My Mind Is A Mountain

“My mind is a mountain,” she said as we lay on our yoga mats, our bottom halves twisted to the left, our tops to the right. All these human corkscrews at a point of tension, a point of discomfort, an iota back from a point of pain.

My mind is a mountain; the largest structure ever built, deeply rooted, majestically towering with unmovable peace. It exerts no force, this being of grandeur, and inspires us to rise above ourselves to conquer it. Yet, when we conquer, it is no less. It remains unmoved by our conquering – no admiration, surprise or encouragement. Just there – still, steep and silent.

The blizzard may rage, the snows may blanket, the sun may bake and yet the mountain is just as it always was. As it ever will be.

My mind is a mountain … well, it seeks to be that mountain. While the dramas of the world swirl and buffet, I strive to hold it calm and rooted, unimpressed and supportive of a world in turmoil. The climber cannot climb a shaky mountain, a crumbling mountain.

While the world thrashes about in frantic pain, it is not served that I copy that thrashing. A thrashing, drowning man needs a firm hand-hold – a rock, branch or ship – to save him. He doesn’t need another thrashing, drowning man.

“My breath is a mountain lake,” she said as we sat in forward bend, holding ourselves in that still point of discomfort. The lake in the centre of the mountain is still and serene despite the howling winds, burning sun and frantic climbers on the outside of the mountain.

My breath is a mountain lake – still, deep and as blue as the sky it smiles up at.

When my mind begins to crumble – as it does in this frantic, pained world – I return to my breath; this single, simple, sacred moment. I witness the miracle of my breath as it fills and empties me, fills and empties me.

This deep blue lake, protected by the mountainsides, gives strength and permission for the mountain to remember its grandeur, its deeply rooted oneness with all that it stands among. As the crumbling mountain remembers itself, pulls itself together again, there is, again, greater support for all who need its foot-holds and solidness to rise above themselves.

The smooth and rugged, blue and grey, water and rock – they support and protect each other (when they remember) and, in that remembrance, remind the seething crowd that it, too, has a strength and peace inside.

This, today, is my aspiration.

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The Seat Of The Learner

“Let us be in the seat of the learner,” Mabel, the yoga teacher, said as we sat cross-legged on our yoga mats, at the beginning of the session. Let us be in this moment as if it’s our first, she implied. Let us be in our bodies as if we’ve just met them – no memories of what they can and can’t do, of the pains and restrictions we carry with us.

Let us be in the seat of the learner.

Let us take this moment as the first moment … and that moment and that moment. Every thought, every movement is a discovery. In the seat of the learner we don’t know what we can do and what we can’t. We don’t know what we don’t know and, in that seat, impossible dissolves into I’m possible.

All past restrictions, failures and labels dissolve. I’m no longer a writer and teacher. I’m a … mmm, I’m a … well, I’m not sure what I am. Let me just be with not knowing, not remembering, not reaching for the familiar daily recall of everything that brought me to this point. Let me not reach at all. Not reach out. Reach in. See what’s there from the learner’s seat.

“Hmm, what’s this? Oh, a leg. I wonder what it does. Aha, it moves out, it moves back. And what’s looking at it? Feels roundish. Yes, two eyes in a round ball, some curves, holes and pieces attached. Scattered bits of hair. Aha, there’s a light through that part … a window? There’s others, sitting so.”

I feel each part of my body – my toes, inside and outside, knees, thighs, chest, arms, head. I observe with little interest. Little analysis. I just observe, easily forgetting the thought I had a minute ago, the thought I had a second ago. I am in this thought. Then that thought.

A friend has messaged me, asking to meet for coffee this morning. I say yes. I may have had plans but this request is there so I accept it. A simple choiceless decision.

I know I need to be at work later so I’ll be there, not thinking or wondering what I’d do then. I just know I’ll have coffee with Anne and then be at work.

Becoming a wind-blown leaf that knows not the tree that birthed it nor the end that will befall it. Open, accepting. Not happy. Not sad. Just content. Just being.

Mabel called this purnattva, a Sanskrit word that embodies this thought: When I start to think and wonder how I could be just this body, I start to loosen my identification with it and begin to feel free.

Later in the session, while doing standing poses, some wobbled and faltered, their balance not perfect. She said, “Let your foundation be whatever is touching the ground.” She said this as we moved from Warrior II then into Triangle.

Let your foundation be whatever is touching the ground.

Let us not lean on our instability, on what’s not working. Let us move from gratitude and from a nice-thought space to a knowing, grounded one. From “I’m grateful for feeling happy” to “I know I have a regular income, a wife, house and car. The evidence doesn’t lie. What I have I have and let those be my foundation. Not happy. Not sad. Just content. Just “there they are”.

