Love, Love, Love

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The Wisdom of the Lion. Part 4

What is Wisdom? It is the integration of Knowledge with Experience. Who is the Lion? It is Me. It is You.

Recently I was working with a couple and he was saying that his wife might have stopped loving him. This led us into a conversation about Love. Love is often described as an emotion. Many of us think if we can fall into love then we can fall out of love.

We imagine that Love can be turned off or turned on, increased or decreased depending on the circumstances. That kind of love is Conditional Love. It is love that is based on reason.

I love her because she is so kind and caring.

I love him because he listens to me and makes me laugh.

Nothing wrong with that unless of course she believes something about her husband, and then tells him off for being selfish, cruel or unfair and slams the door and doesn’t come home for a few days. Not so kind after all.

Or he has had a difficult day just wants to come home and put his feet up but she has also had a challenging day and all she wants is to tells him in every detail how awful some people are, and  how angry and hurt she is and, and, and…. until he jumps up, yells at her to give him a break and can’t she just be quiet for a while and slams the door on his way to sit in the car for an hour or two. Not so funny after all.

So when love is based on reason it becomes conditional and when those conditions change so too can the love we once felt so strongly. When love depends on a belief it becomes limited and therefore conditional. We think we know someone until something happens and we realize what we believe is just not true.

“You shouldn’t have to even ask me that.”  It becomes a problem when we believe that love automatically give a lover the ability to intuit what the other person wants or needs.

“I never imagined he would talk to me like that.”  It becomes a problem when we believe that people in love always speak and behave kindly and respectfully to each.

“You will go to hell if you don’t follow God’s rules.” When we are taught to believe something out of fear the fullness of Love is always limited.

Some of us may say, “So what. I know what I believe and I don’t care if it’s conditional.” However, judgment based on a belief, on a thought, or on the appearance of an event limits the quality of Love.

Emotional Love, when it happens feels lovely, but it is transient and temporary and can change with the passing of time. Conditional love often feels wonderful whilst it is happening, because it fulfils us in ways we are not fulfilling ourselves. When we ‘fall in love with someone’ we see them through those proverbial rose coloured glasses. We love the way they see our beauty and our strengths and melt at the way they look into our eyes and hold our body (no matter the size or shape) close and tenderly. Whether is it a physical attraction, their intellectual acumen, or bright bubbly personality the one irrevocable thing conditional love forgets is that, everything changes.

Unconditional Love exists in each of us. It is Love without reason. Love that comes from our soul and spirit and cannot be extinguished when something unforeseen or bad happens. When we experience Unconditional Love it is like we are bathed in warm light that enters every cell in our body and imbues us with a sense of well-being and peace. More than that it fills us with grace. Unconditional Love is the essential nature of each of us but it needs to be practiced to be present at all times. We can so easily relax into reason and condition ourselves to believe something that limits love.

So how do we practice Unconditional Love?

For me it begins by recognizing where in my body is Love. I go to the area of the heart, not the physical heart but the spiritual heart often called the heart chakrah, and that’s where I begin to connect to that eternal flame that radiates through me and around me and permeates everything I say and do. Unconditional Love is not an emotion at all.

It is a State of Being.

And when I fall into that State of Love and I am with another who also connects to that State of Love we fall into Love together. We don’t fall into love with each other we fall into the vast ocean of Love together. It is in that State of Being where all thought ceases and we become One.

We can reach this place by repeating a mantra that obliterates all thought and takes us into the eternal well of Love, deeper and deeper until we let go of the I Am and becmoe One with All That Is.

We can reach this place through doing or listening or chanting ourselves into a place of no thought.

We can reach this place through music or prayer or doing something we love so much that we transcend time and space.

We can reach this place by being present, in the moment, breathing in and out, in and out and melting into the heart. Dissolving with every breath into Love. I am Love. I am Love. I am Love. I am Love. I am Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love

My teacher, John the Beloved taught me,

“Your world has two choices:

To Love the Self Unconditionally and in so doing, become an extension of everyone and everything else. Or-

To fear the self as being inadequate or inappropriate, and experience disconnection and fear of being open to others.” ( Quote John the beloved, 22/2/2001)

False modesty, confusion, anxiety, hesitancy, fear of failure or success all comes from the ego and the ego interrupts our intention to connect with Unconditional Love. Sometimes my clients tell me they are trying. Trying to do better. Trying to stop something. Trying to overcome. And I always say the same thing, if you are trying, you are not here. You are somewhere over there. Stop trying. Be here. Be in the present.

When we are in a State of Love, we are bathed in the sunshine that streams through our hearts. We can continue to live our lives, acknowledging what happens is neither good nor bad but is what it is. We can dissolve relationships and create relationships and maintain relationships without choking on the emotional consequences of our choices.

Relationships change over time. Sometimes they burn out. Sometimes they reach a point where the purpose for that relationship has been completed. And sometimes the energy that brought people together has been lost and with it the intention. However, if we can develop a practice where we are in a State of Love with everyone and everything, we can experience a Love that is not personal. It becomes a Love that infuses our personal lives but is not lost when life presents us with personal challenges.

 

 

Posted in Being Here and Now | 4 Comments

Follow Your Heart- Lion Wisdom part III

A transcript

Tell them, to follow their heart.

Thats all very well to say we must follow our heart but how do you know if you are really following your heart?

I did not say you must. I said “follow your heart.” Very simple. When we follow our heart we no longer concern ourselves with should’s or must’s or have to’s in our lives. When we follow heart we become clear about what we want and what we need. When we follow our heart we are no longer ruled by expectations, not our own or those of others. Can you imagine a life where you are free to live and learn according to your heart and not because people expect this or that from you? When we follow our heart we no longer concern ourselves with duty or obligation, unless of course you love to live that way. Then by all means, be my guest. So many people think that if they are dutiful daughters or sons, or if you live a life in service because you think this is the right way to live, then you can feel proud you have lived a good life. Rubbish!

Rubbish?

Absolute rubbish!

Why is that?

Because, my dear, living a dutiful life is not synonymous with living from the heart. One can be try to be generous, kind, patient and compassionate but the very act of trying implies it is not flowing from the heart. And when we don’t live from the heart we are not being authentic. One cannot follow the heart and be inauthentic at the same time. Impossible!

You sound a bit cranky.

I am cranky. How long have we been role modeling authenticity to you all. Some of you are very slow learners. Now thats a bit harsh. We lions are proud to be who we are. There are times we are loving and compassionate and times we are ruthless, wild and powerful. But we never try. We are who and what we are. Simple. When we follow our heart we open our inner ear and every question we ask will be answered from the heart. Thats is why there is an EAR in inside the heart.

Now that’s clever. An EAR inside the heart. You make it sound so simple. But if it were that simple everyone would be following their heart and living struggle free lives.

