Sounds of Silence

What a way to wake up I tell you!

After 6 days of no talking to the 25+ women around me, which means only my internal dialogue to listen to, is it any wonder that my brain started to throw song tracks at me as another way of providing revelations or in other words (as Mike put’s it) distinctions about what was holding me back.

Yep that’s the one…   I woke to, I was Hooked On A Feeling and I was ‘high on believing that you’re in love with me’ – if you’ve read from Misery to Happiness, then you’ll know where I’m going with this… if not stick with me, you’ll get the gist.

Hooked on a Feeling

I literally woke up to this singing in my brain “Hooked On A Feeling” I had to laugh out loud (literally).  Given it was just over half way through the course I was fully immersed in the nuances of my mind and how it would flick from one thing to the next, how it showed me memories and started all these sensations in my body as a result of the emotions or feelings that I craved or in some cases had an aversion to.  This song was exceptionally apt to this distinction I was getting.

But low and behold this wasn’t the only song that my brain decided to confront me with this glorious morning.  So I’m heading up the pathway to the meditation hall, looking up at the starry sky, massive smile on my face from the mornings festivities in my brain already and voila, literally out of no where comes Heaven Must be There

Seriously… I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried!  I do love to have a laugh and although silence was the norm, I kept myself amused.  Which reminds me of an earlier situation, just a couple days into the course, lying on my bed in the ladies dorm resting on one of our breaks.  When one of the ladies in the bunk bed next to me, a look of distress on her face, with a frustrated posture and rushed step, she gets down off the bunk and heads for the door.  To which I think to myself “was it something I said”.

Time and again I found myself enthralled, observing how my mind works and as my practice was teaching me, seeking to remain equanimous.  As has I believe always been the case, a positive outlook on life provides the opportunity to be happy all the time #ThisIsOptimism.  In saying that I have suffered from depression and during that stage of my life I couldn’t find the light, a reason to be happy and I could barely bring myself to function.  In fact it took me a long time to get myself out of that black hole.  With the help of prescription drugs, counseling, hypnotherapy and the love and belief of my framily, I was able to make it back (18+ years ago now) but in reflection it wasn’t that there was nothing to be happy about that existed in my life, there was, I just couldn’t see it.  And that’s how our minds work if we don’t master them, the negative continues to feed and fuel our emotions, the sensations and feelings we experience.  Which may well be why I love the saying “you want to laugh, otherwise you’d cry” and I often use it when I do have challenges that come my way these days.  For me it comes down to gratitude.

Have you stopped to think lately – what am I grateful for?

This concept of gratitude was something my Dad taught me, he was a grumpy old man (most of the time) believing that the world had done him wrong.  He held grudges against those who wronged him, was bitter at his ‘less than’ lot in life and afraid that he couldn’t provide for his only daughter.  We received hampers at Christmas and I got to choose a toy from the Salvo’s who visited us, my second hand clothes and the stray pets I used to collect – all of these things remind me that I wasn’t a child being brought up in a 3rd world place like my mother’s country and I am forever grateful to my Dad for bringing me up in this lucky country #Australia.

I was listening to Bert Jacobs this morning and I couldn’t help but be inspired and grateful for the reminder.  He (and his brother) nailed it – Life isn’t Easy, Life isn’t Perfect but Life is Good!  I hope you are inspired to look into what’s positive in the world, what there is to be happy about in your life and maybe even how you can be brighter and bring light to others.

This is the point at which you get to choose your next adventure again, a trip from Misery to Happiness or into The Pain Barrier.  It would also be awesome if you could share with me your thoughts – you can add them below or engage me direct susie@mssusanne.com.au

If you’re not ready to take your next adventure now then you can always subscribe and come back later…

smileykiss

 

The Pain Barrier

Have you ever tried to sit in one position (on the floor) for an hour, not moving, bolt upright on a couple of pillows?  Believe me when I tell you from my perspective I never expected it to be so hard but it was…

Day 5 I really started to understand the effort it was going to take for me to endure the sensations running through my body as I tried to maintain my position whilst going through the process of the Vipassana meditation.  My only reference about this, prior to attending, was someone’s description that their body was screaming at them and their mind wanted them to listen and move.  However I believe that like any physical exercise, when you initially start there is always a pain barrier to get past.

