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On being thankful for every moment

3 Apr

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This morning I met a beautiful friend for an early morning swim, at Fairy Bower in Manly.

The dawn sunlight pierced the crystal sea, as waves rocked across reef. Sparkles radiated around us, frightened fish flashed at our feet, and a paddleboarder glided across the horizon.

Salt sizzled on skin as we waded in the cool pool.

In that moment, I was deliriously happy. Grateful that I was alive to see and smell and sense such a special scene.

In 8 weeks, I’m moving to Asia! Vietnam stole my soul, peeled back the layers, and I’m itching to return.

And so I’m making a point to bask in every magical moment while I pack up my life in Sydney. 

The spectacular shoreline. Crisp air. Fresh drinking water. Sunrise over the sea. Quiet streets. Dips at dawn. Gorgeous friends.

We should do it every moment: look for the lining. Appreciate being alive right here, right now. Wish for nothing other than who we are in this very moment.

Will you join me?

 

Layover in no man’s land

3 Mar

 

I’m writing this from an eerie airport lounge in Kuala Lumpur.

It’s dim, chilly, vast.

Every so often, the sound of phlegm being spat up in a sink penetrates my headphones.

A Muslim man wades past in freshly pressed linen pants.

Just hours ago, I was in my living room in Sydney, munching veggie sticks with my trivia buddies. The reigning champions, we were celebrating our winning streak with wine and snacks. Rain rattled the windows. Boats see-sawed in the rough harbour. We laughed at silly things.

A horn tooted, bag flung over shoulder, cab to the airport…

And now here I am.

Alone.

In a Malaysian lounge serving congee and coffee from a push-button machine.

I could be anywhere.

Weary, bleary-eyed travellers warily watch one another. I wonder where each one is from, where they’re going, if they’re with a lover or colleague or brother. Are they heading off on holiday – or home to bad news or an exhilarating announcement?

How odd that we are all here together. Strangers in this sterile no man’s land, sipping our sweetened coffee while screens silently stream the film The Impossible, about the 2004 Thailand tsunami.

I wouldn’t want to have a ticket to Koh Samui right now…

In just a few hours, I’ll be in Vietnam.

A three-week wander awaits.

No plan, no bookings, no clue.

The Sa Pa mountains are calling.

My sensitive soul is seeking solace.

India is a distant memory. I need be awakened again.

I’m grateful that I am free to travel. It’s a privilege. And I promise not to waste it.

xx

The feeling of freedom

3 Feb
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A lone kitesurfer. Free.

Deadlines don’t matter. Relationship issues can wait. Niggling, nagging thoughts mean nothing.

This is the feeling of freedom.

Fleeting freedom.

A slice of weightlessness. Abandon. Who-gives-a-fuck-edness.

That moment, that quick flicker of flight, flutter of ease.

That sudden soaring, sweeping, heart leaping love of the universe. And every soul that bounces through it.

I watched kitesurfers cruise on mighty surf, flying, flinging, higher, higher, their parachutes billowing as they danced at dusk.

Freedom.

These sole bodies bouncing and bounding and crashing and swooping. Without a care. Without fear. Without regard.

Let’s strip back. Let go. Loosen up. Soften our stance.  Love deeply. Lose gently.

Unwrap our souls. Set them free.

Let’s leap like kitesurfers.

Let’s be free.

I can’t relaaaaax, I’m anxious!

19 Jan

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For years, yoga instructors have told me to ‘relaaaaax’. Massage therapists have told me to ‘relaaaaax’. And yesterday, a new friend who’s training me in a new sport (I’ll tell you all about that once I’ve pitched the magazine story about it) told me that to truly master the technique, I needed to ‘relaaaaax’.

I know this. I’m aware of the tension in my shoulders and neck. Aware I look worried a lot of the time.

But I just can’t relaaaaax!

Meditation, massage, yoga, willing myself to chill out…they all feel incredible at the time, but then I go back to being tense.

So what’s the deal?

I’ve realised it’s not tension, it’s anxiety.

