Month: November 2015

There or Here?


being there being hereBeing ‘There’ while being ‘Here’

Creates tension, conflict: the antithesis of inner peace?

Inner peace is when you no longer grasp for ‘There’.

‘Here’ becomes just fine.

I have been grasping for ‘There’ since I moved to the UK, ‘There’ was my home and family in New Jersey. A dilemma, with no peace wherever I was. Until now, as I feel home is both New Jersey and London.

Grasping creates a tension between the mind and the body, which leads to stress and inner turmoil.

Grasping is the mind reaching out of the window for ‘There’ striving, formulating ideas, problem solving, distracting away from the present moment. It’s an incessant tailspin of tension.

As I sit, my mind wanders distracted with petty concerns, “what to eat, what to do, how to dress, which way to turn, stay inside go outside”. I am trapped in ‘Here’ and need to get out, being ‘Here’ creates a constant state of flux.

Do you recognise this?

My body feels tired and tense, it only can experience ‘Here’, it is too busy performing pragmatic things, such as; digesting food, regulating my body temperature, and fighting foreign agents.

Bodies can be viewed as the wise grandparent, with many years to perfect itself, it knows better. Whilst the mind is in its early years, very much like an unruly two year old, it has had a lot less time to evolve.

Yet, we allow the mind, or child to take precedence over the wise old body.

It is not about either, the mind or the body, having superiority over one another, it is about them working in unison.

Though the mind believes it knows better, and it will attempt to bring the body with it, though body can’t, it is impossible, so the mind ventures off alone.

Our suffering is a result of the two being at odds. Just as two siblings argue and bicker, one seems to know better, the other may be left behind, the quiet one, this one gets consumed by the other, more rambunctious, forceful sibling.

Our bodies, sit back, keeping things running, it asserts itself, without flamboyance, though very much like the passive sibling, it can be taken over, subdued, losing its sense of importance.

The key to peace of mind and body is evident, take control of your mind; do so by teaching, nurturing, guiding the mind to work with the body.

The breath plays one of the largest roles in bridging the gap between the body and mind, the gap closes momentarily when you consciously breathe.

As your mind begins to drift away on a meandering path towards ‘there’, breathe deeply and pull it back. Overtime the mind reminds you when it is out of control. Those moments when, you tell yourself to stop thinking too much, is the point your mind begins to join with the body, rather than requiring centre stage.

It’s your choice to be ‘There’ or ‘Here’ start by taking 5 deep breaths.

Brightening your spirit?

brightening your spiritBrightening your spirit

Ask yourself this question:

Am I brightening or dimming my spirit?

A simple question, with a simple answer; either what you are doing feels good or not so good; this process of self-enquiry helps guide you towards brightness.

I am not suggesting your life will become a fairyland, without its moments of sadness and disappointment. Through brightness there is a palpable pull more towards feel good happenings, than the darker ones.

Yet what is it that lures us repeatedly to these dark murky spaces?

Our habits which draw us into the darkness, despite an innate awareness of the havoc it is creating in our lives, we continue ritually to revert back to our habits be it smoking, overeating, not exercising, seeking out unhealthy relationships, negative thinking…

This represents clinging onto a belief system which no longer serves us.

Beliefs of not being good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough, never enough.

This ‘never enough syndrome’, is one of those habits that sustain the dimness of your spirit.

Consider the cave metaphor:

You find yourself stuck in a dark cave, or lost in a forest, would you not instinctively walk towards the brightness of the sun rather than the darkness?

It is a truism in our own lives, our instinct is to move away from dimness and towards brightness, to be happy!

Though there is this peculiarity embedded with us, where we hold onto behavior that keeps us from the brightness, it’s within arms reach, but we struggle to get there.

We get a glimpse of the sun peeking through the trees or the cave, but remain stuck in the darkness.

Does this sound like you?

Lingering in the darkness for too long, can become the habit, the darkness is all you know, brightness hurts your eyes, it frightens you, and it might be too intense.

Remaining stuck in the cave or lost in the forest, what would become of you?

Empty, discontent, lost, alone, ill, tired, overwhelmed, cold, numb…

You have a choice to linger in the darkness or to move towards brightness.

If you want to brighten your spirit, then just start by asking the question:

Is this ‘insert your own activity’ brightening or dimming my spirit?

This question is an act of mindfulness, simply by asking the question, begins to open your mind to the possibility of walking towards brightness, taking tiny steps; each step taking you closer to the light.

Once you are exposed to the brightness, you will never return to the darkness again.

Look into the eyes

eyes1Look into the eyes

See yourself in the eyes of others

Are we not all the same, all living, breathing beings?

It saddens me to intentionally harm another being

It makes no sense to escalate a violence dividing all beings

Creating a wave of unfounded hatred.

Yet, what can we do?

How can you make a difference?

Just, look into the eyes.

Looking into the eyes of others, there is no division; all culture, dress, differences disappear.

The eyes say it all making it impossible to turn away. Once the eyes meet, your judgments and prejudices evaporate, there on no differences, you see not only a living being,

You see you!

Perhaps this is why we avoid the eyes of others, staring obsessively at a phone, iPad, or a book, maintaining a buffer from being seen or seeing.

Once eyes meet, there is a connection, a moment of knowing; you have been seen, and you can see.

You connect; you are the same, just a human being. Under the skin, all is the same, the same heart beating, lungs breathing and capacity to love.

I challenge you this week to put away your technical devices, even for a few minutes and look into the eyes of a stranger and allow yourself to see and be seen.

Success without effort?

Success without effortSuccess Without Effort

Is it possible or desirable to flourish in a world preoccupied with effort?

Effort is embedded throughout our educational system; our parents impress it upon us; society rewards effort.

How can we survive without effort?

My mother, a huge proponent of effort and hard work; slogged through double shifts as a nurse, to put my younger brother and sister through college; leaving her exhausted, stressed, though according to her, proud.

She pounded into her children “If you want respect and success, then you have to work hard”, of course it was said out of love.

Despite, acknowledging this belief, I resisted internally.

As a rebellious teenager, I invested little effort into anything, apart from drinking, dancing and kissing boys.

The prospect of being like my mother ‘scared the shit out of me’.

My school performance suffered, in sharp contrast to my performance of kissing boys.

Eventually, sadly, and reluctantly, I had to acknowledge, that I could not support myself kissing boys.

And so, I begrudgingly acquiesced, returned to my studies, at the expense of kissing boys, for a while, in-fact, quite a long time!.

The effort pendulum had swung in the opposite direction.

To my chagrin, my mother, may have been right, though I was still not convinced.

It’s a life story of entrapment, between the extremities of minimal effort and rebellion to the slave like, head-down, conformism of our society.

It resulted in an exhausted, confused, stressed, replication of my mother, this scared me even more!

So, why did I not feel proud of my efforts?

Surely, there has to be another way?

Can you have success without effort?

I know you can, it is possible!

More to come…………………