The whale inside

The whale is inside,
Please don’t let it hide,

For you are destined for the ocean,
This magic potion that keeps us alive,

Energy is why we thrive.

So do not waste time on what matters least.
Instead have a feast,

On what you know to be true.

Endure the pain,

For soon will come the rain,
Washing you to shore,

And once more you will rise,
When we finally realise,

That love is the only prize.

8-7-16.

Last night I had a dream about whales playing in the ocean.

I have a special connection with whales ever since a close encounter that I had with them 3 years back.

I met someone randomly at the gym a few days ago. As I entered the room he came up to me and asked me about my experience on that fateful Sunday when I was knocked out by one of the most majestic marine mammals to roam the planet.

This person went on to tell me about his own amazing encounter with whales whilst surfing only a week back. He was just surfing by Stanwell Park, in the Illawarra when he was surrounded by a whole heard of whales, curious and interactive.

My new found friend and I seemed to connect on many levels. It was refreshing to meet someone like this, who was incidentally a masters student in Medical Philosophy, doing some fascinating research, because we seemed to be invigorated by a discussion about the bigger picture that often seems to be lost on so many who are caught up on the rat race of life.

Perhaps only those who are truly open to the great majesty and force of nature will be even close to expressing how beautiful it is to behold. This is something we both could relate to, and it wasn’t just about an experiment with whales, it was more about recognizing the gift of nature that is there every moment we are aware.

“In the stillness of a single moment of nature doth the power lie”

I never really know what the purpose of the whale’s message was, but perhaps if we love ourselves enough, we can find a part of their wisdom within us.

 

Celebrating success

Celebrating success,
Is perhaps the real test,

Cherishing what has been already achieved,
Instead of allowing the glory to be thieved,

By the next goal,
And other reasons for not feeling whole,

Instead be in the know,
Like a boarder gliding through the snow,

With awareness of life’s ebb and flow,
In the act of a single breath.

22-7-14

Two days away from the hustle bustle of emergency medicine and I feel like a new person. A little meditation, some surf and hint of life music has such a healing touch. Sometimes in the space between the business and intensity of an active work-life lies the balance that perhaps we all strive for. I by no means have found the perfect balance, but I feel that I am moving towards it experimenting in with work, and relaxation in a variety of forms. It is a daily practice rooted in breathing and the exploration of philosophies that brings meaning into my life.

Sometimes the philosophy needs to be tailored for the specific context of our lives, and this is why I particularly like Shawn Anchor’s guide to happiness for those of us in the pursuit of greater knowledge and skill. Shaun’s revealing findings (about the culture where high achievers can easily be fixed on the next goal without appreciating how far they have come), shed light onto why I had encountered challenges in the past, and provided some tools on how to tackle the present moment without too much focus on the future.

I remember watching this TED talk years ago and it having a profound effect on my own perspective of goal setting and my present relationship with success as I had defined it. After all we can always find our own definition of success, and it doesn’t have to require a definite endpoint. To date the best definition of success I have come across has been one that I heard from a person called Earl Nightingale who was a motivational speaker from the 60’s

“Success is the step-wise realization of a worthy ideal”

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Hit by a whale today

Today I was hit by a whale,

She clipped me with the tip of her tail,

With a force that could easily impale, an unwitting surfer,

 

So magnificent was her breech,

That many a surfer was out of speech,

Looking onwards in amazement and awe,

 

With a good 10 minute show,

We all watch this graceful creature flow,

Going down and up to the surface with style,

 

When it came back in a slower pace,

I got to see her “face to face”,

Whilst others had steadily moved out of the way,

 

All I could think was to say “hi!”,

For it seem too early to say “goodbye”,

But perhaps this was the mistake of the moment?

 

My memory soon blanked out,

Before I had time to even shout (help?!),

And the next thing I remember was look up towards a friend,

 

Swiftly brought to shore,

By “Bondi Rescue” and a few more.

I was met by my girlfriend in the ambulance van,

 

Sent directly to St Vinnies Resus Bay!

