A Little Bit of Bliss

Image © Issare Rungjang courtesy of Dreamstime.com

Sometimes when I do yoga I am filled with this sense of calm contentment…happiness is what some might call it. Today was one of those days.

It’s flat and the surf has been non-existent or marginal since I returned from Canada on the 13th of May. I’ve been frustrated and irritable, in part, because of the poor conditions, in part because life hasn’t been cooperating, hasn’t been giving me what I want in other ways either. But today, today I meditated for the second time in a week after months of neglecting that practice and then I did my yoga.  By “my yoga,” I mean I did a series of asanas (postures) that were prescribed for me by my teacher and some that I do because I like to do them. They speak to my body in a way that is pleasing and brings a pleasant, healthful feeling to my being. Today the result is that, despite the way I’ve been feeling of late, I’m smiling as I type this (a gentle, non-tooth-revealing smile…one might even say a Mona Lisa-esque smile).

It wasn’t just the meditation or postures that led me to bliss today, it was a whole combination of things. The music that played as I moved into the next series of postures (Rejuvenation by Ron Allen), the uncharacteristically cool breeze wafting through the windows and across my body, the slight scent of pineapple in the air from the fruit left, like an offering, by my dear friend upon departure. It’s the book I’m reading too, that has given me a sense of inner peace and acceptance of things I have little control over. Things like who I fall in love with and how they react to my love. This little book is so full of wisdom and Truth that it blows my mind every time I pick it up. I’m underlining, in pencil, the passages that strike me and that I know to be the kind of wisdom that will set me free. Free from anxiety, free from loneliness, free from the depression that comes from anxiety, loneliness and a sense of having no control over one’s destiny that plagues me from time to time (particularly when the surf is off).

The book to which I am referring is “Love, Freedom, Aloneness: The Koan of Relationships.” It’s a compilation of teachings given by Osho, an eastern mystic to whom westerners flocked in the 1970s. I was introduced to the teachings of Osho by my Dutch artist friend. He too flew to India to hear him speak after a colleague of his underwent a dramatic, positive transformation by the experience. Like so many mystics, Osho is not without his detractors, nor flaws, but more than twenty years after his death he maintains a loyal following and his teachings continue to be published as theme-based collections by a major New York publishing house, St. Martin’s Press.

Of love, Osho said:

Love yourself…This can become the foundation of a radical transformation. Don’t be afraid of loving yourself. Love totally, and you will be surprised: The day you can get rid of all self-condemnation, self-disrespect – the day you can get rid of the idea of original sin, the day you can think of yourself as worthy and loved by existence – will be a day of great blessing. From that day onward you will start seeing people in their true light, and you will have compassion.

Create loving energy around yourself. Love your body, love your mind. Love your whole mechanism, your whole organism. By “love” is meant, accept it as it is.

Love is possible only when mediation has happened. If you don’t know how to be centered in your being, if you don’t know how to rest and relax in your being, if you don’t know how to be utterly alone and blissful, you will never know what love is…[because] Love is a sharing of overflowing joy. [During] meditation one is bathed in one’s own glory, bathed in one’s own light. One is simply joyous because one is alive, because one is… The greatest miracle in the world is that you are, that I am. To be is the greatest miracle – and meditation opens the doors of this great miracle.

When my meditation practice of many years waned a while back, as it often does, my yoga teacher said matter-of-factly, “You must make time to meditate. It is the most important thing. Everything else comes after.” I looked at her in disbelief and she responded, “Yes, more important even than asana practice.” Then, sensing my resistance, she looked at me sideways and said in her don’t-mess-with-me voice, “Just do it! Just sit. How hard is that?”

I’d love to hear from readers about your experiences with meditation. Or perhaps you’ve wanted to begin a practice of your own, but don’t know where to start. Here’s a link to a great little book that helped me get started.

Paradox and Purpose

Each person comes into this world with a specific destiny – he has something to fulfill, some message has to be delivered, some work has to be completed. You are not here accidentally – you are here meaningfully. There is a purpose behind you. The whole intends to do something through you.

Osho


Osho was a 20th century Indian mystic who had a profound impact on the international community, particularly artists and the intelligentsia of the western nations . His teachings were discovered through the highly regarded photographic Dutch-Polish artist Michel Schulc Krzyzanowski, who frequents the region of Baja California Sur where life is lived much of the time. Osho is credited with having a profound influence on the artist’s life, turning it around 180 degrees. Naturally, there was curiosity to know the teacher of the artist who encouraged new thinking and writing.

And so the teachings of Osho were sought with his lectures on “Creativity” currently being read. In the hopes that, like the profound photographic artist, the dream of experiencing deep levels of creativity will be realized.

The dates on each entry to this blog indicate that it has been quite a long while since writing this blog. There are many reasons for this lack of productivity, but the bottom line is that writing has not been happening in the life of the aspiring writer. To her great dismay.


Blame could be laid at the feet of the heat – a summer that was so hot that the brain cells went on strike and the entire body’s energy systems seemed to be failing. Attempts at actions requiring any effort at all were invariably derailed by a sense of impending heat stroke. Followed by a heavy depression resulting from the sense of isolation and inaction, leading further to yet more inaction.

