Humility

I spend a few minutes preparing my utensils in a separate room.
I wring and fold the tea cloth and place it in the bowl. I select a whisk and a scoop based on my mood and preferences today. I prepare the waste-water receptacle, laying the other utensils within easy reach.

When I am ready, I gather myself as well as my things and approach the tea room, kneeling at the entrance.
There is no one inside it, and I have a quiet smile. I recognise that I am going to pour my heart into the ceremony regardless of who is there to witness it.

I lay my utensils before me and bow deeply.
To who, or what, I cannot say. All I know is that my deepest wish is to humble myself before something great, and beautiful, and worthy of my respect.

This is tea ceremony.

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Simplicity

Time seems to slow down in the tea room.

Every detail seems enhanced, and each experience more vivid.

I have a higher consciousness. Not only do I see and feel more; I am more.

Light seems to look different. Dust motes seem to hang in the air. Clothes feel rougher on my skin, scents are sharper in my nose. I feel like I could spend hours pouring oven the finer details of even the simplest bamboo scoop.

When my sense of appreciation is so highly attuned, you can imagine how much I cherish the smell of fresh matcha, and how deeply I enjoy that first sip.

I am finally beginning to understand the principle of wabi. The simpler life is, the more one appreciates. This is why the tea ceremony exists in a world of it’s own. It is a beautiful gift.

Yogic Remembrances

This morning I went to a yoga class before taiji. I’m a little embarrassed to say that it’s the first one I’ve been to since doing bikram with my friend last August. As I relaxed into the meditations and the gentle flow, I was reminded of how much I love yoga. In that bright, open studio, I reconnected with a deep peace inside of myself. And with that peace came an incredible alertness (which I am surprised to note has been with me all day) and keen insight.

I remembered that all beings truly do deserve happiness and freedom. How could I have forgotten that?

I discovered that so often lately I have seen my body as an enemy to overcome through a steely willpower. I have punished it for weakness and treated it like it was a barrier holding me back from achieving my goals.

I was deeply sorry for this, and felt a shiver run through my entire length as I apologised for the violence I have needlessly inflicted. I realised that my body is my friend, whom I have been maltreating, and that we are a team. I promised to nourish it, to give it rest, and to help it grow strong. Not with a whip, but together, in solidarity. Like how Ash treats Pikachu, always willing to endure hardship alongside his friend which leads Pikachu does his best for Ash because he loves him and believes in his own strength.

My body and I are a team, and we’ve promised to look after one another.

Yoga’s amazing guys. Why don’t I do it every day?

Boundaries: A Simple Guide

How to tell if your boundaries have been crossed:

  • You’re not comfortable with the situation.

e.g. A friend calls at 7pm and asks if they can come over for dinner. This causes you to feel uncomfortable emotionally and physically.

How to find what your boundaries are:

  • Ask yourself what you are comfortable with.

e.g. What if they didn’t come over tonight but we just spoke on the phone? Not comfortable with that either? Okay, how about if we just text tonight, and we catch up on the weekend? Perfect.

How to put your boundaries in place:

  • Tell the other person what you are not comfortable with (and maybe what you are comfortable with).

e.g. “Hey friend, thanks for the invitation! I don’t really feel like company tonight, but I don’t mind texting if you’d like to chat. Do you want to catch up this weekend?”

How to put your boundaries more firmly in place:

  • If the other person does not honour your boundaries, it is an opportunity for you to flex your boundary-placing muscles and get a little better at insisting your boundaries are respected.

e.g. Friend says “Can’t I just come over? I want to see you.”
You might say: “Hi friend, I still do not want company tonight. I like you and would like to spend time with you, however I am not willing to do so right now. If you are in need of company, perhaps there is someone else you can ask.”

  • This might go on for some time, because some people are not very well-practiced at respecting other people’s boundaries.
  • If all your attempts to enforce boundaries are ignored or violated, it is recommended you cut that person out of your life, because they are an asshat and you deserve better.