That’s a tough thing to admit. Moi? Anxious? Quelle horreur!

But yes, it’s there.

Apparently when I was 8, I ran home in tears and told my mum, “I’m not going to pass the TEE!” The TEE are university entrance exams. That you take in year 12. Yup, I was anxious about something 8 years away.

Walking into a room full of people has always terrified me. Searching for a friend in a crowded cafe or bar makes me nervous. No idea why. That’s anxiety for you. And being a sensitive soul. 🙂

So rather than focusing on relaaaaxing, I’m going to address my anxiety.

I’ve no idea how, but the search starts now.

Do you have any tips for treating anxiety (naturally)? Would love to hear your thoughts…

The nomad’s guide to putting down roots

17 Jan

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I can’t sit still. Seriously. Even in the cinema, I wriggle and sigh and stretch and play with my hair. Two hours sat in the same seat? Gah!

It could be because my family moved house seven times before I was eight. And after relocating to Perth, no sooner did we settle in a space, we packed up and found another.

So I say I never really had a home. Houses, sure – and some pretty cool ones (including one that was DEFINITELY haunted) – but no home. We were like nomadic animals, roaming about with no destination in mind. We simply spotted a better watering hole and set off.

And in the past year, I’ve moved four times. FOUR!

I’m now back at the beach in Sydney. And part of me never wants to leave.

But the nomad in me is already itchy. Already restless. Thinking about far-flung lands, wondering if the other side of Manly might be more exciting, more me. Searching for a better watering hole.

So how can we nomadic souls stay still?

Because we really, really want to sometimes. I’m nearing 30 and should probably start thinking about ‘nesting’.

That’s not to say I won’t travel and explore and jump around. But I want to be in a place long enough to make connections, meet likeminded souls, contribute to the community and build my business.

It’s funny. I’ve just finished reading ‘The Life You Were Born to Live’ by Dan Millman. It uses the Life-Purpose System to calculate your path. My life path number 34/7 is described as struggling to commit. To work through issues of trust and security (the main life purpose for 34/7s), I need to stop flapping about, stay still and put down roots.

How?

Well, I’ve started with daily meditation. And by meditation I mean – try to block thoughts about what I’m going to do the second meditation ends. And ignore the itch on the end of my nose. And stop wondering how I’m going to be still in life when I can’t even sit still to meditate. It’s a struggle! 😉

I’ve also started getting out more, and trying to be more open in public. I’m meeting strangers in cafes – a few of whom have already turned into friends who are on a similar path. I’m reaching out to other business owners on the beaches, just for a chat, not to sell. Or I’m just striking up conversations with people on the beach…many of whom probably think I’m a tad cray cray. (All of this, by the way, is pretty frightening for a sensitive soul!)

And I’m expressing gratitude, in the moment. Like looking out at the water and saying, ‘thank you that I get to look at this beautiful view’. Or ‘thank you that this time I had the patience to actually bake the cake, instead of eating all the batter  and feeling really really sick as a result.’ Whatever works, right? 😉

Who knows if any of it is working. But so far, I’m still.

Are you a nomad? How do you sit still long enough to put down roots? I’d love your help!

Top resources for doing yoga at home

16 Aug

It’s taken me a looong time to discover a handy and helpful yoga studio. A friend recently invited me to a class at the Life & Balance Centre in Glebe.

I trudged along, expecting a sterile studio and hectic class, like the ones I’ve tried in noisy gym rooms. What I discovered, however, was a serene studio and a holistic approach to yoga. The instructor took the time to correct my poses, explain the asanas and their benefits and create a lovely supportive space.

Unfortunately, Glebe is a little out of the way for me to commit to regular classes. Which is why I love my in-home DVD collection. I simply step into the living room, put on a DVD and enjoy an hour-long yoga routine. While the DVDs lack individual instruction, I love not worrying about what’s going on around me.

My faves are the Element collection and Shiva Rea’s range. I also love Tara Stiles’ YouTube channel, one of the many useful online resources for practising yoga at home.

