Profile Inspire Yourselves
30 July 2010
Hi Everyone! A bit of a different format this time, to share pictures selected from the amazing portfolio of Christina Demetriades (thank you!), to give you of a flavour of our Japan experience. I will be writing my usual Profile next week, in the meantime ..... enjoy this! Lots of love as always from me, Anna xxxxx
JAPAN HEARTBEAT ________________________
This Week's Articles: - Shanghai, June - Women & the Feminine Principle
It was wonderful being back in Tokyo again I hadn't visited in nearly 12 years. As always it was fantastic to do both the private sessions as well as the group work, accompanied this time by my friend Lilli, who also acted as my translator. Lilli was responsible for the land arrangements of our Japan journey, and was devoted to
- Japan, June/July - Blanka's Experience - Inspiration Letter from Anna comes next week.
Have you seen our new website yet? It's all there, in context, of our working towards inspiring social change, one person at a time! Click here!
WOMEN & THE FEMININE PRINCIPLE SHANGHAI JUNE 2010 - by Kate Lilienthal (below)
welcoming us deeply into the heart of Japanese culture, making things so easy for us! She did a fantastic job, which left me free to hold the spiritual energies for the Work to come through. I can't thank her enough! Although I know Tokyo very well, it was very work-focused (wonderful!) and with almost no time to visit my usual haunts nor to meet with many friends. My sharing will therefore start from Kyoto, below. Blanca gives her perspective too, lower down!
Kyoto at night. After a dinner of Kyoto cuisine at our ryokan traditional Japanese inn - we would walk along the banks of Kamo River which flows through city from north to south and is beloved by the people as the embodiment of the spirit of Kyoto. We'd go into Gion, Kyoto's most famous geisha district and from the outside look at the ochaya (teahouses where geisha entertain), as well her theatres, shops and restaurants.
The city was Japan's capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. It is now the country's seventh largest city with a population of 1.4 million people and has a modern face in addition to its traditional culture. Over the centuries, Kyoto was destroyed by many wars and fires, but luckily, due to its historic value, the city was left untouched by air raids during World War II.
Japanese classical gardens are works of art, extraordinarily beautiful in their simplicity. Oftentimes, although not always, they show the influence of Zen thought in the environment, harmoniously merging different materials into Oneness. Just by being in them (or even looking at pictures), we can touch our own Silence. This was taken by Christina very early one morning in Kyoto.
My brother-in-law asked me to describe Anna's recent meditation retreat in China with one word. My first response was "deep," but that seemed, well, shallow. I moved on to "scary". This word indeed rang true, but it didn't capture the whole. I eventually settled on "full." The two-day workshop filled me from the inside out with a playful joy not experienced since childhood, like a kid splashing cool water on a hot summer day. The retreat, called Women and the Feminine Principal, was held recently in Shanghai. Going into the weekend, I had no idea what that title meant. It was my first experience working with energy, and I had no idea what that meant, either. All I knew was that I was exhausted and frustrated by the constant uncertainty in the life I share with my husband, and I sought the promise of tools to manage relentless change.
Fushimi Inari Shrine on the outskirts of Kyoto. Dedicated to the fox god Inari, this is the most famous of shrine of its kind in the whole of Japan. Inari is the Shinto god of rice and I think also of businessmen, and foxes are thought to be his messengers, which accounts for the many fox statues that can be found at Inari shrines! The Shrine is also famous for its countless torii gates (left), offerings by worshippers, that cover the hiking trails of Inarisan, the wooded mountain behind the shrine's main buildings. It takes about two hours to walk along the
Here's what else I knew: The Egyptian pyramids are commonly estimated to have been built about 4,000 B.C. So when Anna began the class with a discussion of the Ancients, and referenced the pyramids as 35,000 years old, warning bells clanged. I'm from California, the proud home of burned out hippies, crystals, and hot tubs-often all three together - and I'd heard enough vacant new age philosophies to have developed a fair skepticism.
whole trail (don't get all excited, we didn't do it!)
