Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Science of Happiness - An Experiment in Gratitude

When doubt seeps in

I've been watching season 17 of Ultimate Fighter because basically it's nice to see very fit guys beat each other up.



I was no fan of Chael Sonnen, American mixed martial artist, in the beginning but then he sat down to have a talk with Uriah Hall who he's the trainer for in the series and who was struggling with his self-confidence, Uriah had asked Chael for advice. After his chat with Uriah Chael came out with this absolute gem:
"When doubt seeps in you got two roads - you can take either road. You can go to the left or you can go to the right and believe me, they'll tell you failure is not an option.  

That is ridiculous! 

Failure is always an option.

Failure is the most readily available option at all times, but it's a choice. You can choose to fail or you can choose to succeed. And, if we can plant seeds and let him know - "Move your feet! Keep your hands up! Stay off the bottom!" - that is the road to victory, or self-doubt and negative talk, and that is the road to failure.

But failure is always there, and it's okay to recognize that. 

If I can leave you with anything today, in my long journey through this is:

One, it's okay.

Two, it's normal.

And as athletes and especially as men, as male athletes, we hate to admit weakness even to ourselves, and when you're dealing with something and you got some kind of a hiccup, yeah, first thing is acknowledge it."

It's frigging good advice.

(Maybe this is why I want to take up kickboxing which it is, apparently, OK to start doing even at my age. :P!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Needless worry

Needless worry isn’t anxiety as such but it can be a precursor or it could be fueling anxiety. There as some simple techniques you can use to stop needless worry. The first three are really easy to do anywhere and anytime. The fourth one may take a little more effort unless you’re really good at doing things in your head.

Relax your body 
Relaxing your body activates the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for fight or flight responses. To relax your body take three deep breaths.

Release emotions of anxiety, fear and apprehension 
Imagine that any emotions of anxiety fear and apprehension are released through your out breath every time you breathe out. If you find that this isn’t working for you imagine that your fingertips are like hoses and these emotions are simply draining out through your fingertips.

Consider your beliefs 
Consider beliefs that are driving the needless worry and begin to form counter arguments to them. It’s OK to just concentrate on one belief if you find multiples. Move on to the next one when you’re ready to do so.

Make a plan 
Define what’s in your power in regards to the needless worry and make a plan of action. Plans shouldn’t ideally contain avoidance strategies but if that’s all you’re able to do at this stage then use it. You can always rework your plan into something more daring later.

(Oh yeah, and you know the deal: I love you!)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Smile at yourself first thing in the morning <---start here

I spent half of today in other meaningless leadership indoctrination session course and there was this moment a graphic artist in his 30s asked a question about how you can measure improvement if your performance objectives affect other departments.

“You measure them in the amount of smiles you get from people in the other department,” I thought out loud before I realised my mouth was actually doing that talking thing making noise that others can hear.

“I get no smiles,” he said grinning mischievously, “I don’t even smile at myself.”

“What?! You need to get up in the morning and look yourself in the mirror with a big smile and say out loud ‘I’m awesome!’” I retorted.

“Like this?” he asked doing a two finger movement pointing and smiling at his imaginary reflection in the mirror.


“And, should I do this too?” he added winking.

“No, that’s a little creepy. A little too much ego there. You need to pull back a bit.”

Two guys on either side of him did the smile and finger point in unison without checking with each other as he did it again.

I got frowned at by the facilitator, that’s what I got, because I started shit, off topic like.

I think that that greeting ourselves as though we’re meeting our very own best friend first thing in the morning is not such a lousy idea. Odds are, like this guy, that you’re not going to get a lot of other smiles during the day so you may as well start off with giving one to yourself.

And maybe to a couple of other people who really need it.

And that guy you work with who’s been your mortal enemy for years (you can’t remember how it started but he’s an arsehole!) because if nothing else he’ll get hella confused (and your relationship with him is bound to change but don’t let on to your ego because it will fight it).

And the guy cutting you off in traffic.

I think you can take this even further.

When you get home tonight pretend you’re a dog and greet your family like dogs do – like you’ve missed them like they’ve been gone F O R E V E R even though it’s only a day. Don't start wagging you imaginary tail (again, a little creepy) but be really happy to see them. If you can't muster happy then fake it and maybe they will remember tomorrow and be really happy to see you! You know what I'm getting at here don't you?

Smiles: small packages of love. Love bomb the fuck out of the world today but don’t forget to start with yourself. In the morning.

