Do You Need a Treat or a Treatment?

Published in Eumundi Green Issue 175

I generally manage my physical and emotional stress levels quite well but my family has been building a house all year (insert copious amounts of rain here) and between that and what seemed like an eternal school holiday, I was feeling a bit tight and tense, so I thought I’d ‘treat myself’ to a bit of therapy.

I have been practising yoga weekly with Jodie Mudgway for the majority of this year and always come away from her sessions feeling warm and stretchy. I had hears other people in class talk about her Zen Thai Shiatsu massage/healing sessions so I thought I’d try for myself.

During the treatment I felt a sensation I have often experienced during the course of a yoga session and one which, up until now, I have only really been able to describe as ‘good pain’. In the nurturing environment Jodie has created however, it suddenly seemed wrong to refer to this sensation as pain – good, bad or otherwise. It was a signal from my body (that up until that point I have been trying hard to ignore) telling me that the coping mechanisms I was using were really not serving me well and I just was not ‘letting go’ enough in life.

As busy people with jobs, businesses or families, many of us don’t make time for ourselves. And if we do, we tend to refer to these experiences as I have done above, as some kind of treat.

The word treat really has a lot to answer for because if keeping yourself healthy and mobile is a treat, then what is normal? If normal means being tired, crank and in pain, then I sure don’t want to be ‘normal’!

So, lying on the mat of that positive, supportive space, I made a choice; a choice not to have ‘treats’ but ‘treatments’ and to have them when the need arose, not when I thought I deserved them or could fit them in. I also made the choice to use language that supported this. I would no longer feel ‘good pain’ but be aware of the sensations of stretching or pressure to take away the negative connotations and emotions that really only served to make my muscles tighter and my mind quietly aggravated.

Motherhood’s Multi-Tasking Mayhem

Published in Eumundi Green Issue 185

It turns out there is significant research to suggest that, contrary to what we believed in the nineties, multi-tasking is really only a good way to scatter a mother’s brain – not get more done.

Ok, so that might be a simplification of this research, but experts in this field do say that the act of switching between two tasks and getting them done takes a longer time than fully completing two individual tasks one after the other.

I bring this up because I am a mother, who happens to be building a house, catching up on a week’s worth of washing and housework, arranging playdates, meal times and writing articles. And most importantly, I bring it up because the topic of this article was going to be significantly different to how it has turned out. I had fully intended to write about Quantum Physics, however, after managing to half-complete four paragraphs in four hours, I did the only thing anyone wanting to keep their sanity does… I pressed save, made a cup of tea, hugged each of the kids and sat back down in front of a blank document to type whatever came out.

Unsurprisingly then, this article became all about multi-tasking!

The reason multi-tasking often backfires on busy people is that when they begin working on a certain project or chore, their brain has to make a decision on how each thing is to be done. When the tasks that need to be performed require very different thought or physical processes (such as in the life of a parent) the brain has to spend time switching between each mode. And if there are many “switches” back and forth throughout the day (such as in the life of a parent) it adds a significant amount of time to a job.

I’m not sure if any research has looked into the correlations between the extended time it takes to complete the day’s jobs and the level of frustration that is felt by the person completing these tasks, but I’m pretty sure we could do a quick survey at the school gate and find some concrete evidence to say that parents believe this is the case.

Drawing on this knowledge, I have reminded myself that if I let go of any attachment and preconceived expectations about the outcome of a task and just allow it to evolve in unison with each of the other important facets of the day, then when all is said and done I will have finished each individual job – and hopefully avoided building children and raising houses.

Urban Pop Up Patch

Published in Eumundi Green Issue 183

Urban Pop Up Patch

Last week in Melbourne, I stumbled upon a gorgeous community garden, smack bang in the middle of the city. Now when I say smack bang, I really mean smack bang, right in the centre – on the rooftop of the Federation Square car park.

Although the gardens weren’t open to the public at the time I was there I was lucky enough to be having a sticky beak through the fence when a lovely couple came along to water their patch and invited me in.

Not only did I delight in the plethora of photographic subjects but enjoyed learning how the city folk bring the outdoors, gardening and fresh produce into their lives.

All of the raised garden beds had quaint stencilled signs on them, indicating their owners, and I was thrilled to recognise the name of the restaurant I had just eaten in – no wonder their food had tasted so fresh! It sure limited the food miles I contributed to that day.

My hosts, Roy and Lisa (pictured) were retired school teachers living in the city centre; however, like many city dwellers, their high-rise balcony-less lifestyle didn’t allow for much more than a pot of herbs on a windowsill.

Although we hinterland folk would just about choke at the price, residents of the CBD pay $25 a week to use the facilities and become a part of the community gardens.

This cost raised quite a bit of discussion amongst us but was put neatly into perspective when the price differences between apartments with balconies or gardens were compared to those without, and the cost of buying fresh herbs and greens at the supermarket each week was factored in.

