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Etched in my heart.

There’s a strange thing that comes over me in the bush.

As someone who notes down the running commentary that goes on in my head on a regular basis I feel pulled toward documenting the most memorable moments of my life. Moments that are so vivd in my memory. Memories of my time spent in the African bushveld.

Because I write whenever I am overcome with feelings … life, mind-altering, soul-expanding experiences I am shocked to page through my numerous journals that I took with me whilst in game reserves in South Africa and find near-empty pages.

Lists of sightings. Various species. Numbers and dates. That’s it. 

I’ve spent up to two weeks at a time in the bush, blessed to have embraced my love of the wild and discovered volunteer projects which monitor endangered species. I have reams and reams of photos and video footage. Yet, this self-proclaimed writer, wrote close to nothing at all.

Why is it that the bush envelopes me in such stillness? I suppose absorption is stillness, being so fully immersed in your surroundings and so tuned into the present moment, there was nothing to say. Just awe. Complete awe in gratitude, the amazed bewilderment of the immensity of life that surrounds you. The anticipation of the surprises around every corner.

There is no space for any time but the present, basking in what is or what has just been witnesses. The thrill of the chase. And chance. The strain of your game-spotting eyes; seeing a rhino in every rock and a cheetah in every tree trunk. And the unmatched high of YOUR absolute PURE luck. 

The depth of the sleep fallen into after a bumpy nine hours on the back of a 4×4 to waking up to another sunrise, simply to do it all over again. Knowing nothing will be the same.

Oh, I know why I never wrote. 

‘Cause is all etched so deeply, right here in my heart.

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A prayer to the wild spirit.

I pray to the spirit of the wild

 to please help me get out of my own way

golden protective light

help me to hear and channel your divine guidance 

please help me to open up fearlessly

support me in knowing and trusting I’m on the right path

please allow me to draw from my experiences: 

all the lessons, growth and evolution,

yours and my own

please allow me to express myself

fiercely & precisely

please help me put words to the silence and stillness

be with me through this process

please help me surrender.

tracks

 

Conversations with Trees

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Talk to me old one about the lessons you’ve learnt, the things you’ve heard

Talk to me about growing upwards towards the light
Talk to me wise one about 100 years of stillness,
growing from your roots

To the greatest of heights

Speak to me Great Grandfather about your reasons and seasons
In silence, knowing what you know
Growing how you grow
Speak to me Great Grandmother about bending and not breaking

In times of woe
In silence, glowing how you glow

I’m listening ancient one
for you’re the observer of so much time
Guide me through meandering thoughts
They’re yours, channelling through mine

Talk to me oh tallest one
I feel such strength in your shadow
Your clarity I breath in
Your vibration I will follow

What is a holiday?

It was my first “Merry Christmas” since I can remember. 

When I was younger, I’d miss the boyfriend in my life as we went off to our separate family’s for Christmas day. 

In my twenties it was filled with “Is this my step dad’s last Christmas?” to “I’m not going to spend Christmas with the one I thought I would.”

There where those Christmas’s running away from heartbreak and depression, hiding out of town and sobbing into the lawn on Christmas eve at my sisters place and once as far as to a tropical island of misery, teaching me that sadness follows you wherever you go and joy and appreciation can light the darkest room.

Then there were gradually less and less people around for Christmas. Loss after loss after loss, year after year. 

Holiday times are heavy times for some. And that’s the way I knew it. So much so that this year I didn’t bother taking leave, “let it come and go” I said.

Until this Christmas came and surprised me with peace and joy, togetherness and love.

                                       • • ♡ • •

It still leaves me thinking, what is a holiday though?

So, many of us set out to make the 24th – 25th – 26th of December THIS WONDERFULLY JOYOUS occasion. 

HAPPY FUCKING HOLIDAY !

May it be filled with love and happiness 

ALL AROUND YOU 

Fa la laaaaa 

La laaa

La la.

Make your own holiday. Choose your time.

What does a holiday mean to you? Does a celebration have to fall on an agreed holiday?

The “holiday-feeling” is something you can feel at any time when you are centered, filled with appreciation of the gifts of your present moment. But when you assign it to a specific day, we all arrive with our own expectations, self-imposed and society-imposed pressures… and that’s a recipe for all kinds of disaster.