(I love you!) 


Looking for love in all the wrong places

I have a theory, and it really is just a theory so feel free to pipe up and comment if you feel moved to add anything to the discussion, and that is that those of us who fall victims to love frauds do so because we’ve not got our minds in the right space, or really, part of our minds.

Our brains have developed over millions of years and with the brain the mind. Most creatures have developed some pretty basic mind functions and broadly speaking all creatures function with at least two mind functions to ensure their survival. Let’s call them “to approach” and “to avoid”.

“To approach” is the carrot if you like. It looks for rewards and opportunities that will help survival and comfortable living.

“ To avoid” is the function that looks for threats and pain so they can be avoided so that survival is ensured and the chance of living comfortably is increased.

Within these two mind function there are two basic states. Let’s call them “in stress” and “in wellbeing”.

If “to approach” is in the stress state we’ll perceive that there’s a scarcity problem. On a real basic level this would be a lack of food or shelter. In our Western world today it may be financial problems or worries related to finances (real or imagined). It may be our inability to get the job we want. It may be that we can’t afford to buy the car or go on the holiday we want. Anything that makes you feel that there’s not enough of a resource indicates that your “to approach” mind function is in stress.

If “to approach” is in the wellbeing state we’ll perceive that there’s an abundance of resources. We’ll perceive that there’s enough for everyone and there’s no need for greed. It’s easy to share and to find more resources.

If “to avoid” is in the stress state we’ll perceive that there’s a threat and we will feel fear and anger. We will feel anxious and expect the worst.

If “to avoid’ is in the wellbeing state we’ll perceive that we are safe, we are in safety, and there’s no real need to worry or feel anxious about anything. We’re alright.

As humans, being slightly more evolved creatures and highly social at that, there’s a third state. Let’s call that state “to affiliate”. This state makes us want to join and affiliate (obviously!) and to make “us”. It makes us want to belong.

If “to affiliate” is in stress we suffer from a feeling a loss and separation. This may be reasonable if you’re grieving the loss of close one. It’s not reasonable if you’re not grieving and it’s your general state of being (regardless of what’s triggered “to affiliate” to be in stress in you). When “to affiliate” is in stress we are at high risk of looking for love in all the wrong places. We will try to connect with people who respond quickly because we’re desperate to connect with anyone or anything. We feel a desperate need to be loved and perhaps to love.

If “to affiliate” is in wellbeing we feel connected and find it easy to forgive and act loving towards others. We don’t feel a need to chase love because we already feel that we belong and are affiliated.

This is of course a very basic explanation of our states but it does go some way to explain why some of us end up falling prey to love frauds, people who are unable to love but fake it and end up breaking our hearts.

What triggered “to affiliate” to be in stress varies in people but a lot of the time it stems back to childhood experiences but it can also stem from having gone through a major heartbreak in adulthood. To me it’s not really all that important what triggered it, you can go to therapy or spend time querying your mind about it if you want to find out what triggered it in you, but what really matters to me is how to move from having “to affiliate” in stress to being in wellbeing.

I think I mentioned this before, a few weeks ago I met a man who had spent 30 years meditating (and he was a very warm and loving person) and his advice to me was to practice gratitude. He’s not the only one who advocates that as a remedy to feeling that there’s a lack of love or especially lack of love for self. I have also been told that an unwavering focus on love, acting out of love and acting in love is a sure way to move your “to affiliate” into wellbeing.

Perhaps we could all do with more love in our life so please join me in practicing love here at Spilling Ink. If you won’t, I will love you anyway. So there.


(I’m not just saying that!)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Just got the bloody house cleaned up

I just got the bloody house cleaned up, I mean I'm not pointing fingers or nothing but O was messy to live with in the messy house sense too, and now the survey guys are coming and going like fashion. I like the house.

I like my fake pond at the front.

I like the open spaces in the house and the clean floors.

I like the eclectic collection in the bookshelf I moved into the "living room" - it's not really a living room anymore. The house is small so now it's a dining room and the spare room is the "TV room".

I like my meditation/yoga corner in the "TV room".

I also fear moving. Moving is more scary than doing your tax return.

I'm hoping that the real estate lady is right and that if they decide to build a new house on this lot it will take them at least two years to get approval. That gives me time to like this house for a bit longer. It feels like home now you know.

It feels like home.

The bookshelf in all its glory.

 A slight obsession with teacups....

