Unsurprisingly the practice of meditation comes up a lot when Mindfulness is discussed. I’ve had a bash now and then over the years, with little success. During the initial stages of my recovery from alcoholism (I quit drinking almost ten years ago) I brushed against the idea but having the attention span of a gnat, it really wasn’t for me back then. I focussed instead on AA meetings (in the first months), my long term sessions with my psychologist, and other what I considered to be more “practical” ways of getting better. Then life did get better, but my interest in meditiation had waned. A couple of years later I found myself WWOOFing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) on a small farm in rural NSW that was run by a couple of Buddhist nuns. I tried to meditate again, with them, in a setting that couldn’t have been more conducive unless the Dalai Lama himself had been there, but I guess my heart wasn’t properly in it, and when I left the property, I left my meditative intentions behind too. Later on, work, life, travel occupied me utterly, and then I became a mother…and here I am.
Over the past year, however, my quest to live a more Mindful existence has of course thrown the idea of meditation my way many, many times, especially when I went to the 2012 Happiness Conference in Sydney earlier this year. I keep telling myself I just don’t have the time, or quite frankly the concentration span. But I also keep hearing about how very good it is, and that many people believe that even a little bit at a time can have such great benefits for one’s sense of well-being, health and peace. This morning I started a book by Nicky Arthur called How to be a Happier Mum, and in the first pages, there it was again. I consider myself to be a happy person in general, but apparently, if I commit to meditate for just five small minutes per day for seven days, I will start to feel even happier. Short and simple instructions – how to sit, how to focus, and a few affirmations – are provided and I am assured that this really will make a difference. It’s not two hours on a Himalayan hilltop, but it’s a start! So, I am going to take up the challenge. My first five minutes will begin shortly!
Blogtoberfest 2012, 20/31
Two posts today as we’re going away for a couple of days, and while I don’t want to miss a Blogtoberfest post, I also don’t want to be messing about online during this precious family time before our new baby arrives. I guess I could write this, save it as a draft and then simply post it via my phone tomorrow, but I just don’t want the distraction. Possibly I am breaking some ‘fest rules? Well, I’m quite glad to see there’s still some of the old rebel left in me 😉 And besides:
This quote by Guillaume Apollinaire came up on my Facebook newsfeed this morning, another great share by Kirri White. I knew immediately that I wanted to share it here myself for tomorrow’s post. Because it is exactly what I am going to be doing 🙂
Blogtoberfest 2012, 14/31
I’ve been on this journey to banish resentment and cultivate an attitude of gratitude for a little over two months now. So I’m thinking it’s time for a review of how things are going in my quest to become a mindful mum.
The resentment is GONE! Ever since I came back from my brief solo trip to the city for the happiness conference I am, well, happy! Of course I still have moments when I think I can’t endure another second of the toddler world I inhabit, and I still have a slight tendency to go mental when I can’t find my keys – I am only human, and I am a SAHM with an 18 month old child! My husband still bugs me now and then, but it is possible that I might bug him a little sometimes too (but surely not? Ha!). Most importantly, I no longer feel resentful toward him. That resentment was eating me up. I had reached a point where I feared deeply for my marriage and for our little family unit. I am so very relieved that I am rid of those destructive feelings.
Nor do I have that underlying feeling of general discontentment that was weighing me down so heavily by the end of last year. Where has it gone??! The fact of the matter is that not much in my life has actually changed. Only my attitude towards it. My husband is the same man he always was, my toddler is still just as demanding as well as a source of great joy, my lifestyle is exactly what it was at the end of last year – I am still a SAHM in a small coastal town, on the mummy circuit. I do a bit of party plan now, which is fun, but that alone would not have been enough of a catalyst for this amount of change.
