Thursday 28 April 2011

Of melt-downs, meditation and the gift of wisdom

I had a minor meltdown this morning.  I can offer reasons why - the lights in the bathroom fused, I broke a wineglass (not mine, I hasten to add!), I spent ages on hold with Inland Revenue, a crying baby, lack of sleep... The thing is, in every life, there will be an accumulation of little things that suddenly bubble up and we feel overcome.  So what then?

Several hours later, James feel asleep and I got a chance to meditate.  For me, meditation is about trying to soften the relentless chatter in my mind.  It's a break from myself!  Simply refocusing on my breathing, over and over again, eventually brings a sense of distance from the internal disquiet and, with it, a greater sense of calm. 

It's only then that I can go a level deeper and become curious about what wisdom is waiting patiently to reveal itself to me.  I don't chase the wisdom.  I simply sit - still breathing! - knowing that I will gain an insight into my situation that will provide comfort and deepen my understanding of life. 

Nor did Wisdom disappoint me.  The insight I gained was that the real reason for feeling overwhelmed and unhappy was the gap between the life I'm living and the dreams I have for myself and my family: a job that is meaningful (my most recent job application didn't even make it to the interview stage) and a home to replace our rather 'bijou' flat. 

The Aha moment!  So I'm living in the shadow of my own dreams - how many of us are doing that?!  Walking the path to the future does require patience.  It also requires, above and beyond all else, respect for the present moment, of who and where I am right now, even while I cherish the dream of who I wish to become and where I dream of living. 

It's a paradox, loving the future vision even while cherishing the present reality, because this present was once a dream I aspired to and am now living.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Light quenches darkness

Like a spider's web, we are connected to people across the planet.  People we don't even know.  Two hundred people have contributed to top I'm wearing: that's the statistic.  Although we may not realise it, how we act affects countless people, worldwide.  People we don't even know.

We can imagine that we live in a relatively small way, cocooned in our homes and workplaces, but our influence stretches far beyond the people we see and know.  Have you ever noticed how a single traffic accident can affect 1000s of people's lives, cancelling meetings, missing flights and family get togethers, and wasting hours in tail backs?  Yes, we are more powerful than we imagine ourselves to be and our actions ripple far beyond our own lives.

All of which reminds me, yet again, that we can choose our actions, we can choose the influence and the affect we wish to have on others.  If we are words and actions are sloppy and careless, we contribute to a more chaotic, uneasy world. 

If we allow ourselves to indulge in pettiness, meanness and even small-time revenge, we are adding to the darkness.  While such small, unnoticed thoughts and actions may seem invisible, they leave their mark both externally - upping the 'anti' - and internally, deflating rather than enhancing our sense of who we are.

Equally, by choosing the best in ourselves and looking for the best in others, we enhance our world.  In an infinite variety of ways, we can make a difference.  We can choose to make decisions compassionately, from buying fair trade and organic, to driving carefully and speaking kindly, such minute decisions extend far wider than we are aware. 

They say you can't 'it' with you.  If 'it' is wealth, they're right.  If 'it' is character, then I think they are wrong.  Who we are and who we becomes infused in our spirit, into the Essence of ourselves, and all positive thoughts and actions, according to A Course in Miracles, ripple out infinitely.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

My journey with envy

I haven't always been willing to see my own shadowside and the less pleasant aspect of my character.  I've wanted to be a 'nice' person, a 'good' person.  And nice, good people don't feel envy, rage, jealousy, anger and a whole raft of other 'negative' emotions.

Perhaps I was afraid those emotions would swamp me; if I was envious it would somehow void my compassion, love, and humour.  But I'm not yet an enlightened being, so I have a shadowside!  And I now count it as a massive step forward that I no longer have to pretend to myself that I'm only sweetness and light.  I have a wide variety of emotions and they aren't all 'good'.  What is good is that I can now accept emotions that I have ignored in the past.

