It was a terrible winter for flu and other illnesses! Here in Italy for sure, but also in America and it seemed all over the world so many people were getting really sick, even to the point of hospitalization. I remember hearing entire schools were closing in Florida in order to prevent the spread of flu because it had gotten so bad. Periodically I would stop and notice that I had managed to escape even catching a cold, but as it was also a particularly long winter I felt that it wouldn't be wise to declare I'd had an illness-free winter until I was sure spring was here to stay. Well, now we're well into May so I am sure winter is over and I can state as fact that I had a healthy winter! I am particularly happy about that because I was not only out amongst the public throughout the winter but I nursed my 2 kids through fevers as well (my daughter at least twice), so it's not as though I was never exposed to germs.
I've made a lot of changes in the last few months, drawing a lot on yogic principles and practices throughout my day. I thought it could be helpful to reflect on what changes I've made which could have helped keep me healthy this winter. I don't want to pretend that anything here is a silver bullet to avoiding colds and flu, but perhaps combined they gave me more immunity - and they certainly didn't do any harm.
I have two cherished spiritual sisters who I meditate with online weekly. One lives in Sweden and the other in South Africa. For now, we are blessed that we are in the same timezone even though we are living a bit all over the place; I hope we will still be able to connect as often when I move 6 timezones away. We met through a course of Ananda online. In addition to our online meditations, we check in with each other most days through WhatsApp. It really is a blessing to have these souls in my life, walking a similar spiritual path and giving and receiving advice about our meditation practices as well as life in general.
One of these sisters has given me permission to share this inspiring metaphor that came to her last week. She had been feeling quite inspired with her meditation and spiritual practices a few weeks ago. She felt confident in her direction, both where she was at the time and where she felt she was going. Then, she took a vacation which for various reasons was a mixture of Spirit everywhere and nowhere. It was a holy place with rich spiritual history and energy, but personally she was not able to meditate due to time constraints, and the personal circumstances taking place throughout her time there were confusing her and seemingly pulling her away from her higher self and spiritual seeking.
She was feeling very conflicted when she came back from vacation. Her heart was torn in opposite directions. Upon her return she was jet-lagged and physically sick, and as she is also the mother to a toddler she was finding it very difficult to have the energy to meditate. When she finally recovered physically, it still took her a while to have energy in her meditations and often found she was struggling to not fall asleep while meditating. Perhaps more frustrating than her tiredness during meditation was the simple struggle of motivation. She was feeling unsure of her dedication to her spiritual path as it seemed she was forsaking another version of her life in choosing this path, and her meditations were not feeling very inspired.
In time, through dedication and willpower, she was able to bring herself back to her previous point of being able to go deeply into meditation, and feeling herself connected to her spiritual path. She sent the most beautiful message the other day (I’m paraphrasing):
Yesterday it was raining, and all the worms started coming out of the soil. The birds had a huge feast! And the trees as well, as they needed the rain while they are working on budding. And I thought, this is true with us as well. We need the rain, the hard times, to help us grow. It’s not so nice at the time, but just like nature, we need the rain to nourish us as well. One of our meditation teachers talked about how we need the restless meditations, because when we choose to stay with them we actual can grow the most. Just like when we do physical exercise, we need the resistance to get stronger.
Her message is so filled with wisdom. And, it relates not only to the dry spells and hard times, but to each meditation on the micro level as well. We all have human brains which can wander, particularly when we are first starting out with meditation. It is important to remember that each time we catch our minds wandering we (gently, but firmly) bring our concentration back, and we need to remember that each time we do that we are getting stronger. We are doing the work to make it easier in the future to stay focused longer.
Thank you, A, for lovingly allowing me to share your inspired metaphor.
I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts. I've been living the past few years in the center of a medieval city in Italy, and I live a very "pedestrian" lifestyle. Literally. I don't have a car and I do nearly everything on foot - taking my kids to and from school, grocery shopping, going out for meals, errands, etc. I like to use that pedestrian time to listen to engaging podcasts. Even when I run for exercise I've taken to listening to podcasts in lieu of my old playlist.
I gravitate to podcasts that are focused on higher living (trying to uncover various ways we can improve ourselves), and particularly those with a spiritual, non-dogmatic element. Many great yogic masters, including Paramhansa Yogananda, emphasize the importance of keeping good company and surrounding yourself with an environment that reflects the higher vibrational state you seek. When it comes to media, that means limiting the amount of "junk" we are consuming - things that are possibly entertaining, but not feeding anything nurturing to our souls and minds. The podcasts below have filled me with inspiration, taught me interesting things related to bettering myself, and/or at the very least helped me pass the time while keeping higher ideals or realities in conscious consideration:
In sum, if you are looking for a more substantive way to use that time you might be filling with background music, I highly suggest instead checking out these podcasts as another way to raise your vibration during your day.
I am an Ananda® certified meditation teacher. I am passionate about meditation and embrace a yogic lifestyle for greater wellness physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
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