....and assorted....stuff

My moose head. I have to have one. I'm Swedish. Mine is shrunken though. Mini moose.

 The corner of peace and tranquility.

Always wanted a pond but I rent so what can you do? You can do this, that's what you can do.

And, just in case you didn't notice, taking photos with an iPod touch should really be illegal. I really must dig out my camera and USE IT.

I don't know what just happened. I must have become house-proud or something. I just showed you around my house. I'm becoming my mum.....


Monday, September 23, 2013

Color me different!

The last few weeks have been kind of hard, or perhaps rather hard work. Anxiety has been my steady companion and like some little annoying child it’s been yammering on leaving me with a knotted feeling in my stomach and difficulty sleeping.

Anxiety is a really poor companion but even worse, it’s really good at masking the underlying cause. 

Anxiety sits there and demands your attention and you just can't ignore it. More than anything you fear that it will bring you to your knees and really have its way with you.

This morning I got a little tired of it. I had tried to meditate before I hopped on the bike to go to work and it just wouldn't let me do it. My stomach was churning and my head was full of unhelpful fear messages. (Add to that the very unhelpful cat that thought that sitting on my head while I was sitting in lotus position would be a good idea...)

I began to question it while I was cycling through the park in the dark. My hands were freezing for some reason as if they were trying to distract me from this line of investigation. It dawned on me: My anxiety is born out of one fear and that is that I will fall into depression again.

It was a huge relief. I don't actually feel depressed anymore. There's a hint of sadness which is fair. This thing with O was a shit of a thing and if it didn't make me sad I would fear I had graduated to psychopathy. No, a little bit of sadness is OK especially if it can be pushed out of the way by something a little more happy with relative ease.

So, things are changing in me. Maybe all that work I'm spending turning my attention inwards is paying off or maybe the chemicals in my brain are just deciding to mix differently. Matters not. What matters is that I'm coloring me different.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Don't go there sister!

This post is brought to you by me and inspired by a comment on my post Men. You are inspirational to me, my dear reader. (Times like these I love because now we're having a conversation and I love having conversations!)

"Do you track his presence on dating sites?"

I bet you're sitting there beating yourself up for doing it, shaming yourself, telling yourself you're being stupid and pathetic while at the same time you just can't help yourself; you  have to find out what he's up to. You may even feel a tiny urge to warn the public of this dating site terrorist threat. People like him shouldn't be allowed to roam free on the internet inflicting pain on unsuspecting, loving women folk. He's a fucking love pirate, that's what he is.

Not only did he steal your heart but now he's got your sanity too. He's managed to take up residence in your mind and you can't get him out. He's staying there and no amount of crying on your part makes him move; he seems completely immune to your suffering. He's demanding attention and he's issuing commands, and as much as you try to ignore him you're spending way too much time thinking about him, and what he's doing on that dating site or as a result of being on there, and too much time on trying to forget about him.

He's just sitting there comfortably in your favorite mind chair grinning at you letting you know that there's nothing you can do about his presence. He's refusing to leave, more importantly, he's refusing to leave you alone, and trust me, he's loving it and he's loving your attention. He lives for it and he;s living for it in your mind.

A bit too dramatic? Perhaps, but I think you're catching the drift here, sister (or brother).

It's tempting, you know, to want to know what they're up to. You really want them to think of you, to miss you, maybe even come back to you because they've realized that you are the One after all. You want them to turn up with flowers in their little hands begging for your forgiveness and to be ready to give you that love you know you deserved all along. It's OK, you can admit that there's a part of you that wants this and that it sometimes gets awful loud about what it wants.

It's tempting to want revenge when they don't turn up and declare their undying love for you, when you realize that you're one of many or that someone else may be their the One (fat chance of that by the way, but we will come back to that later).

You want to know what they're up to so you can plan your next move. You want them to hurt as much as they've hurt you, probably even more, because if they did they would know how you feel and how much you hurt they would feel empathy for you - they would understand how much you love them and they would start loving you in return. Or, something like that. Maybe you just want to see their face ground into the dirt and make them hurt and suffer.

Don't go there sister - or brother! The truth is you've been had and it's time to get back right up and see this for what it is.

You're not dumb or gullible. You're not broken. You're not wrong. You're not stupid. You're lovable. You're kind. You're normal. You're probably really sweet and caring. You're perfect which makes you perfect prey for these kind of people. You and them are not playing by the same rules.