Or a preoccupation throughout the period could be presented as cause – what was an overwhelming sense of urgency to know what the purpose of this life is. A sense that the destiny of which Osho spoke has not been realized. A great questioning of the value of any writing that might be done now or in the future. This then, in addition to the heat and the depression, further paralyzed the writer from writing. Consumed by a fear that to think writing is the destiny is arrogant and foolhardy, way beyond the capability.


I’m pretty sure it’s been said here before:

Fear is a poor motivator.


During this period, the sense of needing to know what is the “calling in life” became like a nagging voice over which nothing else could be heard. The brain was filled with confusion and doubt and the white noise of wanting to know with certainty that the life would contain some meaning for someone other than the one living it.


And then an accomplished astrologer was met, serendipitously, who examined what “planetary aspects” might currently be the cause of the extremely heavy inertia experienced.

Yes, an astrologer. [it’s a science, you know]

After some consideration, he stated matter-of-factly, “all of your personal growth results from your love affairs.” Interesting, but not the stuff of destiny, or at least I don’t think so.

He then went on to point out that currently Uranus is squaring Uranus in my birthchart and Saturn is messing with all sorts of planets…big stuff, all related to the need to find the purpose in life. Precisely the preoccupation.

“You need music…in life, you need music to be balanced.” He explained he didn’t mean there was a need to play music, but that music was needed in the surroundings for personal balance. So, in the days that followed music was incorporated into the listening instead of news. It was noticed immediately that the mood improved. The mood enhancement likely also resulted from knowing that the heavy cloud of uncertainty that was weighing on my soul was not imagined but planetarily, astrologically induced.


The astrologer did however finish his reading with one rather heavy cautionary note:

“If you are not currently on the path to realize your destiny or find that path in this period, the rest of your life will lack meaning and be full of emptiness.”


Full of emptiness? Horrible. As was already stated, precisely the preoccupation, that at the end of life it would be seen to have been empty and void of any real meaning. Worse than horrible.

But the contradictory nature of his statement – “full” being the opposite of “empty” – illustrated something Osho delighted in pointing out to his followers:

Life is paradox.


In the days and weeks that followed meeting with the astrologer, a sense was had of turning a corner and the energy spent in finding the purpose in life ratcheted up a notch or two. It was recognized, for the first time without anxiety, that meditation is the only path to the truth that is the purpose of this life. The connection to the open soul induced through the act of meditating creates action with inherent purpose.

The writing begins anew, this time filled with a greater sense of purpose and an awareness of the paradox that is life.

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More info on Osho can be found HERE.

The Art of Surfing

I did not post anything yesterday, as some of you may have noticed. Instead I went surfing. It was suggested by a friend, who noticed the omission, that surfing was a waste of my time. That I would be better off writing.

“But you run!” I countered. He replied “Yes, but that does not take much time.”

And so the question was posed by myself to myself:

Is surfing worthy of the large chunks of time spent in its pursuit? Would I be better off doing something else with my time? If the downside to surfing is the amount of time it takes to do it, what are the positive aspects of surfing that non-surfers might not appreciate? And in the pursuit of one passion (writing), must you give up others (surfing)?

My friend is right. Surfing is a very time-consuming activity. Particularly if you, like me, want to make the most of it every time you go out. Typically I surf for three hours straight. Then I might come in, go home to eat something and watch to see what happens over the course of the day. If conditions are good in the afternoon, there is a good chance a second session will be undertaken. The second session is often shorter, but can be as long as two or two and a half hours. On REALLY good days, I’ve been known to surf three times.

The end result is that entire days can be spent in the pursuit of waves. That is a lot of time to spend doing a sport. Some would go so far as to call it decadent. But is surfing just a sport? or is there more to it than meets the uninitated eye?

The label “surf bum” is often applied to surfers who spend a lot of time surfing and less time working or taking care of the things that other people feel they must do in the course of their daily lives. And certainly, the perception is that the surfers are “wasting” their time.

An older surfer I know has been quoted as saying:

In my life, I’ve had a wonderful time wasting my time surfing. And the most important word in that statement is “wonderful.”

Hedonistic? Maybe, but I submit that this notion of surfing as a waste of time is completely subjective. Who are we to say that anything one does is a waste of time?

You are right now exactly where you should be.

The spiritual nature of surfing must not be dismissed. Between sets, sitting atop his board, surfer becomes meditator. The only sounds he hears is the roar of the waves and sea birds’ calls. She bears witness as whales breach and cavort outside the break. Sunrise and sunset are greeted partially submerged in the pulsing, breathing, life-giving Ocean. Immersed in nature, surrounded by beauty, the surfer is transformed.

The metaphorical becomes reality when the surfer literally walks on water. Unlike a mountainside or other solid surface, the wave is ever changing and dynamic, requiring of the surfer so much focus and concentration that the mind is released from the craze-inducing endless stream of thoughts. The surfer realizes a Zen-like state. Surfing offers release and the surfer returns from the adventure calmer, more centered, content.

The end result is EXACTLY the same as meditation!

So you tell me, is meditation a waste of time?

Yesterday’s surf at Nine Palms, Baja, Mexico.