Friday 27 May 2011

I'm not my thoughts

I used to think that I was my thoughts.  I thought that my thoughts and my consciousness were the same thing.  It turns out, they're not.

Even after years on the spiritual path, I've found it very difficult to separate out my thoughts from consciousness.  It is only recently that I have begun to discern the Awareness behind my thoughts.  I am conscious of my thoughts but they are not Me.  That Awareness, that consciousness is Me. 

I still exist, even on those rare occasions when I'm not thinking.  The Awareness is Me, not the thoughts. 

This comes as an enormous relief because I have spent so long trying to have the 'right' thoughts.  I've attempted to cultivate the thoughts that make a 'good person' and banish the thoughts that didn't enhance my idea of what a 'spiritual person' thinks. 

It's a weight off my mind, quite literally, to discover that it really doesn't matter what I think because I'm more than my thoughts.  I can let the thoughts come and go, I don't have to like some and dislike others, I don't have to disown some thoughts and encourage other thoughts.  I can simply let them ebb and flow, like the tide.  They are not Me and I'm not judged by them.

I am the awareness underneath those thoughts.  I'm pure beingness.  The thoughts are the voices of my ego, trying to entice me back into drama, fear, guilt... The awareness is peaceful.  It is devoid of drama, ven as my thoughts create one soap opera after another out of my life.

Now those soap operas are no longer my identity.  I can watch those thoughts play out and I don't have to embrace or reject them.  I can just watch them as they ebb and flow. 

I still get caught up in them, but they are no longer 'me'.  I know that I can become aware of them and then I slide below them into pure beingness.  That is where I find peace now.

Monday 23 May 2011

Making decisions...What would love choose?

When you make a decision, what do you consider?  Do you think about the pros and cons or maintaining the status quo, or even escaping a difficult situation?  As we get older, I've noticed that most of us make 'safer' decisions.  But 'safe decisions' limit us.  What if there was another way, a way of discerning the decision that would free up our energy, enthusiasm and vitality?

Rather making decisions with the mind - which is ruled by the ego, that voice in our heads that wants everything to remain the same - we can also make decisions with the heart.  And by the heart, I don't mean the romantic heart, our emotional centre, which can sometimes be lazy and selfish.  What I'm talking about is the Universal Heart, our Soul.

Making decisions that are aligned with our Soul and our greatest potential can unlock enormous riches, from creating new opportunities to expanding our world beyond the self-imposed walls our desire for safety has created. 

So how do we make decisions that have the potential to transform our lives?  First, let me say that the mind is a wonderful and highly useful tool.  By all means, write out a list of pros and cons.  At least it will help you clear out your thoughts which may distract you.  Then, take the opportunity to go a level deeper, to simply sit in silence with your question and see what subtle answers begin to emerge.  These subtle answers may be crisp and clear, or soft and almost ephemeral.  They way to distinguish them from the ego is how they make you feel. 

Soul decisions have a unique quality to them: they will always leave you feeling energised and excited.  That's not to say that you may not also feel doubt at your ability to see the decision through, or apprehension at changing the status quo.  But you will always have a sense of release, as if your Soul can suddenly breathe freely and deeply.

It may take a while to able to discern the Soul's 'voice', whether that is a sound, an image or a sense of knowing, but hang in there because it does get easier.  You may discover that your Soul is suggesting the same decision your rational mind had arrived it - in which case, aren't you lucky to live in such an aligned, authentic and integrity-filled manner!  It may be that you don't get a clear sense of what to do, in wich case, don't strain to grasp for a clear answer.  Trust that your Soul voice will emerge more clearly and quickly over time.

Making decisions in this deeper, more connected manner helps us break free of our worn out limitations and limiting thoughts and patterns; it allows us release our Best Selves and live fuller, richer lives.  Sure it takes courage, but isn't it better to call forth our courage, than to feel we are living a life that is choked and stiff?

Thursday 12 May 2011

We are inspirational in our Imperfection

Yesterday afternoon James and I went to toddler group.  There I saw a woman with an infant and a four year old daughter: I was so impressed by how she interacted with them, as she juggled the needs of two very different children, that I went up to her and told her that I'd been admiring her mothering skills. 

"Oh,  it was very different behind closed doors yesterday!" she said sheepishly.
"Well, at least you know now you're inspirational on a good day!", I answered.

It seems I'm weaving a thread about the people who inspire me at the moment.  Reflecting on those people this morning, I realised that being inspirational to others is truly accepting who we are.  It's more about embracing our imperfections, than about being perfect. 