Yoga

I love Bikram yoga but I felt I endured much pain (and some suffering) during those early years of my body coming to terms with the physicality of this practice but the great thing was my mind readily expressing it to me during this 10 day course.  A reminder of the fact that I started barely able to touch my toes, days after still feeling the lactic acid throughout my body and aches in places I didn’t know I had muscles.  The timely reminder of these images in my head gave me an opportunity to reflect and remember what I have been able to achieve and could again do if I chose to draw on that strength.

Anyone that has seen and/or listened to Colin O’Brady’s TEDx would have to agree that our ability to change our mindset does literally mean you can change your reality and achieve anything.  I mean I wasn’t even close to having to endure what he went through so I could surely overcome the sensations I was feeling sitting still for an hour… Like any good inspirational tale though the implementation isn’t easy, the theory is sometimes already known to us but what is fundamentally missing is the belief.

Although I’ve been on this self development journey for a while (as long as I can remember really but more seriously the last 5 years), I was pleased to have had some foundational grounding in this concept through Advanced Business Abilities less than 6 months prior to my attending the Vipassana course.  Because it was through the Leadership and Communication Skills Accelerator (LCSA) that I saw the true potential for transformational change during experiential learning.  Through Mike’s training I integrated the theory of how our minds can get in the way of our ability to communicate with others and building on what Mike had started to teach me about ‘Emotional Charge’ I was then able to put that into perspective and not only appreciate the concept but I was again experiencing how my mind was the root of my own suffering.

Which all sounds very depressing doesn’t it?

Well actually I hope not… The intention here is to focus on what we can achieve with our mind.  It’s about realising that we all do have suffering, in some way, shape or form and it’s not a matter of comparison because we’re all on our own journey’s.  In fact that’s what makes us all just $5 in a jar; all the same bunch of atoms but with unique expressions like the nuances of our genes, from my perspective.  I in fact love to learn more and more about our human condition, our mind, our bodies, our existence on this earth, in this universe and possibly beyond.  The more and more I delve, the more it feels like we’re scratching at the surface and there’s just so much potential for our future with human kind being just that – KIND to one another, KIND to ourselves.

Or another way I like to put it:

K – kindred spirits

I – intelligent beings

N – nature and nurture

D – developing

As kindred spirits we have the choice to hold the same belief’s, attitudes and feelings of a positive future that we can each impact.  The intelligent beings we are have produced and continue to produce such advances to not only technology but spirituality and understanding of our human condition that can, if we choose, will further human kind.  It’s through nature and our ability to nurture the mind, the body, this earth that we will produce a legacy of paying it forward and endures throughout time.  Because ongoing development of myself and a passion to educate others; not standing still (although again is a choice we all have) is of no appeal to me… How about YOU?

What’s your next adventure… Heaven on Earth or Misery to Happiness

I’d love it if you share your thoughts – you can add them below or engage me direct susie@mssusanne.com.au

If you’re not ready to take your next adventure now then you can always subscribe and come back later…

smileykiss

Missed the G Spot

Wednesday the 19th December was Day 1 of our Eastern Europe G Adventures tour, starting in Berlin. For those that haven’t been on a group tour before, Day 1 is when you meet the rest of the group and your tour guide leads you in a Welcome and Here’s What You’re in For type of thing… and on this little two-week adventure we had the pleasure of spending Christmas together so our illustrious leader had arranged for a Secret Santa, so we were given Xmas cards with another (yet unknown) member of the group’s name to whom we would be providing our little ray of Christmas cheer to. Great idea I thought and with his instruction that he wanted us to make an effort to get to know that individual too I felt at ease that the tour guide had given some foresight to our trip but it wasn’t long before I started to doubt this presumption.

After our introductions, as is also customary, we had the option to head out to dinner together. We were told it was a traditional restaurant, not too far that played Jazz and for those so inclined they could dance the night away. Sounded interesting enough and as we’d planned already we were keen to go along and get a chance to acquaint ourselves with our fellow travellers, some (hopefully) good food and a few drinks. The first cracks started to show though as we seemed to walk aimlessly around Berlin streets with our illustrious leader asking us to stay in one spot whilst he toddled off to ask for directions. Luckily we were close enough because where we stopped was just outside the premises, through a little open area that during the summer months I imagined teamed with communal tables and chair, drunk herr and frau.