Nonsense! Following your heart does not automatically make life easier. In fact it often makes it considerably harder. Consider this for a moment. Imagine you lived in a wonderful home and have everything you could ever want. Clothes, food, education, a loving partner and even a gorgeous child. And one day you look out the window and you see an old couple arguing, and you see a mother who is tired and frustrated because her two children have physical limitations and cannot walk so she has to push them to the shops to buy food. And you see a child sitting on the heart aches when it have something important to say. So you listen. You wait and you ask “Why do I feel so uncomfortable?” The heart is saying it’s time to go out on a limb. Its time to take a risk. It’s time to be seen, to be heard, to be vulnerable, to be courageous. Courage come from the heart. The Latin word cor, cordis is the modified by French cour, which gives us such words as courage (one must have a great deal of “heart” to be courageous), encourage (to give someone “heart” to carry out an act), and discourage, which means to give someone a “heart apart” about a particular situation, that is, to dissuade someone from doing something (from the Latin word dis—apart, not, away from, reversal). One of the earliest descriptions of courage is when we speak our mind by telling whats in our heart.

So when we are courageous are we are following our heart?

Yes. Unless of course, we are simply doing what we think we should do in order to do the right thing. Then the action of courage comes from the head and not the heart and it is no longer courage. If the heart and the head are not aligned then we begin to bring should, or must, or have to, back into our thoughts and deeds and actions and consequently slip out of following the heart.

Are you saying the heart has a mind of its own

It does. Let me put it this way. The Mind of the Heart does not get caught up in negative repetitive situations. It is truly MindFull. It does not react. It contemplates, meditates and assimilates all situations and all information, and then processes it through the heart. When the head thinks too much it begins to call in all sorts of emotions that lead to painful feelings and impulsive actions. One may mistakenly believe these feeling come from the heart but in fact they come from the emotional body of the lower mind. That small mind attaches itself to substances, behaviors, thoughts and people and creates powerful emotions to keep it in that situation. It becomes hungry for short term pleasures and gratification.

I have a sign in my office, “Don’t believe everything you think.” It’s meant to be a joke but I think it’s related to what you are saying.

It is. We can easily loose our equilibrium when we get caught up by our interpretations and thoughts. When we become convinced by our beliefs and opinions. The feelings that emerge from these are not heart-centred.

  I recently listened to the podcast by Krista Tippet called On Being and she interviewed Mary Catherine Bateson wrote a book called Composing a Life. She is the daughter of the inimitable anthropologist Margaret Meade and as I listened she quoted a poem by the great Rudyard Kilpling called, When Earth’s last Picture is Painted. It asks what is it that a human being wants. To me this poem encapsulates everything to do with ‘following your heart.” Here is the poem and as a special treat here is Rudyard Kipling himself reciting his poem. xxxx

Rudyard Kipling “When Earth’s Last Picture Is Painted” Poem animation from poetryreincarnations on Vimeo.

When Earth’s last picture is painted
And the tubes are twisted and dried
When the oldest colors have faded
And the youngest critic has died
We shall rest, and faith, we shall need it
Lie down for an aeon or two
‘Till the Master of all good workmen
Shall put us to work anew
And those that were good shall be happy
They’ll sit in a golden chair
They’ll splash at a ten league canvas
With brushes of comet’s hair
They’ll find real saints to draw from
Magdalene, Peter, and Paul
They’ll work for an age at a sitting
And never be tired at all.
And only the Master shall praise us.
And only the Master shall blame.
And no one will work for the money.
No one will work for the fame.
But each for the joy of the working,
And each, in his separate star,
Will draw the thing as he sees it.
For the God of things as they are!

Posted in Being Here and Now | 3 Comments

Beyond Pushing……there is a world of Possibility

The Wisdom of the Lion Part 2.   

IMG_9426“There is a great deal of pushing in our world. Most of it comes from greed, fear or anger.

Lions only push their children to keep them safe. If they eat when it is not the right time we push them away to save them being hurt by other adult Lions who know the order. We teach them the way of the Lion so that they can fend for themselves.”

There are places in the human world where pushing is seen as normal. People push into parking spaces, push into queues, push in front of cars and push people out of the way when they want to go faster than the crowd.

Countries where employees carry the weight of their employers heavy expectations. Employers push their staff to produce more. Stay later. Arrive earlier. Teachers push their students to get the highest grades.

Wives and husbands push each other to talk more, talk less, buy this, sell that, go here, stay there, be more attentive, less outgoing, more understanding, thinner, stronger, kinder…. It goes on and on.

Parents push their children to succeed, to excel, to work hard, and to be who they think they should or could or ought to be. Some push their children to win academic competitions, win scholarships, play sport that is not their child’s passion, dance well, sing beautifully, play the piano, violin, saxiphone, read and write beyond their years. As a parent of 5 I too have had my pushy moments. I remember I dearly wanted one of our children to attend a Rudolph Steiner school thinking this would suit him perfectly. We drew mandalas and used Steiner crayons and I enrolled him into the school. He was asked to come to an open day and he was not so interested but I pushed him trying to convince him it would be wonderful. Two weeks later I received a phone call informing me that our child would not be suitable for the school. “And why is that? “ I asked in a rather shocked and insulted voice. “Because, when we asked each children why they wanted to come to our school your child gave an answer that showed us this was probably not the right school for him.”

Incredulous and at a loss to even imagine what he could have said and preparing my speech to chide this child for a lost opportunity I asked what in the world did he say.The woman on the phone took a deep breath and said, “He said, he did not want to come to this school but his mother did!”

Sometimes it takes at eleven-year-old child to remind us that we are pushing too hard. I thought I was being encouraging but indeed there is a thin line between pushing and encouraging.

What is the difference?

As verbs the difference between encourage and push is that encourage is to mentally support; to motivate, give courage, hope or spirit while push is (intransitive) to apply a force to (an object or a person) such that it moves away from the person or thing applying the force. As a child at school I was fascinated by the definition of work. It applies to pushing too.

Work done is defined as product of the force and the distance over which the force is applied. Work is done when a force is applied to an object and the object is moved through a distance. For example, when you lift a load you are applying a force over a distance so you are doing work. However, no matter how much force you apply to something that is not movable, no amount of effort will result in work. When we push people in directions that they resist and refuse, according to physics we have actually done no work at all regardless of how much effort we have put into the situation. Pushing is futile.

We live in a performance driven society where what we do, is often more highly regarded than who we are. We have over-looked the importance of allowing our children to be who they are. We need to look and listen to our children and those people in our lives to understand their gifts and talents, their passions and their choices.

We need to teach our children the true meaning of being warm-hearted.  Our two-year-old grand daughter, catches our thrown kisses and puts them in her heart. Her mother, our daughter, bought a book called, “In my Heart”, by Jo Witek, and it brought both our grand children a deeper understanding of the emotions–happiness, sadness, bravery, anger, shyness and much more. The Dalai Lama says, “Warm-heartedness reinforces our self-confidence – giving us not a blind confidence, but a sense of confidence based on reason. When you have that you can act transparently, with nothing to hide!”

If there was one thing I would wish for every child it would this.  Someone they trust to sit with them just before they go to sleep and to share together 3 things for which they are thankful today, and three people they are thankful to have in their life. Of course it doesn’t have to be three things or three people. It can be simply one thing or one person,  but how important it is to have the opportunity to share something that touches the heart.

When I was studying Gestalt Therapy in San Diego many yeas ago with my teachers Erv and Miriam Polster we had one whole day devoted to the value of Kindness in therapy. I know of primary school that teaches kindness as a subject. Yes, we do have schools that are now teaching Mindfulness and that is wonderful however, surely Kindness is as essential to a a well lifed life as Mindfulness.