Going to Sydney allowed me to take a step back and reevaluate my life from a healthy distance, as well as being such a fantastic learning opportunity. When I looked at my life from a completely different perspective, I found that there is so very much to be grateful for and appreciative of. I cannot get the Buddha’s words out of my head: You have no cause for anything but gratitude and joy. I find I remember them over and over again. It is so true and it is often all the kick up the ass I need to get myself back into the right mindset!
I believe the resentment and discontent are gone because I am learning to be a mindful mum. I also know it’s an ongoing process, in fact, an everlasting one. I am excited about the new concepts I’m exploring, such as reincarnation. I’m grateful that I have found these new paths to go down as I simultaneously travel through motherhood, because the responsibility of a mother is so great. I want to give my little girl the firmest and most wonderful foundations in life. I want to be the happiest, most mindful mum I can be, for her. She deserves nothing less than that and I just feel so grateful that my headspace is healthy and open at this precious, vitally important time in the life of my little family.
One day at a time – this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.
~Ida Scott Taylor~
A self-confessed city girl at heart, or so I thought, I was initially very excited to be back in a thriving metropolis. In more than two years I hadn’t been anywhere bigger than Surfers Paradise, but in the past I’ve accepted the 3 hour daily commute through the hustle and grime, and there was a time when I truly believed that I could never live more than 5 minutes walk from a 24 hour corner shop and a Starbucks.
I got my beloved Starbucks every single day I was in Sydney but man, I don’t think I could ever go back to that kind of life. Crazy busy, fast, impersonal, dirty, noisy and malodourous – everything that the little coastal town we now call home is not. I’ve got used to the chats at the checkout and the doctors surgery, the smiles in the street and bumping into people I know all the time. That said, I have to confess that within the first 15 minutes of my first morning out in Sydney I saw adverts for events that I would so love to be able to attend at the drop of a hat, for example, the Picasso exhibition and the She Runs The Night challenge. There are down sides to living in Regional Australia. We don’t have the fabulous shops, art galleries, restaurants and live music opportunities that I always used to take for granted. However, we do have so much else that matters so much more to me now – wide open green spaces, a vast and ever-changing sky, mountains that I can see from most streets I drive down, any number of near deserted beaches just a short drive away, the sound of the insect chorus every night as I drift off to sleep…
People don’t walk fast here. It’s not perfect, nowhere is, but it’s grown on me and I’ve come to love it. I’m aware I’ve often thought about my “other” life through rather rose-tinted glasses since I became a country mama. But my solo trip to the city has left me with no doubt whatsoever that where I live and breathe fresh country air now, is where I’m truly meant to be. I’ve found the beginnings of a new peace. And that is a great feeling.
A big highlight for me was hearing Mark Williamson, director of Action for Happiness, speak about the organisation. I only heard about AFH the week before last and they recently shared the post I wrote about happiness on their Facebook page, which was pretty exciting for me! Mark is clearly very passionate about this fantastic, optimistic organisation and also shared a great quote by businessman and business writer Tim Jackson: “… people are being persuaded to spend money we don’t have, on things we don’t need, to create impressions that won’t last, on people we don’t care about”. Totally!
Another favourite was Ellen Langer, who I had never heard of but who by all accounts is very famous psychologist and about to be played by Jennifer Aniston in a movie about her life! Her book Mindfulness is now on my list, along with many others from the conference, to be shared in a forthcoming post.
The feng shui segment was interesting and the speaker amusing but it’s not really my bag. I do know how to pronounce it now though – foong shway! Lissanne Oliver talked about decluttering as a route to a happier and more centred existence and while in all honesty I found her just a tiny bit irritating, it is also true that I really don’t need to keep the boxes that the EasiYo and the kitchen clock came in and I could certainly recycle the 1,286 knotted up plastic carriers that are taking up shelf space in the pantry and which will never be used.
