Book Club: In search of my Zen (mother) nature. Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali

Book Club: In search of my Zen (mother) nature. Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali

I know I am not the only mother who tussles with the notion that she is not as calm as she would like to be. Frustrations arise and sleep is hard to come by. So are a few minutes alone to shower let alone meditate on our mental state. Meditate?! When? When there is laundry to put away or when our children need to be fed or when when when. Meanwhile it feels like the world keeps spinning for everyone else, off they go to the gym or to the shops or for a poo. Lucky.

Envy. Worry. Anger. It’s a yuck feeling to have come over you. And it hurts if you have always felt you are a naturally positive and strong person. Suddenly you feel weak and quite low. A few months ago I bought a book called Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali. I don’t have a lot of time to read it in one sitting but I keep it nearby and when The Child is happy to we dip into it and have a ponder together. I read a little more when TC sleeps.

(by the way I am not sponsored and anyway I bought my copy off Booktopia for the Qantas FF points)

More than anything I am searching for a way to navigate evolving into a Mother whilst still maintaining everything else that I am and can be. At the same time I want to be PRESENT, and here for my child. I discover every night how important it is to be present with my child. We have a more loving, peaceful and happy evening if the day was spent in a calm manner than not. Duh. On days I look at a page or two I seem to be able to maintain a sense of insight over my feelings and practice some semblance of mindfulness.

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Are you a good meditator? One tip to become a good, even great meditator.

Are you a good meditator? One tip to become a good, even great meditator.

So what is a good meditator? The one who meditates.” – Allan Lokos

Just start! Even one minute of meditation is better than nothing. If even one minute seems like forever start slow, try counting to ten, next time to twenty, slowly increasing the time you spend in meditation. You are a good meditator the moment you start to meditate!

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Prescription for Joy: Radiate Love and Light – 40 Day Practice

Prescription for Joy: Radiate Love and Light – 40 Day Practice

B and I started a 40 day practice this month. Usually we have our own activities we like to do in order to feel good: mine would be yoga, Pilates, watching old TV shows, and his would be basketball (REAL and XBOX). This month we decided that the New Moon would be the perfect time to start a shared daily practice for 40 days to boost our energy and spirit levels.

We are STILL doing our favourite activities, naturally!

Everyday we practice a set sequence of yoga postures, followed by mantra meditation and we drink a green drink that I labelled our ‘Elixir’. This last part is major because B has never been on board with drinking anything green although I feel like that’s being very picky since he is slightly colour blind anyway? For all he knows it could be pink? SUDDENLY he can tell it’s green. I mean.

Anyway.

The mantra we chant is personal to each of us but I’ll share mine with you below. We chant out loud and with confidence, 11 times and then we sit quietly and let things marinate.

Somedays we do our practice in the evening like last night when we came home from a wedding party. We showered, changed and stepped on our mats. Then we had our green drink. We slept like babies even with both of us recovering from the flu.

It feels wonderful!

To go along with our 40 day practice we also cut out coffee. I typically drink a lot of coffee, alarming amounts even, but I’ve never had any issue with stopping. I never even get headaches if I go without coffee but it’s that comfort factor that I like. I love comfort! So when I want a warm drink I’ll make myself a Coconut Maca drink. I’m having one righttttttt now. 

 
I’m very lucky I’ve never enjoyed soft drinks and I drink a lot of room temperature water. Even warm water in a mug can be comforting. I make a ritual out of heating the water up, choosing a favourite mug (B and I both like to hog the same mugs) and then enjoying the steam puff up. It’s all about the ritual and process! Aren’t humans funny?

We started out as a very small community of just two, but in just over a week a few of our friends have started to join in. One of my girlfriends asked for a shopping list so she could run out and grab all the ingredients for the ‘elixir’ the very next morning.

Which is great! The more the merrier, and slowly little by little we generate more good vibes. If you would like to join us (we’d love to have you!) feel free to come up with your own mantra, or use mine:

RADIATE

Be well and be radiant! xoxo

Girl Talk: Team Huddle

Girl Talk: Team Huddle

[All images are on point and from weheartit.com]

B goes through these phases of having a current word that he loves to use. His current one is ’empower’. Not a bad one to have. He uses it in a work context, empowering this associate, that manager, this director, etc.

We all know that I love myself some weheartit action. Whaddya know, there is an inspiration gallery on weheartit called ‘Empowerment’! Hello, this is Synchronicity calling. Oh, it’s for us! So, this gallery on weheartit is girl-power focused but there’s some stuff in there to support all genders as well. The images that caught my eye the most were the ones that remind me that girls need to support other girls. You know the ones:

One of my favourite comedians is Dylan Moran and he made an observation about women in one of his standups saying we will never have the rights we keep demanding because we keep bitching about each other. You could hear the sucked in breath of the audience, the outright guffaws of everyone, all the head nodding and people going, “Haha! So true!”.

