The Quiet Calm of Morning Meditation

“Silence is the great teacher and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence.”
~  Deepak Chopra

 

I have a regular meditation practice that has stretched now for over thirty years. Twice a day I sit in meditation, once at day’s beginning and then again at day’s end. Sometimes I walk or perform some other kind of moving meditation, but mostly I am seated and still.

Very occasionally I will miss a session. If I am very ill I may miss one. If I have been out late and drunk alcohol I may tumble into bed without meditating. (Thanks to lyme disease the latter isn’t actually a very common occurrence – neither the late nights nor the drinking – although on my recent vacation I missed ten evening meditation sessions over six weeks. Woohoo!)

No matter where I am I find myself waking at 4am local time. I will meditate and then I will either get up and start my day, or if it is a Sunday or a holiday I will pop back into bed and go back to sleep.

At day’s end, just before I slide between the sheets, or sitting up in bed, I meditate once more to close off my day.

I meditate to enter that place of sacred stillness. I also meditate to grow, to heal, to do psychic work, to work with my hand-chosen students whom I may be teaching or training, and to work with healing others.

Sometimes, like for these next few weeks, I will work with a mala during my meditations. The main beads each represent a person, and I form a deep connection with each one. I am meditating twice daily now for a new group of students who will soon join me on retreat. To feel them energetically each day and to support them on their journey is an immense privilege.

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I can’t begin to tell you what a comfort it is to be home again and back in my usual meditation routine. To slip into that space of quiet and calm and to let go the worries and thoughts that crowd my mind in waking hours. To remember my eternal soul, and the wonder of our unfolding journeys. To connect with those I love, near and far, here and departed from the physical realms.

Always, at the end of each session, I send peace and love out into the world. I send healing to mother earth. I send love and healing to my family and loved ones, to my clients and students, to all of you. I pray for your well-being. I pray that you know how precious you are and that you come to understand that you are never alone – you are loved and thought of by so many souls you may never meet in this lifetime. I know that as I do this there are other souls in meditation across the globe engaged in similar activity. I feel their sparks of light travelling out into the world and I am renewed in my own spirit, no matter what I might be facing when I open my eyes and come back into the flow of my life again.

I just wanted to remind you that even though the media will most often show the world as being crazy and highlight the worst of humanity’s actions, there is actually a swelling number of souls sitting in peace, holding space for peace, and shining love and light out into the world.

You can too, just by sitting quietly and going within. If the only person your meditation practice ever benefits and changes is you, by helping you to find that quiet calm space within you, and by helping you feel your own connection to all that is, then you have contributed to positive change in the world. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a small action.

Sending so much love your way. Nicole <3 xx

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A Moment of Perfect Peace

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“Spirituality is not to be learned by flight from the world, or by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitude wherever or with whomsoever we may be. We must learn to penetrate things and find God there.”
― Meister Eckhart

Very late yesterday afternoon I had a sudden urge to go and water my vegetable garden.

It had been a difficult day, after a series of difficult days. I’ve been in tremendous pain from my current lyme medications, and doing my best to just simply sit with that pain. I’m not fighting my pain. I’m merely breathing and being aware of the pain within my body. The pain is so intense that normal functioning is a challenge. Instead I have given in to what is. I am riding each wave until I am thrown up onto the shore once more.

It’s been an enlightening journey, and when I have the words I’ll share some of that journey with you.

But for now I am tired, after so many days of so little sleep. So let me instead tell you about watering the garden.

It was late afternoon. You know, that soft afternoon light, just before dusk comes creeping over the horizon. I uncoiled the garden hose, turned on the tap and walked down the hill to my raised vegetable beds. My feet were on the bare earth, and the grass beneath them was soft and cool. The air was filled with the song of frogs and cicadas, and the last of the birds. Mr Grunty, our resident male koala, was grunting and barking and being noisy from his spot high in the gum tree just outside the home paddock fence.

A bat flipped past, so low that I could hear the flap of its leathery wings.

All this time I am wracked with pain. My face is contorted and I can’t see out of one eye. My ears pound, and my bones are on fire. Every so often my nerves jangle as though I have been tasered.

I am standing in the garden in agony, tears streaming down my face, trying to hold the hose steady on my young plants. I wonder for a moment why I have bothered to drag myself out here at all.

The air becomes scented with mint and nasturtium. I can smell the fragrant sun-warmed tomato foliage as the water hits it, scattering cool drops onto the mulch beneath.

Image from Goodness Is

Image from Goodness Is

Above me, a crescent moon has risen. Almost directly above the old hoop pine that shelters our little farmhouse.

In that moment, hose in my hands, feet in the grass, sounds of the close of day, moon above my head, body on fire, ragged breath, head full of pain, a great peace descends upon me.

