be over-analytical. Read Susan Sontag’s Against Interpretation. I think you would like that. For sheer power of literary expression, I recommend Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness. Hemingway is my favorite writer (but my wife doesn’t like him.) You have many delightful hours ahead of you as an English major, and I look forward to hearing all about it. Best wishes to your Dad in his continuing recovery.

        Like

      • Dear David; how good is the internet? When I read your comment, I googled Susan Sontag’s Against Interpretation as you said, downloaded it and sent it to my ipad so that I can read it. OMG. Amazing. When I wrote my original comment, I had only done the first lecture and reading on an Introduction to the different types of literary theory…and I was a bit bamboozled I think. Now I am learning about each theory individually, and have done a reading and a lecture on New Criticism, which was more accessible to me. I realised that New Criticism is how I analysed texts in highschool, and it all seemed a little less strange. I am looking forward to reading Heart of Darkness, which I have heard of but never read…and even Hemingway, although I wonder if I will like him, he’s such a man’s man :). Not that it matters if I like it or not. I think you might be the only person that I can talk about such things, so i hope you don’t mind if I occasionally have literary conversations with you?!

        Like

  2. Great read as always but the day has been won by the ginger beer story which actually made me laugh out loud and I suspect will make me laugh whenever I think of it. And thank you so much for introducing me to the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra – I use the Gayatri mantra lots, sing it to Izzy as a lullaby – so learning this will be my weekend’s work. And another thank you for your beautiful words 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Zoe, I am so glad you appreciate the mantra – it’s beautiful. I, in my turn, am going to learn the Gayatri mantra :).
      Yep, that ginger beer catastrophe…we were laughing about it for days afterwards 🙂

      Like

    • Thank you Diana, all blessings are helpful.
      You are quite right; it could have been a catastrophe instead of an amusing story. They were literally ginger beer bombs!

      Like

  3. Just checking in the midst of a happily busy but productive Domestic Goddess Saturday… nothing new but it seems easier, more satisfying – maybe a little centering effect from day #4 meditation. I’ll be back after I’ve had time to read at my leisure but wanted to wish your Dad, you and family all the best, you’ve been in my thoughts… Those roofs, the G.O. was up on ours twice over Easter cleaning, he’s very capable but you never know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Dale – I had a domestic Goddess day yesterday and it was satisfying on lots of levels. Clean your house clean your mind kind of therapy. Terrence is also very capable – a master carpenter, and very used to being on roofs. It was just a terrible accident. Enjoy the rest of your day xo

      Like

      • I hope the past couple of days have brought improvement and recovery for your Dad.
        It’s wonderful that you are studying an English Major simply because it appeals to and nourishes something in you. A excellent gift to your worthy yourself.
        For me, it’s a matter of when the student extricates herself from one of her time consuming but necessary roles, a teacher will appear or be sought. Usually what I’m meant to do finds me, and I have faith it will be so at the right time.
        Byron Katie’s work is quite interesting. I’m not particularly judgmental and I get what she’s saying but I have my sticking points, one in particular and no amount of writing will change it because it’s personal rather than a generic judgment… I’m thinking karmic grudge…
        I’ve copied out the mantra details and link and emailed them to myself… a couple of weeks ago, pre-meditation practice I was desperate for a mantra at 3 am to stop the whirl of thoughts.
        The Gabriel Garcia Marquez quote resonates with lines of thought tacking around my birthday at the end of the year, our planned move from the city, and a few other family things… how quickly time passes, how much do we stay the same while changing incrementally but persistently. I look back at some of the people I have been over the course of my life. My younger selves are those with whom I’m most familiar. But there are others I hardly know now, but recognise them as me in that role and guise. Maybe it’s like some lessons at school are part of a curriculum of development but not particularly meaningful.
        I’m pleased some good came out of the terrible accident. Best wishes to you all.