“Exclude submersion injury!” I thought I heard them say,

Soon followed by, “hmm, perhaps you’ll live to see another day”,

 

All know is that I’m lucky to be alive,

I feel grateful for the help form those five, (..and others!),

Now post-concussion in my bed under the covers,

 

But perhaps real moral is this,

If we see big whale so close we could blow it a kiss,

Stay back at least 30 meters and enjoy its bliss,

 

Or we may not be so lucky  to see again the shore!

 

(Thank you for my luck! And thanks to all those who looked after me from the bottom of my heart x )

 

7-7-12

Today was a most interesting day, because I got hit by a whale whilst enjoying a Bondi morning winters surf. I’m still recovering from concussion but safe. Thanks so much for all the message of concern. I’ve attache some newspaper articles – will write more in due course!

hugs

Bishan 🙂

 

Southern Right Whale (the picture and following whale info with thanks from; http://www.australiananimallearningzone.com/southern-right-whale.htm)

Interesting facts;-

  • They are known as the Right Whales because whale catchers considered them to be the right kind of Whale to catch due to their large size and slow movement.
  • The Whales of this species float when dead.
  • They can swallow 1.5 to 2 tons of zooplankton per day.
  • One female can mate with up to eight males.
  • The Southern Right Whales are believed to have the largest testicles among all mammals. Each of their testicles weighs around 500 kg.
  • Hermanus in South Africa has become one of the world famous Whale watching centers because of this species.

Southern Right Whale Conservation;-

This species is included in the “Least Concern” Category by the IUCN. Their populations are protected by various laws in many places including Australia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, South Africa and New Zealand. The main threats to the Southern Right Whales include fishing and coastal developments.

News articles about incident;-

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/australia/8888939/Surfer-knocked-unconscious-by-whale

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Surfer knocked unconscious as 10-metre whale tosses Bondi boarders with its tail

Article by Emma Partridge, taken form Sydney Morning Herald

A surfer who was knocked unconscious at Bondi Beach by a whale’s tail said the last thing he remembered was saying, “Hey, how’s it going?” to the whale which was less then a metre from him.

Bishan Rajapakse, 38, a doctor living in Bondi, was knocked unconscious for 10 seconds before he was dragged to the beach by his friend and a Bondi lifeguard.

“I remember trying to talk to it . . . before I realised I was off my board and on my front,” Rajapakse said.

The Sri-Lankan born New Zealander said he had been surfing at the southern end of the beach for about an hour on Sunday morning when his friend Chris signalled for him to paddle over.

“When I got to him I saw there was this dark, black shadow and it was just massive.

“The whale was moving in like slow motion. It was beautiful and it breached and we could see the barnacles and it was slowly going up and down and turning and it actually made a noise. It was amazing.”

Speaking from his bed at St Vincent’s Hospital, Dr Rajapakse said he had no injuries apart from a slight headache.
“Contacting whales is not what it’s cracked up to be. They look nice and soft but I can’t remember contacting it. Maybe it contacted me.”

He said he had no recollection of being thrown off his board. “My mate Chris was there when I came to and was like ‘Bish, you’ve been hit by a whale’.

Apparently my face was down in the water and then I was talking to one of the Bondi Rescue dudes. Then I was on the shore and in the ambulance before I knew it.”

Rajapakse joked that his encounter with the southern right whale had ruined his plans for brunch. “I’ve got a slight headache but I was really hoping to have brunch. Somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen today.”

The director of the emergency department at St Vincent’s, Gordian Fulde, said the surfer would probably be discharged by the end of Sunday.

– with Emma Partridge 

Believe in Yourself!

This is the message that came from the words that better describes the song that I just recorded. that I originally called “study jam”. As I pushed record on my computer I entered the words “study jam” because that was exactly what it was – some random chords and sounds that needed to be released quickly before heading to the office on a beautiful sunday to do some work.