Acceptance is, however, just the first step.  Curiosity is the second step.  What is this emotion telling me about myself?  It's shining a light on some part of me that seeks to express itself and, if I am respectful of it, I can use this insight to heal a part of myself that has been ignored, that has lingered in the shadows.

I've been exploring why I feel envy towards this person with a degree of excitement because I'm no longer afraid.  This is not about her, it's about discovering a new part of me and giving fuller expression to who I am.  All of me.

Among other things, I have learnt is that I create barriers to intimacy.  I hadn't realised it but I had erected 'his' and 'mine' barriers.   I wasn't always playing on the same team as Dirk - I was playing on my team!  I needed to win.  Marriage isn't just about love.  Sometimes it can be about power and I've chosen the power route from time to time:  I've wanted to be Right.  Being right means he must be Wrong.  How is that a good or kind way of treating another human being?

None of this is easy to see in myself.  But it is honest.  Being right is not necessarily inappropriate, but what is important is the How.  Am I right because I am factually correct?  Or am I right because I want to win?  In the subjective issues of life, there is no right or wrong.

When two people are very different, the challenge is to make it less about right, wrong and the journey of power, and more about dialogue and the journey of respect, negotiation and compassionate understanding.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

The bigger truth

The truth is out there!  But there is a bigger truth in here - inside.  I find it can be very easy, if not downright lazy, to label, blame or even envy others.  They are this... they don't do that... they have...  But for those of us who have chosen a path of consciousness, such emotions are just signposts from the Universe flagging up areas of my life where I am blocked, where I am not in harmony, areas that I need to understand and gently heal.

So it is with some degree of discomfort that I admit to being envious of someone else.  Why?  What has she got?  On the surface, it could be the intimacy of her relationship, or the esteem in which others hold her.  Those are the two characteristics I've identified so far.

But, and it's a big but, those are just the start.  What is more important, is that I begin to explore what intimacy means to me, not so much how I receive intimacy, but how I share intimacy.  Where is her life showing me discord in my personality? 

Equally, on the issue of esteem, I cannot control how others view me.  Their opinion is theirs.  But what this may show me is my desire to be a person of such calibre that others respect and like me.  They may already do so, but I'm 'caught', which means that there is something still left undone, some area of myself that needs to be seen and accepted. 

The downside of the personal journey is that the inner work has to be done and it's not always fast.  After a week of wondering what's 'catching' me, I'm still not clear.  But I trust that, with time, I'll come to understand what I see in her that I feel I lack in myself. 

Envy is always about ourselves, never about the other person.  I'm hoping that by accepting it, rather than hiding from it (as I did in the beginning), I can embrace a bigger truth.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

The pull of intuition

My brother Luke is 27.  Last week, he had to make a choice between continuing in a job he didn't particularly like and moving country to another job that was more exciting but a move downwards and into a different industry. 

He had people giving him so much advice that he didn't know which choice to make.  He was confused. 

Often, we are so afraid of our own confusion and not knowing what to do, that our bodies go on the offensive: our shoulders are tight, we stomachs are tensed, we physically harden ourselves against our 'unknowing'.  But these reactions block the 'knowing'.  They close us down and limit our decision making abilities.

By relaxing into his confusion and by accepting that he was confused, Luke was able to free himself of the tension that blocks us from our intuition; that deeper knowing of what is truly in our best interests, of what will serve our highest good.  Once he was relaxed, Luke was able to give his intuition space to speak.

Intuition doesn't speak in words, it communicates with a 'pull', a sense of knowing, that calls to us repeatedly.  It becomes clearer over time, and it is the decision that feels 'right' deep down within us.   It's not the decision that we think we should take to please anyone else, or even the decision that we secretly know is an avoidance tactic.  It is the decision that is most closely aligned with our highest potential.

In short, our intuition pulls us towards our future selves and the greatest version of who we can be.

The luxury of the present

I just got an email from a friend of mine.  She's in her early twenties and just finishing her degree.  She was frustrated at how hard this year had been; she felt that because she lacked a vision for her life, she had floated through the year, without passion, purpose or drive.