        Like

      • Good morning Dale ❤
        The English major does feel like a gift to myself, you got that exactly right. It serves no purpose except to feed my soul; which I am learning (slowly) is the greatest purpose there is!
        I must admit, I smiled when I read how determined you are to keep a hold of that karmic grudge. I am sure that when you are ready to release it, it will just go.
        I had a friend stop me in the street the other day and hug me with tears in her eyes, telling me how beautiful and amazing the Mahamitrunjaya mantra is. It's very powerful, although I must admit it took quite a bit of perseverance to learn it!
        You're moving to the country at the end of the year! Wow, the dream is so close you can touch it 🙂 I was thinking about my former selves yesterday as well – I was reading about something called "La grande ligne (“the long line”) is a term in music that means simply that every good piece of music gives the audience a sense of flow, of continuity from the first note to the last," a concept that can be applied to our own lives as well, and how the seemingly randomness of our lives carries certain themes and purpose. It was quite a beautiful article actually: http://davidjrogersftw.com/2015/04/12/the-life-path-of-artists-and-writers/
        Terrence is making slow progress. They are hoping to take him off life support today and switch him over to a respirator. This is risky in itself, but an important next step.

        Like

      • I had a minute to scan the La grande ligne article… a lovely thought that we are a piece of music.
        Indeed we are moving at the end of the year… after a few delays. While friends and family are aware we haven’t yet announced it to the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad you went and visited David’s blog, I get a lot out if his thoughtful writing.
        So the world doesn’t know you are planning a tree change? Some will be very surprised I am sure 🙂

        Like

  4. First of all, congratulations on being an English major. I’d call that more than a small victory. My father, who spent his working life as a medical doctor, was in fact an English major in college. Great news about your meditation challenge. I have never been successful in becoming a regular meditator. Maybe one day… Regarding Byron Katie, I checked her out a few years ago, but as much as I admire her, I haven’t been strongly attracted to her work. I very much appreciate the Henry Miller quote. And the graphic is excellent- if we give ourselves the opportunity, we can be reborn again and again. It’s like how we handle the same situation differently as we change and grow. My son has been a huge teacher for me on that. Thanks for the mantra. I have very little experience with mantras, but there is something soothing and magical about them. Your ginger beer failure reminds me of when I was young and my older brother got a kit to make rootbeer. It didn’t taste nearly as good as the stuff from the store; but it was fascinating to know that you could make it yourself, at home. It also reminded me of the batch of hard cider my father once made that had too much carbonation, and the bottles burst one by one in their cases. Yes, he had made probably 3 or 4 cases (or possibly more) that had to be dumped. Finally, I’m so very sorry to hear about your Dad. (first or second, he’s Dad). Sending love, light, and Reiki to him and your entire family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Susan <3. Thank you for your good wishes for my Dad (of course you're right, he's my Dad).
      I think you're right – following a long held dream is never a small victory. And I know from experience that finishing such a thing is no small victory either!
      Meditation and mantra seem to be things that come and go in my life – mantra is something I have only started using in the past 12 months really, even though I grew up hearing my mother use them all the time. Meditation is something I want to make a habit, which is why I am doing the 40 day practice. It is such an effective way to bring something into your life. It's so much easier this time around :).

      Like

  5. I am so sorry to hear about your second Dad, Sara. I am glad, however, that your family rallied around, and I hope that he is growing stronger by the hour. The waiting is the scariest part. Sending comfort and love, though it sounds like you are being there in a very grounded way.

    And, congratulations on becoming an English major. That, as someone else commented, is no small feat at all! I’m thrilled that you have given yourself this gift and this experience, and I hope it fulfills that dream and then some.
    🙂

    Like

    • Jamie, thank you. Sometimes these tragic events serve to show us how loved and supported we really are. Even though I am very worried, my heart feels quite full. Life is strange and beautiful.
      And thank you for your support regarding my English Major. After thinking about yours and Susan’s comments it’s made me realise that following your dreams is never a small victory, because we have to be steering our own lives to do so. I saw this awesome quote by Erica Jong yesterday: What happens when you take your life into your own hands? You have no one to blame.
      🙂

      Like

  6. Sorry to hear about your second Dad, Sara, sending best wishes to you and your family. Good for you for starting an English major, it’s great that you’re doing something you’ve always wanted to do.