I laughed too but on the inside, I was all, “Dammit, Team!”

A very good friend of mine once told me something when I expressed hurt feelings after discovering that someone I thought of as a very close friend had been talking about me behind my back. He said, “Dom, one of these days you’ll learn that not everyone likes everyone and not everyone will like you.”

taste
Stranger things, hey. What are you gunna do.

Stranger things, hey. What are you gunna do.

I was like “Waaaaaaahhhh I don’t wanna learn” (The sound of me experiencing history repeating.)

Flashback to trying to introduce my different best friends in junior school to each other which felt like walking face on into a brick wall. Very painful. They all hated each other. For no reason that I could see. I liked them, we seemed to like similar things hence the bff-ness, so why didn’t they like each other? At least one of them explicitly stated, “If she’s coming, I’m not coming.” Tea parties and movie outings got very tricky.

My squads were more like Noah’s ark passengers and only came in sets of two. No chance of starting a girl band which is a shame because one of my bffs and I had this great dance routine down ahahahaha cue my #squadgoals gallery.

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It was actually a killer routine, ok.

It was actually a killer routine, ok.

This could have been us but you hatin’.

how amazing would this be

who dis
No, I’m not bffs anymore with those girls.

Another odd thing that I observed over time was the refusal of women to accept each other.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Yes but she’s ugly.” as a means to downplay that person’s competence or worth? Or if someone is being praised for an accomplishment, another person says, “Too bad she’s fat.” Or  about someone who has the figure of someone who works out alot, “She’s probably bulimic.” Or about someone who is beautifully dressed, “She’s a bimbo.” Or about someone who is just generally a lovely person, well off, doing well in her chosen field, beautiful inside and out, you might hear, “But she’s still single hey.”

?!

not nice
That’s super unchill and way harsh.

This hating thing seems to be something that has really picked up over the last couple of years. I’ve been the subject of some hate too: I have been fat-shamed AND thin-shamed, but then hello, who hasn’t had a little shade thrown at them by this point? There’s so much of it to go around.

i'm curvystudies show

snap!
Seriously, how much are we loving these images?! And also are those some kind of donut?

I don’t know if it has always been this way and I can’t speak to what guys talk about amongst themselves because I’m not a guy. But it feels horrible to me. This should not be the norm. Where have the compliments gone? I’m not interested in lip service and saying nice things that we don’t mean. But the more I see this sort of behaviour — and I know other people must be seeing this hence all the “Women empower each other” inspiration images — the more I think there seems to be this mindset that there is only a limited amount of beauty, brains, health, wealth, best friends, compliments, success, and other great things and it’s every woman for herself. We need to clear this misunderstanding up. There may be underlying issues like a feeling of lack (self-esteem, worth, value) and we need to deal with that too. Not that having issues is an excuse. We may not even be aware of any underlying issues. Although what kind of perfectly happy issue-free person walks around espousing hate? Happy people don’t kill people as Elle Woods puts it.

Hey girl, what lies beneath?

Dunno, but that won’t stop me from hating on other people. 

And “she started it” is definitely not a valid reason, either.

another woman's beautynot at all jealous

other womenwomen shouldbecause v66

The idea that a person may be deeply unhappy without even knowing suggests a general lack of awareness or cloudiness of mind. One of the Yoga Sutras talks about how to attain clarity of mind. It says, “Clarity of mind is produced by meditating on friendliness towards the happy, compassion toward the miserable, joy toward the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked.” [1.33]

I think of this as one of several keys to ultimate freedom.

What better freedom can there be than to have total peace of mind? To not experience jealousy when one witnesses the success of another but to feel happy? Rather than tearing each other down and belittling the hard work of another we can feel inspired to do more and be more. No, we don’t need to do the old “Girls rule, boys suck” chant either. There is no need for us to put down another gender to feel better about our own. We don’t need to belittle someone else’s life to feel better about our own. True strength doesn’t depend on highlighting the weaknesses of others and we need to be stronger.

True strength NOT brute strength.

what we need

All of us are in this together and we have our own challenges to get through. My approach? Well, basically:

can't seehalf the battlebe a queen honey!IFbe nice or else

For those of us who have been bullied and pushed around: hey, you need to know that you’re a valuable person.

you are validyou are notgood peopleif you can't find onep.s.

For those of us who have not made the best choice, let’s stop being so shady. I think kindness is a nicer shade on you.