If kindness was a daily practice in school and in the home, we would have no difficulty knowing the difference between encouraging and pushing our children. Even when we want the best for our children we would recognize our wish for them may not be their wish for themselves.

There is so much to learn about kindness. Sometimes we need to develop our awareness in order to understand what is needed, so we know the right questions to ask.  This is kindness.  Sometime we have to give consequences for our children’s unacceptable behavior, and that is kindness too. Kindness is knowing what to say and knowing when to say nothing. Kindness is the art of giving anonymously.  I know a religious leader whose ability to raise money for charity is exceptional and everyone who knows him knows this about him. I also know a woman who lives a very quiet humble life and has for years offered her garage to be a collection point for used clothes. People come and go all day giving and taking as needed. She makes sure no one is embarrassed. No one knows whether they are giving or taking. Her kindness is  anonymous, quiet and humble.

Kindness is also about altruism and the notions of goodness and empathy. Altruism is not only reserved for humans, animals and insects also exhibit altruism. Some animals will call the alarm when they know there is danger at the risk of their own lives. We have seen impalas, grazing with zebras and will alert the zebras if there is a lion near by.

In California, animal behaviourist Paul Sherman did thousands of hours of field work with Belding’s ground squirrels. When something dangerous comes into their vicinity such as a hawk or another terrestrial predator some of the ground squirrels, stand up on their hind legs and give a piercing call. The other ground squirrels run for safety. They go down into their burrows and they get out of the way. The alarm caller will eventually do that but it pays the costs by making itself the most obvious thing out in the environment and some get taken by predator, in order to save all the other ground squirrels.

When a child shows courage, warmth, empathy and kindness it is our responsibility to acknowledge them and encourage them to be the best of human-kind. After all surly that is the goal. Each soul is born with a gift, a talent and blessing and whether it is to teach or be taught, to heal or be healed, to see or to be shown , we are all here for ourselves and for others. No exception.

Until next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Do We Get Sick?

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Why Do We Get Sick?

We have all been there. Everything appears to be going well and then we wake up with a headache or sore throat, flu or back-ache. We discover we have a pain in the neck, aching shoulders, tightness in the chest, upset stomach, or very sore feet. Sometimes we are born with problems and sometimes we develop physical, emotional or mental symptoms that make us aware that something is not working.

What is Awareness? It is a particular understanding that orientates, amplifies and rewards experience. There are 4 main levels of awareness, sensations feelings, philosophical positions and purposes.

I have asked myself why don’t we live in a state of health and vitality from the moment we are born and die a peaceful, conscious death when the time is right? This article begins in a very simplistic way to answer that question.

Since I was a very young child I’ve had allergies. Stone fruit gave me hives, pineapple made me breathless, milk curdled in my tummy and by the time I was four I often had bronchitis. By the age of six I was told to do 500 skips with a skipping rope for pulling Lillian Sandlands hair and that turned in to my first asthma attack.

I’ve done a great deal of work around this asthma situation. And there have been times in my life when I believed I had fully grown out of it. But occasionally it rears its head again and I am strongly encouraged to look deeper and deeper within myself to understand the significance of what is going on, again. There are times when the understanding dawns on me quite quickly and I confess I can be a lazy spiritual searcher so when I get a sudden ah-ha moment I’m delighted and relieved, even if the realization is a cringe-worthy. But there are times I don’t understand immediately and I get impatient and try to make up reasons just to get an answer. Never a good thing to do.

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Having just returned from three incredible weeks on Safari in Africa I had so many encounters with animals and sat silently watching and listening and talking to them from within myself. During a few meditations however, I had a visitation from a huge male Lion. He came up to me and spoke. He told me four things. This first is to be as patient as a Lion.

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I watched many lions in those three weeks and the one thing that stands out is how long and still they can sit. They waste not an once of energy. The Lion reminded me that the key to being patient is to listen and be silent. Both words are an anagram of the other.

When we get sick we cannot rush good health, we cannot force vitality, we cannot hurry awareness. We need to be patient, and in the silence of our inner being we are being encouraged to listen to the answer to this question, “What is the significance of this experience for me right now.”

busy-at-work

How many of us get sick and simply press-on? Forcing ourselves to do what we normally do regardless of what our body is feeling. I know people who complain their cold has lasted two weeks, their pain continues to worsen, their blood levels are not improving. Our body has one way to grab our attention when its is struggling and that is through discomfort.  The greatest show of self respect is to be silent and listen everyday for a period of time. That means turning off the phone, closing a door, getting ready to spend some precious time with yourself and giving yourself permission to become aware of what is going on within.

busy man

Some people are actually addicted to pain. Sounds crazy doesn’t it but here’s how that happens. I know. I’ve unconsciously been caught up in this addiction myself.

We get busy. Our schedules are often full. We have meetings to attend, people to see, family to feed and things we want to spend time doing. We have friends who call, and some of us fit in the gym, a run, and drinks after work. One hundred phone calls later and a ton of other people’s expectation on top, leaves us robotic, mechanical and distracted. This kind of busyness carried us through a whole day, a week, a year and regrettably even a life time of not being present. Not living consciously in the moment. So the one and only thing that can pierce through this chaos of living like that is pain. Pain instantly brings us into the present and all the other stuff temporarily does not seem so urgent. The pain has brought us back into our bodies.  Our bodies don’t like being ignored. Why should they? They are carrying us through life the best way they can and yet we are often too distracted by the small stuff to listen. But what a way to get present!

There are also four gifts sickness and pain can offer us. The throb in your shoulders could be giving you a hint that something in your life is ready to be released. But it could also be telling you there is something in your life that needs to be redeemed. In other words, our body will never casually give us pain, it is committed to giving us the best life possible and perhaps we have overlooked something we once learned and the pain is inviting us to re-look, re-think, re-assess something that is now timely for to nourish your well being. I have some dead friends with cancer and we often talk about the difference between being healed and being cured. Healing is a journey of listening within and putting the awareness gained into action. Sometimes it means letting go of thoughts and opinions that no longer serve us. Sometimes it means surrendering to the moment and being open to going with the flow of our body’s great wisdom.  But to know we have to learn to stop, be silent and listen.

Very busy business

And that’s the tricky thing. How do we do that when so much and so many are vying for our attention? How do we do that when sitting in silence can often feel like a total waste of time especially when our heads wont stop talking? How do we do that when our own expectations of ourselves and those of others keep us awake at night worrying. How do we do that when we drift into fear of the future or regrets from the past?

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We have to practice and sometimes even fake it till we make it. We have to sit and practice being silent. And if sitting inside is too hard then we need to find somewhere outside. We need to stop, look and listen. Look at a leaf. Pick up a feather. Look up at the sky or across the sea. Hold a hand full of sand, or seeds or dirt and be with yourself for those moments. Find a way to leave the physical world and go within and ask the one question that will eventually be answered. What is the significance of this situation?