My 2018 reflection crashed and burned and was just a forced reflective word vomit because I was actually so caught up with what the end of year should signify, how I SHOULD feel at 6pm on the 31st of December, as well as lulling in my sweet gratitude for the surprising peacefulness of the festive season this time round, that I struggled to get deep about it.

But here it is from inner peace to outer dynamism.

Let 2018 revolve around:

Wisdom•Celebration•Service•Commitment

Stay Tuned in ~ Tapped in ~ Turned on ~ To your highest possible frequency.

And when in doubt. Never underestimate the power in the voice of silence. In a bit of quiet, you’ll find the answers and reconnection.

WISHING YOU A WISDOM-FILLED 2018.

                              • • • •

Footnote.

Tonight’s medicine for a tired mind:

+ A spoonful of David Attenborough wildlife documentaries

+ 1 spoonful of Guruji wisdom 

+ 1 spoonful of Abraham Hicks 

Authentic relating.

Authenticity: The quality of being genuine or real.

There are things that we all resent about the antisocial (dis)connection of social media, but what I can definitely praise it for is the “So and so is interested in this event” newsfeed feature, because, whether ‘Joey’ made it to the event or not, I certainly  did.

Conversation HUB: A day of meaningful conversation at a beach house. Now, that’s exactly the kind of event that catches (and keeps) my attention.

Why? Because Meaningful Conversations are rare. And I’m so aware of that since I’ve been teaching ESL “Conversation class” over the last 3 years. Colleagues hate teaching  these sessions, exclaiming “There’s no lesson focus!” and “What is the aim of the lesson? What are the students actually learning?”

My fellow-teachers and management staff of the English Language School I work at all know that I love this slot. Students who have been in my communication classes know why too and the feedback I’ve had for my method of teaching has continued to inspire me.

There is no focus, you say.
‘Well, what is conversation?’ I usually open my courses with.
I get a lot of answers.
“Speaking, listening, answering questions, asking questions.”
I bring the students attention to ‘responding’ without planning what you are going to say while their partner is talking. How often do we do that? Um… constantly….  no longer listening simply preparing our next injection of words and opinions. To respond to what your someone says to you, once they have finished saying it to you, that’s a good habit in communication worth practising. don’t just talk at them.

What’s the aim? you ask.
Giving students the freedom to just go for it. To speak freely and openly, voice their opinions, to talk about things in depth that we often brush over or don’t even indulge in in regular daily chatter. Some topics that are exciting and wholesome, some controversial, some socially awkward. All real.

What are they learning? They are learning life skills in English. Communication skills that they haven’t even been taught to do in there mother tongue. How freakin’ meaningful is that language and expression? How much more true and authentic do you get? How to say what they feel, what they believe, to formulate their own beliefs and express them (in a foreign language as well) to learn about other minds and opinions and have a space to change their minds if they wish, update their point of view.

That’s the safe space I call my classroom. Where no one is wrong or right. Only, different.

I won’t elaborate on my techniques of guided conversations, conversation journeys or conversation rotations but I will highlight how I ended up at the “meaningful conversation HUB” on Sunday 15 October. Alone, stepping into yet another Unknown – out of pure curiosity and need to experience possibly what my students get to.

You see, I see these meaningful conversations happen so often because I facilitate them, and I suppose my lessons have taken on this description out of my own need for deeper connection and sharing. As a facilitator, I witness the magic but by being removed I don’t get to experience it as a participant.

Driving to the beach house on Sunday I was thinking about how I feel about certain topics and realised I don’t really know… because I’ve only ever thought about it briefly but never had the opportunity to put feelings to words to verbalised it. Students have asked me before, “But tell us, how do YOU feel about this? What do you believe?”

I brush it off, saying that it’s not my conversation to have, it’s theirs – a bit of a cop out, but I rarely want to label myself with an opinion I haven’t had time to mould.

So, there I was. It was a small group of mostly strangers. And I was asked to “check in” with why I was there. Which was most of what I’ve shared above. I want to gain skills and I’m open to any opportunity for personal and professional growth.

