Finding the Light

January 19, 2010


I almost made a decision that in hindsight would have caused me to miss out on a blissful experience. While in Mexico I was trying to decide about taking a trip to a small town called Chacala. The original idea of going there had arisen because I knew there was a Sufi camp taking place where I would know a few people and it seemed like fun to surprise them. Yet somehow the more I became settled in, the less the idea of uprooting myself appealed. It required me to check out, spend a couple of hours exploring Mexican buses and taxis and finally negotiating a new place to stay in my appalling Spanish. It took an e-mail from a friend of mine, a hopeless romantic, telling me that I must go as she was convinced I would meet my soul mate that almost shifted me from my inertia but on its own it was not enough.

I decided to make it easy on myself by booking a room in the expensive Mar de Jade where the group was staying. Then to my surprise although the reservation system was set to accept my booking, I was told the hotel was full. I slumped back into inertia. This must be a sign not to go. The only accommodation was in the town a fifteen-minute walk away, which at night was problematic. It would require a flashlight and this I did not have with me. Then something amazing happened. For some reason I pulled out the draw in the bedside table and peered inside and found a headlamp left behind by a previous gift. The decision was made I had to go. From that moment on everything went seamlessly well. It was as though I had imbibed the Felix Felicitus, the lucky potion, described as a “pool of living gold,” in Joanne Rowley’s sixth novel about Harry Potter. Travel was easy, accommodation simple to find and after a delightful dinner and being invited Sufi dancing with new and old friends, it culminated in a glorious beach walk under a myriad stars, lit of course by my new found lamp. (No I did not meet my soul mate and I returned the lamp back for the fellow traveler to experience its magic.)

Trusting Your Gut

January 19, 2010

How often do we blindly make a decision without checking in with our intuition? One morning during a trip to lovely Sayulita in Mexico,  I crossed paths with some friends who told me that a number of their group had woken with upset tummies that they were blaming on the beachside restaurant they had frequented the previous night. “Four of us had a negative intuition about the place” one of them shared. I looked at her somewhat taken aback, “ so how come you went there?” I enquired. “Oh we didn’t discuss it until this morning” she said. “A little late!” I retorted then mused why it was we did not treat intuition like our other senses. We placed much more reliance on what we could see, touch, hear or taste while second guessing our intuition or feeling too embarrassed to mention it. My sense is that we have lost connection with something that is as natural to us as seeing or hearing. I suspect it has to do with what happens at the age of six years old. We go to school, an environment where intuition and creativity are not respected. Like planting a rose in the desert and not watering causes it to die, over the years our intuitive sense wastes away. Train Your Intuition provides tools to support you in activating the dormant senses that relate to your intuition. We need to develop confidence that intuition is as valid as any other sense and this takes practice and finding an environment that is supportive. Normally it requires us to find ways to engage the right side of our brains and learning to pay attention. In addition it helps to develop ways to validate our intuition. Then perhaps we can have the conversation before we get sick rather than afterwards.

More on Synchronicity

January 8, 2010

I have met a kindred spirit; his name is Jan Cederquist; he is Swedish and recently had a book published in English titled ‘Meaningful Coincidences – Remarkable true stories of synchronicity and the search for answers.’ Besides a passion for synchronicity we both had our careers in advertising. I think he became aware of the significance of synchronicity much earlier in his life than I did. Unfortunately we will never connect in person because he died before the English publication of his book. Regardless I am glad to have made his acquaintance.
He came into my life as a result of a synchronicity. I wrote a blog on this subject ( and in one of those weird interactions that enliven a blogger’s life, I received a comment from someone named Fiona in London whom I had never met asking me if I had encountered the above book. Then following an e-mail exchange, she asked if I would like her to send me a copy. It arrived just before I left on this trip and I finished it on the beach in Mexico. It is a sweet book full of events and incidents affirming just how amazing this universe can be. Jan would constantly manifest in most unlikely ways, exactly the right person for any given situation that was occurring in his life. He tells a remarkable story about a contact lens that was lost in the ocean off the coast of Croatia and found clinging to a swim suit 6 km from where it was lost by a woman who then connected with the original wearer.
It raised for me three interesting considerations. Firstly do we experience synchronicity if we don’t believe in them, secondly would we even notice them if they did occur and thirdly would we ascribe any significance or meaning to them. My experience suggests that we can actively solicit synchronicities. It requires a combination of: setting of intention, focusing on the inner landscape and then paying attention while waiting for the magic to occur. Jan observes “many who have studied the question seem to lean towards the opinion that synchronistic events become more frequent when people practice meditation, yoga, relaxation, qigong, or any other form of training that enhances the focus of consciousness.”
Reading this book encouraged me to make a commitment to synchronicity in 2010. Although I believe that there are many ways we can create inner guidance, I am setting the intention of bringing more synchronicity into my life. I set this intention at the conclusion of my meditation period. There was an almost immediate response. I have been planning an overnight trip up the coast to Chacala where some friends are attending a Sufi camp. When I found out the hotel was full, I felt somewhat disillusioned as it meant staying in the small town and would involve a long walk in the dark on an unlit beach. “If I bought a flashlight that would make a difference,” I thought. But before I could but the thought into action, I opened the draw of the bedside table in the small hotel where I was staying and there was – yes you guessed it – a headlamp kindly left by a previous guest. A coincidence or a synchronicity? It certainly helped to motivate me on my small adventure.