You think that love conquers all (and you're right but not in the way you think) and you were taught to believe in the good in people. You were taught to give people the benefit of the doubt and to trust. That's really sweet and I love you for it but now you need to love yourself more than anyone else because that, my friend, is your salvation. You've been had by the best and there's no cure for it but to love yourself with reckless abandon. You need to be completely selfish about it. Spread your love around but only on yourself - for now.

It's hard, I know. You're not used to it, You desperately want to love someone else and you want them to love you back, I do too, but for now you and I will be content with just loving ourselves.

We need to change tack you and I. We need to understand that there are people out there who were not loved enough when they were children or were damaged in some other way. They're not playing by our rules. They don't feel the way we do perhaps they don't even feel at all except for fear. There's a vast emptiness where their heart should be (and it's not for us to try to fill it - you know now it doesn't work that way). They have a different set of rules they play by and they think nothing of using you to get their jollies off for a little while and to get what they want.

You and I have things to learn, things we need to learn to protect ourselves from going down this path again. As much as we may want to save these people, bring the love we know in our hearts they need to heal, it's not for us to do so because we will end up dying ourselves before we accomplish that mission.

So, leave that dating site checking thing you've been doing alone. (If you're like me someone else will anonymously contact you on Facebook with a made up profile to warn you that your love is out there hunting while he's with you - talk about humiliation.) Get up and go to the bathroom and look at yourself in the mirror. You are awesome! Plaster your walls with post-it notes telling yourself a different kind of story about who you are. Step out of this history and into a new magical story. Trust me, you will find that love you long for, you and I will find that love we long for, but first we need to change tack and become what we were meant to be and that is simply one thing:

Able to be loved. Love able. LOVABLE.

I will be back with more but you need to promise me that you stop checking the dating sites. He's out there hunting, you know he is. Better someone else than you. Better he turns his attention to someone else so you can get on with getting him out of your head but how you do, well that's another post.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Yep, it's one of them days again when my mind starts running rampant with a subject, then runs around in circle for a bit, kicks the subject around the field and ends up with the inevitable conclusion that this world is warped, seriously warped. It's just the most of the time it seems like I'm the only one noticing which then leads me back to the realization I had the other day: I'm awkward.

Today I'm awkward in the sense that I don't understand men. No one say "Duh!" out loud please; anyone who's read this blog for some time would be aware of that. First thing's first though:

I apologize now to any man who reads this blog because what I'm typing may be seen as offensive. (Bill, I want to apologize to you now because you even comment on my blog sometimes.) I don't mean to offend, it's just the my view of men and the beliefs I hold about men just don't gel with some of this shit and so my mind is confused, very confused.

It started with the eight year old girl dying in Yemen after her wedding night. Or, allegedly dying. There was this other news piece that stated the father showed off said daughter well and alive after it all allegedly happened. Well never mind, apparently plenty of other young girls are being raped to death over there on their wedding nights. I cannot get this through my head but it makes the men in this country evil but more importantly why are we still being polite about this? Why aren't we more outraged? This is not some religious thing we have to tip toe around. This is a pedophilia rape culture.

It went on to an article asking the question if all that porn we now have access to on the internet is making men less sensitive to women and women's issues. Apparently it makes us all less sensitive to women's issues. Put me in front of some hard core porn for fifteen minutes and I will be less sensitive to women's issues apparently. I'm not game trying for fear of being desensitized and I'm really not all that into hard core porn.

It makes me kind of sad, the porn thing, but it does go a long way in explaining a phenomena I've noticed when it comes to dating sites. Three and a half years ago I met O through this one particular dating site. I used to look in there because it was still relatively sane. I never deleted my account and for shits and giggles I updated my profile when the fit hit the shan a few months back because of curiosity.

What was happening out there in online dating land?

I made considerable effort crafting a profile that makes some guys laugh, some think I'm a complete bitch, some think that I'm too smart for them and some run. I have also added at the bottom of my profile that I'm not after casual or NSA sex, in fact my profile states I'm looking for friends of both sexes.

You already know what I'm going tell you, don't you?

Yep. 98% of all messages I get ask me if I want some casual sex. 1% tells me that they can tell by my profile that I'm into submissive sex. The remaining 1% just say "Hi" or if I'm really lucky "Hi Sexy".

I have decided that the internet dating sites is the dumping ground for men who can't get a woman in real life.

