Deep internal calm in Tasmania: retaining calm when re-entering the storm

Posted: March 22, 2013 in Uncategorized
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I first remember putting my finger on what exactly it was I loved about yoga when dashing out of a small yoga centre in a town in Mexico.  Dashing because my fellow-teacher and I had snatched one golden hour to ourselves during a month-long student expedition through Mexico and Belize and now that hour had almost turned into two.  Anyway, it was whilst hot-footing in down a busy street, coffee in one hand, bag in the other, that I mused with my friend about how yoga left what I’d subconsciously been calling a ‘deep internal calm’ within yourself…even when sprinting through crowds of slow-moving Mexicans.

Having read and experienced far more now than I had then, five years ago, I recognise this feeling to be in line with some of the ideas of Being, Consciousness, Presence, Mindfulness.  Back then, I just knew it felt good.  Which I suppose is all that matters.  Only that now I am more conscious of what is going on I am more able to hone and develop that feeling, even when things are hectic.

Today I felt that deep internal calm.  Not induced by yoga or meditation as is often the case.  No, today it was weeding.  I have been enjoying my fourth day of my first WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) placement here on Cloud River Farm, Huon Valley, Tasmania.  I’ve spent the best part of my five hour working day weeding ground around three flower beds.  Though its description lacks glamour, the task was quite simply blissful.  Soil covered hands, numerous downpours and raging backache aside (or included even), I have felt nothing but calm, compassionate and – for the most part – present all day long.   When presence has strayed, my memories have been those of playing in the earthy den behind the oak tree as a child or gardening with my Grandma before potato sandwiches for lunch.  I can’t help but think of a day up in Brisbane in January when sitting in my English Language Teacher Training class and responding to a classmate’s question ‘So, how are you finding Brisbane?’ with ‘I miss the earth’.

And yet despite being a little preoccupied with fond memories of times gone by, I’ve also been fairly present, remembering regularly the importance of this moment: the sounds, the smells, the feel of compost between my fingers.  I have moved with purpose and felt the earth beneath my feet.  I have taken my time, enjoying the task and not rushing to an end-product. 

Whilst some of my mind has been taken with the past, some too has been playing with the future – born out of such a welcome sense of wholeness, my ‘deep internal calm’, perhaps.  I got to wondering how this feeling of calm, balance and compassion can be nurtured in the hustle, bustle and sometimes worse of a working day at a high achieving comprehensive school in the south of the UK.  If I am to return to my job there in a year’s time, I do not want to leave my advances in understanding about how to be more present, mindful and compassionate in the past – I want to take them with me.  A colleague I greatly admire is open-minded and inquisitive enough to find alternative lifestyles and ways of thinking deeply interesting.  But caught in the mainstream schooling system, she fails to see how many of the ideas and approaches are sustainable.  I’m keen to tackle this challenge.  I don’t want my sabbatical to be a ‘holiday’ before ‘returning to reality’; I want the time I currently have to read, think and experience to be the foundations for the rest of my life – new ways of being that aren’t just ‘holiday mode’ but become everyday mode.  Though I don’t want to dwell overly on the future, I am intrigued to discover how possible it is to retain this calmness when plunged back into the midst of an often raging storm. 


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