Recently I joined a meditation retreat. It was more like the halfway house of meditation retreat. All of the rules of a retreat but no strict enforcement. Since quite a few of the participants were first timers, the relaxed setting made it easier for people to assimilate to the environment.
So why did I join the retreat?
My life has been so hectic this year that I have been acutely feeling the need to unplug. Literally. I checked out 2 temples in Nepal to go on a private retreat. Unfortunately both were booked on month-long programs that are ongoing. Remember that saying “when you want something badly enough, the universe conspires to help you receive it?” well… I found a retreat all right and it was right here in Bangladesh.
So not only did I get to go on the retreat… I got to take my mom with me. Yes, my mom. We haven’t always had the best of relationship but recently we have been doing better. In fact, this year has probably been the best for us. The retreat gave us a great opportunity to spend quality time with each other and to see a side of us that we don’t usually get to. I know she’s done the quantum meditation course and she really loved it. She knows that I have done Butthan meditation and I really loved it. So this was another kind that we both got to try together.
We had a Thai Monk leading the sessions and it was lovely. He mostly used the visualization technique and had hilarious little anecdotes that he shared with us. For example, when his dad meditates, he imagines that he’s got a crystal hanging like a pendulum from his head, all the way down, inside his body to his navel. And during the meditation session, he would try to balance that pendulum and sometimes he would be swaying a little in his balancing attempt. The visualization in my head of that scene had me cracking up for the rest of the day.
So we all have this expectation of what we hope to get out of meditation and I was no exception. I wanted to come away remembering once again how to smile with every single cell of my body. Generally I am a pretty happy person. I have a great life, I love my job and my colleagues. I enjoy my studies and my various volunteer roles. So it’s a full, busy life that I find very satisfying. But this year which has flown past me was really starting to get to me.
So yeah, I sat in my sessions, willing myself to find that happiness inside again. And here’s the funny thing, on the last day, in the last session, I had this vivid sensation that I was a fat, happy, cat who is purring away against my own leg. Sated, satisfied and just HAPPY! I opened my eyes and I could still feel myself, happily purring away. It felt soooooooooooooo good! It’s been months since I have felt good enough to want to go dancing all night.
Yesterday, the visualization that worked for me is of being a wild horse. My thoughts were all over the place, the to-do list kept running through my head. I had to keep coaxing my mind to slow down that runaway horse. After some time, I could feel that horse standing still. It was black and beautiful… almost majestic! with soft full mane and a lovely long tail and I knew it was me. Now how can you not smile at that? I think I fell asleep with that picture in my head.
So I have gone from constant rushing – office, university, home, assignments, reports, presentations, workshops, never-ending to-do lists running through my head – to chilling out, breathing, being mindful and more present. I had started walking on the treadmill again, the retreat inspired me to add yoga to my routine.
I just love the fact that I am from a continent that has a rich history of health practices – yoga, meditation, martial arts, herbal medicines… you name it and we probably started it and there’s such a wide variety of activity to pick from to get healthy, stay healthy, cope with stress, it’s freaking amazing!
The next retreat is in February 2015, somewhere in Thailand. I am not sure if I am going to be there. But I am pretty sure that I will be doing another retreat, somewhere, sometime. If you would like to check out the peace rebels… head over to their website here: https://peacerevolution.net/docs/en/peace-revolution
Peace in … Peace out…. :)
Love her list … and I certainly agree that we teach more by example then by instructions!
Originally posted on wellfesto:
Mid-way through a recent group exercise class, the teacher lost me. She didn’t lose me because of some complicated step sequence or insanely long set of burpees; I mentally checked out because of a few words she kept saying over and over. “Come on! Get that body ready for your winter beach vacation! Think about how you want to look at those holiday parties! PICTURE HOW YOU’LL LOOK IN THAT DRESS!”
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This is NOT a rant, rather an observation if you will.