G Day1

Day 2: We were unsure as to whether to brave the orientation given this first nights experience but with optimism we thought surely he had something worthwhile to share. Given the large amount of ‘optional’ activities listed on our tour information and with the promise that our CEO (as they’re called by G Adventures, standing for Chief Experience Officer) had even more ideas, we just needed to ask, we rocked up at the designated 0930 start. Only to have our CEO drag his heels, chat aimlessly to two other gullible’s – I mean travellers and actually get going closer to 1000 because I insisted we could walk and talk at the same time. At the train station we had to be further bemused by our illustrious leaders lack of interpretation skills of the ticketing machine and what platform to depart from. Directed to what we were told was going to be the best Christmas markets in the city we proceeded to arrive at a few stalls that I knew wasn’t where we were supposed to have been. As the day before we’d already frequented the markets which the CEO eventually, with some local directions again, managed to walk us to.

Our orientation continued around the outside of the markets as they weren’t yet open (surprise surprise) onto an area described as housing the historical architecture (deliberately reconstructed as such after the war) and the oldest church in the city that was untouched.  It was a lovely part of the city and I was glad we’d made it there but further dismayed at our CEO’s lack of what I would deem basic tour guide experience, given he walked us to an information board on the church and proceeded to READ it to us.  After persisting through a coffee shop stop that really didn’t need to be part of the orientation and then enduring a trip into a souvenir shop I’d had enough.  We advised the CEO (let’s call him Mark, to protect the name of the not so innocent) that we were off to do a bike tour, having spotted a sign close by the souvenir shop.  To which our other weary travellers departed, I heard later, shortly thereafter too.

I think at this point I’ll let you imagine what transpired on the rest of the tour.  It certainly makes the mind boggle but we never let it spoil our holiday and we made damn sure we tried to help the other travellers not let it ruin theirs either.  In fact that was one of the highlights from this little adventure, our group rallied to keep spirit’s high, laugh at the absurdity of the effort or lack thereof from Mark and simply choose how we would react to the situation.  Sure it was a challenge at times and at different points throughout the next 12 days someone in the group had a lot to say about how bad the experience was but that’s what galvanised us as a group, we were all going through it together and at the same time we made sure to remind each other of the wonderful places we were visiting, the beauty, history and adventures we were having.

Your mindset is exceptionally powerful and an aspect you have (if you choose) control over.  This little adventure that clearly missed the G spot on this occasion was just such an example.  Which is what I also want to make very clear, this was an unusual case.  I have been on a number of G Adventure tours and I highly recommend them – still do because at the end of the day I prefer to not throw out the baby with the bath water as they say, I choose the glass half full / it can be refilled type of mindset.  What I love about G Adventures tours that I tell everyone, is that they are small groups; this was the largest of them I’ve been on (16) usually it’s about 10-12 and the people we have met have been everything from 20’s to 60+ from all parts of the globe; personalities as you would expect vary but G people I’ve found understand travelling isn’t linear and the best bit is you use public transport to get around, enabling you to stay in some really cool accommodation in historical parts (where big buses can’t get to) and the other CEO’s I’ve experienced have been organised, researched and are passionate about travel and making your experience the best it can be.

As always though you have to make your own mind up, choose you’re own adventure and I wish you much happiness.  You could always choose your next adventure now… Heaven on Earth or Misery to Happiness.

It would also be awesome would if you could share with me your thoughts – you can add them below or engage me direct susie@mssusanne.com.au

If you’re not ready to take your next adventure now then you can always subscribe and come back later…

smileykiss

Heaven on Earth

Well the title certainly creates a feeling that this is going to be an all round rosy post but I wouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover and I suggest neither should you…

I will concede though (SPOILER ALERT) it does have a happy ending but come on, who doesn’t like a happy ending!

Because unless you’ve been living under a rock, Positive Psychology is here and it’s making a lot of headway with research, on just how focusing on what’s right rather than on what’s wrong is the best way to take us from Misery to Happiness.

This series of blogs though is about my experience of the 10 day course in Vipassana meditation, a cathartic experience both at the time and now through my writing.  I really didn’t know what to expect, sure you can read the website but I didn’t bother.  The most I knew about it was what Kerwin Rae had shared and how he’d done it 7 times, that it was an intense form of meditation that they taught to Monks and it was actually more like 11 days so he’d endured a total of 77 day’s.  Along with the fact that after the 10 days silence Kerwin disliked re-engaging with the other attendee’s of the course because of a perceived one up-man ship that he encountered with various stories of ‘my experience was better than you’re experience’.