Sake offerings at Kitano Tenjin Shrine, venue of an extraordinarily interesting market fair during our visit. Japan's traditional rice wine has long played an important role in its culture and history. It is still used in the Shinto religion for many important purposes, including as an offering to the Gods and to purify temples. It's also used as sacred offering during weddings. It was in the Shrine's adjoining park that we sat at the foot of an enormous tree, and experienced "Reconnecting with Nature". Interesting that amongst the bustle of the marketplace, during the time we were doing our Work, we were not disturbed at all. It was as if Nature herself had put a bubble around us during the time we were connected with her. Really beautiful.
Watermelon on a hot summer's afternoon. Shanghai, June
I questioned Anna repeatedly on what she presented, and as the lesson continued, I felt increasingly duped. Oh no, I thought, you can take the hippies out of California, but you can't take California out of the hippies, never mind better clothes and a contemporary hair style. Here I am
Kiyomizudera ("Pure Water Temple") is one of the most celebrated temples in Japan. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto and takes its name from the fall's pure waters. Best known for its wooden stage
again, same place, 6,000 miles away. But then we moved into our first meditation. I'd mediated before, but never with a guide. As Anna led that initial meditation, followed by others, the soft images and sensations that floated from my mind's eye didn't follow rational thought, or, for that matter, really any thought at all. They came of their own and I followed them-to some new places and others that were as familiar as if I'd been there yesterday, except that yesterday I was six years old. And that was it. That six-year old moment, talking with my mother in a quiet garden next to a well. My chest vibrated, salty tears squeezed from clenched eyes. In a thunderous wave of consciousness, I heard the answer to a question that for 40 years has defined my fears, actions, decisions and love relationships. The question was why am I afraid to give and receive love? Anna had written it on the board halfway through the first morning. She explained that this is the theme that brought the individuals in this particular group together on this particular weekend. Even tonight as I write, I pause and fix on the big black letters against the white background. How did she know?
that juts out from the main hall, offering visitors a wonderful view of the numerous cherry and maple trees below, the hall was built entirely without the use of nails. There is a waterfall beneath, from where visitors (including us) can drink, making wishes for the gods to grant.
Kinkaku-ji Temple is a Zen Buddhist temple built in 1397 and used as a villa for the third Ashikaga shogun Yoshimitsu (1358-1408). Designated as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape, it is one of 17 World Cultural Heritage sites in Kyoto and one of the area's most-visited temples. The temple complex, whose gardens and architecture are focused around a central Golden Pavilion (pictured left), was said to evoke paradise on earth. There are beautiful formal gardens as a part of the complex too, which were a joy to be in. We'd done our Work for the day when we visited, so didn't linger for further meditation.
Kifune Shrine (left) is reputed to be one of Japan's best places to make your wishes come true. Its exact date of construction is unknown, it is estimated, though, to be 1600 years old. An ancient myth states that a goddess reached Kibune on a boat in search for a water source, and built the Shrine on the
very same spot as where she found an abundant spring. As a result,Okami-noKami, the God of Water, was deified in Kibune Shrine. Today, the stones that cover the goddess's boat in the shrine can still be seen. It was here that we came to the second part of our experience - "Being at One with the Five Elements". What a perfect spot for this, in every sense of the word! Doing our special kind of Work means that we are able to communicate with Nature both as a whole as well as different aspects of the One. Again, it was beyond words, just a very deep Knowing of All That Is, with each of us a part - particle, if you will - of it.
Shanghai's old French Quarter - still beautiful It doesn't matter. Just as it doesn't matter when the pyramids were built. All that matters is the question in the garden, asked-and answered-in glorious Technicolor and stereo sound. I haven't stopped talking since the workshop weekend. It's as if the dyke broke and the conversation began. Yes, I feel better prepared to manage uncertainty, but that was merely the subtext of the story, the hook that got me in the door on a weary Saturday morning. The story, really a long love song, was about discovering the spirit within, in a garden, in the water, on the edge of a forest or behind closed doors, and recognizing that spirit, invincible, trustworthy, for who she is. Me. You.
simplicity at One with each other.