I can open myself to knowing that I don’t know to not knowing what I don’t know and let that be okay. In this moment of stillness, in the learner’s seat, with whatever is touching the ground, I have a sense of awakening to a planless life, an opportunistic emptiness from which could birth ideas none could have thought of while tightly in bud.

Only from openness does the flower bloom and throw its glory.

Only from letting go does the seed fly from the tree and start anew.

From the seat of the learner, grounded where we touch, we’re possible.

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Yogic Knee Surgery

Some people with my knee problems – with Arthur Rightis and no cartilage – are choosing to have others invade their bodies with knives, electric drills, electric saws, needles and other cutting, sawing, drilling, ripping, sewing, stretching and stabbing implements. Some are having their bones drilled, cut and screwed straight with metal plates and stretchers. Others are having the whole knee joint chopped out and a foreign one drilled, screwed and sewn back in.

I’m trying another way and it’s working. It’s a gentler, non-destructive and non-invasive way and it’s working. And it’s not costing the $10,000-$15,000 that others are paying.

You see, I’m a coward. I chose not to be a doctor because I hate blood and all the other bits inside humans that should stay inside humans. Growing up on the farm I helped dozens of ewes to give birth. I’ve turned foetuses inside their mothers so they could be born into the sunshine. I’ve helped a vet do a tracheotomy on a horse. I’ve probably killed a hundred sheep for their meat – for dogs and people. I can do it if I need to but UGH! All that blood and other slimy stuff that’s inside humans … it should stay in there!

My other concern is that I’d be handing my body over to doctors who call themselves professional but they’re not. Professionals stand behind their work. Gosh, even trades people give you guarantees on fixing your car, house or whatever. Doctors don’t. Every patient, it seems, is a guinea pig in their grand experiment and they’re praying, hoping, smiling, assuring and not promising anything … and blaming God, patient or something else when it goes badly wrong. That’s what amateurs and charlatans do and I’m not ready to risk my body – I only have one, after all – with such people.

No, I’m trusting my own gentle, daily discipline of yoga and it’s working.

Over the last five weeks of yoga I am coming to a firmer conviction that the problem in my knees is not from my knees.

For the last 40 years I have not been able to kneel with my bum on my heels. My tight thighs won’t let me get down that far. A very physical childhood on the farm, riding rodeos, racing motorbikes, playing rugby, running cross-country and other manly pursuits built up strong muscles. I could lift a car up for a mate to change the tyre but I couldn’t sit on my heels. All strength and no flexibility.

Then, over many years of desk jobs, the strength waned but the inflexibility didn’t.

I’ve done yoga on and off for the past twenty five years and, this time, the intense pain in my knees has focussed me as never before.

Five weeks ago, getting off a chair or bed to stand on the ground was excruciatingly painful. Five weeks of yoga and it’s not painful.

We were doing thigh stretches today and my right thigh was so much more painful and inflexible than my left. Coincidentally (??), my right knee is so much more painful and inflexible than my left … but it’s getting better by the day.

Five weeks ago I couldn’t do standing poses, which is standing on one leg with arms and the other leg stretched out horizontally. Two weeks ago my knees finally said YES to a standing pose. I almost cried in triumph and relief and I can do them every day, now.

It’s a slower way, a disciplined way and a way that leaves me in control. This yogic surgery is certainly my way, as Frank Sinatra sang!

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Let Gravity Do The Work

“Let gravity do the work,” she said as we stretched out in pigeon pose (eka pada rakapotasana), one leg back, the other tucked sideways under our tummies and hands and foreheads stretched out in front. Great for sciatica, hip and back problems, it can be a bit of a stretch (heh, heh!) at first … a bit painful, too, if you push yourself too hard. So ease back.

“Let gravity do the work,” she said only once but it reverberated through my mind and wouldn’t let me be. It wouldn’t be quiet in my empty echo-chamber of a brain.

Two days before, in her book, The Universe Has Your Back, Gabriella Bernstein counselled me to stop trying to work things out for myself, just as A Course in Miracles does.

Disillusioned and bored with the education system, I was trying to work out my next career move, my next mission. I’d set the intention of having work that:

  1. I was proud of and fulfilled me,
  2. Provided me with an immense income, and
  3. Helped millions of people.

Then my insanity kicked in. Knowing I couldn’t imagine what such a mission could look like I, nevertheless, tried to work it out … watching inspiring TED videos, searching employment websites and scanning every passing mote of intelligence for a sign of what to do next.

No signs turned up and I knew the reason – I was getting in my own way … till Gabriella reminded me to get the hell out of it. I put her book down, put my breakfast smoothie down, put my eyelids down and put my interfering mind down. I asked for guidance on my career and then I shut up, expecting nothing but silence. I got nothing but silence!