A peace so profound, a connection so complete, that more tears spill. The pain is still there. Nothing about my physicality has changed at all. But beyond that, encompassing all of that – all of me, is a wonder and awe at the beauty and grace of this universe, and of my place within it.

My pain doesn’t matter. My illness becomes irrelevant. They are merely what’s happening to me at this moment. My soul, connected to everything and everyone, is always at peace. Even in great pain. Even when it feels like my world is undone.

The knowledge fills me up. The truth seeps into my very cells.

I carry that peace back into the house, and it quietens my mind. The pain is still there. But now there is also this other presence. This great comfort.

I feel like I have touched the face of God.

Or perhaps, God touched my face.

Or it was all the same thing…

And that presence is still here with me.

All of it, every breath, every moment, is love.

The Golden Light  by bnilesh

The Golden Light by bnilesh

 

My Whole Life I Was Wrong

Image from Olaalaa.com

Image from Olaalaa.com

“If I am right, Thy grace impart
Still in the right to stay;
If I am wrong, O, teach my heart
To find that better way!”
~ Alexander Pope, Moral Essays

 

My whole life I was wrong. I laboured under the illusion that I needed to be perfect. More beautiful. Thinner. My relationships harmonious. My home a picture of neatness. I was sure that I needed acclaim, prizes, and a string of letters after my name.

Why did I want these things? Not to be better than anyone else. No. It was never that. I felt that I needed these things in order to be worthy. In order to be taken seriously. In order to be loved. In order to teach.

In order to have value.

No wonder then, that life ground me under her heel. That my family shattered, flinging me far from its arms. That illness stole my youth, my words, my energy and the fruits of my womb.

Image from WallpapersinHQ.com

Image from WallpapersinHQ.com

Thank goodness.

Each day now, I see the wisdom in that path.

Next weekend I shall begin a five day teaching; a residential retreat to help others to embrace and use their psychic gifts. My preparations thus far have involved meditations, contemplation, reflection, connection and lots of quiet time. My game plan this week mostly involves working from bed so that I shall be well rested and can give my all. I am not yet well. I may never be well in the way that others are well. I may become better and still be bound by limitation. But that doesn’t matter so much anymore. What matters is that I am still here, still in the game, and capable of doing what I came here to do.

Next weekend I am not concerned about how I shall look, what car shall carry me to my event, what clothes I wear other than that I must be clean and comfortable, and happy in myself. I will not be at my most svelte. My face is lined with both age and pain. I have no idea what colours are popular this Spring, or if the coral lipstick I favour is in right now. Who cares? I am not there to be judged on my appearance. It is not about me. I am there for my students. It is they who are the important ones. This event is for them. They are my focus. I don’t mind how they dress either. As long as they are warm, or cool, and unbothered by their outfits. They could be in their pyjamas for all I care. I want their attention, their passion, their hearts and minds. Within a minute or two of being together none of them will notice these external things either. We are coming together to immerse ourselves in things other than the external.

Next weekend the house I leave will be messy. There will be tasks still left undone. Any fashion style I may exhibit will be the result of my sister’s careful ministrations. Or a friend’s. All that matters for me is the work. All that matters for me is honouring the needs of my students, and the teachings of my Aunties and Ancestors, the whisperings of my own heart, and the collective energy and well being of my tribe as we come together. I have no energy for anything else, and these days, little interest for anything that does not support my values, my passions and my own well being.

I will tell my students what it has taken me this lifetime to learn. That living to please others is not important, and in fact can be downright dangerous to your own sanity and the happy playing out of your talents and gifts. That already, as humans, they are enough, but that to strive in the pursuit of knowledge or a craft that grows and shapes us is a worthy thing. A transformative thing. A very good thing.

Image from Tequila Cupcakes

Image from Tequila Cupcakes

None of us will ever be perfect. And anyway, perfection is a myth. But if we are prepared to do the work, some of us, one day, will be wiser. Kinder. More smoothed at the edges. More broken open by life, brightened by pain, luminous from loving and being loved.

Each, in our own way, having gleaned some knowledge, can then lift others up with one hand, as we steady ourselves or climb with the other.

Who ever could have known that in the brittle perfection of my youth I would loathe myself so much? Who could have ever imagined that in being thoroughly broken, I would come to love myself so dearly?

Coming back to myself

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“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” ~ Nelson Mandela

 

I am sitting in a cafe at Byron Bay, and it feels like a small miracle.

After my six-week fever broke last night, and a powerful meditation shifted me past most of my pain, things have me believing that somewhere in the quiet dark hours of early morning I turned a significant corner.

Expect a return to normal blogging tomorrow. 🙂

Hooray!!! I have missed you. xoxo

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Chronically ill and Happy!

