Archive for the ‘Idleness’ Category

10 Days of Silence and Nothing



Yet another move is ahead of me, and this one I’m doing solo.  This move is free of trucks, boxes, tape, food, work, books and music.  Thank goodness.  It’s free of all of the stuff that clutters my life and distracts me from living life itself.  It’s free of complex thought and free of the senses.   That’s probably a dramatic enough introduction so I’ll now tell you that I am beginning a 10 day Vipassana Meditation course tomorrow at the Ontario Vipassana Centre.  Me and 49 others will spend 10 days in complete (noble) silence with the following schedule:

4:00 a.m Morning wake-up bell
4:30 a.m. – 6:30 a.m. Meditate in the hall or your own room
6:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Breakfast break
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
9:00 a.m – 11:00 a.m. Meditate in the hall or your own room
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon Lunch break
12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m. Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Meditate in the hall or your own room
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Meditate in the hall or your own room
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Tea break
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
7:00 p.m – 8:15 p.m. Teacher’s Discourse in the hall
8:15 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
9:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Question time in the hall
9:30 p.m. Retire to your own room. Lights out


I have chosen to complete this course because I have some internal work that needs to be done.  It involves healing, letting go, feeling safe, becoming more mindful and focussed, detachment from things that I attach my identity to, and I’m sure more that I’ll discover over the next 10 days.  However, I am also aware that I may just spend the next 10 days sitting, waiting for the next meal and secretly singing in the shower. hah.  Who knows.

Here’s some more information if you’re curious:




Yesterday we had a snow day. A 100% snowed-in-and-can’t-go-anywhere day. Major highways, schools, business, and public services were all closed. (I wonder if the soup kitchen managed to open). This isn’t the first snow day of the season. We had 3 “snow days” last week and 2 this week where buses weren’t running and people were advised to stay off the roads. Those were the kind of snow days that even people in the city get, where you can get out if you need to, so you at least go somewhere, or you can walk somewhere, and most people power through it anyways. Monday, the OPP were asking people to stay off the roads unless it was an emergency. I had a meeting not too far from home, so I ventured out and I saw 4, maybe 5, cars on roads that are usually well traveled. I was lucky to have stayed out of the ditches through the white-outs and made it home before dark. I was also lucky that no one else decided to give it a go because I spent a lot of my time on the wrong side of the road and blind.

I was likely experiencing cabin fever that day, because yesterday, around the same time, I proposed to Dylan that we go out somewhere. One listen to the OPP warnings on the radio and we wised up. There was a snow drift on our road that a few people were already stuck in and no one could get by, and the roads we would need were closed anyhow. Speaking to a colleague on the phone while stuck in the cabin, he used the word surrender to describe how one must accept these kinds of days and it rang true to me the whole day.

We spent the first 4 hours of the morning debating if we were going to get out today, various strategies of doing so, whether or not we would make it home and listening to the radio updates. When we finally surrendered to a snow day it was blissful. Weighted in by the snow, yet having space to work in, isolated us from all possible external distractions and allowed us to work with what we had. You dream of having a whole free day to __________ (ie. cook, build, fix, etc.) and when that day comes, you don’t have any of the resources on hand and you can’t get them. So you are forced to be creative and work with what you’ve got. So we did exactly that and even better yet, we did nothing. We relaxed. Laid around, read our books, did some yoga, and made an awesome mid-day veggie soup with potato scones to dip. There was nothing else to do and it was liberating. No TV and no internet is also quite liberating, because otherwise I’m sure we would have fallen back on them for some mindless entertainment that is not true relaxation, and soaks up the hours fast. I could have put in a full “work” day if I had the internet. When 4 o’clock rolled around it was sad to know that our snow day was coming to an end, until we realized we had already cooked for the day, so we still had the evening :). The day felt endless and re-energizing. Admittedly throughout the day, there was a gentle tugging notion that occasionally surfaced prompting me to do something, but it would subside when my mind reminded itself to simply surrender. I had to accept that nothing could be done and that everything would be there tomorrow and the day after, waiting to be done, none-the-wiser that it was being done a day later. It’s tough to know that life is carrying on as usual and you are not participating in it, something I’m sure many people experience in many different ways. But there is beauty in that, and the keys are acceptance and surrender.

thought bubbles: A glimpse into the Internal Dialogue of a Thinker

I observe my mother like our cat watches the automatic vacuum cleaner that my parents own. Completely detached and curious, yet slightly frightened and confused.  Why is it bouncing from one wall to the other, disturbing everything in its path just to reach the wall and bounce off again, on another linear path.  It’s not that my mother makes a mid-frequency humming sound and walks into walls – at least, it hasn’t come to that.  However, it is her addiction to bouncing from one “to-do” item to the next, and if you get in her way, or don’t help as is expected, beware….

