I like experimenting with my body, and seeing how my mind reacts. This year I have given up alcohol, just to see how I’d react in moments of stress and in social life. All going good so far, nearly reaching 10 months without drinking. Even over these last few months, with so much going on for me, I didn’t think once of asking help from a glass of wine 😉 it’s really good to see how body and mind change when we change habits.
I haven’t either drunk much coffee in the past couple of years. I haven’t given up coffee completely but I’ve been careful when drinking coffee as I’ve noticed it agitates my mind. So I’ve been drinking decaf instead, or simply chai/tea. It’s interesting how coffee is such an addiction everywhere – here at the retreat we have a designated person for coffee making as seva! Even though we have Italian coffee here, I don’t feel like having it. I feel so happy that I’m super determined to make habits change. Specially now, with so much uncertainty, I wouldn’t want an even more anxious mind.
And another experiment – I’m trying to eat a vegan diet for these five weeks. Our meals here are vegan (prepared with local, seasonal produce!), but some people have brought cheese in from town (I don’t blame them!) or other animal products. I’m determined though to avoid these and stick with vegan meals, and see how my body and mind will react over these five weeks. So far I feel light, my bowels are working wonderfully every day and I’ve been sleeping well. Winning!
Today I naturally woke up during brahma muhurta, those one-and-a-half hours before sunrise, best time for knowledge and connection with divinity, as described in sacred texts like the ayurvedic Ashtanga Hridayam (for more on brahma muhurta, click here). I had set my alarm for 7 am, but at 5.14 am I was awake. I tried to go back to sleep, but my mind was too fresh and alert. It was pouring down outside and cold in the bedroom, yet I still sat down in bed encouraging myself to meditate. A mantra came to mind, and I found it on YouTube, focusing my attention on such a pure and touching chant – Namo Avalokiteshvara. If you haven’t listened to this mantra yet, I highly recommend – watching the video on YouTube (below) is highly soothing and moving.
Namo Avalokiteshvara is known as the Great Compassion Mantra. I heard it for the first time while watching the documentary Walk with Me – it had a profound effect on me; it really touched my heart and after a few minutes listening to it, I do feel like my heart is melting with compassion.
Compassion – and particularly self-compassion – has been an important aspect of this journey I’ve been through lately. I was raised to be tough, to hold my cry, to get things done no matter what emotions I was having, to never fail. So it’s natural that I go easily into a self-criticism mode and feel inadequate when/for having hard times. Or I just somehow ‘forget’ that I’m going through so much and start doing too much, putting on my plate many more things than it can hold, until I’m reminded through a chat with someone that I’ve been going through a tough time, and that it’s normal to take it easy. So more and more I’ve been finding that I need to practice self-compassion, self-kindness, and self-love while navigating this journey. And I think I’ve been succeeding in doing it here and there. When things get hard while I’m sorting things, packing, or just when emotions arise, I try and cultivate understanding and kindness toward myself. Like it happened yesterday – I was packing and this avalanche of emotions hit me, as my mind started to think about my uncertain future and the fact that I’m leaving my life as know it behind. I let the emotions flow, distanced myself from packing, thinking: it’s ok, I can sit with my emotions now and come back to packing tomorrow. For some, this might seem like a natural response. But for people who have always been criticised for having emotions and for their sensitivity, being so gentle on themselves may take lots and lots of practice, and a voice may still echo in their head questioning if being warm and accepting is really the right thing to do.
I’m glad I was up in brahma muhurta, with a fresh mind, ready to accept compassionate energy from the mantra, and with clarity about what I’ve been learning about self-kindness and being imperfect. This opens a new window to see everyone as imperfect, and to be compassionate and understanding also toward everyone around me. It’s a new perspective on life!
I’m soon leaving Australia, embarking to Italy and on a five-week self-knowledge journey. Life has presented me with challenges, and lately I’ve been having interesting insights, and learned lessons from such a challenging time. So I thought of starting this journal to share all of these experiences with you.
The idea is to make this blog an online journal, where I can record and reflect on my life’s events, thoughts, and insights. And also to keep you in the loop about my whereabouts and what is happening with me regarding my migration to Australia. I’ll try and write frequently, but I’m not sure if daily posts will be possible while I’m at the retreat in Italy. Let’s see how it all turns out to be! The best way to follow this journey of mine, would be to follow the blog (click the ‘Follow’ button on the right, or if you’re using a mobile device, you should see the ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of the page) – once subscribed, you’ll receive the Simple Yet Complex blog posts in your email every time I post.
I had a blog in Portuguese in the past, where I told my friends in Brazil about my adventures in Australia. I had great pleasure in writing it and sharing my experiences, and always received good feedback about my posts. Nevertheless, this is my first blog in English, and although writing in English is part of my occupation as a translator, I’m not a native speaker of English, and the recent challenges and stress I’ve been through showed me how my language skills – both speaking and writing – are hugely impacted by stress. So please be understanding if some posts are not written in 100% perfect English 😉
I hope you enjoy reading about my simple, yet complex journey and life, in which the sun is always shining, despite the clouds and storms.