Today I need to re-analyse data that collected in 2008 to try an answer a question related to understand what drives doctors to make clincial decisions. I never dreamed that I would still be doing this in March 2013.I am afraid of doing this data analysis which is why I needed to start with some inspiration.

Research and writing can be a lonely world, but I believe it is rewarding in the end. One of the reasons it’s so lonely is that I feel that very few people can understand what you’re talking about half the time, but still I try to explain. The reason I feel fear is that analysing data is not straightforward, and it usually take far longer than one imagines. I am also afraid becuase if what comes out of this analysis changes my findings, then i have to re-think the problem again and write about it in a different way (ie. “back to the drawing board”, yet again!)

“Why am I doing this?” is the question that comes to mind a hundred times over, but it’s already been answered a thousand times back. I had a dream in 2008, when working in the rural hospitals of Sri Lanka, of making a difference to the systems medical education in low resource settings. The research I was involved with opened so many doors, in my mind, mainly to do with understanding how making a change could be possible. However, not long after I had the vision, came a realisation that it would take a lot of time and committment and perserverance to make it all happen. These were all things that frightend the life out of me at the time, but I ignored it with enthusiam and a belief that it would be a breeze. Only much later when facing many road blocks I had to face the reality that writing up my research findings was going to be harder than I had hoped for.

Whilst I don’t expect many to understand the details of what I’m writing about, there is one concept my struggle, and occasional loneliness illustrates:-

“it is not easy for anyone to understand (and therefore judge) anyone elses struggles, no matter how trivial or signigficant they seem on the surface.”

This is why I try to maintain a deep respect for “all” human being because the chances are that I don’t fully know or understand their struggle. I believe the common suffering is the thing that binds as all, and it is something that we can embrace. Buddhist philosophy suggests that the struggle is common, and perhaps solution can be shared by all.

But what about the conditions – aren’t some people put in far more tricky situations?

Perhaps? Perhaps not? I the only thing I know is that I don’t know.

Again, I don’t profess to know about anyone else, after all i’m just getting to know myself!

I believe that the conditions of one’s external reality (ie what’s going on in your life) can really shape and affect our inner world, but only as much as we let it. It’s hard to change the external world quickly (or at all), but what we can do is change our “realtionship with that reality” at any given time through our “attitude”. Holding an attitude of hope, positivity, and friendliness, allows us to see pick up wth most import data points in the experience soup that hits our face on a daily basis.

This morning when I went out surfing the rough seas, with 4 friends, it looked like madness, but we did it with an open mind, and the result was amazing. We didn’t catch the best waves of our life, but we all had a fun time, and learned something. Ultimately isn’t this a valuable thing – this is my definition (at the moment) of what life is about – to learn something and try and have some fun in the process, and even better to share it with some others!

I hope you have a good Sunday whereever you are, no matter what the conditions.

My song has provided me with enough fun and inspiration to allow me to go and face the fears of the analysis in the office.

Adios Amigos!

ps I hope you enjoy the song!

Bish_and_boyz-sufing

(Photography courtesy of Kester Boardman)

Meditation, Surfing and Thesis writing

This morning whilst having my breakfast I watched a great Ted talk on Vipassana

Vipasanna – it’s a Pali word meaning “seeing things the way that they are”. 

This talk by Buddy Wakefield was entertaining, inspiring and informative. With this post I hope to send out a message of gratitude to Buddy for the talk and to the nice person whom I met in a cafe recently that recommended I watching it!

 

 

Watching the breath and staying present 

I relate to many things in the talk, but perhaps the theme that strikes me the most right now, when reflecting on the bigger picture of life, is that perhaps most of us are surrounded by gold, and all of us have inner gold. The dirt is usually on the surface, created by our minds. 