Perfection is both boring and unattainable (thankfully).  Our so-called imperfections are just quirks, aspects of are character that are neither good nor bad, unless we judge them. 

The people who inspire me do so because they are comfortable in their own skin.  They accept themselves.  They may be self-centred, but they wear it lightly.  They may be generous, but they quietly.  They may be judgemental, but they know it's a reflection of their own prejudices. 

On the spiritual path, I've put enormous pressure on myself to iron out my own creases, to try to perfect my own imperfections.  In fact, I've been in the position  - as have so many others -  that all I've been able to see are my imperfections.

I could benefit from being less earnest about my own imperfections; the more I can just accept them gracefully, rather than creating a drama around them, a diatribe that runs along the lines of, "Oh, there I go again... When will I ever..."  That drama is just a story and as such, it can be a little fable or a high octane rollercoaster ride.  The choice is mine.   And I think I'd rather tell The Story of Me more gently.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Beyond fear and embracing imperfection

They say there are only two forces in the world: love and fear.  Neale Donald Walsch says that fear is "the thought that we are not going to be able to have something we think we will need", therefore "if I don't need anything from you, I don't need to fear you".

How often have I looked from approval from another?  Too many times would be an overly simplistic answer!  And that fear, that need, has distorted how I have interacted with those people. 

I met one of my greatest teachers years ago.  He was a facilitator on a summer camp.  What struck me so forcibly was something that I was not able to identify until recently... he wanted nothing from us.  He wasn't trying to impress or play the victim.  He was 'empty' - there was no feeling of being pulled or pushed when he spoke.  He was simply being, needing nothing.  His lack of need, his fearlessness, was the first lesson he taught me.

Years later, by a twist of fate, I worked with him.  I discovered he too had flaws, he wasn't perfect.  But perhaps that's the genius of life: we don't need to be perfect to inspire, uplift and enlighten others.  We simply turn up and be ourselves.  His second lesson.

Monday 9 May 2011

Overcoming the bumps on Life's road

In my last blog I talked free will being the ability to choose the roads we take on life's journey, while the towns en route are our destiny; no matter what road we choose, we will always visit the towns we planned to see.  But what happens when it feels as though we've taken a wrong turn?  When life is a mess?  Is it our fault?  Is it fate?

It's too easy to fall into victim mode.  I know that from personal experience!  It's also too easy to blame life, God, fate, whatever... and remain angry, bitter and resentful.  The fact of the matter is that there are always bumps on the road.  The unexpected will always blindside you at 11am on a Monday.  We never get it all right.  Why?  Growth...

This life is about experiences, it's about growth... it's not about bank balances, big houses or eternal youth.  It's about what's on the inside.  It's about who we are, not what we are.  The bumps on the road enable us to grow, to see beyond the walls we build around ourselves.  Those bumps are invitations to expand our beingness, our humanity, and develop characteristics and values that we are lacking.

It's very easy to think 'only I've suffered this much'.  It takes compassion to understand that terrible things happen in many people's lives.  It takes courage to embrace and accept our own pain, and use positively, for ourselves and for the betterment of society.  If we allow Life's bumps to close us down, then we have missed out on a potential gift.

The people I admire most are those who have had the courage and compassion to use their pain as a catalyst for change.  Their stories remind me that I be more than I currently am, that I too can dust myself off, and that I too can expand my heart and make my corner of the world a little better.

Where does free will end and destiny start?

It's a question that has been around for centuries.  Where does our autonomy stop and destiny take over?  Are we in charge?  If so, how much control do we have?  Or are we simply puppets acting out someone else's script?

The most convincing answer I've found in my search to understand these opposites comes from Neale Donald Walsch.*  He likens each human life to a car trip with a GPS: it's an evocative image!  We have free will to choose any direction, any road that appeals to us.  And, we also have an end destination, that end destination is the experiences we chose for ourselves before we incarnated.

On route, we can choose to go down country lanes or stick to the motorway, yet we will always drive through the towns that we had planned to visit before we left home.  The wisdom of the universe is so subtle that each time we make a new decision, our soul recalculates our route to ensure that we have both the experience we have consciously chosen in that moment, as well the experience we chose prior to incarnation.

This seems like the best of both worlds to me.  We have complete freedom and yet there are no mistakes.  We can't miss our destiny.  We don't have to blame anyone else or any unseen forces for our lives, nor do we have to limit ourselves.  We can make the most of every moment of life, fearlessly and joyfully.

*The Mother of Invention, 2010

Friday 6 May 2011

Notes to my son: Destiny will find you

Dear James,

If there is one thing I would to pass on to you, it's that your destiny will find you.  From this moment on, stand in the full confidence of knowing that the tide of life will flow towards you, effortlessly and gracefully, if you do just on thing... follow your intuition.  Always decide with your heart, with your inner knowing.