But this does dredge up some stuff because I used to have this discussion with O about what men actually want. He claimed that men just want what the Aussies call a root (in other words sex) and that they don't fall in love. I really want believe that men actually do because I think I've seen evidence of it. I also don't really want to believe that we're going backwards when it comes to women's rights and how men think of women. I've worked too hard to feel respected as a human being to think that we're not just objects again.

I don't know. What's your experience? Do men actually want long term relationships, do they care about women as human beings or is it all just about casual sex now?

Just asking, folks.


I have things for cups, and shoes, and I found this little beauty on eBay. I thought it's perfect for my morning coffee at work especially now that spring is springing. :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


When I can't quite get into gear at work I doodle. Couldn't get into gear today and the result was this:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The moment I realize (again) that I’m just fucking awkward at times

We had one of them team lunches today. The new head of global everything (our department) took half of the team out for lunch yesterday and half today. I just knew it would be…..awkward for me.

Self-fulfilling prophecies. Love that shit.

I’m just wasn’t in the mood, although this may be a permanent condition with me, so sit there and smile, and as the only woman (because I work in engineering) I actually felt a little… the odd one out. A bit like the only woman in cabinet post the Australian election.

I know I shouldn’t feel awkward, I know these guys and I’ve known a lot of them for years, but I did. There they were talking bikes, I’m a bike type person, but they were talking about bikes the way men do. We’re not just cycling anymore; we’re wearing full body armour.

One of the guys turned around and made an effort to say something he knew I would directly relate to. One guy.

I know it’s me. It’s not them. I’m just not the social butterfly. Should have brought a pad of post-it notes and doodled instead.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Mood change

There’s a weird mood coming over me more and more.

Maybe it’s that I’ve actually forgotten what it feels like being almost content, that I’m just not used to being less worried and able to bring myself back faster from any forays into depressed and anxious territory, or maybe it’s the weather. Spring is springing. Summer is on its way. It all shows in my garden where the weeds have suddenly decided on a full scale invasion.

My house is clean and sort of organized and that’s a big deal for me because I’ve been the queen of the disorganized for years now. The only place I’ve been able to be organized is work and even there chaos threatened to overtake as well. But there is it. Empty spaces void of any clutter and things presented in rather eclectic displays but nonetheless neat. My house feels like my house.

I’ve never been much for house proud and I’m not sure that’s what it’s about. Maybe it’s more of a “me-proud” thing. Maybe it’s about finding my own voice and expression and feeling like instead of sinking deeper I feel like I’m slowly but surely breaking free from some seriously bad mental shit.

The most interesting factor of all that I have come to identify is that all my “bad behaviour”, all that making waves and making sure I pushed back, was me telling myself that we need to end this situation. We cannot stay in this toxic relationship and we need to get out now. I may have told myself that I needed him and that I could save it but in the background my subconscious was doing some serious work on getting out. It feels good knowing that I’m there for myself even though it would have been so much easier if I’d just acted on it sooner.

I’ve been afraid. I still get afraid at times, deathly afraid, the kind of deathly afraid that anxiety attacks bring but I find it easier to identify these moments as anxiety attacks now. I realize that I can’t trust my mind to tell me the truth all the time. If I want the truth I have to dig much deeper and look harder. The truth is that I’m calm, I feel safe and that I’m loved. Sometimes it’s still hard to see but I’m beginning to learn that I am, wait for it, I am ENOUGH. That’s right. I am ENOUGH.

I’m not winning Nobel prizes or writing literary awesomeness things but I am ENOUGH. I have, despite really making it hard for myself at times, managed to do alright. When I doubt that looking at myself all I have to do is to look at Bee and I know I’m ENOUGH. I have somehow managed to help create a wonderful young woman and I’m finally allowing myself to feel proud of it.

I can’t help but to feel grateful today (by the way, I’m grateful for having a kick-arse boss because he really is just that) because my life is so much better today than it was just two months ago.

So, somewhat cautiously I declare hopes arrival into my life and I think I may have opened my door for more love too. Is nice. Is very nice.


Not so long ago I met a man who had spent 30 years meditating (taking the occassional break to live life no doubt) and he spoke about connecting and love. I told him that I have no trouble loving others but I have real issues loving myself and I asked him how you can learn to do that. He told me that gratitude is the way so I've decided that I will list three things every day that I'm grateful for. Please join me if you like in my little gratitude experiment.

Today I'm grateful for:

For having my daughter Bee in my life and her unconditional love.