What I learnt about human conversation and interaction during our “authentic relating” task was that I was really listening and really present in what my group was saying. And when I felt how I was truly able to engage and listen to another, not for any other purpose other than to hear them, a thunder bolt of realisation struck me: people listen to me everyday but “I don’t feel heard”. This was a very emotional moment as I also had to face the fact that I listen to respond, I listen to form an option, I listen to react with advice or show empathy through my own personal experience. We don’t just listen to hear one another.

And it’s a HUGE pothole in the road of connection and communication. Authentic relating is all about giving someone the space, not to speak. But to be heard.

It started with chai… 

Memories of my month in India this time last year~

Can’t wait to go back but also so grateful to that journey for the shift that took place… for the silence and time “alone” (Yet, never alone!) that spoke to me and inspired true and deep healing, growth & transformation.
Realising that when I left, I could find a way to take my piece (peace) of India with me and keep it forever ~ Feed it and nurture it and expand on it ~ was the key!

It started with the commitment to myself to keep up the daily ritual to make fresh masala chai every morning. Just as I learnt to in Pushkar, with the traditional pestle and mortar I bought there. Bashing together fresh ginger, black pepper, cardomen pods, cloves (And my added Western flavour, cinnamon sticks) and boil away with strong black tea, milk & lots of sugar.

This daily practice was sacred to me at the time. It reconnected me to a feeling, to a state of being, a presence, a mindfulness that I’d started to experience in India.

Realising that when I came home, I could find a way to build on the internal and spiritual work that started in India is what somehow led me to the Art of Living Organisation. And become a part of a group of beautiful humans who are also on the path of spiritual growth and expansion. My Monday group Kriya (mediation) is what centres and sets me up for my week.

I’ve recently started practicing Vinyasa yoga twice to three times a week and after a strenuous practice where mind, body and spirit merge into a central light, quietness and joy come so naturally. I spend at least an extra 7-10 minutes seated in stillness on my matt relishing in this glorious state of being and awareness.

Thank you India for really cementing this in me.

I never really knew why I had this INNER pull and longing to visit you for so many years… but *courage* is a love affair with The Unknown.

• Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of the things you really love • It will not lead you astray•
That I know for sure!

The heart knows the answer.

A year ago, things hadn’t gone exactly as planned. In fact, ‘the plan’ crashed and burned in the most spectacular display of chainsmoking, shaking, shock and disbelief. And after an almost unhealthy dose of tears and disappointment for the loss of a fantasy, for the humiliation of having even taken such a blind risk for ‘love’, for having to face the failure. I remember repeatedly saying to myself “it’s just such bad timing!” (Right before my India trip!)

When I verbalised to a dear friend via a sobby WhatsApp message on the train to Heathrow, she responded with,

Maybe the timing IS RIGHT” 

And the penny dropped. The timing WAS right.

The heartbroken setback propelled me into the most glorious spiritual comeback. 

I doubted “the process” of this journey. Because YES! the heart needs a moment to just FEEL it all. The highs and the lows… But I’ll never doubt it again. It couldn’t have happened in any other combination or string of events.

A year ago today, when I thought it had all fallen apart ~ it was in fact a massive turning point, the dramatic climax that every incredible narrative must have before resolution begins.

I remember posting the following words on Facebook as I checked-in to my London-Dehli flight. This narration from an India-based movie that moved me sooo deeply, that I cried through and scribbled down many years beforehand.

This collection of truths at some point had sung out to me in one way or another. And on this day, a year ago I knew a tremendous shift was happening. I knew this because each and every line was relevant to me at that moment in time. 

The penny settled onto the Heathrow INTERNATIONAL terminal floor:

The only real failure is the failure to try.

And the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment. As we always must. All of us, in our different ways.

We get up every morning, we do our best. Nothing else matters. 

But it’s also true that the person who risks nothing, does nothing; has nothing. 

All we know about the future is that it will be different. But, perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same. 

So, we must celebrate the changes. 

Because, as someone once said, 

“Everything will be all right in the end. And if it’s not all right, then trust me, it’s not yet the end.” 

~ The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

 

The heart knows the answer.  And I trust it.

When the heart isn’t clear. The soul’s knowing will eventually shine through. I trust that.

And the Universe has a plan. I trust it.