At 2.30 am last Saturday morning I was rushed by ambulance to North Shore Hospital with a severe asthma attack. It was the worst one I’ve ever had so clearly I have not been listening attentively to myself lately. I just couldn’t breathe. I know that the lungs are connected to grief just as every organ and body part is connected to an emotion so I know there is something here about grief. I asked the question and in a state of trying to breathe I was told, “catch your breath first, let’s talk a bit later.” Always a good idea to attend to the physical issue first and then take some time to go within when the crisis has died down.

So today’s the first day I can talk without puffing and I asked again. And I heard. “Reestablish some discipline in your life and start writing and teaching again.”

Since selling our family home, waiting over three years for our new one to be finished and having a house full of workers for the 9 months I’ve lived here, I have neglected that which I most love. Writing and teaching.

I’m listening.

PS.

So what are the other three things the Lion told me? Stay tuned. In the next three blogs I will be sharing the Wisdom of the Lion with you. Oh and by the way, my fathers name was, Lionel. I can’t help thinking it might have been my dad, who passed over 4 1/2 years ago, who spoke to me in Africa as a Lion. His Hebrew name was Arieh, which also means Lion. He was in every way as wise and as patient as a Lion and those Lions eyes, looked so familiar.

 

 

 

 

 

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Birth-day Blessing

1981

How can it be? I can forget what I did yesterday. I can even forget why I went to the supermarket as soon as I arrive. But I remember every second of an event 35 years ago that changed my life forever.

sharon and Donna   I was only 3 when I began putting ‘David Mark” and all my other dolls in a line and pretended they were my children. I know,  David Mark?  It was the name my mother told me she and my dad would have named me had I been a boy. I supposes I called my doll David Mark so that they were not too disappointed even though they never gave me reason to think they were.

I have wanted to be a mother all my life so it may seem strange to think that by the time I turned 14 I had fallen in love with a beautiful boy who would never be able to have his own children. It was Australia day and the surf was up. The sea rose and fell into white bubbles of inviting froth. or so they told me. I was not there. The boy I had a crush on had said something harsh to me the day before, I can’t remember what,  and I didn’t feel like going to the beach that day. A phone call came around 4 pm that evening. It was Judy. He had dived in to the surf. They think he broke his neck. He’s in a really bad way. He might die.

Dear God, Please don’t let him die. I, I, I…. promise… to marry him if he doesn’t die.

He didn’t die.

I was 20 and he was 22. Our marriage began and ended in love. It was a life time in 4 years. We watched our beloved dog be run over and healed our souls with another months later. We travelled and tried and we laughed and we cried.

Israel called to me. Our first conversation was, How many children do you want? As many as come. I chose him.  wedding photo

On the day of her birth I was excited and incredulous. Can I really be doing this? After so many years of wanting, praying and yearning can this be really happening? I loved giving birth. My penultimate miracle. From one second to another I became a mother.

baby sheli  And she glowed. She was the most beautiful round perfect sweet baby imaginable. She was exquisite and I just couldn’t believe she was ours. Becoming a mother for me is akin to sliding through an invisible portal into a new universe. Nothing could or would ever be the same. And I rejoiced. I still rejoice. Thirty-five years today, of rejoicing.

Happy birthday to our first born angel. When times are tough remember you can fly above the world and look down and see the difficulty is only a speck in the grand and endless cosmos of life.

sheli 35  We gave you deep roots and wide wings as we did with all our five angels. Perhaps there is no greater gift a parent can give a child.

 

 

 

Posted in Being Here and Now, Everyday Miracles | 6 Comments

What a ( confusing) Year!

space-earth-sunPersonally, politically, privately and publically. What a year! What a brilliant, bloody, bastard of a year.

We all have stories to tell, memories we will never forget, grief that has not yet healed, plans that blossomed and plans that were crushed. This leap year created new Olympians and destroyed unimaginable potential in the loss of life through war, terror, hunger, inattention, mis-management, and one of the fastest growing maladies in the western world, distraction.

mobile-an-babyWho can honestly say they are mindful and focused and present at least 80% of the time? If you have a smart phone, (that is permanently on) and use the computer (with the internet on) I would venture to say very few people are present even 5% of the time. This of course excludes the normal run of the mill worrying, surviving, complaining, gossiping, blaming, comparing and ladder climbing we subject ourselves to (occasionally).

woman-driver-phoneAnd if you are being living mindfully, how comfortable are you with people who distract themselves in your presence by answering the phone, sending (just this one) SMS, seeming not to hear one word you just said or hear only the last three words.

 

“She just died.”

“What? When? Who just died?

” Have you been listening to me?”

” Yes of course I have. Every word. WHO just died.!!”

computer-and-mouse” (Sigh) Emily’s mouse. She just died.

“Just put in a new battery!”

“OMG. This is crazy. Emily, my three-year-old daughter’s pet mouse. Her mouse just died. Look I have to go. See you later.”

This year the concept of truth has been seriously challenged. The US election reflects this so clearly. Lies and half truths are shrugged off and many people seem to think its okay because (he didn’t really mean it) Confusing? Totally

refuggee-childrenChildren seeking asylum, help, protection, safety have been let down by the powers that be.  And millions of refugees have poured into Europe seeking a different, a safer, a better life. Europe is flooded with the tides of change. And because we are One world, one people, we too must open our sleepy eyes to the reality that nothing is ever going to be the same.

And then there is a terrorist group who uses an anagram which is the same word as a well loved ancient Egyptian Goddess.

goddess-isisThe Goddess Isis, whose origins stretch back, at the very least, 4500 years from the present, was worshipped as the ideal of motherhood, as a deity who cared for the plight of others, as one who would watch over travelers, and who was ‘Great of Magic’, being able to bring life to the dead.

Her influence was such that her worship continued for more than 3000 years, not only in Egyptian culture, but also by the high civilizations of the ancient Greeks and Romans as well. Even more confusing.

Having said all this I can list 100, no, 1000 things I am whole heartedly grateful for this year. I imagine you can too. The struggle that turned into understanding. The pain that turned into relief, the arguments that turned into compassion, the losses that turned into gifts.

little-girls-fishingI remember not so long ago, my parents and my sister and I would go on holidays to Newport. Seriously, from the eastern suburbs to the northern beaches was our annual holiday. We would sit feet dangling off the jetty with our cork fishing lines and wait for a bite. It felt so far away from our usual life. I never could take the fish off the hook and as we sometimes had a bucket full of tiny fish I suppose my sister Donna was the brave one. Somehow neither of us realized that those little fish would die if left in the bucket for too long.  It came as a shock when we saw those little beings floating upside down.  I think our hearts were cracked open in that moment we realized we are responsible for these little watery beings’ demise.  And that’s the key, I believe to living a well lived fulfilling life.

50276_333752264048_2019054_nLet your heart crack open, cry till there are no more tears, weep when words cannot express what you feel, sob through a good movie, cry with your lover, child, parent, friend, and then, hold the image of You in both hands, put yourself into your open heart and let sorrow, grief, loss and pain transform into love, truth, understanding, laughter and forgiveness.

May you have a gentle safe end to 2016 and may the light of 2017 be more brilliant than your wildest imagination.

Until next year

 

Sharon

 

 

 

 

 

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When do we Fall….up?