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“The individual who says it is not possible should move out of the way of those doing it.”
~ Tricia Cunningham

 

I’m not happy because I have a chronic illness – I’m happy because I still love my life! It’s possible, and in fact I think it’s necessary, to find happiness when life has dealt you a crappy hand. Let me explain…

Those of you who have been following my journey know that I’ve experienced poor health, interspersed with periods of being desperately ill, for my entire adult life. At least I finally have a diagnosis now – late stage lyme disease and a range of other bacterial co-infections that have invaded my brain, bones and organs. Having this undiagnosed illness for over 30 years has been a major challenge, physically and emotionally. And the path to healing for me is a long road too – two and a half to three years of a savage drug regime, coupled with other wholistic modalities, herbs and diet.

Chronic illness and disability is different to your average bout of being unwell, no matter how serious that short duration illness might be. By its very nature chronic illness means that the wallpaper of your life is incapacity, pain and limitation.

I call it wallpaper for a reason. When illness is a one-time short duration event it takes over your life, cuts you down at the knees and takes all your energy and focus until you are well enough to move on.

When you live with illness all the time, or a disability, it becomes like wallpaper. You truly learn not to notice it so much, or you find inventive ways to live with it. You adapt, even if that means shrinking your world down. And if that illness persists for a long period of time, one of the best coping strategies in the world is to keep living as normally as you can DESPITE that illness. Of course, your ‘normal’ may also need to be very different to the ‘normal’ of a healthy person.

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One of the great gifts that has come out of my own illness is an ability to be grateful for the smallest things in life, and to put my focus on them. In that way I can find happiness and satisfaction even on the worst of days. On my best days, life is gloriously normal, and I revel in that normality. I appreciate the sorts of days that healthy folk take for granted.

People with chronic illness or disability can still have a life. We can still have interests and friendships, we can still go on outings or holidays, we can still create things, we can still laugh. In fact we must do these things, or what is left to us?

And that also gives me a great gift to share with you. I’ve found a way to be happy, engaged with life, and to keep working towards my dreams, even with illness and limitation. Oh sure, I have my moments. Days where I can’t get out of bed, days where I am wracked with pain or afflictions that prevent me from doing anything much at all. But there are enough days where I can focus on something positive and good that my life, on balance, is still a source of deep satisfaction to me.

What’s my secret? Gratitude, meditation, learning to appreciate a slower and simpler life, finding joy in a cup of tea, sunshine on my face, a beautiful flower, a well-written book, chats with a friend or a cuddle with my dogs.

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We all experience ups and downs in life. It’s how we deal with those challenges that defines us.

If you’re experiencing physical or emotional challenges, I urge you to find some small positive details where you can muster gratitude, even if only for a moment. These bright points in a dark place can be life-saving, and even life-changing.

If you know someone with a disability or chronic illness, support them in their quest to enjoy life the best they can. I include being old, being a carer, and being a parent of very young children in this category as well.

Everyone copes better when we are included in the fabric of society. Everyone copes better when they have some sun on their face, a friend, an interest, an outing.

Everyone deserves to find happiness.

Corfu Wild Flowers, a bunch

You might find these posts useful too:

On illness and being unreliable

Inviting Stillness…

Real friendship

Finding moments for yourself

How to do Tonglen Meditation – A beginner’s Guide

Inviting Stillness…

“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

How can you be well, how can you know peace, if you are always busy? Always rushing?

If your days are blurring one into the other, if you are exhausted and defeated in spirit, or lost and no longer certain of your path, then stop!

Just for a moment, allow yourself to be still. Just for a moment be aware of your breathing, of the air on your skin, of the time of day, the temperature, the beat of your heart, the position of your body.

A moment or two of stillness refreshes everything.

In a moment of stillness rest comes.  Peace comes.  Answers come.

You can’t find that space and expansiveness when you rush, rush, rush.

You can’t find that comfort when you are so busy that your head is spinning.

Today, find a quiet moment.  Allow yourself to enter into stillness.

Rest there.

And wait.

Stillness is always where the magic happens.

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The Gifts of Silence

Colours of Silence - Image from www.betterphotography.in

Colours of Silence – Image from Silent Shiva

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers,  grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” ~ Mother Teresa

Silence gifts us time to think.

Silence gifts us room to grow.

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Silence gifts us space to heal.

Silence restores us to ourselves.

Image from www.keithpp.wordpress.com

Image from www.keithpp.wordpress.com

Silence allows the deepest of rests.

Silence encourages inner connection.

Silence is a space waiting to be filled with emotion, ideas and inspiration.

Silence is a place of wisdom and great energy, once we learn to open to its beauty.

Silence is the language of the Divine.