Gretel Kileen, media presenter, author, feature film writer / director was an awesome chairperson throughout the day; journalist and author Sam de Britto seemed either uncomfortable or unprepared or both, but either way he was rather endearing (and attractive); Peter FitzSimons, columnist, TV presenter and author was brilliant. I didn’t get any of his rugby references but every other person in the room did and clearly loved it all, and while I was at times reminded of being in Spanish bars listening to jokes in Spanish and never getting the punchline, the atmosphere he created was absolutely infectious. Jessica Rowe spoke last and seemed lovely. I did get a shock when I turned the TV on the next morning and there she was reading the news! Had no idea. What rock have I been under? The one that doesn’t screen morning TV I guess!
And so with a pounding of drums blended with (I’m told) classical Asian flute, it was over! I feel so lucky to have been able to attend and will certainly try and win tickets for next year’s conference. There is no way on god’s earth I could afford to go otherwise, but I won’t knock the whole thing on that account – it may perhaps be viewed as a self-indulgent forum for well-to-do middle class navel-gazers by some, but who am I to judge what people spend their money on and why. I got so much out of it and I hope those who paid full whack felt they got a good bang for their hard-earned buck too!
The best part of the whole day was without a doubt the opening speaker, Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Absolutely brilliant! Such a fantastic sense of humour, fabulous delivery, completely engaging. I’m more inspired than ever to continue my Buddhist journey. When your mind is like a crazy elephant trampling everywhere, what hope have you got of peace and contentment? Totally! Anger and other negative emotions such as my biggie, resentment, taint all our perceptions, leaving very little room for reality, because it is our thoughts that make our world. Tame the elephant, and all will be well! Apparently it is scientifically proven that 30 minutes of meditation practice per day can change your mind for good, along with many general health benefits. “If you don’t stir water, it will become clear” – sounds much prettier in Tibetan but essentially that’s what meditation is all about. Pascal said, “All of man’s problems arise from his inability to sit quietly in a room by himself”. Food for thought, much!! I just need to figure out how to prolong the gap between one thought ending and another beginning, apparently. Well, I can but try, and we shall see!
Second favourite of the day after Sogyal Rinpoche was comedian and author Ahn Do, who was awesome!! Absolutely inspiring, incredibly moving and hysterically funny, all at once. Loved him!
Peter Singer, one of the world’s leading philosophers and author of The Life You Can Save was less inspiring. In a nutshell his message today seemed (in my humble opinion) to be that you can buy happiness by donating to charity, and that there is a mathematical equation based on income for the amount you need to give in order to live an ethical life. Although he wouldn’t admit to being happy himself. Apparently that is too “static” a position. And may be interpreted as being “smug”. Hmmm. Not impressed and a small poll of my fellow delegates backs me on this one.
Ita Buttrose was interviewed, which was great, but the following segments were rather serious, which was a bit unexpected at a conference about happiness. Much talk of death and dying, couched in positive terms but not exactly joyous subject matter although worthwhile discussions. I skipped the late afternoon session, which by all accounts was much more upbeat, as it was about happiness in the workplace, and I don’t have one. I opted instead to walk back to the harbour and catch my ferry back to the point, and then went for a long and pleasant walk both before and after dinner.
Would I pay $500 for today? Absolutely not. Did I enjoy it? Very much indeed!! Lots to think about, far more than I’ve written here, and I’m so glad I’ve been given the opportunity to attend. Looking forward to seeing what Day 2 brings!
The weather here in Sydney is atrocious but it is of little concern! I’m staying in a nice little hotel on Cremorne Point and after an easy journey via train and ferry from the airport I took myself out for an excellent massaman curry (best I’ve had outside of Thailand) and then went to a beautician on the spur of the moment and had my eyebrows waxed and shaped. Unheard of in recent years! I feel fab! Despite getting absolutely drenched on my walk up to the shops and back, it was lovely to see all the old (by Aussie standards) brick and tile houses, which brought to mind the old British colonial homes I saw in northern Burma.