The reason I went into the course with little to no expectation, other than I knew it would be a challenge was because, as I will share by the end of the series, my experience was different, as would each of yours be.  That’s the point isn’t it, we’re all so different and unique in our perception of reality… Yet at the core of it I find we’re all the same.  I’ve always held the belief since I was a child (god knows where it came from) that this place, our Earth held both Heaven and Hell – not that they were some other realm that happens after we die but that in our earthly life, us human’s can experience at times both of these states; or we can be born into them; or we end up there through life choices, kamma or circumstance.  Never has religion been on my radar, I could never comprehend how there were so many different dogma’s all professing to be the righteous path but none demonstrating the pure essence of their teachings… but that’s a whole nother blog!

architecture art cemetery daylight
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Day 4 found me initially questioning my meditation practice, although my mojo was back and the MA15+ rated scene’s continued to flow through my mind; it was with clarity that I was starting to be fully aware of my craving for love throughout my life.  I wanted to pose these thoughts and questions to the teacher as I had the previous day.

Day 3’s questions though were the basic:

  • Can I move my position, or should I push through the pain and maintain my posture?
  • Why if universal law enables other beings to kill for food, do we humans need to be vegetarian?

At lunch though (just before we get the opportunity to speak to the teacher) I found myself pondering my life, sitting on a bench in the sun, enjoying the sounds and feel of nature and it dawned on me just how happy I was.  That I didn’t want to be anywhere else right at that moment, that I was exactly where I wanted to be, learning and experiencing Dhamma.  This was my ‘Heaven on Earth’ but it was more than just a Happy Place it was the happiness within me that was shining through and I couldn’t help but to cry tears of joy.

Time to choose your next adventure… The Pain Barrier or Missed the G Spot

If you’re not ready to take your next adventure now then you can always subscribe and come back later…

smileykiss

Misery to Happiness

Arriving Day 0 I had no (real) idea what I was about to embark on, sure I’d read the website and the emails sent to me about the guidelines for the course but the reality of what I was doing would only become evident through the actual participation.  That’s how the course is designed and was what resonated with me from the first day – experiential learning, which in my opinion is the only way to truly learn and move from a knowing (or intellectual wisdom) to understanding (experiential wisdom).

The first couple of days were a blur… It was Day 3 that took me from misery to happiness but before we get into the nitty-gritty I want to set the picture for you.  The property that the course takes place at is 40km outside of Brookton on a beautiful piece of Western Australian countryside with granite outcrops and views over the valleys.

day3rockyoutcrop

What I was about to undertake was a 10 day course in the Vipassana meditation technique.  In short it involves no talking, no technology or contact with the outside world, meditation from 0430 – 2130 and two vegetarian meals daily… yep it was always going to be a challenge but that’s why I wanted to do it.  I enjoy a challenge and new experiences, my life has been enriched as a result of this philosophy and this Vipassana course was further evidence of that.

Having focused intently for two days already just on breathing and with no one to talk to but myself the morning of Day 3 I found myself crying with the pain and fear of loss. Loss of love, loved ones and being left alone.  My biggest fears rising to the surface overwhelmed me as I recalled memories of my Father not being affectionate, my Mother leaving when I was 2, my desperation and cling’iness to boyfriends, friends who dismissed me and the passing of my beloved family members.  More accurately though it wasn’t so much fear but a belief that I wasn’t worthy of love.

Given other work I’d done before on my personal development I knew it was okay to let these emotions rise and not suppress my need to cry as I was releasing it from my body and my mind, making space for the light and happiness to take its place.  Which is exactly what happened later that day and was further evidence of the Vipassana teaching and theory that we would hear each evening between 2000 and 2100 as the wise words of S N Goenka would guide us on our experiential learning path.  The mind is fickle and moves from one thing to the next, at times, without much rhyme or reason and when we engage with the thoughts we seem to embed them deeper into our sub-conscious.

What happened next I have to warn you would be classified MA 15+ (as it contains classifiable elements such as sex scenes)

ma152b

The meditation sessions for the remaining afternoon dragged up memories and images of my boyfriends, sexual partners and one night stands.  Now, I’m a very physical person and it’s certainly true that one of my primary love languages is physical touch but by the end of the diatribe my mind threw up and with the Day 3 discourse I was starting to get my first taste of experiential wisdom.  Having gone from the misery of feeling unloved, desperate for love even… my mind reminded me of all the times I had sought love; some genuine, others a glimpse of possibility or just the physical manifestation of lust.  Reminders all the same that this external validation of love that I was seeking was also impermanent. Continue reading “Misery to Happiness”