Every moment has Beauty even if we don’t see it, even pain, and death. They say that pain is inevitable, but suffering is a choice. This is not to trivialize our external experience, it can be very tricky to navigate suffering in many instances but usually it is related to the “resistance” to “what is”, rather than the letting go and acceptance of what is. Also, I don’t mean to trivialize death, but there are many cultures that are much more at peace with death, and than the cultures that I have grown up with – I learned this in Sri Lanka when we would remember death of loved ones with relatives and the community with a regular annual ceremony where their life was celebrate for years after the death, a custom know as Banna. After returning to Sri Lanka, I learned and lived more eastern philosophy and experienced much more peaceful ways of relating to death, both professionally, as a doctor, but also personally.   

Death and pain aside, the purpose of this discussion and this blog post was to share a little about my reflections about how I have found meditation a helpful tool for staying present, something I find incredibly difficult!

I guess for me, meditation is the practice of being open to what is. Taking a breath in and observing the body sensations is a simple concept, but to be deeply aware during that breath is challenging. The beautiful thing is that we have plenty of opportunity to try, again and again. With each new breath and new opportunity to learn more about the present moment.  

Is it interesting? Definitely! No two breaths are the same right? Right at this instant I am writing this blog post on my iphone, on the train to work, listening to some nice music by the “Subway Bhaktis” (a group recently recommended to me), I am practicing observing breaths as i pause in my writing. Whilst this is not a typical ‘sitting’ meditation session, I believe being present even from one moment in a day is better than not being present at all. It’s all in the practice, and I’m trying to find ways to practice whilst doing the things that I need to do in a somewhat busy life [Nb –  I wrote that blog post from beginning to end on the train – I did go back and correct it later on – so excuse me if there are spelling and grammatical errors everywhere!]  

Every time I fully observe the breath I learn something new. An interesting thing that I noticed today is that with each breath there is a different set of observations to the last time I practiced (in this case last night before going to sleep when my mind was all over the place!).

 

Surfing the waves 

This morning I missed my morning meditation because I wanted to get out to the ocean for a sunrise surf. Surfing is another form of meditation or me. Each wave is like a breath. Again the goal can be to achieve something, to stand up on the board, and elegantly navigate the ocean shore, but this isn’t really the true nature of things, sometimes you have a good session, and other times you don’t. However if you are prepared to go with the flow, then you will usually enjoy and be at peace. 

I find the best surfs I have ever had were when I have just gone out there and enjoyed the moment, with no expectations, without trying to achieve anything. I was blessed to have one if those such mornings today.

By having no expectations it is easier to stay focused on the present, whilst still loosely holding a goal somewhere in my being (in this case the goals was simply to try and stand up, turn the board and ride along the wave). 

 

Bondi-wildmen

(Photography: courtesy of Eugene Tan, Aquabumps (c) http://www.aquabumps.com )

Planting the seed and tending the garden

To me it’s almost like the goal is planting the seed, and the “process” is the applying the fertilizer and watering the garden. This is where we need constant attention, after all there is no point continually replanting the seed. 

I see the same challenge with the writing up of my thesis. It is the constant attention to the manuscript (something that is quite challenging as there is a lot of resistance to looking at something you have seen before many times) that will allow the plant to grow. Sometimes when you expect to see a tree pop up straight away after planting a seed it is easy to get disillusioned and feel like you are no good at what you are doing, but this is only the fallacy of perspective, all well nurtured plants will grow into bigger ones with patience and dedication. 

Meditation and writing 

Perhaps the other challenge with a research thesis is that you actually don’t know what the plant is meant to look like until you get close to the end. It’s easy to feel as if you’ve made a mistake with your seed as the plant grows, and nobody else is growing the same plant, so comparing your plant with others is of limited benefit. 

Rpa_office

 

The vision and the dream

Perhaps the key message to me is that if we enjoy the process of gardening, and have a vision of what general kind of plant we want to grow – then it can mostly be an enjoyable adventure- this is my dream for education in general.

So in an attempt to practice this, my new philosophy for life is to plant the seed, go with the flow, and stay interested!   

I don’t know if it is the answer but I think it’s worth a crack! 

Enjoy your day 🙂

Bish_koggala

 

 “dare to be the person you’ve dreamed of because in one breath you are already there”