    Like

    • Thank you Andrea, he is making slow progress, so we are hopeful of his recovery.
      I feel so lucky to live in such a globally connected world, where I can decide to study English literature and enroll in a course all on the same day. We are blessed!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Just do the next thing and then when you’ve done that, the next thing will arise….I didn’t want to cut + paste your whole paragraph, but this is great advice, and so well put. Your meditation challenged seems to have shown up at exactly the right time (though I doubt there is ever a wrong time for this) with such a trying situation to put the practice into practice. And what a lovely mantra to add into the mix. Stay strong, Sara. And thanks for inspiring the rest of us. x

    Like

  8. “Is there anything in your life that you have put aside as being impractical or impossible that you could revisit?”

    Yes. Could and did. In college I originally went the practical route — studying business management incident something I was actually interested in. Graduated. And found out that I could have graduated in something I actually found it interesting and had the same ability to get a job. After all, a lot of employers like people who have studied the humanities, and such, and to have developed more broadly and with more creativity as a result.

    With a practical degree in hand and a lifetime of boring jobs before me I decided to go back to school and get a graduate degree in something that actually interested me. Now I have an interesting job, but not of a lot of money. But happier overall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! It’s good to know I’m not the only silly one :). I think education is mostly the point rather than what we study – the ability to learn, to stick with something, learning how to think and question. I wish I knew those things then – but then again, I would never have had the experiences I have had nor the life I have now, so who knows? What did you end up studying?

      Like

  9. Ah ginger beer can be a bit tricky like that. Tell him to give it another crack but with plastic bottles until the process is refined as you said. And leave some room for it to gather gases!
    I hope the week is looking a little brighter for Second Dad, a really hard time for you all to go through Sara. Xx

    Like

    • Thank you Brydey.
      As for the ginger beer, I have always wanted to make my own, so now I almost have to do it because of that failure, just to show my son that it can be done. Plus, he LOVES ginger beer. My mother said that it was always her job as a child to ‘feed’ the ginger plant for the ginger beer, so maybe I’ll try that. I have a friend who is a master brewer, and he said that same thing that you said – do it in plastic bottles.

      Like

    • Thank you Diana <3. Words are almost superfluous in these situations, which is bad luck because I am a writer by nature, so words are what I use :).
      I have been giving some thought to the themes in my life – I read this rather awesome post last week: http://davidjrogersftw.com/2015/04/12/the-life-path-of-artists-and-writers/ where he talks about La Grande Ligne – you may even know what that is, as you are a musician. Anyway, he asked us to apply the concept of the grand line to our lives and look at the major themes that have been constant. For me, it is community, connection and the search for meaning – and writing because that's how I express myself. So blogging fits in with those themes beautifully, which is why I get such a kick out of it, but it's not the only way that I experience those themes. Which is why I love the once a week commitment to blogging, with a continuous theme. It works for me.

      Like

  10. I’m rather late but thought I’d still stop by and see how you are doing. Sending my best wishes to you and your family. I can imagine how hard it is for everyone but like you said, the small blessings of family coming together is still something to be grateful for.
    I’m so inspired to hear that you’re going for that English degree! I once thought I’d pursue that in college but dropped all ideas of it after taking one class in Old English (it was a required prerequisite though all of us knew it was really for weeding out people who were wimps…. like me).

    Like

    • Hullo Lillian 🙂 It’s not too late, and thank you. You best wishes are very welcome.
      Weeding out the wimps – that made me laugh. I think I was a wimp too when I was younger, and by that I mean I didn’t know myself or my capacities very well. Now, I have a much better idea of myself, and know what I can do and what I can’t. Mind you, this is definitely untravelled territory, an intellectual adventure…so we’ll see. I remain excited and optimistic though, so fingers crossed 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s