Category Archives: consciousness

Keeping Promises

I wake at 5.45 – it is just getting light, the grandfather of the house has begun his day, unlocking the gates and putting the dog, Olive back into her house – her guarding job over for another night.  It is time to get up, time to don loose clothes and light walking shoes and leave my safe haven.

I had been promising myself for days to begin walking again in the morning.  A very easy thing to do in my home place of Perth – places to walk to the beach, to the coffee shop, in the park – around the quiet morning streets.  But here?  In India where always I stick out as the foreigner.  I have to again gather my spirit to move outside my comfort zone and find out how it is to join the rest of the healthy folks who also ‘walk’ in the morning.

I live very close to a ‘ground’ the place where cricket and other games are played, and sometimes even concerts are held.  It is in the huge compound of the BVB College – where our offices are .. and the locked night gates open at 5 am.

“No, you don’t need to take anything with you – just have a big drink now and leave the bottle at home.   Mobile phone – forget it.. just your keys slipped in the pocket and off you go.”

The street outside is quiet – a couple of early morning dogs prowling near the rubbish bins on the corner – a young man cleaning his motorbike.  I walk to the gate and enter – picking up speed as I go.  It’s cool this morning – the air still fresh from the evening’s rain. There are lots of people around the ground – jogging, walking, striding it out – I too stride along – starting to feel the warmth of the exercise coursing through my sleep soaked body.

The trees here are special – some – the ‘sky jasmine’ having strewn their prolific night blossoms as a carpet below them.  I walk the path through the campus buildings and do a ’round’ then head down to the ‘ground’ to join the morning enthusiasts.  One lap is enough for me now and I head back to my place… the body feels good – a little stiff in my right hip but that will easily pass. I have walked for a good half hour. Ahh, time for a meditation – this time in front of the fan as I am sweating and hot.

And then my morning coffee.  Thankfully the power is on this morning so there is no wait for my ‘coffee fix’ so I sip the hot strong black brew and write.

What did I learn on my walk?  That in keeping my promise to myself, there are far-reaching consequences that go way beyond ‘exercise’.

My ‘being’ rejoices – it ‘gets’ that I stand by my values for myself – for no one else.. simply for myself.

And as I do this – my values hold and are reaffirmed, I have put another building block of integrity in my life – just by the simple act of going for a morning walk.

Emotions – the roller-coaster of life

Emotions are the roller-coasters of life.  How would my life be if  I can detach from my emotional body?   Would that be freedom?  Would that be flat, like a desert plain with no ripples, no valleys, no heights?

Who would I be if I left my emotional self on the shelf for a week, or a day or a lifetime?

I think about this and then I see how grateful I am for my emotions as without them my joy of yesterday would not have been.  But when I am feeling as I do this evening, how to discover that gratitude for my emotion?  This feeling that is palpable inside me – of emptiness – tinged with a hollowness.

I watch myself hurry to try to fill it or push it away – scrolling through Facebook.  Stop – here is ‘addiction’.  Considering a trip to the ‘wine shop’ – again – stop here is ‘addiction’.  For what is ‘addiction’ but the filling of emptiness with something.  That something called distraction.

Oh, let me go into this feeling or perhaps through it – truly searching out what it is.  So I may better see who I am beneath my daily exterior being.

Look, Shazar.  Who are you when you are alone?  Who are you when you feel lonely?  When the landscape ahead of you feels strange and not your own.  When this land you are in is just out of reach of touch.  Look, Shazar – look inside who is this, who is teetering on this gap?

I chose the gap.  There is the cosmic humour.

I chose to put myself here, to remove myself from the familiar, the family, the lover, the friends, – my choice.  Why?

To experience just this – to push myself to the edge so I can discover myself – the layers within.

And to discover that I am never alone, to unfold the immensity and depth of who I really am.  Out beyond the small self.  Out beyond the limits of the mind.  There lies no thing – there lies the all and everything.

Emotion comes, emotion goes
the waves of the ocean ebb and flow.
Bliss, loneliness, fear, passion.
What of these waves in me
But signposts to the infinite
the land of my being
the truth of my soul
revealing the sands
where I am we.

Footnote on a lighter vein: A special friend of mine suggested that these feelings of deep aloneness that can be distressing are related to our ‘herd’ mentality.  We need the mob of some sort around us!  mmm I can relate to that.. “get out there on the street girl”.. there are plenty of folks here in India togive me the feeling of being in a ‘herd’!!

Remembering Connection

The tears come – spring into my eyes .. and will not stop. I know if I let go the flood gates will open – so I breathe into it – the opening is there unbidden but rushing in. Gifted to me with no volition of my own. Simply being here – being for a moment still – and existence rushes in .. the flowers shower and the gifts of the connection of souls allow me to feel myself – to remember that which I have forgotten.

The music transports me .. I am alone – separate and yet it is the sharing of the space and the melting of the souls and hearts together that allows me to break open and feel the space of our wonderful Universe.