It's true, having a clear vision can inspire us and give us all the energy we need to transform that vision into reality.  But it's a luxury we don't always have.  Sometimes, we have live life without the benefit of an inspiring vision.  Where's the gift in that...?

If we knew our future, I suspect that most of us would have one of two reactions.  Either we'd be so excited by that future that we would be unable to concentrate on putting the foundations for that future in place right now.  We'd want to be out there living it. Now!  And by failing to put the foundations in place, we could jeopordise that exciting future.

Or, we may utterly intimidated by that future vision.  It may seem far too big, far too brave and far too wonderful for us.  And so, we may shy away from making decisions that would bring us to that future.  Decisions that, had we taken them with no foreknowledge, would have easily brought us, step by step, to living that big, brave, wonderful life.

Living in the present can be seen as a luxury. 
It allows us to focus on this very moment, free of distraction. 
It invites us to make decisions that are based on our intuition, our passion, our excitement for the sheer joy of revealing ever more of who we are.

Friday 8 April 2011

The evolutionary push

James is just learning to roll onto his stomach.  It's the precursor to crawling (and the end of any last shred of an 'easy life'!)  What's amusing is that each time, after enormous effort, he ends up on his tummy, he cries in distress, as if to say, "how did this happen to me?"

Evolution, a deep and unconscious need to grow and extend his skills, is pushing him forward each day.  It is as if he is running an internal programme that calls on him to be more than he currently is, to achieve his greatest potential in this moment.

The funny thing is that evolutionary push isn't just for babies.  I'm experiencing it too.  There's a part of me that is now excited by the idea of going back to work, of making a more 'intellectual' contribution to society.  I imagine it's a deep unconscious urge because most of my rational self is upset at the thought of leaving James for any significant length of time: "How did this happen to me?!"

No matter what our stage in life, I think Life is always calling to us, inviting us to become more than we consciously think we can be and to leave behind our comfort zones.  It may take me a while to move past my reluctance to leave James, but it is interesting that my personal growth is following the same direction as his, as we both respond to an inner impulse to go beyond who we currently are.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Debbie's wisdom: The 3 secrets of life

There is much written about the theory of abundance, but I know only one person who actually lives abundance naturally, effortlessly ... my friend Debbie.  She is able to manifest unlike anyone I know: from the small - the right offices for her business - to the large - a BMW X5! - her ability never ceases to impress and inspire me.  So how does she do it?  Her philosophy rests on three pillars.

1. Decide in the heart. 
Debbie lives and works through her heart.  It's very easy to make a list of pros and cons for any decision.  Making decisions through our heart requires us to dip a level deeper and feel for 'the pull of intuition', that deeper knowing that comes from the soul and shows us the decision that supports the highest good.  It's not always the easiest decision, nor is it always the most popular decision, but it is a decision that sits peacefully within us because it is in harmony with All That Is.

2. The Bumps are the signs of Expansion
We often want life to change, to get better, but as soon as it does begin to change, we shut down... we want to go back to the comfort of old familiarities.  Debbie believes that those 'bumps', when life starts changing for us, are a good sign.  They show there is movement in our lives and life is changing: possibilities are opening up.  The Universe is meeting our desires for improvement in new ways.  So, rather than fear these changes, she believes we should take them as postcards from the Universe, telling us that our manifestations are beginning to materialise.

3. Keep your eyes on the horizon
Just as these changes start to manifest, our natural tendency (or mine at the very least!) is to look for all the possible down sides... to see how this could go wrong.  This may be the social norm, but according to Debbie, it is at exactly this point that we need to keep focusing on the vision we are manifesting, rather than the bumps along the way.  Getting sidetracked by what could go wrong will only bring us down and limit us: being focused, enthusiastic and committed to our Big Picture helps us remain open, positive and accepting. 

Though there is much more to her philosophy than this, I find that the basics - deciding in my heart and 'not looking down' at the potential problems when things get bumpy - are quite difficult to implement consistently.  I'm still practicing!  And I thought I'd write about them for anyone else who would like to give it a go.