Was just about to post this when a family with young children arrived in the room next door. Oh. My. God. Nightmare!! Fortunately I was able to change rooms which was a pain in the ass at that point in the evening but there’s no way I’m spending my child free time listening to someone else’s kids squawking!! Then spent first five minutes in the new room listening to the woman next door screaming blue bloody murder down the phone. Thankfully, all is now quiet and long may it continue!
Tomorrow’s conference topics are:
- HAPPINESS – IN YOUR HANDS
- HAPPINESS & A MEANINGFUL LIFE
- THE UPSIDE OF DOWN
- HAPPINESS, MEANING & WORK
Really looking forward! I shall be up very early as registration is at 8am and I have to catch the ferry back across the water and then make my way up to the Town Hall via Starbucks, which has not yet made it into Regional NSW, so I need to go every day while I am here. Obviously 🙂
My bags are (almost) packed and I’m (almost) ready to go! Slight panic caused by weather report last night sharing the wonderful news that Sydney is about to experience its worst weather in 30 years, with heavy rain, thunderstorms and flash flooding in metropolitan areas, starting today and lasting for the whole 3 days I am there. Whatever happens, I will be all alone, which is the whole fabulous point (well, that and attending the conference!) so the rotten weather in itself isn’t the end of the world. However, having lived in a subtropical small town uniform of shorts, t-shirts and
thongs flipflops (nope, I tried but I am still too British) for so long I was thrown into a quandary about what to pack for these adverse conditions. Thus I have spent an hour this morning trying to squeeze into clothes more suitable for a chilly (20C!) climate and wet city streets i.e. things I haven’t worn in eons and which appear to have (ahem) shrunk in the wash.
So, I have now cobbled together a couple of outfits which I hope are worthy of a two day conference that costs $1,100 (and that’s just the basic tickets, not the upgraded ones and not including the workshops). Yup, you read that correctly. I am not paying for the tickets, I won them, or I most certainly would not be able to go. So, lucky me! I have been wondering what kind of person has that amount of money to spend on learning to be happy though, and I guess I am about to find out. Indeed, the cost of the conference has attracted some criticism in the media. Just found an ABC article in which some very valid points are raised, and I’m looking forward to reading through all the comments.
But now, I have to finish packing, cuddle cuddle cuddle my girly, and then Mama is off to the airport. I’ll see you in Sydney!
A good friend of mine shared a link an organisation called Action for Happiness this morning. Very cool! I too pledge to try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me!
When I was little and I had to make a wish, I always, always wished to be happy. I don’t know if that was because I was very unhappy as a child, which saddens me. Regardless, as an adult I have no doubt that happiness really is what matters in life, and that it doesn’t come from money, status or amassing large quantities of material things. When I had my really low point in my twenties I read a book by the Dalai Lama called The Art of Happiness and I remember it really helped me. As the Dalai Lama says, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions”.
Happiness as a theme seems to be crossing my path all over the place recently! This cute poster (quote by Yogi Bhajan, source of illustration alas unknown) was shared by another friend just yesterday on their Facebook wall. Yet another friend shared a link to a great little article called 7 Must-Read Books on the Art and Science of Happiness with me, just last week – I’m not surprised to see The Art of Happiness is in there! Just as well I’m not the paranoid type or I’d think everyone was trying to tell me something! I think I just have happy friends with great life values 🙂
And in just 7 sleeps this trying-to-be-mindful mum is off to Sydney for the 2012 Happiness & Its Causes 2 day conference!! I was lucky enough to win the tickets from Lifeline and I am SO excited, both for the content but also because I am going to be in the Big Smoke for 3 days all by myself. It’s the first time I’ve ever been away from my daughter, and my first night apart from my husband in years. Am I a bad wife and mother to admit in all honesty that I can’t wait to be ALONE? I think not! I know I’m going to miss them but I know they’re going to be just fine, and I also know that my little independent trip to the city is going to do me a world of good. And as we all know, happy mama = happy family, and vice versa!