The Importance of Rest

Leunig has an amazing capacity to capture complex ideas in an easily understood manner. This is one of the Curly-Pyjama Letters that I love the best and have just copied out here. I recommend the rest of the letters to you too!

(From Mr. Curly to Vasco Pyjama)

Dear Vasco,

In response to your question, “What is worth doing and what is worth having?” I would like to say simply this. It is worth doing nothing and having a rest; in spite of all the difficulty it may cause, you must rest

Vasco – otherwise you will become RESTLESS! I believe the world is sick with exhaustion and dying of restlessness. While it is true that periods of weariness help the spirit to grow, the prolonged ongoing state of fatigue to which our world seems to be rapidly adapting is ultimately soul destroying as well as earth destroying. The ecology of evil flourishes and love cannot take root in this sad situation.

Tiredness is one of our strongest, most noble and instructive feelings. It is an important aspect of our CONSCIENCE and must be heeded or else we will not survive. When you are tired you must HAVE that feeling and act upon it sensibly – you MUST rest like the trees and the animals do. Yet tiredness has become a matter of shame! This is a dangerous development. Tiredness has become the most suppressed feeling in the world. Everywhere we see people overcoming their exhaustion and pushing on with intensity – cultivating the great mass mania which all around is making life so hard and ugly – so cruel and meaningless – so utterly graceless – and being congratulated for overcoming it and pushing it deep down inside themselves as if it were a virtue to do this.

And of course Vasco, you know what happens when such strong and natural feelings are denied – they turn into the most powerful and bitter poisons with dreadful consequences. We live in a world of these consequences and then wonder why we are so unhappy. So I gently urge you Vasco, do as we do in Curly Flat – learn to curl up and rest – feel your noble tiredness – learn about it and make a generous place for it in your life and enjoyment will surely follow. I repeat: it’s worth doing nothing and having a rest.

Yours sleepily

Mr Curly xxx

Leunig.

A Light Touch and a Soft Heart

Meditation is profound but should not be too serious. Be passionate but do not push too hard. 

Choose to enjoy each meditation rather than making it a rigid discipline. Choose to see the benefits in each meditation even if it is uncomfortable or you are feeling restless, impatient or bored.

‘Forget yourself!’ Relax the doer and the doing. Meditation is about letting go of yourself and just being. It reveals the truth of who we truly are. 

Every step is an end in itself; the journey is the destination.

Adopt a subtle, Buddha-like smile.

Meditation is not about having blissful, peak experiences. It is about changing our relationship with our experiences and becoming less reactive, less goal-oriented, more present. 

Meditation is not about moving away from life to some other reality. Meditation brings us back to our life so we can embrace it more fully and live it more compassionately. 

Keep it simple, follow the steps.

Remember the Zen poem:

Sitting silently, doing nothing

  spring comes,

  and the grass grows by itself.

(Gawler and Bedson, Meditation: An In-depth Guide. 2010)

The Right Way to Sit!

There are many different approaches to sitting in meditation – and the good news is that there is no right or wrong way with two exceptions. You should be able to sit with an upright spine and you should be comfortable.

Some people find full or half lotus the most comfortable sitting position in which to meditate, while others prefer to sit on a meditation cushion (and there are many different types). You can find an article on the different meditation seats / cushions available at the Yoga Journal. There are also some very good meditation stools, again some varieties here, but most are kneeling stools and many people find them very comfortable. My preference is for the Black Dragon Meditation Stools that are made here in Australia and are an affordable price. See picture below.

Black Dragon Seats

If you are new to meditation, the simplest and easiest way to meditate is on a chair. Just a normal dining room chair or an office chair is fine – preferably with no arms and a straight back.

Hand position is another frequently asked question. There are many different hand positions for meditation in Buddhism and these are called mudras. The most common mudra in meditation is the Dhyana, pictured below. It involves placing your right palm in a resting position on top of your left palm with your thumbs meeting in the middle. The Buddha is often depicted meditating in this position. You can check out variety of hand positions in this article from The Chopra Centre.

Dhyana Mudra

But again, as with meditation seats, hand position is more about comfort as you begin to meditate. Simply resting your hands on your thighs in a comfortable position is sufficient.

Just remember, the most important thing in meditation is that you do it! All you need is a quiet private space, a comfortable seating position and your hands resting gently and you’re ready to go!

New Dates for Meditation Classes Just Announced!

The response to the 8 week online meditation classes has been wonderful – thank you to everyone who has shown interest. The current classes are full and I am now announcing new dates for classes commencing in June.

The next evening class will commence on Monday 6 July from 7pm – 8.30pm and will run for 8 weeks.

Please let me know if you are interested in signing up. The price for this course will be $200 +10% GST (total cost is $220 for the 8 weeks).

Some interesting web pages.

If you’re interested in the science behind meditation and the potential positive impacts of meditating, you might be interested in checking out these web pages:

And the Dalai Lama has a wonderful web page – www.joinaforce4good.org – that is well worth a look. It explores the societal implications of compassion.

In challenging times…

There is no doubt that we are in challenging times, in our society and globally. As we try to achieve balance by staying safe and calm, it’s important that we focus on both our minds and our bodies. Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining a calm nervous system, especially if we can achieve that while being in nature. Calming our anxious minds and becoming more aware of our tendency for excessive thinking, will help us to survive these difficult times. Most importantly, we need to be kind to ourselves and each other. It may well be that kindness is the key to not just surviving but thriving as an individual and a community.

Meditation Classes – New dates just announced!

Just announced two new meditation classes:

Mondays from 11am – 12.30pm starting on Monday 20 April

Tuesdays from 7pm – 8.30pm starting on Tuesday 21 April

Please send an email if you are interested in participating in either of these courses.

Learn about the Yarra Valley Living Centre

My training as a meditation centre was based at the Yarra Valley Living Centre which was founded by Ian Gawler back in 1075. Ian has an amazing story of recovery from life threatening cancer when he was a young man. His experiences lead him to share his learnings about the value of mediation and nutrition in all aspects of healing. Now the Yarra Valley Living Centre provides support for many people who have cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. In addition they teach meditation and provide workshops on managing stress and other health and wellbeing related issues. Check out their web page for some inspiration and read about their 7 Essential Elements for our health and wellbeing!

Mindfulness Based Stillness Meditation – BOOK now available

The meditation classes that we teach here at Meditating Space are based on the work of Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson from the Yarra Valley Living Centre in Victoria. Ian and Paul have written an amazing book on meditation – ‘Meditation: An in-depth guide’. You can purchase it through the Yarra Valley Living Centre or in most good bookstores.