It’s not the first tme. I fell down a flight of stairs about 12 years ago. Nothing broken but oh the pain. So you would think I had learned  my lesson. and heard the warning to stop doing and doing and doing so much. And I thought after waiting three long years for four straight walls to call my own I could cook and cleanfalling-downand babysit and entertain to my hearts desire…. and I did. Until my hearts desire faded and I felt a gentle encroachment of Duty. Now that is not my favourite word. Duty. It leaves me irritated and anxious and beligerent and quarrelsome. Duty. Heavy with shoulds and oughts and have tos and musts. It weighs us down until we have to drag our feet through the mud of,” but I said I would so I have to”, and through the fields of, ” they depend on me so Ill be there”, and through the hot, dry deserts of pain and tiredness and sleepless nights of worry and despair and wishing it could all just STOP.

The step disappeared beneath me and I seemed to float weightlessly for a time and then belly flop onto the pebble covered landing seven steps below.

And as I lay there, realising I was still breathing I actually felt grateful to be alive. And yes, everything had stopped. In that moment I had ‘been’ stopped. 

It will be weeks before my broken foot heals. There are doctors to see and more x-rays to be taken, but, and it’s a big fat but, I feel so protected and supported by the powers that gave me a little push. I know I missed putting on my own brake and I have no doubt They had a big chat about the degree of that push. I landed on my face and yet I did not break anything above the neck. I was protected so well I only have a few scattered bruises. The fall could have been so much worse and I know I was given an opportunity to create true balance in my life in a loving yet unmistakable way.

I always say we teach best what we most need to learn and I have been teaching how to create Balance in our lives for a very long time. What I had forgotten was how to let go of all the have tos and musts and oughts I was creating without feeling guilty and wrong. How to say no to your best friend who needs you to go shopping with her on your one free night of the week. How to say no to your son who needs a lift to the city when you were looking forward to going to the movies. How to say no with love and kindness and a degree of firmness that is understood and accepted. 

The Fall is always an initiation into a higher level of spiritual awareness and growth. And although I could have avoided it had I listened to my own heart, I also know that for a second or two, I was touched by an angel who wanted me to come back to me and re-member who I am. 

 

 

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One More Day

space-earth-sunI’ll let you in on a secret. It’s a bit embarrassing but heh, what the heck.

I love leap years. To be more precise, I love February 29. I don’t recall anything particularly memorable happening on February 29, however since I was a little girl I always marvelled that a leap year means you get one more day.

As a child I remember sitting at my wooden desk, listening to Miss England explaining that this year was a leap year. It was 1960 and it was the first time I had ever heard of such a sitting at desk thing. I wondered how children could celebrate their birthday if it only happened every four years. I wondered how anyone could commemorate a significant event if it fell on February 29. It consumed me for years.

Someone, perhaps my father told me, after I shared with him my lingering concern over birthdays on February 29, that he imagines people born on February 29 would celebrate their birthday on March 1 on the non leap years. I thought that was grossly unfair and felt dreadful for every person ever born on February 29.

It was around that time, aged 7 that I began to fall in love with astronomy. I loved that the solar system Earth revolved around the sun creating the seasons, and how it rotated on its axis at the same time. I became a star watcher. Still am. It took me longer to understand why we have one more day every four years. Briefly, leap years are needed to keep our modern day Gregorian calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun.

It takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds – to circle once around the Sun. This is called a tropical year.

However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year, so if we didn’t add a leap day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by around 24 days!

One More Day

When my father died I spend most of the first year imagining what I would have done differently had I known he would not be alive the next day. All I’ve come up with is that I would have hugged him longer. I miss hugging him.

The idea of having one more day often brings up thoughts around my own mortality. If I only have one more day to live what would I say, and to whom would I say it? What would I do? Who would I want to share that day with?

Too late for bucket lists. I only have one more day.

The truth is I am more clear about what I wouldn’t do that day than I am about what I would do. Here are a few things I came up with.

I certainly wouldn’t waste a minute complaining about anything.

I wouldn’t worry.

I wouldn’t blame anyone.

I wouldn’t wish a second away.

I wouldn’t censor myself.

I wouldn’t go shopping.

I wouldn’t stay in doors, no matter what the weather.

I wouldn’t touch a computer, ipad, phone.

I wouldn’t talk much.

Mitch Albom writes,

“It’s such a shame to waste time. We always think we have so much of it.” 

Life would certainly take on a different hue if we lived even one day a week as if we don’t know how long we’ve got. But choosing the day, deciding this is it. I’m going to live today as if its my last, is never an easy choice to make. I can’t do it today, I have a dental appointment. Oh and tomorrow, I have to pick up the kids and take them to ballet, violin, soccer and swimming. Maybe next Tuesday. Um, oh hell! Tuesday. Tuesday I have to see my accountant, play bridge, shop and cook dinner for Wednesday ‘s book club.

May be next week.

Life can be so crammed with things to do that only ten minutes after you have rushed past that busker playing the violin outside the train station you think, damn, I meant to stop and listen to him and give him a coin, but I forgot. And you go back the next day and he’s not there.

Busy life= missed opportunities.

And don’t get me wrong, there will always, always be missed opportunities, I have a million of them, but I’m sure, well I’m almost sure, that if we lived just one day a week as if it were our last, there would be more opportunities gathered than lost. And if one day a week seems too hard, then maybe one day a month. My guess is that the more I practice living one delicious, unbeatable, incredible day at a time, I’ll probably get better at it.

“One day spent with someone you love can change everything.”
―Mitch Albom- For One More Day

If I had one more day left I think I would ask my children to tell me about their favourite experience. I think I would ask more question and listen with every cell in my body. I think I would eat some ice cream after sharing a bowl of hot chips. I would laugh and cry and maybe I would plant a tree after reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein to my the giving tree grandchildren. That book always, always leaves me in tears. Ask my granddaughter she’ll tell you. I literally sob at the end.

I think if I had one more day I would give everything I have loved away to my children and my friends. I would want to see them smile and imagine the pleasure they with receive from that little piece of my life. And I think if I had one more day, just one more earthly spin around its axis, I would quietly close my eyes and breathe, and with every breath I would take in the sweetest memories from every stage in my life, and breath out waves and waves of gratitude that this was my story.

Yup! I think that’s what I’ll do

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Who have you become and Who are you willing to be?

 

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The minute I opened my eyes on the first day of the year the world seemed a little brighter. The sun streamed into my room and I felt a ripple of joy that once again, I have a clean slate on which to choose who and how I want to be.

Every year creates an imprint on our hopes and dreams, our plans and achievements. Every year we reach the last day and realize we were either true to who we are or there were times we forgot who we know ourselves to be.

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Every year I reach the last day of the year and write my annual journal about the year that has been and then write what I intend to create, in the year ahead.

After forgetting who I Am  quite a few times over the last year, I came to a place where I was able to, at last, let go of expectations that were out of my control.

The feeling of letting go has been one of pure freedom.

I really like Byron Katie’s words here.

Whose Business are you in?

There are only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s.

Whose business is it if it rains on your daughters wedding day? God’s business.

Whose business is it if your neighbour never mows his lawn? Your neighbour’s business.