There were other benefits too, like getting an extra raised bed if you were prepared to water the communal gardens and other people’s plots, the sense of community that grows out of meeting those who share similar interests and ideals, not to mention the perfect positioning of the patch, practically on the banks of the Yarra, making it an ideal party location for fireworks and cultural celebrations.

You can find out more about the Pop Up Patch (run by the Little Veggie Co), on their website littleveggiepatchco.com.au, and also on Facebook, and see the other magnificent ways they are bringing like-minded members of the community together with healthy and life-affirming pastimes.

 

Vipassanā – An Introduction to Silence

Published in Eumundi Green Issue 181

I have a deep love of and curiosity for the world I inhabit and am fascinated with the nature of reality that each of us experiences. This drive led me recently to Vipassana.

Vipassana is a 10-day silent meditation retreat run at Dhamma Rasmi, a speciality meditation centre in Pomona, right here on our doorstep. So, you might be new to meditation (and possibly even to silence!) and the thought of spending ten days without speaking might seem daunting, but it was actually very achievable.

The silence essentially removes everyday distractions and allows you to turn your focus internally. And, you really only spend nine of your days in silence, The 10th day is dedicated to sharing your experiences with others and acts as a shock absorber before returning to the real world. You are also able to ask questions of the course instructor and at the end of each night you can sit in on a general Q&A session, where you can ask questions. You can also speak for practical reasons, like needing a blanket or to get help unblocking a toilet.

As to the meditation, although being one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation (which was recently rediscovered by Gautama Buddha more than 2500 years ago), this course provides a non-sectarian method by which you fully experience the ever-changing nature of life, in all its forms.

It is easy to dismiss the effectiveness of this practice because it is essentially such a simple process. Throughout the ten days you progress from concentrating on your natural breath flowing in and out of your nose in its own rhythm, to feeling the subtlest of sensations on your body.

The course also delivers personal anecdotes that foster a deep understanding of the impermanent nature of existence and how this knowledge can be translated into all areas of your life. The literal translation of the word Vipassana means to see things as they are, and through participation, meditators are able to gain their own personal insight.

For those of us searching for simplicity, change or betterment, a Vipassana course offers opportunities for self-transformation through self-observation – no hype, no fuss, nothing but your breath and body.

The international Vipassana website (www.dhamma.org) states that it is this “observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion”. And yes, that is the eventual aim. A balanced mind full of love and compassion, with the added bonus of full liberation and enlightenment, if that’s your life’s goal.

I would have to say that because of my exploration into quantum physics and alternative sciences, my experience of Vipassana was extremely deep and rewarding. I underwent journeys on both the physical and mental planes unlike anything I have ever known and my mind was opened to many, many “dot-joining” understandings of our universe and my experiences of it.

The Four Rs

Published in Eumundi Green Issue 179

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle are all concepts we are quite familiar with, and I have to say that, to my great delight, Repurposing is experiencing a great resurgence in popularity. Perhaps the old Depression mindset that came heavily in the era of ‘mend and make do’ has made way for a newer approach, one that comes from choice and consciousness, not circumstance and scarcity. Not only have vintage and shabby-chic become ‘on-trend’ but it also appears that giving something a new life is truly being embraced.

It is second nature that we now rinse our recyclables in the dirty dishwater at the end of the night and pop them in the yellow-lidded bin, we separate our food scraps and have a compost bin, a worm farm or hungry chooks to dispose of them, and the drought that encouraged our state government to want to dam our prime grazing land, has etched water consciousness into our psyches.

We are certainly doing all we can with the ‘new’ resources we have, but what about all that ‘stuff’ that already exists? The ‘stuff’ that our precious resources have already been burned to produce, transport, sell and build.

Our lives and environments are filled with things that can be reused, not just for their original purpose but also to be re-purposed into something altogether different. Often all that is required is a little thinking ‘out of the box’ to come up with a new use for something that has finished serving its original purpose. Once you start doing this, it becomes easier and easier.

Repurposing holds an exciting challenge; you find yourself looking at even the most mundane of objects in a whole new light. Some obvious choices are to use an old bathtub as a fish or frog pond and an upturned milk crate with a cushion on it for impromptu seating. How about using a laundry basket in a trolley as a stand-in dish drainer when you have too many dishes for the draining board? Your Christmas lights wrapped into a glowing wreath to brighten up the whole year? An old filing cabinet in your garden shed for tools or in your outdoor kitchen or BBQ area? Or how about a bedside lamp hung over a worktable in a dark corner? These are just a few of the ideas I have come up with, and I am always on the hunt for other ways to rescue another article from landfill and save myself money at the same time.

If we take the time to think about the amount of energy that has already been used to produce the goods around us, perhaps we can be reunited with the pleasure that is inherent in the creative process we undergo when we turn something old into something new?

I encourage you to start bringing this idea into your home and begin making your life more Re-purposeful.