Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Horror and Delight

Last week I went to an amazing painting exhibition entitled, “Horror and Delight” at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. My visit had a few surprises in store:  At the academy I was pleasantly reminded of the art school I went to back in Iran, though this is a massive 19th century building with elaborate frescoes on its high ceilings and vast stairways and corridors but ours, a crumbling chewing gum factory turned into an art college. Yet I was delighted to find out the atmosphere quiet the same in both, the smell of paint, the sound of musicians rehearsing and packs of students drawing here and there.  
Then there was the outstanding exhibition, a collection of paintings gathered from all over the world depicting human emotions and expressions from artists such as Rubens, Gentileschi, Bosch and many others. The collection was gathered around the subject of extreme human emotions with moving scenes of figures in pain, rage and fear some more violent and graphic than a typical Hollywood horror movie. There was one showing a beautiful lady forcing her blade diligently through the flesh of a struggling man. This is, “Judith Slaying Holofernes” by Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few women painters in the 17th century in Italy. The amount of violence in this picture is unbelievable. I wondered if there is really a need for violence in human beings. Why would a 17th century painter create such a horrid scene and why would some people still watch (and share) the horrifying videos of recent violent acts of terrorists?

For “Judith Slaying Holofernes” click here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On Feminism…finally

I have spent the past year reading every book and article I could get my hands on, on feminism, women’s rights, its history, achievements, downfalls and whatnot. What this has brought me, more than a master’s degree, is a deep insight on what has made us women, women. And what continues to shape us and what keeps us from fulfilling our identities. I spontaneously used “we” and “us” instead of “I” and “me”, as what I believe is that everyone is into this and everyone, one way or another has an obligation to be more aware, more alert and more conscious towards actions, remarks, comments (or the lack) that in a way degrade women. I believe awareness towards this can make the world a better place. Everyone is entitled to try and make the world a better place, for men, women and children even with the least bit of effort. I do not want to act boastful or critical of other’s opinion but my point is it is irresponsible of women to shush and laugh through sexist comments even in a vain place as Facebook is, just to seem “cool”. What is wrong with being “cool”? Everything! It is the new form of shutting up and cheering the abusers. “Abuser” is a big world, I know, the better suiting term would be “Ignorant”. Try at least to be a bit more aware and if you are share it with others.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Living beings

One of my first skeptical thoughts on mindfulness and the whole “living in the present” concept was and sometimes still is, that why should I even try stopping the thought stream? Aren’t human beings supposed to think?

On the seventh day of my stay at the Vipassana meditation retreat, three years ago, I had an enormous emotional distress, I could not breathe and my heart was beating literary out of my chest. I went to the teacher and not being able to talk after being silent for an entire week, burst into tears. Later I found out this was a normal incident to most of the first time participants on day seven. She advised me to lie down in my room and breathe deeply imagining that all my anxiety, negative thoughts and emotions evaporated from the palms of my hands. I did as she said and needless to say it took not more than a few minutes for all the negative feelings to disappear leaving me with an indescribable peace. The few remaining days went by smoothly and indeed very enjoyably, it was as if a big burden was taken off my chest.

I did not realize how this worked until this evening as I was watching an Eckhart Tolle recording to get some ideas for this page, I heard him advise the same to everyone who is trying to stop the constant mind blabber especially at night and before sleep.  His advice is to shift the attention away from thinking and ask yourself if you can feel the energy inside your hands. You will then feel a tingling on the palms of your hands which you could then shift throughout the whole body, the arms, the legs, etc. Before you notice you have calmed down the mind. The point is to feel that you are actually alive, to experience that aliveness not in your head but in your whole body. That is, trust me, an extraordinary experience.

No doubt human beings are supposed to think, you cannot live without thinking, analyzing, plotting and making decisions but what if all along you forget to live? Moments will pass, minutes, hours, days and years without us realizing that we are, above all, living beings. That’s the point I have discovered so far. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Coming Back to life II

I failed to keep my promise on re-starting my blog back in September. I guess the baby that it was, needed some more time to develop but to be honest I was holding back writing about the things I wanted to write about. The voice in my head kept saying, “some matters better be kept personal… bla bla.”

Now, since I am trying to get rid of that “voice” I will finally start writing. What I intend by “getting rid of the voice” is the stream of thoughts that judges, manipulates, lies and tricks the true essence of me as a human being, constructing an ego that would in return separate me from life and from fully experiencing it. I have long realized that living with constant thinking would keep me from tiny little beauties in life, even from taking a deep breath once in a while. A lot of this might sound showy, talking about Mindfulness, the new spiritual trend but it’s not. Mindfulness as far as I’ve learned and experienced is about living in the present moment. An effort towards stopping the constant blabber and just being… this is a long story. Stay tuned.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Coming Back to Life

I haven’t written anything on this blog since January 3, 2011. Such long silence which is about to be broken! I will not try to waste any more time and energy on blaming Facebook for not posting often on my blog (though it is all well-deserved), but I will defiantly talk about FB, and about many other little things, so stay tuned!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Review of 2010

Whew... what a year! One filled with changes, chances and surprises!
Last year, all by chance I was led to new paths and started exploring places I never would have taken seriously before. I started my journey through Astrology and Vedic sciences which opened new perspectives towards life and existence, went to an inner journey and met my fears. I have come to a conclusion that nothing is impossible, really nothing! And that the world inside is a hundred times bigger and more fascinating that the one outside. In the end I’m glad I took those chances and trusted my feelings.
 As for the 2011 all I want is more of what I got in 2010! All those new experiences and paths to discover....

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Vipassana Experience

I am back from the 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat. This was an experience far from what I had initially expected, for the better and for the worse. 

It was hard, harder than any other experience I’ve ever had. The amount of emotional, mental and physical pressure was incalculable and so difficult to bear, a price to pay to get liberated from most-if not all- of the “stock of misery” as they put it.

Before attending the retreat, I did not have high expectations, was not going to make drastic changes in my life, certainly not expected to become a new person in 10 days. Turns out I couldn’t be more right! My main motivations were first and foremost the challenge and living the experience. Well, I did survive and even more I’ve never felt this much peace and satisfaction!

The meditation technique was surprisingly simple; Observation! Objective Observation of the breath and then sensations in all the body parts. With no distractions from the outside world, the mind gets quiet and quiet and in absolute silence, we plunged in ourselves. The observation begins. Dirty laundry is out in the open. Impurities, fears, angers, grieves,… all come to surface and then comes pain, pain and more pain and finally peace. 

- Observing noble silence for 10 days turned out the easiest part of the whole program.
- Vegetarian food can actually be very tasty!
- If you keep your back straight, you can sit still for 11 hours a day or even more!

The Unbearable
- Waking up to the sound of the Gong at 4 am.
- Having to endure chantings in Pali language (original language of Buddha) before and after meditation sits with painfully numb legs.

What next?
I admit I still have doubts on the technique although I did reach results far better than I expected. The Kundalini practice I was doing before including Mantra Meditation - which Vipassana does not approve and highly criticizes- has worked perfectly well for me for the past two years and I certainly will not be putting that apart. However I will be give Vipassana a fair trial. It is worth it.