Whose business is it if you are angry at your neighbour down the street because he has an ugly lawn? Your business.

Life is simple—it is internal.

St Francis of Assisi’s  Serenity Prayer continues to inspire me.

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

When we choose who and how we want to be, we are we need to be specific. It’s not enough to say, I intend  to be more patient or I intend to be understanding. I remember many years ago when my family were doing Landmark Education we were given tasks that required us to make our intentions measurable. How can you know you succeeded unless you can measure it? So there needs to be an action to make it measurable.

Instead of saying I choose to be more patient, maybe I can say, I choose to use the time I spend waiting for someone or something, as my opportunity to breathe deeply and focus on how each breath fills me with peace. The measurement here is how do I feel after breathing consciously for a few minutes.

Out of 1 to10 how do I feel now?

And instead of saying I choose to be more understanding, I can say every time someone criticises me or blames me for something, I choose to listen to what they have to say. See their perspective and accept that although it may be different from mine it is theirs and therefore just as valid as my own. I can ask myself what do I need to do to understand in this situation?

Time is Understandings best friend.

reflection

In order to understand we need to give ourselves the time and space to see the situation from every perspective possible and ask ourselves what is the significance of this? The measurement is whether we have been able to reach a clear understanding and in doing so, can we move forward?

Whether you are choosing to be kinder, more generous, light hearted or whether you are choosing be of service, we have to make our intention small and measurable.

The energy of this year is very different from last year. Rather than looking at what we didn’t do well, what went wrong, what were we thinking,we need to look at how we can shine ourselves brighter than ever before.

 

It can be as simply as:-

A smile for 5 people every day.

A kind gesture to a musician on the street corner.

Giving your shopping trolley that still has the dollar in it to the next person

Leaving a flower in a neighbours letterbox

Taking in your neighbours bin

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Every action intended to light up the moment; the day, the week or the life of another is en-lightening the energy of the world. And don’t get downhearted if there appears to be more and more conflict in the world, because the more light we bring to the world the more unresolved conflict will need to come to the surface. There is simply nowhere else for it to go.

 

It’s been raining non-stop for days. My garden is swimming in water. The flowers are hanging so low, seeming to be looking at the saturated grass only an inches away, too sodden to hold up their heads.

Rain

Rain

But as I look outside knowing that the rain-fall is none of my business ( it’s all yours God) I’m just glad to be free of one more thing to think about.

 

 

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A Monumental Challenge

Man in mist

I set myself up. Unwittingly, its true but the ripples of the past two years have at times almost drowned me, occasionally pushed me over the edge and a couple of times saw the end of old friendships.

Many years ago I studied the books of anthropologist Carlos Castaneda. I was in awe of his teacher the Yaki Indian, Don Juan Matus, a Shaman, (sorcerer) whose spirituality was about living life as a warrior.

“ The basic difference between an ordinary man is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while the ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.” 

Over the years I have often asked myself if it is possible to be absolutely impeccable in the way I live my life. What does living impeccably mean?

According to Don Juan Matus what matters to a warrior is arriving at the totality of oneself. That is Impeccable Living.

crow Don Juan tells that he was imprisoned for many years in a place where escape was not an option. And yet he lived impeccably, with joy and dignity, within that prison situation. He had practiced all his life and knew that Man is eternal infinite spirit, and it is his mind that holds him, that imprisons him, not any outer entity or alien. Master your own mind and you shall master your own universe.

At first it came to me as a brief thought. So brief I can’t recall the first time I wondered whether I could live life as a grand challenge, remaining strong and powerfully and in the totality of myself, if something unthinkable happened to me. Could I stand in the totality of myself if something unforeseen happened that would shake the very foundations of my life.

The power of a passing thought is never to be underestimated. The universe is always listening.

The sale of our family home initially left us free to fly. For the first 6 months after we travelled and even returned to house sit a friends beautiful home near the beach. My mistake, in retrospect was not taking into account the profound life long preparation Don Juan engaged in to live as a warrior, whilst in prison. And beyond that, the question, what if the home we bought, off the plan, 5 months before we even sold our home, would not be complete in a year. What if it’s not complete in 2 years? What if it’s not complete beyond that. No. Those questions were never asked and I clung to the promises of the builders, ‘just 6 more weeks, almost finished, you will be in by February, and then May and then June and then and then and then.

We are never too old to crumble and we are never too wise to learn.

A year of endings is coming to an end and I am not the same person I was 2 years ago. I know what having no place to be alone, in private, feels like. I have developed more patience than ever before through not getting what I want when I want it. I have a renewed and deep sense of compassion and understanding for those who have no place or space for themselves. I have watched my family, who have also gone through this journey of having no ‘family home’ rise to the occasion and care for each other in ways I could only have dreamed possible. I now know I am less relevant than I once believed myself to be. Not irrelevant but less relevant.

Promises once believed with childlike innocence are now heard without any emotion at all. And I hear my inner voice whisper, ‘maybe, maybe not.’ Promises from the builders, and from friends who didn’t know I trusted their every word, are now taken with a grain of salt.

The only truth is to live an impeccable life. To walk our talk. To own our strengths and shortcomings with grace and humility.

As we slide into 2016 one of my intentions is to cease taking other peoples actions towards me personally. Recently I was left out of a wedding list I would have loved to attend and allowed myself to feel a little stab of hurt. Within two days I was clear this was not personal and I have emerged whole and complete. Maybe the next time someone overlooks or misleads or accuses me of something the little stab of hurt maybe last only two minutes, and then 2 seconds and with practice with no emotion at all. Every time we are upset we would do well to remember, it is a set-up. W set the situation up to learn something that is not yet whole and complete within ourself.

Every upset is a set up

“A warrior chooses a path with heart, any path with heart, and follows it; and then he rejoices and laughs. He knows because he sees that his life will be over altogether too soon. He sees that nothing is more important than anything else.” Carlo Castenada

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Are You Sleeping Beauty?

As long as we are present in our lives, there is nothing at all to wait for.

Being one who strives to live every moment in the present, I was recently shocked to realize how much I am in a state of waiting.

Two things disturbed me. One is how unaware I can be when I  drift in and out of the moment and two is that every time I allow ‘waiting’ to be my state of mind I have lost another precious moment in my life.

The dictionary defines ‘to wait’ as:

To remain or rest in expectation:

To stay in one place until another catches

To remain or be in readiness.

To remain temporarily neglected, unattended to, or postponed

All these definitions are saying the same thing. When we wait we become stuck. We stop moving. We cannot grow or flourish or blossom whilst in a state of waiting.

The classic story about waiting is the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty.

Once upon a time a king and queen had a long-wished-for child. Seven   fairies were invited to be godmothers to the infant princess. Six of the fairies gave the new baby beautiful gifts. Beauty, wit, grace, dance, song, and music . But there was an eighth faerie who had lived in a tower for many years so everyone believed her to be dead.

The eighth fairy was very angry that she has been overlooked and, as her gift, enchants the infant princess so that she will prick her hand on a spindle of a spinning wheel and die. But there was still one faerie who had not yet gifted the baby princess.

Instead of dying, she said, the Princess will fall into a deep sleep for 100 years and be awakened by a kiss from a prince.