So, if we really want world peace and universal love, let’s give ourselves permission to show each other kindness and find some peace. There are really important things happening out there, tearing each other down simply cannot be the way forward. This behaviour has become a bad habit but habits can be unlearned. It’s never too late to learn new tricks and bring about change. Change your thoughts, change your life.

orendapeople are terrificall the hearts<3

Ok, team, good talk. Go team!

xoxo

Video

Yoga to Move into Stillness

So legend has it that when you can’t sleep at night it is because you are awake in someone else’s dream.

Please stop dreaming about me whoever you are.

Aaaaaaaahahahahaha allow me to cackle away merrily whilst you take the time to roll your eyes.

I’ve been struggling to sleep properly and it seems to be some sort of excess nervous energy from prepping to go home for the holidays. This time next week I will be back home and ohmigoshonlyafewmoresleepstogoooooooooooooosomanythingstodosolittletimetodoitin.

You know those jitters? 

Verrrrrry similar to the kind a kid gets the night before Christmas. Who could possibly sleep?! It’s just all too exciting. TOO being the keyword. Too much going on. Around us and inside our heads. Without an outlet to channel all the excitement into, those sensations spill over everywhere and amplify existing feelings. 

There is a lot happening during holiday season and all that change can be stressful on a body. 

Resisting the change causes friction which leaves me restless and kinda twitchy. Then as I lose sleep I become tired and cranky. The cycle continues on a loop. When I was younger I couldn’t figure out how to settle myself down and found myself buffeted along by the things that kept happening TO me no matter how hard I tried to avoid them or take full control. I felt so resentful and frustrated. Did I have a target on my back?

Now I kind of understand it is up to me to decide if I want to struggle and kick my way along or flow through change. But the way is always THROUGH the obstacles or the change. And whilst I can control some aspects there are many others that I can’t. Discerning what I can and can’t change, much like the serenity prayer, are key to giving me the space I need to regain a sense of calm.

Try reading the next two paragraphs out loud slowly and with intent:

I remember that I can control my breathing. I can inhale fully and exhale completely. I can move my body as I breath slowly and deeply. I can give complete attention to moving my body with my breath. 

And with that I feel my heart rate calm down, my stomach ceases to twist into knots, my eyebrows unfurrow and my mind quietens and I move into stillness. Then I can sleep soundly and deeply. I wake up feeling joyful and excited about my days. I will nourish my body with fuel so I have energy to go about my day. I will move my body because it feels good to be active. I look forward to anything that comes my way. I feel content with the present moment because it is perfect. 

I hope following along to this short video helps equip you with a sense of calm as you go about preparing yourself for this holiday season. Please practice safely and take good care of yourself. 

Processed with Rookie Cam

Namaste. 

 

Gallery

A Well Spent Sunday

brings a week of content.

Quite so!

Actually I had a lovely time on Saturday as well so I’m in for a fortnight of wonderfulness. How grand would it be if each day we spent well gave us a credit for the week ahead? Like a sort of happiness coupon.

The more pragmatic of us would point out that we could alternatively just live each day well and forget the coupons already. Yes. Of course. That would be an easier way wouldn’t it? So how many of us do that?

Hmm.

If I had to say what exactly it was I did over the weekend that filled me with such bliss and contentment, I’d struggle to mention anything super exciting. It’s always been those tiny little moments that sort of creep up on me. Which is such a relief because that means during the weekdays I can just keep myself open to more of such treasures.

The heroine of a favourite book of mine had a ritual with her best friend called “White pebble or black pebble”. Each day they would fill an imaginary jar with white pebbles for anything wonderful that happened and black pebbles for anything not so. At the end of the day the women would ring each other and announce whether it was a white pebble type of day or a black pebble one. Ever since reading that book I keep a jar in my mind, a tad dusty as I don’t tend to it all the time, but I take it out more and more these days and check how many white pebbles I found during the day. The occasional black pebble shows up but I try to be less diligent with those.

Here are some of my white pebbles this weekend.

Usually I teach during the weekends, which I adore, but it was nice for a change to have my entire morning to myself to awaken very lazily with a coffee. After a huge yawn whilst shuffling these cards I drew (I kid you not) the Awakening card. Do you believe in coincidences? Or destiny? Can we have both?

Awakening
It’s important to be yourself!

I’ve gotten really fascinated with geometry, I’m always seeing these fancy circles and squares showing up on weheartit and so on. So I gave it a go this weekend. Let me tell you, there’s more than one way to join the dots. Like a zillion ways. Figuratively and literally. Aside from getting a little cross eyed at certain points it was really absorbing. An interesting way to meditate if you can’t stand not doing anything at all. I think there are still more dots to join.

More than one way to connect the dots

The power went out in our building, so we were trapped for a while. Luckily I had already made a coffee so fine by me. No harm at all. Until I felt ready for a second coffee. But then we figured out that the power inside the bedroom worked. We’re problem solving people. Hehe.