Susana Frioni recently wrote a post on The Wellness Warrior, with her 11 favourite resources for practising yoga at home. Check it out for a fabulous range of resources – some free, some paid.

What yoga DVDs or online resources have you tried? Can you recommend any?

What India taught me about life

31 Jul

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I’ve just touched down after spending a month meandering through India and Nepal. Far from being a romantic jaunt, it was an overwhelming, refreshing, confronting feast for the senses.

I deliberately avoided the internet while I was away, choosing instead to fill an entire Moleskin with my thoughts and reflections. I think it’s important to switch off every once and a while and really live, without wondering how to describe an incredible experience in a status update. So my apologies for being MIA!

July is the hottest time of the year in India. The desert sun is harsh, the humidity heavy and the monsoon rains were late and light. After a cold shower, I was sweaty again before I even had the chance to get dressed. The water in my bottle was constantly coloured orange, as I poured in fistfuls of hydralytes to stay energised. The rugged land sapped my energy, the endless stares and questions from strangers wore me down and by the end of the four weeks, I was ready to head home.

But India is a beautiful place and one of stark contrasts. The poverty, the rubbish, the begging children and the skinny animals tugged at my heart. Yet the colours, the smiles, the sounds and the staggering architecture sent it soaring.

On long train trips, we chose the non-air conditioned cars to save money and see the real India. The locals who weren’t shy would sit next to me as I wrote by the open door and start chatting, eager to practise their English. Others would stare and then say quickly, ‘You are very beautiful’. Most of the time, however, I could feel a thousand pairs of eyes on me as I trudged on with my pack.

In Jaisalmer, my friend gave a small square of chocolate to three children. Their eyes grew wide, their grins swamped their faces and they nibbled on the sweet treat as though it were the most precious and rare gift. I felt ashamed – how often do I swiftly scoff a block of chocolate at home without savouring it or really appreciating it? I learned to give more, take less and treasure even the most basic things.

In Udaipiur, I slept on a hotel rooftop under the stars with nothing but a thin sheet. As the sun rose and the incredible view to the mountains and Floating Palace appeared before us, I felt like I was in paradise. It was all I needed. I learned that life can be simple, and that beauty is all around us.

In Jodphur, my travelling buddies and I decided to go cross-country and wander into a steep valley to attempt to find an alternative route back to town from the old fort. After scratching our legs on prickly bushes and descending deep into the darkening land, we discovered a wide ghat, into which dozens of children and men were jumping and splashing. Two of our friends had taken a different route and got stuck scaling a 20-metre wall. One misstep and they would have plummeted into the ghat. Immediately, a few friendly locals appeared and pulled them around to safety. A large group gathered around them, the children jumping and hollering with excitement. I learned that kindness is free and there’s nothing as gorgeous as a giggling child.

In Agra, we were surprised by the state of the streets. While the Taj Mahal boasted manicured lawns and raked in millions (perhaps even billions) of dollars a year from visitors, the surrounding city was filthy. There were many desperate people, malnourished animals and dingy hotels and eateries. It was a confronting scene and made us wonder where the money from the Taj Mahal goes. I learned that we can’t rely on governments to look after their people. It’s up to us to look after one another and be the change we want to see in the world.

In Varanasi, we sat by the main ghat as the sky turned a spectacular shade of burnt orange and magenta. People of all faiths gathered at the ghat to worship and rest. I felt an overwhelming sense of love, acceptance and understanding. A man blessed us by rubbing red spots on our third eyes. A woman in a dirty sari sat beside me and smiled. As dusk turned to night, great big golden bells tolled in unison, boats gathered at the front of the ghat and worshipers chanted, prayed and sang. I learned that while our beliefs may differ, our intentions are the same. We simply seek happiness, both here on earth and once we’ve passed on.

There are so many other things India taught me, unveiled to me and threw in front of me. I imagine it’s going to take some time to make sense of the experience and mull over my new mindset.

India – stunning, shocking, staggering. You can’t help but be moved.

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