Mt Koya, Japan's most sacred mountain, is affectionately known as "Koyasan" and is one of the best places to experience an overnight stay at a temple lodging. Known as shukubo, here we got a taste of a monk's lifestyle, sitting in on a service too and eating their cuisine. Offering private, traditional Japanese rooms with tatami floors, sliding doors and futons - bedding spread on the tamami floor during the night - it was again beauty and
It was here that we also completed the purpose of our Journey with "Presence Rebirth of the Soul". This was held during an evening of full moon and lunar eclipse, both in and amongst themselves singularly powerful movements, never mind combined! We started and ended in concert with the eclipse, moving very naturally in tandem with the energy.
- Kate Lilienthal is from California, where at this moment she sits outside in the cool evening air wishing she was meditating instead of poaching off a neighbor's wireless. This fall, Kate and her husband, Mark, will move with their three young children from Shanghai, China to Singapore. In Shanghai, Kate published an English-language parenting magazine called Shanghai Family.
AND ANOTHER VIEW..... - By Therese Soderval (below)
Picture here shows Arina and Blanca resting a little in the shukubo's beautiful garden just after we arrived from Kyoto. After dinner, much later that evening, we would do our meditations and movement with the fusuma - sliding doors seen behind - open to the cool night breeze and the night lights of the garden, and coming out to rest in-between times. Timeless, beautiful and sacred and I felt humbled by it. Picture by Anna
The first exercise we made was in pairs, we looked into each others eyes and connected our hearts, after a short while I felt my heart jumping a few times my heart beating faster, with tears I felt we were connected as One, that she was me and I was her. There is only One.
Well, a little bit of an unexciting background here, but the only picture of everyone that I could find! We're getting ready to leave Koyasan after all our adventures.
Quote from Anna I bring with me since the workshop, Feel what you think Think what you feel
Left to right, front, are: Vivi from Shanghai. Jinyu who splits his time between Tokyo and Shanghai, Christina from Nicosia, Junko who now works in Beijing, and Lilli.
Listen to your Self, and learn to differentiate between these. Very important. Anna pushed us gently to go outside our comfort zone to feel and feel in different ways through her meditations and teachings. After one of the meditations, when it was my turn to share Anna said 123 Nasa take off, it was very funny. Yes, I felt like a rocket taking off into the far distance, at the same time the energy filled my body. This energy made me shake, I could feel I was moving, I didn't know I was shaking. I was so exited. I also felt the energy as warmth, a heat moving within, my hands were so warm. It was a pleasant experience it felt good to let go and open to fill and to feel this energy rejuvenate my cells. During the meditations Anna told us that it is safe and to hold the energy, it made it much easier for me to let go of the resistance I had in the past of welcoming the energy to go deeper. I felt that the resistance was only of my "body", my thinking mind.
Standing from left is Izumi, Jinyu's mother, who you will meet again in next week's Profile, Effie from Limassol who you all already know, Arina who is originally from Ukraine and who now lives in Nicosia, moi, Blanca who you will meet below, my sweetheart daughter Gabriella, and Ron, Lilli's husband. Lilli and Ron now live in Kobe. Picture by our driver, standing there with milliions of cameras
I wanted to anchor the energy deep within my self. I am safe. While Anna guided us in the meditations it was easy to follow her voice, to energetically expand and move the energy. It went so quick and so easy, like the movement of the energy was creating a new more expanded body for me. It was like the Nike slogan, Just do it! It is easy - you decide, she said! Very creative. The body is my vehicle; my understanding of these words has changed. I AM so thankful for the body I have and want to be gentle and give it better care and love. I see my body as more beautiful than before, I can feel the energy that wants to come through and to be shared with others. About the second week after the workshop I had deep cleansing reactions both physical and emotional, I also helped my body to cleanse with herbs during this time. Cleansing my body makes it easier to connect my MIND and cleansing my mind helps my BODY to release emotional baggage. Both are Re connected. I feel the knowing about, ALL THAT IS, it helps me whenever I experience an emotion like fear or resistance to see the situation with the eyes of the bigger expanded picture, and I accept my self for having these emotions and I know they will pass.