Fearing the worst the king banned any sort of spinning all throughout the kingdom. Fifteen or sixteen years passed and one day, when the king and queen were away, the Princess wandered through the palace rooms and came upon an old woman, spinning with her spindle. The princess, curious to try the unfamiliar task, asked the old woman if she can try the spinning wheel. The princess pricked her finger on the spindle and the inevitable curse was fulfilled. 

The King carried his beloved princess to the finest room in the palace and placed her upon a bed of gold and silver embroidered fabric. There the King and Queen kissed their daughter goodbye and departed.

The good fairy who altered the evil prophecy was summoned and having great powers of foresight, the fairy realised that the Princess would be distressed when she woke up to find herself all alone, so she put everyone in the castle to sleep. She also summoned a forest of trees, brambles and thorns to spring up around the castle, shielding it from the outside world and preventing anyone from disturbing the Princess.

A hundred years passed and a prince from another family sees the hidden castle during a hunting expedition. His attendants tell him differing stories regarding the castle until an old man recounts his father’s words: within the castle lies a beautiful princess who is doomed to sleep for a hundred years until a king’s son comes and awakens her. The prince then braves the tall trees, brambles and thorns which part at his approach, and enters the castle. He passes the sleeping castle folk and comes across the chamber where the Princess lies asleep on the bed. Struck by the radiant beauty before him, he falls on his knees before her, kisses the princess and finally she awakens.

Who do you relate to in this story? Who do you feel is most like yourself? I know I have been Sleeping Beauty quite a bit lately.

As Eckhart Tolle says there is small scale waiting, such as waiting in line at the supermarket, or waiting for a bus to arrive or waiting for the traffic to move, and there is large scale waiting, such as waiting for a better job, or for the children to grow up, of for that trip around the world or for the tie you can move into your dream home.

The truth is that every minute we consciously or unconsciously wait for something we have stepped out of living our lives and into a state of limbo again. Some people spend their whole lives waiting and die having been asleep their entire lives.

Every time we say,

I will …. when….

If only I….

I can’t wait ….

When ( xyz happens) I’ll be happy …. we create an inner conflict that translates itself into anxiety, dissatisfaction, fear and upset. You are saying in effect that you don’t want to be where you are and that is as insane as walking in the rain and saying you wish the sun was shining right now. the effort we put into not wanting what is, literally drains away our energy enjoy being who and  where we are.

You are where you are and no amount of wishing or struggle will change that in the moment.

 

There is nothing wrong with striving to improve our life situation. We can always strive to improve our life situation, but we cannot improve our life. Life is primary. Life is your deepest inner Being.

Life is already whole, complete, perfect.

Our life situation consists of our circumstances and your experiences. Setting goals and striving for achievements is not wrong however when we allow ourselves to mistake these experiences for the feeling of Life itself we step out of the present and reduce the quality of our live

“So next time somebody says, “Sorry to have kept you waiting,” you can reply, “That’s all right, I wasn’t waiting. I was just standing here enjoying myself — in joy in my self.” “ Eckhart Toll

 

 

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Home is Where the Heart Is

Home is Where the Heart Is

I sit on my bed, in our little room, with its white walls and shuttered windows and wondering what is the significance of not having a home. A year overdue our  home in Sydney is still a long way from being finished. I am touched by friends and family who have opened their hearts and homes to us and given us a place lay our heads at night. Had we known this journey was going to take so long, we may not have entered into this agreement, however, life is not always about what we want but rather about what we need. And as gratitude pours out to all those who have welcomed us and cared for us and given us a roof over our head I have come to a deeper understanding of the old adage, Home is where the Heart is.

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Literally as long as our heart, situated left of center in our chest cavity, is beating, it offers us all we need to be at home.

How? Let’s take a quick look at our heart.

heart

The heart has four chambers: two atria and two ventricles.

A chamber is also a room. So the heart consists of four rooms.

The right atrium receives oxygen-poor blood from the body and pumps it to the right ventricle.

This is where we learn to discern what works well for us and what doesn’t. Where the beliefs and attitudes held by ourselves, our friends, our colleagues and the people we meet by chance are sifted and sorted and all that is not healthy or nourishing is released and we take responsibility for our own beliefs and attitudes through awareness and understanding.

The right ventricle pumps the oxygen-poor blood to the lungs.

This is where we learn to Accept All That Is. It is the part of us that recognizes what is may not be what we chose and may not be what we want but it is what it is and now we have a new choice what to do with the reality of things. Now is the time to reach out and ask for help. The lungs can do what the heart cannot. We turn to our guidance, our friends, our family, or our higher self and ask for help.

The left atrium receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it to the left ventricle.

This is where we learn gratitude. Recognising the gifts that flow into our lives. The gifts of kindness, compassion, generosity and love. This is where we acknowledge we are more than the material. We are more than the physical. We are more that the pain and struggle we under-go on a daily basis. This is where we remember the joy and satisfaction we feel when we over-come our trials and upsets and disappointments.

The left ventricle pumps the oxygen-rich blood to the body.

This is where we share our wisdom, gifts and talents with the worlds around us. It is where we discover the sheer joy of service. Service from the heart. When the lessons are learned and the insights are gained, often through spontaneous ‘ah-ha’ moments of insight followed by a good dose of humility and love we turn to our neighbors, our friends and indeed those we have never met and yet with whom we share this moment in time, and ask, can I help you?

Below is a meditation Home is Where the Heart is

It is for you to use where ever you feel displaced, out of your depth, lost or confused.

When we reconnect to the heart of who we are we also align ourself to the essence of our true nature. We are Peace. We are  Kindness. We are Goodness. We are Love.

 

 

 

 

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Who Am I Not?

autumnHow can it be already March? So much has happened already this year. I have a new granddaughter for example. This tiny new being weighing less that a bag of potatoes arrived two weeks ago and through her sweet, soft vulnerability has opened our hearts a little wider. When we witness the birth of a baby, we know the true meaning of miracle.

This led me to ponder once again the age old question, who am I?

As a much younger person I experimented with many philosophies and ideas in an attempt to discover who am I. I read everything I could get a hold of by Ken Wilber, Carlos Castaneda, Fritjof Capra, Alan Watts and Russel Peters, Krishnamurti, Bertam Russel and Paramahansa Yogananda to name a few.

I completed diplomas and post graduate diplomas is a wide range of modalities but I still could not answer that question. Who am I?

 

Over the years I have come to realize the journey towards knowing oneself is often a process of elimination rather than a gathering of information. What works is usually discovered by the realization of what doesn’t work. Our attraction to teachers, books, activities, languages and friends reveals our bent toward particular aspects of ourselves that when acknowledged and accepted can lead us to great insight and self realization. Just as the letting go of teachers, activities and friends can reveal our growth and changes over the years.

By a Process of Elimination:

I am not my thoughts. I certainly have them but they are not who I am. Especially as they can frequently change leaving me dangling somewhere between a past thought and a new idea.

I am not my emotions. Again I can have as many as I wish, however if times of sadness were to define who I am I would very quickly lose all hope of being anything but miserable.

I am not my intellect as that too has oscillated between moments of brilliance to times of confusion and cognitive numbness.

I am not what anyone else may think of me.