For having had a really great weeekend when I could relax and just enjoy myself

For having a healthy body and for being well on the way to having a much healthier mind.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My space

I started writing something deep and profound this morning, it was serious and meaningful, but then I was struck by the sheer beauty of having moved things around in my house arranging them just the way like them.

Four small Buddha statues in each corner of my living-come-dining room.

A small Ganesha statue next to the door on the way out to the little back room where the cats eat.

The blue and purple zabutons and the blue zafu that I consumer-whored for my meditation corner in the TV room - a room that has a TV we never watch because there's really nothing to watch on TV.

The floor space, it's like having a Savannah in your house where there was previously clutter and mess.

The kitchen with benches wiped clean after every meal and snack event.

It sounds so silly but all this is my space now, Bee's and my space, and we sometimes just sit at the table and go "Yeah, this is us!" and we talk crap and eat stuff like nachos because we've not had them for ages.

From the small "pond" I made myself in the front yard (I always wanted a pond but I rent so I had to improvise) to anything I've rearranged to suit me or us, it all serves to make me happy and content.

I like it.

This new freedom suits me.

I'm just saying.

I leave you with my "pond" 'cause I like it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

It has come down to this

I don’t want to be stopped any longer from doing things I want to do because I don’t think I can, shouldn’t or just don’t have the confidence to do it. I’ve played in my own little-league for most of my life and I feel it’s time I start living and that I start honouring myself and my dreams.

Sometimes it’s hard to define yourself and your dreams, and to be honest with you I’m OK with that. I’m OK with it being a struggle for me. That’s who I am. That’s my starting point, my you are here dot on the map of my life. Changing dreams into actions takes courage and stepping out of your comfort zone, challenging the way you think and the definitions you’ve accepted for yourself.

I believe in order to be happy we have to grow, we have to challenge and stretch ourselves but it’s important that the way we do it is in ways that we ourselves have identified as being what we want to do. There’s seldom the same satisfaction and real growth coming out of some work KPO that an organisation has determined for you unless you have the fortune of having a manager that also has an interest in mentoring you as a person.

Things around here will change; I did say beginning of this year that things will change for me in 2013. It appears I’ve listened to myself. A lot of things have changed and while there are things that I would have like to have happen a lot sooner I also feel that I’m right on track. I set something in motion when I said to myself with real conviction that things will change for me in 2013.

I hope that I can keep the momentum going and for the first time in a very long to time I have real hope that I can. Ideas are being formed and ready to be born and there’s a real sense of forming an idea of what I want to do with the rest of my life. This is good, it’s the beginning of defining me which is something I’ve been needing to do for a very long time. The best part of it all is that this birth is completely unaffected by others and this time I will allow myself to form into something that I truly want for myself, not something I’m doing to please others.

I’m working on some ideas for Spilling Ink. I’m not promising spectacular results but I’m promising myself to do it for my own pleasure and satisfaction. I’m looking forward to being able to be really creative this weekend since my house is now all clean and in order, and more importantly, it’s the way I want it to be, and the way Bee wants it to be.

Friday, September 6, 2013


I would totally write something profound if my mind hadn't enter a super relaxed state. I feel good. I feel really good. I'm going to stay with it.


Monday, September 2, 2013

When life’s kicked you in the head the first thing you need to do is resist the urge to hit back

When life’s kicked you in the head the first thing you need to do is resist the urge to hit back. Turn the other cheek. “Like fuck!” you say! Your life’s just dished up one disaster after another and you’re not only screwed, you’re angry. You’re angry with yourself, you’re angry with others, you’re angry with life, hell you’re even angry with God (and you’re not even a believer but if there was ever proof that there is a God it’s what’s happened to you because there’s no earthly explanation for what you’ve just had to endure). And, you’re hurting. You’re hurting so bad you know that hearts actually do break because you swear you heard it when it happened to yours.

I went to a meditation workshop on the weekend and I had the loveliest time in the company of complete strangers. Best of all, there was so much love in that little room and in our temporary little tribe. Hearts were healed and golf swings improved. (There are many reasons for why people choose to attend meditation workshops.)

We all had the pleasure of meeting Julie whom I will guestimate as being “middle aged” because it’s a cop out and it could mean many things. Julie had lived, let’s just say that.