I love Kobe, it must be my favourite of all the Japanese cities I've visited, maybe because Lilli and Ron live there! Although it was a very busy time for me with the Work, we were able to take some time to visit Himeji Castle, located towards Osaka and considered to be Japan's most spectacular castle. Unlike other castles, it was never destroyed in wars, earthquakes or fires, and survives in its original form. This is one of the castle's gardens, where the colour of the light was extraordinary. I was glad that our visitors were able to make the most of their time in Kobe, the city was almost completely rebuilt after the Picture by Anna 1995 earthquake that devastated her (and opened up a lot of the energy too); it's a fun, modern place to be in, easy to navigate and juxtaposed with a lot of history too. Certainly I enjoyed this Journey, and would like to thank all those who made it possible to happen. I look forward to the others that will undoubtedly come through for us all, to whichever destination I feel called by Spirit.
Sometimes I change the emotion in forehand other times I just let it be and observe what happens. Yes, sometimes I judge myself and it is fine also that will pass. I bring more awareness into my daily life and see myself in a new light, for that I am grateful. Thank You Anna, and all the brave ladies, for two wonderful days.
LISTEN TO THE HEARTBEAT OF THE EARTH.... A JOURNEY INTO THE SPIRIT OF JAPAN By Blanca Garcia (right)
Love from Shanghai, Therese
Therese Solderval works in the field of textiles as a designer. Two years ago she moved from Sweden to Shanghai to explore a new world. She says that Shanghai is ever- changing and has so much to offer, almost every weekend she goes to the market to look for nice silk fabrics, planning new garments to make.
"People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges." - Joseph F. Newton
There is a well-known Japanese proverb that goes something like this: "Who travels for love finds a thousand miles not longer than one." And I couldn't agree with it more. I travelled more than 5,000 miles to fall in love with the person I should have always loved the most: myself.
Picture by Anna
And it literally felt as if I travelled only one mile. Well, maybe two, or three...or ten.
ÂŠ 2010 flower picture by Voula Tsangarides
It was an extraordinary journey that lasted almost two weeks. It all started on a Sunday evening, when five of us (Effie, Christina, Arina, Gabbi and I) boarded the first of the two flights that took us to meet Anna in Tokyo almost 24 hours later.
Purifying with water before prayer
Tokyo the vibrant, cosmopolitan and contrasting capital of a country that is caught between its traditional and culturally rich identity, and a self-imposed image of luxury and high tech that is reflected in an array of fancy shops, game arcades, and funky fashion outlets in places such as the ones we visited: Akihabara (famous for its technology shops), and Harajuku (the shopping and entertainment district of Tokyo and a must-place if you want to see pink and blue-haired Japanese youngsters).
In Tokyo we also had the opportunity to meet our new friends: Lilli and her husband Ron, who kindly and mostefficiently took care of organising all the details of our trip. We also met other wonderful Japanese friends, including beautiful Izumi, whose lovely singing voice accompanied us in more than one meditation during our stay in Japan, her son, and other members of her family. On our third day in Japan we took the bullet train, and with Mount Fuji on the background we arrived to our next destination: Kyoto.
