LITTLE MIRACLES

“Why wait for Santa to deliver – start your own little miracle for Xmas now”

I am a regular contributor to the ANZA Singapore Monthly Magazine.  On anything yogic – which is a thankfully wide brief.

Pondering what I should write about for Xmas, I asked one of the ANZA WYogis.

“I think I will do something on miracles – Xmas is all about that, isn’t it?” She replied, “Xmas has way too many expectations of it. All the present giving, the eating, AND miracles.”

Is it too much to expect a miracle at Xmas or at any time of the year for that matter?

Thomas Aquanis defined a miracle as ” whatever God does outside and beyond the order commonly determined or observed in nature”. Buddhists agree with this definition except  the word “god” would be replaced with the word ‘mind’.

Some of the miracles manifested by Buddha, included being able to multiply oneself, fly through the air, hear things over a long distance, read other people’s minds, remember one’s former lives and how to calm a muddy mind. But Buddha was a pragmatist, he pointed out that such miracles could be due to magic or fraud rather than genuine spiritual accomplishments. He banned monks and nuns from ever displaying any of them in public. He also said the last three were the really important ones.

When asked to perform a miracle in order to impress and convert people, Buddha refused saying education was the greatest of miracles.

I would like to read other people’s minds and remember my former lives, but as a mere mortal and Buddhist, being able to purify and develop the mind, through education (learning and meditation are our keys) is where powers not normally apparent can be unleashed. Where the miracles really happen.  

small thai style bells in temple

Bells started ringing in our house this Xmas and the miracles began to occur.

“In the lead up to Xmas, I have been observing little miracles in my own house.”

My husband is not a Buddhist, nor is he vegetarian. A lapsed Catholic, Italian heritage, who loved a drink and a smoke, and of course, food. Our larder spoke volumes of our binary approach to life, fresh fruits and vegetables, salads below, meat in the freezer, potato chips in the cupboard.

Eight months ago, he gave up cigarettes, He still can’t explain exactly why after 20 years, he felt compelled, but he had begun regularly meditating.  And practicing yoga – yin and some hatha.  With our ANZA WanderingYogi group at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Then…three months ago, he received a wellness report from one of those Singapore clinics which specialize in comprehensive health and wellness assessments. Large sleek clinic, where an endless stream of people come in for assessment and go out with a  detailed ‘wellness’ report and MRIs in a ‘showbag’.

Except his glossy folder did NOT contain a wellness report. Fatty liver, elevated PSA levels, cholesterol levels dangerously high, a recommended weight loss of 15 kilos, or he was in heart attack territory. The only good news was he was still upright.

Like many of us, he was pushed, and finally embarked on a journey to wellness.

In the next 3 months, exercise 3 – 4 times a week, a commitment to regular exercise being the life goal. So no more go hard, or go home.  Too many injuries and excuses. Immediate strict diet to achieve a weight reduction that put him out of the heart attack zone. He still missed potato chips, but once a week, he had a carb day. He lost 10 kgs, he started feeling good about himself. He stopped drinking during this time.

Then, he went on a 7 day detox retreat. No internet, no television, just the sound of the ocean and you going to the toilet (if you have ever been on one of these you will know what I am talking about).  An Italian who ate no food for 7 days. I regularly practice Vispassna (silent retreats), but I shudder at the thought of a 7 day no food detox. He came back with even more ideas for balanced living. And 4 more kgs off. He lost his appetite for meat, and started to look with interest at the salads in the fridge. He lost interest in carb day, and started to ask me about vegetarian options for meals.

The power my husband unleashed in himself, when he freed himself from craving and addiction, positively affected us. He was less likely to be critical of others, more open to exploring different activities that didn’t involve only food. His sense of humour, dormant from years of non-conscious living, revived. He was a happier person to be around, and he made others happier (including me).

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The entrance to my husband’s retreat house in Bali.

Here we are at Xmas time, about to head back to family for the rituals of Xmas feasting and parties. I spend much of my time working out how I can feed myself (a non-meat eater surrounded by meat-eaters, I have quiet ways, but quiet they have to be). Pacing my beverage consumption over the festive season, knowing there has to be one relatively calm heart and mind in case of family fire ups.

But this year, another miracle in the series of little miracles in my house. Exercise gear and yoga mats in tow, we head back home, calmer, happier and healthier. My husband is also now in silent partnership with me on food and alcohol.  No need to trumpet miracles, they are obvious to all, anyway.

So my message to all is – miracles are possible, do not wait for Santa to deliver. And the best miracles come from within.

Peace and happy festive season!

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