Week #2 in the Ashram…

These are my lessons from the second week of life in an Ashram in the Sivananda Teacher Training Course in Val Morin, Quebec:

  • The World Cup squeezed it’s way through the gates of the Ashram and instead of our 2-4pm lecture on the 4 Paths of Yoga, we ate popcorn and watched the final game!
  • The scary rustling and sniffing around my tent at night is a stray black cat……that has stirred up emotions in meditation of when our old black cat died on my 18th birthday….xoxo Blacky.
  • My ego pops up everywhere, awakened everyday by another ego.
  • I was scolded for tossing my cutlery ‘disrepectfully’ into the dirty dish bucket by one of our lecturers and I cried and cleaned the floors for an hour after that.
  • “Kriya” day was Thursday.  Kriyas are purifying/cleansing practices and thus:
  1. I poured water in one nostril and out the other (Neti Pot) = fairly easy.
  2. I threaded a catheter through my nostrils and out of my mouth to floss and release mucous from the nasal passage = much gagging, many attempts, many thoughts of giving up because I could feel the thing at the back of the throat but couldn’t reach it, more gagging, tears, snot……success in left nostril! (later in breathing exercises, I could breath so clear from my left nostril and I felt suffocated by my right…..almost makes me want to do this more…)
  3. I drank 8 cups of warm salt water quickly and proceeded to vomit it out (you’re supposed to, it brings mucous from the esophagus out) = not terrible, no acid comes up so it feels pretty normal and you can see all the mucous.
  4. The last was to swallow a long piece of wet gauze and then slowly pull it out = very few of us could even watch this, nevermind attempt it.

Very excitingly, this Sunday is the festival of Swami Sivananda’s death and there are going to be 25,000 people here at the Ashram!  It is a huge celebration that we are helping to coordinate, should be crazy.

Om Namah Shivaya

Better Than YouTube

This is a live feed of a webcam perched on a Bald Eagle’s nest in BC with a new chick!  At least every 20 minutes of my day today I have thought, “I wonder what the eagles are doing” and eagerly clicked on the tabbed page in my browser and refreshed the feed.  It’s so exciting to watch, every moment I wonder what could happen next and usually it’s absolutely nothing!

Are you ever alone and Should you be?

Today, as I suited up to go for a bike ride, Tequila (the dog on the farm we are looking after) got very excited to see me put on my jacket, and I knew I wouldn’t have the heart to leave her behind.  Thus, instead of biking, I opted for a hike.  Off we went down what’s called “The Rail Trail”, Tequila leading the way.  As we walked, I became very aware of how much of my attention was with the dog, like it would be if I were walking with a friend.  My mind would begin to drift to whatever thoughts earned priority in my sub-conscience, and then be interrupted by the rabbit that Tequila had scared out of the bush, or by wondering where she had gone, or by watching her play in the river, or by concerns that she may be thirsty etc.  Walking with a dog changed my walk experience.  It distracted me from my own thoughts and brought me out of my own head very often.  I was not alone.

I wondered how often dog owners are alone. Or have their consciousnesses adapted to include the dog

I wonder if it is better or worse to have a constant companion always in your presence. This could be a dog, a partner or a child.

And I wonder how often mothers are alone.

Like, really alone.  Where no one knows where you are, no one is expecting you, you’re not responsible for anything, you’re not concerned about the time and you’re able to think very deeply, naturally and without interruptions, forever if you felt like it.  Sounds like you’d be in a vacuum doesn’t it.

I wonder how often humans are supposed to experience time like this.  I experienced a lot of solo time before I shared my life with my current partner.  I was almost always alone, in my own head-space.  And now, there are days when I’m alone, but I always know he’s coming home for dinner.  Even if we’re apart for a day or 2, he is present in my consciousness always.  And yet there was a time when I didn’t have that constant companion.  And I think at those times I would have deeper thoughts.  My mind would contemplate life intensely, scrutinizing each step I took.  With a partner, I think I tend to let little things slide.  For example, we drive pretty often, and when I was on my own, I would bike to China and back to avoid driving.  My mind doesn’t venture as deep into itself anymore.  It’s either that I have less to prove now that I’m happy and loving, or that I forfeit responsibility when there is 2 of us and our decisions have to accommodate 2 opinions, 2 sets of needs and 2 sets of priorities.  On the flip side, at times when I didn’t have a partner, I was lonely.  There were times when I was desperate for someone to do things with.  Just someone to buy groceries with, to live with and cook with.

All of this to wonder.  What are we meant to do?  Live a conscious, independent life, or share life with each-other always, perhaps venturing into deep uninterrupted thought less often.  I realize there is a middle ground, however how often do we commit to being truly together and being truly separate?  When I hit a time in my life where I had lots of time to think alone, (which often accompanies facing some hard truths and rough patches), I had a few epiphanies in a row.  I posed all my life’s questions to my mother in one breath.  Asking her if she had thought about these things, how she felt about them, why she was living in the rat race of capitalist Toronto etc.  And my mother’s reply was that most people don’t have the time to stop and think like I did, that it was a luxury, and that she had to go because she was in the middle of filing a prospectus.

Any thoughts?  Any long, uninterrupted thoughts?