No I did not care to check if the washing machine had any power. Priorities.

Would you believe I have not had rice crackers until now since I was at uni?  The first time around? If you want the math for it, that would be almost 15 years ago. Far out. And after I merrily ignored the serving suggestion and made my way through just about the entire packet I realised why I didn’t buy rice crackers anymore when I wouldn’t stop bouncing off the walls afterwards. And then I was insanely thirsty for hours. No original flavour for me thank you very much. Gimme the BBQ. It weirded B out to see snacks in the house AND to see me eating them. I don’t buy snacks because that was how I was brought up. We only got them if we were having a party. I think I will revert to that rule. But it was a nice treat x 4 serving sizes.

Serving suggestions are not serving rules.

Oh, and I also had a visitor drop by during the afternoon to see how my drawing was going. Birds drop by from time to time and I always feel like it’s a good sign. My mood always lifts when I see the flutter of wings even for the briefest instant.

Eventually the power came back on and we watched a bit of The Other Woman. More than anything I think we like Leslie Mann’s voice. And I like the expressions Kate Upton makes, she seems so goofy. Oh and I felt really happy about the dinner I threw together. To counter ALL the rice crackers I ate. When everything is really fresh, not a lot needs to be done to make a delicious meal. And a cool salad is so good for balmy nights. And minimal clean up!

It’s pretty straightforward you just need to mix together a dressing, tear up some leaves, and add anything else you want to make it a filling meal.

Teevee Dinner
“What is up with your hot brother?” Yeah, Leslie, tell us.

So how was your weekend? I hope you had a wonderful weekend and a week ahead filled with magical white pebbles. xx

 

Video

Meditation for Beginners (Breathing) and a Zen Story

Good morning!

And I’m getting through that pile of videos to edit. *pow pow* If you had read what I wrote last week about procrastinating you would nod and be like *high fives screen* and then I would high-five you back and be like, “Thanks!”.

So there is an old story about a rich man who goes to the zen master asking how to become enlightened. He’s got the money, no sum is too big, how much. 

Hmm, free. Plus two years, if you meditate everyday for one hour so says the master. 

Whuuuuuuuuuuuuut. Okay, okay. How about if I meditate everyday for five hours? How long then, huh? 

Oh yes, that will be very good. Twenty years. 

HUH!$*&%#@$?! 

That isn’t exactly how the story goes, there are a few variations. That’s my take on it.

And how about this expression:

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes each day. If you are too busy then sit for an hour.”

I love the humour in these stories and sayings. A person can interpret these stories in so many different ways. I’ll have to share with you some of the comments a few people made about one particular zen story I came across sometime, remind me? 

In the meantime, I have  a meditation video for you! It is thirteen minutes long but if you want you can skip through the introduction and chat straight into the practice portion. But it’ll take you twenty years.

Kidding!!!

I’m a big fan of the two minute format. Here’s the link to my two minute yoga video Hurrah for Yoga in Pyjamas. Big fan of anything I can do in pyjamas too.

If you’re all “Nah, I got time to hang” then stay tuned for the outtakes. There are many. I was waiting for my washing machine to finish before I started recording and it kept whirring promisingly as though it was wrapping up. And then I’d hit record and the washing machine was all “Haha no.” But it ended eventually. 

Ready? Here we go: 

Here is a quick starting point for people who want to get into meditation and have been meaning to but always say they don’t have enough time. One day, I will get around to meditating. Ha! Today is that day!! After my washing machine finished spinning hahaha.

If you’re anything like me, your daily to do list can stretch as long as your arm and then some. When it comes to actually tackling things you start to wonder where exactly to start. Too much happening so many feelings! This is the BEST time to meditate so that you can resume (or start) work feeling focused and calm.

A lot of us think we need hours set aside to get meditation right but sometimes a minute here a minute there and just quiet breathing is all we need to notice a huge difference. This is where we start today, the breathing, which is the most important part. If we can turn all our attention to our breathing, there is nothing else for our mind to do and everything becomes oh so still.

You can repeat this short breathing exercise as many times as you like, be sure to keep the body and face as relaxed and tension free as possible to really get the benefits. Anytime you feel as though things are getting too much during the course of your day, you can turn to this breathing exercise. I hope this makes a difference!

The exercise starts at 5:32 if you want to jump ahead, please do so. We finish with a very light bit of self massage to our brow area. When we first wake up the area can often feel quite heavy and puffy. This is also an area that often remains tense throughout the day without our realising. If you’ve been worrying about something this will be especially helpful in helping you to feel energised and ready to face the day. 

Thanks so much for watching. Please let me know if you enjoyed that and if you have any special requests, comment down below. X