How interesting it is that my busy life takes me so far from this space and yet just a hint, just a moment of recognition and I fall back into that place deeper than ever before.
It is a kirtan event – singing of repetitive odes of joy to existence and the energy of the Gods – a birthday party for a friend – a gathering of beings together to celebrate and sing and dance. The voices rise and fall together, the harmonies intertwining and the drum carrying the beat. The chants beginning slowly – measured and considered – and then as the voices of all join, the tempo lifts and reaches into the place of joy and the abandon that comes when the Divine is invited in.

It is completely unexpected – my immediate response – that allows me to fall into a place of purity and depth of existence. As is said on the Desiderata that hangs on our wall… “In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”

It had been a difficult week, I had seen too much of the bad news of the world – been caught in the snare of the media hype and taken on some shadow of what ifs?…
Here in the music, suddenly I am lifted out of the place of fear and anxiety into another reality – here is the parallel – here is the place of joy and of bliss and of interconnectedness… the place where I know.. all is well.. despite any of the turmoil and chaos that is around me – the political garbage, the stress of our lives – the pain and the suffering .. this too exists .. this too is real, this too is…..

And as I now stand and allow the music and the singing to transport me, and lift my arms to the heavens to feel the infinite joy of the energy of beingness, I come home to myself.
So many realisations – just out of reach of expression are falling in to me, along with the sensation that I am being showered with the blossoms of existence. My imminent departure to India.. back to the land of Kali and Krishna, and Gopal and all the gods of that infinitely colourful land. My knowingness that I go to India for me – that it is my time – my place – simply to open up and allow India to wash over me and transform as it will. Not to ‘help’but simply to be.. to allow what comes to me to be done and allow what is to be .. I have known this before that my work in India is for myself – but once again that sense comes home to me in full force.

It would seem that the leaving of Australia and all that is here for me is a challenge.. can be difficult … can be something that is done for altruistic reasons.. and if done in that vein then the struggle will be there. But if the realisation is as it truly is, that the return to India is completely and utterly my choice and for my own evolution then all suffering has to fall beside the path – has to be seen for what it is .. simply self indulgence of a ridiculous nature.
And in that I see too that it is time not to be hard on myself.. that when I do fall by the wayside into the ‘self indulgence’ that this too is part of my journey, intertwined in the learning of the whole. Is it learning? Or is it simply letting go? The questions that arise as the insights come – such a simple thing .. this kirtan, this chant, this space inside myself – to open the place for the unfolding to be.

Thank you to the kirtan – thank you to the community that has brought me to this place. Thank you to David who spoke at the outset of the ceremony of our aboriginal roots. As he was speaking of the welcome to country, as he began the afternoon’s blessing of music and dance, he spoke to those of us who were born here and absorbed the land through the minerals and the air and the dirt of country.. so that we too though white skinned simply need to remember who we really are..
Thats when the tears began to fall .. as the connection was made to my roots .. those roots that are to be transported again to India.. to connect again with my roots in that ancient land.. from one ancient land to another.
Where will this journey lead me? I know not. But I do know that it is right – and on the path that opens before me – revealed as my steps lead me on, I am cared for and nurtured and .. as I go….I do not go alone – I am forever guided on the way – for my existence is an extension of those who surround me and cheer me on as I go forward on this great adventure called life.

Contributing to the Community

I saw a doco about a man who paints on walls.. he painted in Vanuatu and there he contributed to the community. He painted a wall in a very obscure place – far from the tourist walks. He paints big walls in big cities, but this small contribution warmed his heart and here he understood the value of small.

I know a lady her name is Barb – she lives in South Freo.. she is the Queen of her street and she contributes to her community. She welcomes all the newcomers and corrects the spelling on the street signs. She makes a difference.

Sometimes we think we have to do great things – but in fact it is the ‘small things’ that add up to all the community faces joined together in a kaleidoscope of connection.
The street gardens, the soup kitchens, the one who simply refuses the plastic bag and so awakens the check out person to the possibility of a sustainable land. Making a difference.

People say to me.. ‘Oh you are so amazing.. you give up so much to go to India to do your work there.’ And me.. I shrug my shoulders and I am grateful that I am recognised for what I do.. for if I was not .. I would be not telling the truth.. but I know that what I do is no more than what you also do in your own way as you walk in beauty in this world.

For this is what the game is.. what the aim is ..
what the purpose is..
simply to walk in beauty as we do our daily life.

So India.. what is that about for me?
How can I tell you the joys it brings, the difficulty it is to be there sometimes, the special moments – the smile of the old lady where I buy my evening banana – the stares of those who wonder what on earth this old lady is doing in their land.

I often ask myself:  “What am I doing here?”
And the answer is that here is my heart. A split heart I have. One heart – part of it… is embedded deep in my family and my lover and my friends in Fremantle Australia.. but the other part .. somehow an older part – is in India.