Too many people live lives of quiet desolation because they have chosen with their minds; they have chosen the 'logical', the 'sane', or the 'sensible' option.  Life is too precious to be so bland and boring.  You, like each and every one of us, have come forth from the great expanse of the universe to this tiny planet, to this unique moment in time and it is a rich opportunity to touch, taste, see, hear, feel... to live life lusciously and abundantly.

Your inner knowing is the truest guide you have.  It will escort you on your path and bring you the opportunities that your soul envisioned when it chose to incarnate.  So be respectful of this inner knowing, of the quiet voice that nudges you gently but firmly. 

Grace and balance are at the very heart of this inner knowing. Sometimes it will take courage and you will be stretched to become more than you imagine you are capable of being; sometimes it will require patience and you will know that you must wait, even though you are fed up of waiting.  But always, it will bring you the greatest sense of well being, of knowing that you are living your life in the fullest way possible. 

So from the start, cultivate your inner knowing.  Discover if your inner knowing speaks to you in images, sounds, feelings, or words.  Become adept at listening quietly, deep inside, to discern your next step, for you can have no truer guide through life than the wisdom of your own soul.

Wednesday 4 May 2011


There is a famous story from an Indian Guru about prayer: a farmer prays to God for rain while another man prays to God for dry weather so his daughter's wedding will be a success.  Whom should God respond to?  For most of us, prayer is a wish, or perhaps a last ditch plea for help, or a supermarket list of things we believe we need or want.

The Guru taught that it is the person who's will is most in line with God's will whose prayer will be answered.  For me, aligning with God's will is about moving into the flow of life and its ever growing, ever evolving pulse.  It's what I mean when I write about letting go of my story, of accepting and embracing what is and letting go of what I think 'should be'. 

And who, by the way, is God?  The way I see it is that God is like light: it's all around us but we don't see it until it separates into the rainbow of colours.  Those colours make light visible.  Humans (and all creation) are those colours: the invisible made visible, through the prism of matter.  So, if I am an aspect of the Divine, God's will is also my will.  And here I add a caveat: by my will, I don't mean my limited personality, I mean the the bigger me, my soul.

For me, those moments of complete clarity, of passion, of insight, of knowing - those are the moments when my mind has stilled long enough for intuition, the knowing of the soul, to filter through to my consciousness.  I suppose that's why meditation is a form of prayer because it helps my 'chatter box mind' to quieten enough to hear my soul's wisdom.  And in those moments of stillness, I gain flashes of insight, then I am in dialogue with the Divine. 

So, for me, prayer is a dialogue about being in the world, it's about becoming more aligned with the deeper wisdom of my soul and letting go of my supermarket list of wants and desires; it's about seeing the beauty of the present moment without judging it to be good or bad. 

And it's an on-going dialogue, because staying centred doesn't come easily to me - I keep getting distracted by my shopping list!  So I have to keep refocusing on the bigger picture and deeper wisdom.  This dialogue helps me pare back life to the essentials, to the here-and-now, and gives me the faith to trust that even when events are unfolding in a way that does not please me, they are unfolding as they should, in harmony with a greater wisdom. 

What my son teaches me

He's only 6 months old and perhaps that's why he's so wise: he hasn't begun to over think life.  Everything for him is simple, fresh and pure.  Seeing the world through his eyes reminds me how much fun there can be, if only I'd notice it.

So here are James' top three tips for a good life.... so far!

1. Love everyone
James hasn't yet met a person he doesn't like.  He's open to everyone, curious about what they are doing and interested when they talk to him.  As a result people respond to him joyfully.  For me, this begs the question - have I really become too busy to be warm and welcoming to others when our paths cross?

2.  Be passionate
Life is joyful when you're 6 months old!  But that's because he sees the joy in what he's doing.  His powers of concentration far outstrip mine.  He's constantly 'working' at the business of learning, nothing is spared from his quest for knowledge.  Such all consuming passion seems to fade as we get older.  But should it?  Am I on the wrong track if I'm not feeling excited, uplifted and passionate about what I'm doing?

3. Have fun
If it's not fun, James stops doing it!  He's not interested in being bored, he's always searching out something new to see, touch or taste!  He's more likely to exhaust himself through over stimulation than nod off in front of the tv!  It's so easy to get stuck in a rut, to become anesthetised by the familiar and lose my sense of fun and adventure.   Perhaps I should consider some small changes, just to bring back that heady sense of fun and adventure.