I arrived in the leafy suburb where the workshop was held. The suburb is really city utopia. Sometimes you can’t see neighboring houses for the trees. My run on public transport had been like a dream. It was as if the Universe had conspired and handed out happy pills to every damned bus driver and rail customer service representative (as they apparently like to call themselves).

Smiles abound.

Trees full of birds singing at the top of their little voices serenading ME.

Rays of sunshine lazily free falling through the tree canopies to come to gentle rest on the ground.

Banana eaten while walking. Peel unceremoniously recycled back into earth via a bush. (The possums and/or wallabies will love me for it.)

A whole day of meditating ahead.

Fucking massive anxiety attack.

I refused to take any medication because I wasn’t going to alter the meditation experience unless I really had to.

You all know my trials and tribulations of the past few years. If you don’t let me sum it up for you:

• Nervous breakdown
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Toxic relationship

Toast anyone?

We went through the group to introduce ourselves and when it came to my turn I heard my voice leave my mouth accompanied by unmistakable sadness and grief. It wobbled with anxiety, and for a moment I just wanted to up and run out of there, but when I looked up at the others I saw only acceptance and, I could have sworn, love. So, I stayed there, plastered to my chair feeling like they all knew a little too much about me but maybe perhaps accepted me as I am and felt a little love and compassion for me.

Julie arrived late. She didn’t get to hear anyone else’s introduction but she was asked to introduce herself. She took a deep breath and begun.

A few years ago she had lost everything. She lost her big house, her husband (he left her), her health, her job and her successful career – she lost everything – except for the car she spent six months living in. When she finally could afford to rent an apartment she couldn’t find anywhere she could live because of her health problems so she spent more time living in her car. Oh, and she had a nervous breakdown a few years before that, not that she had paid much attention to it at the time.

I sat there and watched this woman from across the room and a more peaceful face was not within kilometres of the place, I can tell you that. As I pressed my hands together in front of my chest and “Namasted” her across the room (“hello teacher and bringer of important messages”), the meditation teacher turned his head to look right at me. “Thank you,” I thought, “I did hear and I did get the message.” We nodded at each other at the same time. He knew I knew and I knew he knew. No secrets there.

It seems to be the case so often that we don’t’ listen to life’s little messages and when things go wrong we fight instead of listening. We’re taught to fight. Our ego wants us to fight and defend ourselves. We want to compete ourselves out of it to prove how strong we are. We’re deathly afraid of losing or being hurt. It’s just that when life smacks a giant lemon into the back of your head and you don’t listen (and for fuck’s sake don’t even think about making lemonade!) then it will probably end up roundhouse kicking you in the head in the end to make you listen. If it takes getting you down on your damned knees to make you listen that’s what will happen, you will be down on your damned knees.

(Good news about it is that once you’ve fallen onto the floor and you're on your knees there’s really nowhere further to fall. You can roll around in the dirt and feel sorry for yourself if you like but the only real direction available for you to go is up.)

I got lemoned.

Julie got roundhouse kicked.

The message I got from Julie’s presence on Saturday was that the last thing I need to do is to fight. The only things I need to do is to surrender, let go, listen and, of course, meditate.

The anxiety attack was gone by the second meditation or in the second hour if you’re bothered by the lack of time reference. The teacher (what a guy – I just love him now) remarked to me at the end of the day that something had happened to me during the day. He said “You’re like a different person now. When we came back from lunch you were practically beaming. I could almost touch the change with my hands. This morning you were……something else.”

I told him about the anxiety attack and he stood there and shook his head for a while then looked at me and asked “The power of meditation?”

“Yup,” I replied, “the power of meditation – and being surrounded by loving people.” Do not underestimate the power of a loving tribe even if it’s made up of complete strangers for just a day, yeah.

It was a great day on so many levels. I was told by several people that I have this enormously loving presence, and almost motherly love and caring that I radiate. Salve for my soul and fucking feeding frenzy for my ago I tell you but I know I have no problem giving love. I have a problem receiving and loving myself.

The teacher came up to me and started a conversation with me after the workshop had ended and he said “We need to heal you. We need you to find your way back to you. Do not stop talking to me after this – I’m here to encourage you to keep meditating. You’re so close, so close. Now, what do you want to do?” That last one, a very important question, and he wasn’t asking it about meditation, he was asking it about life. The man did not spend 22 years in celibacy and meditation not learning a thing or two, apparently.

So, I need to stop fighting. I need to just sit and wait and listen. I consumer whored myself a couple of meditation pillows today. The space is already cleared in the house.


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