Today is the 3rd day of Eid and for the past 3 days we have had this bunch of
hooligans boys in my neighbourhood playing loud music on the street. Now this would not be irritating if it were not for the fact that they play it all hours, extremely loud, its last years hottest club mix (the street don’t look like no club to me) and the sound is transmitted over mike’s and loudspeakers that cannot handle the base of the music. So what we have had to contend with is JLO & Lungi Dance music, cracking at cranked up volumes. Enough to give anyone a headache, don’t you think?
Maybe I am cranky, I have been running a fever for nearly 6 days now BUT that’s not the reason for this post.
Here’s the Paradox – Eid is a religious festival. You are supposed to be celebrating the end of Ramadan, the month of patient fasting and all the lessons of empathy and sympathy, which we are supposed to have relearn over the past 30 days. It’s a time for family and friends. I wonder where Lungi Dance and JLO featuring Pitbull on “Dance again” features in that occasion.
I am all for partying, but this … 24/7. giving everyone else in the locality headaches, where’s the empathy and sympathy, or any tameez for that sense … in there? For a country that is conspicuously moving away from being Secular, how is this Islamic? What does that word even mean anymore?
I used to love Ramadan, the chance to practice patience, empathy with those less fortunate, to place yourself in another person’s shoes. But the truth is I don’t like this month anymore. Every single day I have witnessed at least 1 act of violence, a non-sensical reaction, which is then attributed to the fact that the person is fasting and has therefore less patience. Don’t fast then. People work less because they are fasting. They are late to work, because they are fasting. They leave early, because they are fasting. People scream and shout abuse in the roads at the CNG’s and the buses because they are fasting and are at a hurry to get home. Don’t fast.
If fasting makes you behave like this, don’t fast. You are not learning anything. You are not practicing patience. You are using it like a crutch, an excuse to act out the anger and apathy that you carry around otherwise.
The biggest paradox perhaps is the way religion and its various facets have been commercialized. In a country where half the people live under or near the poverty line, we have shops that are open until 3 am to facilitate shopping. At cut throat prices, I wonder who buys the glittering things that are displayed on shop windows. I wonder how many people instead concern themselves with making sure that they have calculated their zakat correctly and given it to someone who needs it.
Celebration is all very good but at the end of the day, why can’t we just say that we are doing what we are doing, because we like to have a good time. That would certainly be a good enough reason to celebrate our family and friends, every single day of the year, instead of just a couple of times. It would also be a good reason to practice the art of giving – gifts, zakat, sadka – throughout the year. We have been gifted with life. Life is a gift. And it is worth celebrating every moment that we breathe.
I know I am.
I have been too busy to get enough sleep and since I can’t sleep, I either lack appetite or I just eat because I have to and I eat whatever I can get my hands. Now that’s the worst kind of disservice really that I can do to myself.
I have been too busy running from office to university. Too busy keeping up with work and assignments to focus on quality. Too busy to pay attention to the fact that half the year has already gone by and I am suddenly faced with the realization that I have only six more months to go before the year is over.
I have been too busy.
You know I am starting to hate that… being too busy. I want to be ‘not busy’, not running to class or to work or to keep up with some other commitment which I had made. I long for days like today, when I can wake up in the morning knowing that this day can be anything I make of it because all the hours in it are mine. I can read, write, nap, meditate, listen to music, engage in some self-love to revitalize myself. Days like this … I finally have time to improve Me … my thoughts, my life, my health. To concentrate on who I am and who I want to be, to evaluate whether or not I am in the right road for it.
These past few months have also taught me humility. I am a nerd who has trouble accepting anything less than A grade on my papers. My grades are in par with full-time students, youngsters who are not worrying about paying tuition, mortgage or getting forward in a career that spans nearly 2 decades. In my striving to hold on to A grades, I have stressed, worried and freaked over papers, assignments and never-ending exams. In moments of despair, I have thought of a blind guy in my class and asked myself if he can do it, why can’t I?