Kyoto holds the essence of traditional and spiritual Japan. Its name simply means "capital city" as it once was the heart and power centre of the country. The city boasts hundreds of temples, one more magnificent and inspiring than the next. But the highlight is by far Sanjyusangedo, a national treasure that hosts no less than 1,001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. It is impossible to describe with words what this place looks like and the immense peace that you feel when you spend a few minutes admiring it. In Kyoto we had the opportunity to "do it like the Japanese": we stayed at a Ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, where our meals were authentically local, and slept on the Tatami floor (after piling up a mountain of futons, of course). Kyoto is also the place where our meditations to reconnect with nature and the five elements took place. The park and the area of the temple where we did the meditations could not have been better: peaceful, inspiring, beautiful, surrounded by trees that have been there for millennia and by all the mysticism that these places have been imprinted with over time. Murayama Park was the setting of the first meditation "Reconnecting with Nature". We sat right opposite an beautiful old tree which accompanied us during the meditation. I connected with the wind and became the wind. Subtle yet strong I had the power to have an effect on the movement of the water, the force of the fire and the
erosion of the earth. I heard birds that nobody else heard. I travelled to places in Japan that I have never been before. When the meditation was over I had an immense urge to sit on a huge rock that was situated by the old tree. It made me think of the minerals that lay beyond the surface and that play such an important role in the nurturing of our planet. I thought of how easy it is to forget to connect with the simple things when we are all so busy complicating our existence. The next day we visited a temple where twice a year a huge wreath is placed at a special point and those who pass through are absolved of all sins (left, Anna with Effie). We happened to visit it on one of those two unique days! After following the absolution ritual we found an isolated spot where we could all down around another magnificent tree to follow Anna's teachings on "Being at One with the Five Elements". At that point I still very much connected with the wind, this time with the freedom that it represents to me. The wind kept whispering to me to break free, to liberate myself from that which has been holding back. The message was loud and clear.
lie was but
When the meditation was over I knew that I was one with nature and I knew I had to break free from those obstacles that I have created in my mind and that have not allowed me to be Who I Am.
For me, these two meditations triggered a re-connection with nature and the five elements, and also with myself. By being in touch with the most simple and beautiful of forms I remembered that life is exactly that: simple and beautiful. I realised how much I have been involved in and absorbed by the drama and guilt I create in my life and how tiring it has been. Best of all, I realised that yes, I love myself. And very much so. In Kyoto we also visited various shrines including The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku), an impressive temple that has its two top floors completely covered in gold leaf. The contrast between the gold of the temple and the greenery that surrounds it is absolutely breathtaking. We also experienced the traditions of Kyoto by participating in a tea ceremony (chado, left), saw geisha dancing, Japanese girls making traditional flower arrangements (ikebana) and even watched a traditional comic play (yes, in Japanese, and yes, it was really funny!) The Kyoto experience was unique and very special, but nothing prepared us for what we would find in Mount Koya (Koyasan), a World Heritage Site. What an incredibly beautiful place! Nature has, without doubt, created one of its masterpieces in this area of Japan.
Our hosts in the sacred Mt Koya were the Buddhist monks at a temple lodging or shukubo. Here we got a real taste of what a monk's life is all about by eating strictly vegetarian, yet tasty, meals, attending the morning prayers, and sleeping again in a traditional Japanese room with Tatami floor. One of the highlights of our short stay in Koyasan was a visit to the Okonoin Temple, which is the site where the founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kukai, is believed to be resting in eternal meditation. I am not surprised that Kukai chose this particular place to meditate forever, as it became evident to me during our full-moon meditation that Mount Koya holds a very special energy.
"Presence - Rebirth of the Soul" was taught by Anna during the June full moon. That evening was magical; I simply do not have better words to describe it. I felt the energy flow between me and everything that surrounded me, I became one with the rest of the people in the room and I felt intense joy. I kept thinking "if this is what it feels like to be One with All That Is, then I do not want to do anything else but to keep the feeling going". I more than ever experienced a deep sense of connection with myself and All That Is. The Blanca who left Cyprus a few days earlier was not the same Blanca who would be going back.
Our trip concluded in Kobe, a cosy and very international city that welcomed us with its shopping district, famous Kobe beef and hilly streets. And then...another 5,000 miles to return my body to Cyprus. The trip to Japan might be over, but my journey continues...and I am grateful. Love, Blanca
Picture by Anna
Blanca Garcia is a communication specialist who was born and raised in Mexico. She was educated in Switzerland and has lived most of her adult life in Europe. Love and life brought her to Cyprus 13 years ago where she now lives with her 12-year old daughter. Except where noted, Japan journey pictures are taken by Christina Demetriades, all rights reserved.