Become like a Child

Yesterday I went for a bike ride to the seaside. It was a blue-sky day and the sun was giving off gorgeous heat. The wind was up and whenever I turned east I had to ride hard against it. I’m living near Dover, in the UK, and the coastline is made up of the famous White Cliffs, which jut out of the sea with magnificent sharpness, their top-edges carpeted with soft, green grass.

As you come inland the topography continues to undulate making for hilly roads. I was beginning to get hot riding up and down the steep streets and I noticed my mind had jumped ahead to my arrival at the beach, my ride home and the refreshments I would have when I got back. My trip to the sea was over before it had begun. Everything in front of me now, the cheek-by-jowl housing typical of English towns, the leaves flashing silver as they danced in the breeze, the puffs of white cloud drifting over Dover Castle in the distance, was invisible. I was missing it all.

The good news is this: I noticed.

I actually became aware that I wasn’t where I was. I realized I was not in reality and had bought in to the fantasy in my head and been seduced by it. With this awareness I could change.

Bringing myself back to the present I felt my body riding the bike. I remembered suddenly what it felt like to be a kid riding my bicycle on a hot summer day. Would I have been thinking about the future when I was seven years old? Maybe. More likely I would have been seeing the world around me, being with it as it happened.

I passed a sleeping white cat curled up on a concrete block. It looked so warm and so content I could actually feel its interior pleasure. If a cat is allowed to curl up and sleep away the afternoon why aren’t we, too?

I rode on, feeling the breath in my lungs and my heart working hard as pedaled. I sensed the wind kissing my face cooling the sweat on my forehead. I heard the rocks pop under the tires as I neared the the sea.

The beach was empty save for two young fisherman and a couple playing in the waves. I found my spot and parked the bike marveling at the way the sun was hitting the cliffs making them glimmer the brightest white imaginable. I lay down and curled up like a cat. Deep rest. Body settling into smooth stones heated warm from the late-summer day. Diamonds on the water. France at the other side. Whispers of prayer to give thanks.

Inspiring Message of the Day: When I realize that I have engaged with my thoughts so as to disappear from the reality before me I will remember what it feels like to be a child and experience the wonder of my existence as it unfolds.

Swami Sense

Dearest Readers,

This morning I opened a message from the Sivananda Yoga Retreat and contained within was a quote from Swami Sivananda.

Here it is:

“Though surrounded by pleasurable or painful objects to disturb your equilibrium of mind, remain immovable as a rock, receiving all things with equanimity. Be always cheerful. Laugh and smile. How can a mind that is gloomy and dull think of God? Try to be happy always. Happiness is your very nature. This is termed cheerfulness. This spirit of cheerfulness must be cultivated by all aspirants.”

Exactly what I need to hear. So challenging to do!

My surroundings are currently jammers with pleasurable and painful objects, my equilibrium of mind most definitely disturbed.  I am doing my utmost to remain immovable as a rock and practicing diligently the art of receiving all things with equanimity. Some moments are better than others.

Happiness may be my very nature but self-centeredness is my default operating system. It’s all about me all the time and when things don’t go my way or when I’m trying to make things go my way I have completely forgotten about cultivating cheerfulness and the trusting the Higher Path. Gloomy and dull, indeed.

What if it really were that simple? “Be always cheerful. Laugh and smile.” I actually think it is. I make it complicated. But this and but that. I like my misery thank you very much. Perpetuate the suffering. Prolong the winter of discontent. Reject glorious summer.

Old BS (belief systems).

Am I willing to let go of them? Am I willing to allow new ways of thinking to come in and take hold? Am I willing to surrender my old ideas? Yes, yes and yes.

Back at home I have a photograph of Swami Sivananda in the meditation room. He is smiling serenely with the look of pure love on his face. The embodiment of cheerfulness. The True Nature of Happiness. I’m practicing it right now, Swami S. See me?

Inspiring Message of the Day: I am willing to practice cheerfulness despite my disturbed mind. I will remember the Great Teachers who have come before me to show me that my True Nature is Bliss Divine.

Post 611

Dearest Readers,

In yesterday’s post I wrote about having a grieving session for all the pain and sorrow in the world. Last night, a woman I’ve come to know over the course of this last week on the ashram gave me the gift of one her hand-painted cards as a token of our new friendship. The card depicted the image of Guan Yin.

On the back of the card it reads:

“Chinese Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. Her name means ‘She who bears the weeping of the world.’ She takes away our anguish, our sorrow, and our pain. She watches over the children of the earth and answers our prayers.”

When I was crying so deeply the other day I was experiencing the strangest sensation of bearing the weeping of those who could not weep. By doing so I felt as though I was somehow helping to take away their anguish.

Now I am in no way suggesting that I am Guan Yin but perhaps I was channeling her Energy. When my friend handed me that card it certainly felt like something Greater than a simple Celia sob session had taken place.

The ashram is like that. Things happen  to make you go “hmmm” all the time. The Yogis would say, “Of course.” The Vibrations are very high here. Makes sense.

Does it make sense to think that there is a Chinese goddess watching over us and answering our prayers? Perhaps not. But who needs sense when you have Guanyin on your side?