Practice Zen Like a Pelican

January 5, 2010

I love watching the brown pelicans that winter on the Mexican Pacific coast. They strike me as the most Zen of birds. They rarely chatter or squawk; they spend much of the day in apparent mindfulness observing the ocean with an intense unwavering gaze. They appear to be masters of the state of being. Penguins like to sit in community on rocky perches overlooking the ocean; perhaps it’s a version of pelican ashram. They also spend time bobbing up and down on the ocean looking as though they do not have a care in the world, rising and falling with the waves, silent, perhaps contemplating totally ay ease in their marine surroundings. And then they fly. Sometimes cruising serenely in flocks, forming a line like Canada Geese, surveying from on high and on other times they perform a sublime dance with the ocean, skimming the face of the sea mere inches from the surface, following the contour of the waves in a graceful, effortless manner. They resemble surfers, finding the barrel as it crests over their heads then adjusting their path ever so slightly to avoid being dumped by the breaking wave.
After hours of observing the dynamics of their behaviour it becomes clear that the art of being is all in preparation for the doing that inevitably follows. Once gathered in large numbers, sitting on the ocean, bobbing mindfully in expectation and waiting, quietly and expectantly for the climax of the ensuing drama. Once pelicans begin to feed the pursuit of prey is dramatic, fast moving and exhilarating. They soar to about twenty feet above the ocean, pick out a target and throw themselves into a dive, pointed bill stretched forward, wings outstretched, looking somewhat like a miniature prehistoric pterodactyl, hitting the water with a splash but closing their wings at impact. They rarely miss, a quick stretch of the neck and the fish slides into the belly. Then a few seconds pause and the act is repeated again and again. Feeding can become frenzy, pelicans soaring, wheeling, diving, splashing and swallowing as many as five times a minute. It is hard to believe that they can put away so many fish in what appears to be a fairly small torso. Then it stops and they return to mindfulness again.
I think the pelican is a great reminder for how life can be lived. To practice the simple art of being, staying fully mindful of our every moment and ready to fully engage when the time is right. Out of mindfulness emerges the direction for our lives. Then we focus all our skills and attributes on being the best we can. Pelicans do not seem to be competitive. They sit, swim and fly in harmonious groups and when feeding each does his own thing. I never saw one pelican compete aggressively with a fellow. If only we could say the same.

Practicing Detachment

January 4, 2010

Playa Las Muertos - as it normally is.

My morning ritual: a café Americano and a walk to a beautiful beach with the unlikely name of Playa Las Muertos, (Beach of the Dead because you walk through a cemetery to get there.) My stroll takes me past a huge tree that is an iguana sanctuary and I espy two giant iguanas perched precipitously above my head. My coffee tastes exquisite; it is as the Mexicans say “muey bonita dia”. (I had learned that this morning from the hotel owner, it means it’s a beautiful day) From Toronto snow, I had arrived in Sayulita on the Pacific coast of Mexico on New Year’s Day. My first day had been cloudy with occasional showers but today was perfect. My walk curved around the beach, pelicans cruised the ocean seeking a snack and the sky was blue. It was exactly what I had been looking forward to and I reveled in the prospect of a quiet contemplative morning in one of my favourite locales. My confidence underwent a shift as I descended the hill surrounded by the ornate graves of the catholic cemetery and heard what I thought was the sound of a Sea-doo. “Surely not” I recoiled, “Not those horrific contraptions here.” Well it was not Sea-doos. It was worse. Two ATVs driven by young girls were careening around this small beach. The senses were repelled as the smell of gas and the incessant whine of the two stroke motors filled the air. I felt my reaction building inside of me. ‘How could they be so inconsiderate? How could their parents allow them to inflict this on the other beachgoers?” My mind became a torment of outrage. I could see myself making a scene “Excuse me do you plan to torture or us for very long because if so I will leave.” I sensed myself wishing bad things on the drivers before retracting such negative thinking. So much for a quiet meditative morning. I picked up my journal and began to describe my angst when it struck me. What a perfect time to try and practice detachment. The Buddha stated that attachment leads to suffering so if I could truly detach perhaps my experience would shift. I lay working with my breath, trying to resist the glow of pleasure when the little girl suffered engine failure and was stranded for a while. In fact the joy of the moment soon paled when a young man took over and began to do wheelies emitting clouds of noxious vapours. However as I worked to let my feelings go it all became more tolerable. Harmony was restored. As more people arrived the circuit decreased in size and moved away from my immediate area and then the two little girls were lured by the call of the ocean and quiet descended. I lay back appreciating the calm, beautiful surroundings; I closed my eyes and relaxed. Peace without attachment. My reverie was almost immediately disrupted. “Boom, boom, boom” a noise like mortar fire disturbed the peace. I looked up. A huge pick-up with massive tires had driven down onto the sand and was sharing its 120dbs soundtrack and heavy bass with us all. Then the two Atvs started up again. Peace was gone yet I found myself smiling. God does have a great sense of humour.”