Then, out of the cool, blue abyss a deep, resonant voice massaged my mind. “Be still.”

“I am!” I retorted, silently, quickly realizing I was supposed to be quiet. To get the hell out of my own way. I shut the heck up.

Somehow, the voice smiled and continued: “Ask for emptiness. Just ask for emptiness.”

Instead of thinking what not to do (not chattering), I thought of what to do – a calm, rich emptiness settled in my mind.

I determined to call in emptiness every moment that day, every moment I remembered it, and I did. Then, suddenly, nothing happened. It did happen suddenly but it was nothing that did happen. Nothing at all. No great BFIs* about my impending new mission. No hints. No signs. Just nothing. Complete and empty nothing.

My festering mind still wanted to leap onto its white steed, slay the dragons of doubt and to bring forth the virginal maiden of clarity and realization. Not this time, though. Oh, no, I was determined on emptiness and so held to that each time an analytical, critical or maniacal thought intruded.

I still haven’t come up with a new mission and I’m okay with that. Very okay. You see, with emptiness as my new friend, that ever-elusive peace is finally mine. Outer missions lose their lustre when the inner missions are shined up. There is no need to push myself past the current stretch, to cause unnecessary pain. I’m happy to let gravity and all other natural forces do the work. I’m happy to give into that which is bigger (MUCH bigger!) than me, aware it’s knowing is greater (MUCH greater!) than mine,

Then, suddenly, nothing is happening. Nothing at all. Aaaahhhh! 🙂

*= Blinding Flashes of Inspiration

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The Evidence Comes Last

The stories we tell ourselves … Oh, my, the stories we tell! And they’re all true! Every one of them!

Some believe they’re a cat. Some say Halie Selassie is God, some say God is a woman and some say she doesn’t exist. Some say the earth is flat and some think it round. To some, allopathic medicine is the answer and some say it’s questionable. People are against us, people support us, people conspire against us, people don’t care about us either way. The meaning of life is to be kind, the meaning of life is money, life is meaningless.

Despite these wondrous stories all clashing about and contradicting each other, they’re all true. They’re true because the evidence is there. And the evidence doesn’t lie.

No, the evidence doesn’t lie. We do. We tell ourselves that the evidence proves our stories.

Wrong! Our stories prove the evidence.

You see, it’s just not possible for all opposites to be true at the same time and in the same place.

So, how does it work? Simple. The evidence comes last.

Now, most of us think that we see a thing or experience an event and, from that “evidence”, we know a truth.

Wrong. It happens the other way round.

We decide there are conspiracies everywhere and, WHAM! The evidence hits us in the face. The chap sitting next to us disagrees and just thinks people are stupid and fallible and, WHAM! The (different) evidence hits him in the face.

We decide that people are supportive and, WHAM! Someone picks up the wallet we didn’t know we’d dropped.

The next day we decide that people are out to rip us off and, WHAM! Someone steals our wallet.

There is as much evidence for the goodness as there is for badness of allopathic medicine. The doctors do not see the “badness” and the natural health people do not see the “goodness”. Their different stories have them looking in different cupboards for their individual truths. We can’t and won’t see what we don’t believe.

The evidence comes last. Every time.

So, don’t tell me you can prove your version of reality as you see it. I know you can. Whatever you believe will bring that evidence to you.

Just tell me your theory, your story, and I’ll know you a little better. If you’re suspicious of people, you’re frightened of yourself. If you believe people are good, you trust yourself … and you’ll probably be trustworthy to others.

Your version of reality tells us about you – not about Reality.

For example, I’ve recently been struggling with people and situations at work. I was feeling abused, trapped and inconsequential. It was very difficult and I hated work, believing it was demeaning, futile and fearful. All of my stories produced ample evidence and I was right. Not happy but right.

Then at yoga this morning, a woman said, “I treat every day as a holiday!!” Cheerful sod!

I couldn’t help smile as that thought sprinted into my mind. And it stayed in there, wriggling and chuckling to itself. I suddenly feel happier and lighter about work. Then I realised I was sitting on my balcony, looking through the trees to the beautiful city of Brisbane, while all the other workers lined up on their congested roads for another day of work. I was enjoying a stunning view, coffee-at-elbow and writing … one of my favourite things to do … the sort of thing I would choose to do while on holiday! It’s a work day and I’m on holiday. Well, feels like it, anyway.

I have the thought of being on holiday and, WHAM! The evidence is there.

I will, of course, go to work a little later but, before that, I will join the Carindale Writing Group to help them publish their latest collection of suspense stories. Because it’s about writing, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s what I’d be happy to do on holiday. Then, when I do go to work, it won’t feel like work because I’ve held on to the thought, “Every day is a holiday!”