Inspiring Message of the Day: When we allow ourselves to experience real grief we are allowing a Greater Power to work through us. Often, this Truth will be revealed in the aftermath through a coincidence. I will allow these moments of Mystery and Connection to deepen my trust in Higher Guidance.

Pass It On

Dearest Readers,

My time on the ashram is fast (slowly) coming to a close. I will lead the final Cultivate Your Courage workshop this afternoon and once again, it has been a powerful experience for all who participated.

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me when I lead this course is how many of us are living with fear, how much it controls our lives, and how desperately we need the support of others to walk through it.

Yesterday I had to have a private grieving session for all the pain I have encountered in the last little while. There are so many broken people in the world. Some of us find a way out and begin to walk the Healing Path. Some of us do not. Releasing tears remains one of my favorite ways to accept this Truth and then let it go.

Whenever the negative voice in my head says, “By what authority do you dare to lead this kind of workshop?” the Higher Voice (thank goodness) always answers, “By Divine Authority.”

The world needs Wounded Healers. We’ve been there and we’re walking through our fear one breath at a time. It’s my honour to support you all on this Journey.

So the sign on my door now says, “Celia McBride, D.A.”

Inspiring Message of the Day: My own wounds and fears are my greatest treasure today because they have given me real experience to share with others. I will participate in my own Healing knowing it will benefit others seeking the same Path.

Grace Full

Dearest Readers,

These posts of late have been short and (hopefully) sweet because I’m writing them on an iPhone and because my days here on the ashram, though relaxed, are quite full. But if I had a little more time I could tell you some pretty amazing stories.

They’ll have to wait.

For now, I’ll share with you my thoughts on the topic of Grace, which was the subject of last night’s study discussion.

We were told that Grace is an unmerited gift. One does not have to do anything to receive Grace. Grace is everywhere. Grace is always present. Grace is all there is. Grace is, in fact, the true definition of God. So Grace simply Is.

Though we can better receive Grace by becoming fit vessels (through prayer, meditation, right eating, right living etc.) the Nature of Grace is such that one does not have to be a fit vessel to receive It. Grace does not discriminate.

Because Grace is all there is, the unfit vessel is always receiving Grace just as the fit vessel is also. However, in order to better experience Grace, one must become open and willing.

With these qualities the individual will come to know Grace intimately and the Gift will have true meaning.

If I had a million years I couldn’t tell you of the Grace I am now experiencing. Well, maybe I could. With a laptop.

Inspiring Message of the Day: My desire is to know Grace. Because this Gift is mine by birthright I will accept its offer by being open and willing to receive it.

We Shall Receive

Dearest Readers,

One of the challenges I have faced in the past is learning how to receive. Coming to believe that I deserve a gift has been a process which has involved a great deal of healing work.

It has paid off.

Yesterday a woman on the ashram who has been attending the Inspiring Sessions I’ve been leading offered me a free Reiki session with her. She is a healer and invited me to receive her gift in thanks for the healing work I’ve been doing throughout the week.

While in the session, I began to think of how I could pay her back. I could offer her a free Inspiring Coaching session!  But something stopped me. What if I didn’t have to do anything to pay her back? What if I could just accept her gift unconditionally? What then? Then I would be affirming that I am worthy of the gift of healing.

When the session was over I said nothing but thank you.

Inspiring Message of the Day: The open heart receives. Today I will allow myself to receive a gift that is offered to me and I will give nothing but my word of thanks in return.

Still and All

Dearest Readers,

As I write this I am watching a little green lizard climb up a nearby tree. I have been seeing a lot of these creatures skittling around the ashram and they fill me with pleasure. We can learn stillness from the lizard.

Ah, stillness. Something so lovely and excruciating all at once. When the body becomes still the mind wakes up. The mind gets busy thinking. That’s why you’ll hear so many people say, “I can’t meditate.”  We think to meditate means to have a quiet mind.

Meditation, in fact, will reveal the activity of the mind thus giving us the opportunity to practice letting it all go. When I arrived on the ashram a few days ago I was pretty stimulated from 10 days of constant activity. Sitting still in silence gave my mind the time to think about everything that had happened. How to let go and be here now?

Practice. It’s the only answer. Keep at it. Like people who say, ” I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible” we need to be reminded that yoga promotes flexibility. The more I give myself over to sitting still the louder the mind will get but with time and willingness I will get better at simply Being.

The lizard is my guru!

Inspiring Message of the Day:
The nature of the mind is to think. When I understand this I can give myself a break for having an over-active melon. Meditation is a practice which teaches me to Be instead of to think. I will give myself the gift of this practice today.

I am

Dearest Readers,

Here on the ashram life is quite simple.  Waken early, meditate, chant, practice yoga for the body, eat, do service, study, more yoga, eat again, meditate again, study some more and bed. Nothing complicated about that.

But the study, well, I wouldn’t say it’s complicated, rather it is decidedly simple but it is not easy. For here we study the Ultimate Reality and becoming that which we already are: the manifestation of Pure Consciousness.

Yup, told ya it was simple.

Inspiring Message of the Day:
Who am I really? I am a human being, yes, and I, too, am a part of the Great I Am, the Power of Oneness Back of All Things. When I remember this my fear is relinquished.