While all this striving undoubtedly expands my horizon, it has also taken away the joy I had in learning. And days like today I realize that it is not my commitment that I have to change, it is my attitude to my commitments that I have to change. I have to learn to be ok with getting something less than A on my grades, I have to reconnect to life on a higher level than this to truly enjoy each day to its fullest.
And I think it’s high time to book my next holiday ;)
Loved this one! Far too often, we want to change, start to change and then Wham! Life happens and we get scared and back off from changing. The blogger offers really great advice on how to hold on and ride the wave of change instead of drowning :)
Babe was my 14 year old germanshepherd who passed away on the 5th of June 2014. I wrote about some of her qualities and the things I learnt from her which has stood me in good steed last year here: http://corporateskirts.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/life-lessons-my-dog-taught-me/
Her passing away has not been a great shock, she had significantly slowed down and slept a lot more. She was too tired to play and could barely muster enough energy to stand around anymore. In this heat and humidity I didnot think that to be odd. She had grayed around the muzzle and the chin, her eyes had the glazy look of blindness setting in. What she has spared me though is the agony of having to make the choice to put her down to sleep. She passed away peacefully, mid morning, with full dignity. She had never troubled anyone in life and in death she was equally considerate.
I don’t know what I felt more when I heard the news. Loss. Grief. Lost.
I have been thinking of writing this post for 2 days now. I finally forced myself to sit down with it. But I have no words for how much she meant to me or what her loss really amounts to. All I can think of is the last time I met her, the last time I hugged her, what she looked like when I brought her home at seven week’s of age 14 years ago, her funny walk, her soft fur, she had the wettest licks, the warmest hugs with the patience of a Saint to boot. That is how I will always remember the one who taught me how to be a better mother, a better person, a loyal person.
Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity.
~Saint Augustine (354-430)~
What is a Habit? and what forms a habit? Wikipedia defines habit as a routine of behavior that is repeatedly regularly and tends to occur unconsciously. IF all habits are acquired patterns then why do we find it so difficult to implement new habits (e.g. exercising regularly) or giving up old habit that no longer serve our purpose (e.g. smoking). While the internet is full of helpful articles on how to break an old habit or create a new one, this post is not about that.
In an attempt to live a more contemplative life, a conscious one where I am not simply gliding across life’s highway on cruise control, I find myself often stepping back to gain a little perspective on the things I do on a daily basis. I ask myself questions like:
- What is the real reason as to why I am choosing to embark on a particular journey?
- What do I really hope to get out of it?
- Did I articulate my thinking, my expectations, my underlying assumptions clearly to everyone who has a stake in it? or can affect its outcome?
- Like a rubik’s cube, did I stop to consider all sides? think 20 steps ahead?
- Am I doing this because I am afraid of the consequences of what will happen if I don’t?
- Do I want to operate out of a place of fear in my heart?
I suppose all these questioning for me is easier in a sense because being an introvert having thought processes running quietly in the background in my head seems quite natural to me. The habit that I did have to work on changing though is choosing my train of thought carefully and conciously :)
So what are you doing about your habits? Do you question them? And if you do want to change something, where do you start?
What a rant!!! A beautiful rant… unapologetic… straight forward delivery. A MUST read!
Originally posted on The Belle Jar:
I am tired of talking about feminism to men.
I know that I’m not supposed to say this. I know that as a good little third-wave feminist I’m supposed to sweetly explain to you how much I love and value men. I’m supposed to trot out my husband of nearly five years, my son, all of my male friends and relatives and display them as a sort of badge of honour, proof that I am not a man-hater. I’m supposed to hold out my own open palms, prove to you how harmless I am, how nice I am. Above all, I’m supposed to butter you up, you men, stroke your egos, tell you how very important you are in the fight for equality. This is the right way to go about it, or so I’ve been told. As my mother would say, you catch more flies with honey.
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