The thought (or story) came first and the evidence came last.

So, in this moment, what story would you like to change? Then let God (or whoever) show you the evidence. WHAM!

Try it, you’ll love it!

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This Pregnant, Glistening Moment

This pregnant moment is unique. And so is this one. And this one too.

We know this but don’t actually believe it. If we did we’d worry a lot less.

A stranger gives us a look that reminds us of one from our parents, 20 or 50 years ago. Suddenly we’re not here but in that old, pre-used one. We clamber out of this uniquely glistening moment and fall into a moment so battered and abused, it’s uncomfortable. But comfortably uncomfortable for we’ve been here so many times before. That look from our parents meant an admonishment: we did the wrong thing, we didn’t do the right thing, we didn’t do enough or we weren’t good enough in some way.

We hold onto that unpleasant, degrading yesterday like snot on our finger – unpleasant but we can’t flick it off.

It may not be our parents. It could be a teacher, a boss, a colleague, a friend, an ex … anyone who helped us to feel we weren’t good enough.

So, rather than savouring the uniqueness of this unique moment, this moment pregnant with possibilities – new, undreamt-of possibilities – we brush it aside and crawl like naughty, obedient children, back to that moment of a life-less-lived.

It might not be a look from a stranger. It might be some words on television, an old song playing, a movie, a building, a landscape … anything to bring our memories crashing down, aborting this glistening and pregnant moment.

Our memories serve us well. They remind us how to tie our shoe laces, do our work, find our way to work, who all our friends are and all those daily, necessary recalls that don’t change. They’re brilliant for the unchanging but that’s their place. They do not belong with the growing and changing part of us.

Memories do not belong in this moment. They do not belong in our future. They only belong in our past.

If we can stand in the glistening pregnancy of each NOW moment, the past sheds its tattered skin and we are reborn. We become alive to the possibilities we couldn’t imagine while the worn and dusty curtain of the past obscured our present-ness. However, pull back that heavy curtain, smile at the dust that floats away and a clean new window of opportunity beckons us to come and play … to give birth to the pregnant possibilities. This unique moment will not come again.

Savour and enjoy the moment as a new and glistening future unveils itself. It could be now. And now. And now …

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God Speed

The universe is a bungee cord that will stretch and stretch and won’t let go … till, one unexpected moment when we least expect it. TWANG! It snaps!

We’re free. We’re flying. Just like we’ve been dreaming about for the longest time and it’s … gosh … I don’t know … it’s heart-in-mouth, breathtakingly calm. Peaceful. With churning stomach and I’m not sure if it’s fear, relief, panic or that quietly-coming-home feeling. All at once, probably.

I’d been in an abusive and dysfunctional job for 22 months and wanting to leave for well over a year. However, I felt I had to stay as I couldn’t get another job.

I’d tried and tried – CV off to job after job, interview after interview – and no result. I became unpleasant to live with and am sure I suffered some form of PTSD, having to endure constant abuse, having to witness it meted out to other vulnerable staff, seeing the lies and contortions performed before gullible government agencies. It got to me.

Then, last Friday, the last insane demand was the last straw. In a rage, I told my wife, on Sunday, I was giving my notice on Monday. I was leaving and God, the universe and all those bigger-than-me dudes would just have to find me another job. And quick. Really quick!

I’d sent yet another job application out that Sunday and, on Monday, received a call and an invitation for an interview. Had the interview on Tuesday and was told I’d be contacted with the result the following day – Wednesday. They didn’t keep their word. No call on Wednesday … because they’d already called on Tuesday afternoon, congratulating me on my new job! Whew!

I immediately texted my resignation, giving the required two weeks’ notice. I worked on Wednesday and, on Thursday, was told (by text) Wednesday was my last day of work. Don’t come back.

So, after 20 months of misery, I decided, in a rage, to just fly, trusting a parachute would be provided.

I decided on the Sunday and, eight days later, started my new job.

So, just when you think God, the universe or whoever is asleep on the job, they’re probably very busy sprouting the seeds beneath the ground; arranging the whole world to fit with your most ardent desire. Then, when those seeds are ready to burst into the sunlight, hang on. Hang on tight!

For, when God acts, they don’t do it painfully but they do it quicker than we could imagine … and in ways we couldn’t imagine.

So, whatever mess or dysfunction you’re in, please hold to your most ardent desire. Don’t let it go. It’s on its way with the rest of the planet being arranged to suit you. Hold that desire and, when the new opportunity arises, hold on really, really tightly. It could be a fast, furious and fun ride!

Enjoy it!

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