Finding my wings

When I was 12, I used to imagine that I had a pair of wings that nobody else could see. They were as tall as I was, the kind that rose to a peak just above my head and curved gracefully to a point near my ankles. These wings were feathered, white and pure. It never occurred to me to use them for flying; I just wore them about my shoulders like a cloak. I felt as if my feathery mantle was impervious to harm, and that I could tuck myself up in it and be completely safe. I also felt that I could flex my wings and move them about me, and even wrap them around those standing nearby.

In a recent update of Guild Wars, they released the wings from my childhood as wearable outfits for avatars. I couldn’t help but buy myself a pair, and I’ve started imagining they’re there again. It sounds ridiculous because they’re obviously not tangible, yet I found myself acting differently today, as if I really were striving to be worthy of wearing them. I’m not too sure why I wrote this, other than to say that they bring me both comfort and strength.

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A letter to my high school self

I think that there’s some kind of meme going around for giving advice to your high school self. I’ve written letters to future versions of myself, and but it’s been a long time since I’ve considered retrospective advice. So to my high school self, specifically my Year 8 self, I say this.


Man, high school can be a really hard place to be. You’re forced to spend time with people who don’t understand you, who you might not connect with, and who certainly don’t appreciate your attempts at poetry. (To be frank, your poetry is clumsy, but your heart is in the right place. If you practice who knows what will happen?) You’re more mature than most of the people around you, and they tease you because you’re different. It’s hard, I know, I’ve been there.

But by jove it gets better. People who are massive jerks to you right now will one day get down on one knee and ask for your forgiveness. They will grow up to be brave, mature young men who love their families and work hard at their jobs. Some of them will be assholes as long as you know them (or at least, as long as I’ve known them, 8 years down the track).

On that note, make more friends. It’s worth it. Share your life with people, go out of your way to spend time with them. Ask people how they are and for God’s sake care about the answer. I know it’s hard for you to connect with people, but it doesn’t mean you can’t try, and you’ll be so surprised as the results. There are so many good men in your life that are worth knowing and loving. But also don’t be too bummed if you drift away from some of them, because you end up having a lot of good friends and companions anyway.

Speaking of friends, spend a little less time around Raiden and a little more time with everyone else. I know his approval means a lot to you, but loving and approving yourself will be much more valuable in the long run. In fact, I really encourage you to start writing affirmations and getting some positive inner-dialogue happening as early as you can. It will really make a difference to how you see yourself, and what you feel you’re capable of.

When things are super tough, and pay close attention to this one, remember that you are not alone. It may feel like no one can understand the tortured anguish of your soul, but people seriously do. In fact, there are people who are kind of paid to understand what you’re going through, and it’s so so healthy to talk to them and share your experiences. Seriously. I cannot stress enough how easy it is to reach out to someone and make your life easier.

Well little dude, that’s all the advice I have for you right now. But if you only remember one thing from my letter, let it be this: the greatest gift you can give others is to be yourself, your true self. You’ll light up people’s lives, and you’ll know happiness like you’ve never dreamed. Oh and be grateful for as much as you can as often as you can, that’s like super important. Peace out.

-X

Lessons from Taxi Drivers

This morning on the way to the airport I met the loveliest man. He is a taxi driver who has lived in Australia for 17 years but originally hails from Iraq. We talked of little things, but he uplifted me with his conversation and his kindness. Every word he said carried his gratitude and joy at his circumstances. He praised the weather for something different, celebrated the 4am start because he could choose his own hours, he forgave drunkards and thieves who tried to offend him. He spoke of his travels, and how Perth is his favourite place in the world, where he once witnessed strangers stopping to jacklift a broken car. In Iraq, they would have just been killed and their car stolen. He praised the existence of the welfare system, where elderly citizens get wages from the government and have a superannuation so that they won’t starve and die without family support. We parted as friends and I wished him the best.

Unfortunately he dropped me off at the wrong terminal (due largely to my lack of specificity). I caught another taxi to the right location, and the driver was a harsh juxtaposition. His strong Australian accent barbed me as he complained about other drivers, the internet speed on his phone, the road design and the airport layout. He was polite enough in exchanging jokes, but his attitude was condescending and he capitalised on the mistakes of others.

I would rather be like the first man, grateful for the air I breathe and the sky I see. More and more I think that the greatest happiness is appreciating what you have.