meditation

Books of 2015

I’m so excited to share my favourite books of 2015 with you! I’ve been hard at work on my new website (I hope you like it!), and have gotten behind on posts. Better later than never, as they say. 

As I compiled my list of favourite books for 2015, I realized that fiction has completely disappeared from my new line-up shelf. I was not expecting that! If you’re curious, check out the list of 2014

Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses by Dr. David Frawley

Every year I add one of David Frawley’s books to my reference shelf. In 2015, his work on the ten Mahavidyas swept me off my feet. I keep going back to it over and over. I love how detailed and concise his compilations are. Here, he covers the whole range, from mantras to yantras. Now, if he could fulfill his wish for a whole book on Tripura Sundari… 

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

You may have come across Amanda’s amazing TEDtalk, or you may know her from her punk rock music, or via her prolific husband, writer Neil Gaiman. Her talk rocked my world, and so did her book. It’s hard enough to ask, but it may be harder still to receive. If 2015 has given me one lesson, it’s this one: for some of us, giving is a lot easier than receiving. There is vulnerability in receiving, but there is also grace, trust, and connection. Amanda Palmer does a great job at putting all of it in perspective by sharing her own stories of discomfort, refusal, misunderstandings. It felt like she was talking to me, directly. A great read!

We make countless choices every day whether to ask or to turn away from one another. Wondering whether it’s too much to ask the neighbour to feed the cat. The decision to turn away from a partner, to turn off the light instead of asking what’s wrong.

Asking for help requires authenticity, and vulnerability.

Those who ask without fear learn to say two things: with or without words, to those they are facing:

I deserve to ask

And

You are welcome to say no.

Because the ask that is conditional cannot be a gift.
— Amanda Palmer

Meditation for the Love of It by Sally Kempton

This book is more about falling in love with meditation than about learning to meditate. Sally Kempton has a powerful yet understated way of appealing to the receptive part of us waiting to be embraced and loved. Meditation is not a linear process, and it certainly is not a one-size-fits-all approach. This book provides a wide range of experiential techniques, as well as guidelines to stay on track. This is a wonderful read if you’re experiencing a falling-out with your practice. 

Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief by Dr. Herbert Benson

If I write that Dr. Benson’s research is uncovering what we always knew, you’ll think it’s useless. But that’s exactly what he’s doing, and he’s helping the modern homo scientificus that we have become make peace with the fact that we are first and foremost feeling and believing beings. Dr. Benson was a pioneer in the research on the relaxation response in the 70s, and he has since made great strides in demonstrating that relaxation can be used as an actual healing method. In Timeless Healing, he explores the relationship between healing and beliefs. I needed to read this book to understand that my beliefs have a direct impact on my wellbeing and on my ability to recover. It was about time!

Yoga of the Nine Emotions by Peter Marchand

This book came recommended by Julia (find her at thetalsam.com). I really didn’t know what to expect. Within the first few pages, I knew I’d learn something and that it wasn’t all a waste of time and resources. By the 100th page, I knew I’d never deal with my emotions and those of others the same way. Rasas, or emotions, are powerful teachers. Learning to experience them without judgement can actually free us from our own limitations. The author even explores sadhana, practices, that can help us engage deeply with our feelings in a systematic exploratory manner. Although Joy and Love rasas may seem like the ideal emotions, I’m completely in awe of Wonder right now. I remember the child within.

There is Only One Way

There is something waiting to be born. Something wanting to be brought to life. And I keep searching. I keep trying new things, digging into another box, scripting my life away. Yet, that thing, that something that awaits won’t reveal itself. Am I not listening?

I’ve been searching with my head, jumping at every new hint. Have I been looking in all the wrong places? Have I been obscuring reality with distractions?

I’ve been ignoring all the signs. Now I know where the answers are. I know where that something is. And it’s buried safely in the darkest, scariest place. The only place I’ll avoid at all cost: me.

There is only one way: the one within. 

I’ve been making friends with stillness for some time now. It’s been cordial, sometimes sweet. I thought we could leave it at that, until I realized that stillness, immobility, really scares the hell out of me. I love movement, I crave it. I confuse movement with “being alive.” All this air and space within needs to keep moving, or else…

Or else what? I’ll vanish. Stillness takes me as close to oblivion as I will ever get, on this side of the fence anyway.

My immobility, the part of me that doesn’t change, resides in the depths, in the place of nothingness. And I have to go there to meet it. I have to meet with immobility, and love it with all I’ve got until there is no love anymore, until there is nothing left.

F*cking feels like the edge of a cliff.

Myriam Goes Nowhere

I haven’t been going places. And so it is. Myriam goes nowhere. 
 

In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing could feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.
— Pico Iyer

I’ve decided to face the music and share personal thoughts, discoveries, and meditation adventures, otherwise known as the cushion adventures, in this blog. I feel there is much inspiration to be drawn from raw accounts of struggles and breakthroughs in meditation, and likewise of their direct and indirect impact on daily life.

I’ve been writing online for nearly 3 years now, and I’ve been muzzling myself more often than not for a litany of reasons. (Maybe a future post?) As a result, my inspiration has dried up, I have let censorship and what-will-they-think? win. I needed to figure out a way to get my juices flowing again. Radical self-acceptance seems to be the most promising path so far. For the traveler and curiosity-driven me, admitting that I go nowhere is the most radical act of self-acceptance I can do. (Wow, did I just write that?)

Truth is, I’ve been sitting still since 2006, and somehow it doesn’t get easier. I have recently been at odds with my practice, and it made me realize that it was time for some change, both on my cushion and in my life. And the first question I need to answer is WHY? Why do I practice meditation? Why do I go nowhere instead of roaming the world and savouring its gifts? Everyone aspiring to start or continue to meditate needs to be able to answer this question, honestly.

The improvements in my quality of life largely outweigh the moments of discouragement, restlessness, and resistance I experience in meditation. In itself, this is an excellent reason to meditate. I have become more patient and connected with the people around me, more aware of my own limits, more comfortable with silence. But somehow, in the quiet of my meditation a little voice has started to whisper. And she says: “Really? Your purpose in this life is far more stellar than patience and comfort, Myriam. What’s the point? Dig deeper.” Patience and comfort are important, but they are not the end goal.

It drives me mad that I don’t yet still have an answer. (Guess I still have room for improvement on the patience thing.) I’ve been digging deeper for a while now, and I’m still left with a broken compass. Somehow, my motivation for meditating is related to my life purpose. And I feel the answers will come as a pair.

Until then, I will write about going nowhere and do my best to laugh at myself along the way.

Here’s a little bonus: Pico Iyer talks about going nowhere.