I board the plane – leaving from Perth – stop over usually in Kuala Lumpur.. not there yet.. but when the next flight comes – and we are heading to Bangalore – at least half of the passengers are Indian.. and suddenly I am feeling almost home. Home to this place where I don’t even speak the language.. home to this place where I need to change my dress entirely to fit – home to this place – this place of simplicity and complexity and a culture far from my own.

Touch down.. I am back – the smells wash over me, the sound, the chaos, and the knowing that I am home. I haggle with the taxi driver, and I get ripped off anyway because that is par for the course on your first night in India. Ah the over night hotel… fortunately I know this one and it is reasonably clean.. I sleep – I wake to Indian breakfast – spicy dosa and milky tea. And the journey begins.

I will spend the day with my friend in Bangalore -she will feed me delicious food, thinking as she does I must be half starved after being away from proper Indian food for so long.. and tonight board the overnight bus to Hubli.. my place of choice. A dusty and noisy three tier town as they call it.. meaning simply .. ‘not too developed!’ Here are the ‘boys’ I work with .. a very male oriented office.. the NGO .. not for profit – working with farmers .. helping them harvest rainwater to ensure they can remain on their land for another season provided there is some monsoonal rains this year.

It is uncertain times – those who talk of global warming being a myth do not live in rural India. There is no question of it here. Where changing weather patterns are bringing disaster to families – to whole villages left without any water to drink in the long hot dry season. Creating a migration equivalent to those of war torn lands.. a migration to the city in search of elusive jobs.

But that is another story – and yes it is the story I follow with my work – but the day to day of my life in Hubli is that of connection with the young men who are dedicated to this work. The work of the water.

We joke, we laugh, we chatter and we drink chai and in between we write budgets and discuss heatedly how things should or could be done. I try to step back out of my bossy western ways and listen and fit my thoughts together with those of the Indian way.

Sometimes it works, sometimes I help, sometimes the western way tempered with some patience – adds some value and sometimes I have to step right back and re- look at the way I am .. at my impatience and sense of ego! For sometimes that is really what it is.. “I am the one who is working here.. I am the one who can focus and get things done.. you lot simply mess around and don’t really know what you are doing .. and read the paper and talk endlessly on the phone.. but I am the one who is working” … ha ha ha ha…

Yes Shazar .. and they are the ones who started all this.. who know because they are the ones who lived in the village .. who understand what it is to have no water.. who know how it is to be unable to send their children to school for lack of the money for a notebook and pencil. They are the ones who understand the value of community ..
not you..

You who come from the land of more is better – the land where often people will walk past you on the street with their noses down – not a glance for the ‘stranger’. And so once again I step back into my ‘box’ breathe – and thank the forces who have brought me to this land again – for I have been here many lives – but this life it is the time to learn again what is humility – what is gratitude, what is giving, what is true generosity, for this is what India has to share with me.

And finally to understand the value of the small things that are scattered throughout the day stitching this life together to make a difference.

 

The Universe is a Friendly Place

Yes I hear you say.. not always.. and you would be right.  But tonight as I came home to my room in Hubli, this was really true for me.  I had been for my first acupuncture treatment – since my last series back in October.

Dr Anand Varma.. what a gem he is.. I wrote of him before .. when I just found him.. and I am back now after such a great result with my knees.. this time I am offering him my cranky neck to have a go at!!  He can stick all the acupuncture needles he likes into me.. I fully trust his long experience and his steady hands.

Today I walked into the clinic and each and every one of the staff welcomed me with big smiles and open hearts.  I felt like a special guest.. I think everyone who goes there gets the special guest treatment ..

I sat down next to a young girl who seems to have cerebral palsy..there with her mother – she is about 12 years old – can’t walk very well but her smile breaks open the heart.  She is in my group.. that is the ones who are scheduled for the 6pm session.  Then after some time on the hard waiting room bench, we were called upstairs.  She and I shared the same cubicle.  The over head fan was on .. as I climbed up onto the high bench and settled in.. waiting for the needles.  Hari Krishna Hari Rama played – over and over the mesmerising chant.. and I was transported.

Finally Dr Varma arrived – replete with new smart phone and all my details and my charts on it to be consulted there and then.  He proudly told me his son advised him on the best way to get set up .. and its working very well.  I joked.. ha I can’t lie to you any more.. its all there at your fingertips.

And so the needles went in.. Hari Krishna continued to play – and I lay back and relaxed.

Half and hour later the nurse came and freed me and my new friend, the young girl on the bench next to me.  I floated out.  And wandered up the laneway in the gathering dusk to find myself an ‘auto’ (rickshaw) – there he was .. and as I started to tell the driver where I wanted to go he cut me off laughing and with a stream of Kannada that I only guessed at – I realised he was the same man who brought me on Friday for my first appointment.

I relaxed in the back of the auto.. feeling safe, feeling cared for, feeling blessed.  This Universe I am in right now .. feels like such a friendly place.  I am incredibly lucky. And I know so many are not .. but for now I simply feel very grateful that I am surrounded by friendly people – I am cared for and I am loved.