So what’s left?

photoThere have been times when my life flowed with effortless ease, and during those times a thought would flash through my mind that now I know who I am, but of course as soon as the thought came, I realized it was only a thought and something would soon occur that would prove me wrong.

It is often when life takes a turn, when that which we took for granted is suddenly gone, when we are faced with a threat, a challenge, an unexpected trial that we realize we are not who we thought we were. And ironically these are the times we really do come face to face with who we are and what we are capable of or not.  And this does not come from books, or teachers, of even friends. It comes from something within. It comes from the essence, the spark, the inner wisdom within each one of us.   This indivisible seed of wisdom can be hidden by our beliefs, our attitudes our fears and our judgments however it is there. Always there. and always available to each one of us if we simply stop and ask.

 

As hard as life’s challenges are, and we all know them, it is only through these ‘gifts’ do we discover who we really are. It is only when we are faced with the unthinkable, unimaginable, and occasionally unfathomable challenges, do we see who we are and who we are not more clearly.

When we bought our new home off the plan in August 2012 never did I imagine that we would find ourselves in a situation where the builders extend the completion date month after month after month with no end in sight.  I had no idea that this waiting would turn my life upside down and reveal parts of myself that I don’t always like, but have to accept, in order to understand who I am, in order to choose to respond differently.

I remember leaving Australia forty years ago without a clue how I was going to survive in a country where I knew no one and not a word of the language spoken and losing my watch one Friday morning and collapsing into tears of irrational yet terror struck fear that as all the shops would be closed in about an hour and I would not know when to eat or sleep or wake up. I remember sobbing all the way back to my tiny room and finding the watch under the bed and realizing this was a turning point in my life and I needed to take stock and take steps towards creating a new life, right now. That day I learned, yet again, a little more about who I am and who I am not.

What is the benefit knowing who we are? To live in authenticity. To accept ourselves unconditionally. To be the best we can in every situation. To live in harmlessness. For only when we know ourselves, accept ourselves and appreciate the spark of immeasurable wisdom within ourselves, can our inner peace begin to illuminate the world in which we live.

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Making God Laugh

sydneyI’m a city gal. Born, bred, schooled and even married (at least once) in Sydney. I can negotiate peak hour traffic, park my car in a shoebox, drink my café latte on the run and carry fifteen bags of shopping in one fell swoop.

One year ago exactly we sold our suburban North Shore home, gave away most of our possessions and decided to live in Israel for 6-months.  It is said that if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans and God must now be holding his belly after hearing my plans.

On returning home we thought we were going to housesit for a few short months and then move into our new home bought off the plan eighteen months earlier. Can you hear Him giggle? The construction company and the Council decided to have a standoff, ten paces and the first one shoots the other one dead. The Council won. The construction company went into an obstinate sulk and stopped work. And we are left without a permanent place in which to live, couch surfing in the homes of family and friends.

image20One warm spring Sunday whilst enjoying a picnic in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney we noticed a little blue cottage with a For Sale sign. Boldly knocking on the door and apologizing for the interruption but asking whether we could have a look, we bought the house three days later.

This 112-years old cottage with its large level garden and wide array of fruit trees has turned my life around in ways I could never have imagined.  To begin with I have given up manicured nails for the sheer joy of digging out and removing an old privet tree and planting in its place a Tahitian Lime. I walk outside still wearing my T-shirt from the night before and revel in the dew-soaked grass drenching my feet and covering them in specks of soil and threads of dry grass. Kneeling down I begin to weed around a row of azaleas and marvel at the number of snails that are hiding inside the foliage and decide today that I’ll find a good way to get rid of them. Me. Who never even thought of gardening but focused on raising five children and on studying and practicing my chosen career.

lemon tree I lose myself in an old lemon tree that’s bulging with young green lemons. I notice tiny yellow buds forming toward the tips of the branches and many lemons just falling on the ground, another thing to look into and learn what this means. And before the sun becomes too hot maybe it’s a good time to plant the three new rose bushes bought at a Wentworth Falls nursery simply because the fragrance made me buckle at the knees as I was walking past looking for blueberries to plant beneath the old pine tree where nothing other than azaleas, camellias and blueberries grow in the pine-acidic soil.

our gardenTime slips by but I remain engrossed in digging wide holes and filling them with water before gently removing the English Rose from its black plastic pot and making sure that it’s planted facing in the right direction. The heat of the day returns me to another reality and I realize I have not yet washed or even drunk a glass of water. My back aches and I am filled with a joy and satisfaction I have rarely known through physical work. One look back at the morning’s work before I step back in time and to a tiny blue cottage that found me long before I knew I was ready for it.

Oh! And these days God and I seem to enjoy a good laugh, together!

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Beginning again and again and again

I once asked Spirit whether They ever get disappointed that their good intentions, hopes and aspirations for humanity are so often foiled. Spirit replied, ” We never completely fail, nor do we ever completely succeed. Its a bit like two steps forward and one step back.” The year that is about to draw its final curtain has been that kind of year. Two steps forward and one step back.

This year I have tasted pure unbridled freedom by selling our family home, packing a bag and travelling to Israel for almost six months. We travelled wherever our heart took us, eating whatever our taste buds longed for, sleeping only when tired and connecting to someone or something new everyday.

Finally believing I was no longer attached to ‘things’,  I celebrated my grand spiritual leap forward. I had conquered attachment, or had I? In all that excitement, I overlooked one small thing.

Even though I was arriving  back to Australia, the land of my birth and the place we had raised our five children, I was not actually coming home, for there was no home to come back to. Yes, were aware of the practicality of this and had been kindly invited to stay with friends… but we were not coming home.

Returning in July, I imagined my spirit would simply fly me to another delicious adventure until our new home, bought off the plan eighteen months earlier, was complete. House-sitting soon lost its glamour when the distance from my children became more than I could handle. What was I thinking when we had agreed to live at the furthest eastern point of Sydney, so far from my children, grand-daughter and 100 traffic lights away from all that was familiar to me. Hours spent in the car between arrangements that were long distances from each other reminded me of the importance of having a place.

All  the letting-go of the past months, all the simple pleasures of walking in an orchard, drinking coffee in tiny cafes, meeting friends at midnight, discovering new places of antiquity were over. Having nowhere to invite family and friends was a challenge. Nowhere to hang a painting. No space to leave a little messy. Nowhere to call my home.  At least I was not running away from violence. I was not trying to find a better life for my children. I knew I had so much to be grateful for and yet I felt displaced, ungrounded and a little confused.  I felt regretful that we had not planned our return better.

Over the past six months we have moved six times.  From rediscovering our roots in the first half of the year we gave ourselves the opportunity to feel completely uprooted. This is an unexpected gift. When you have no place to call your own, life becomes very different. We become more vulnerable, more alert and more grateful.

Why do we invite big challenges into our lives? How easy is it to move from elation to despair?  What can we use to bring stability and balance into our lives when everything around us seems to be in a state of uncertainty and discombobulation?

In the past six months, life has taught me three important lessons:

1. Without taking risks and inviting ourselves to experience challenges, we would never discover how amazingly strong and resilient we really are. Without falling we would never know how to get up and try again. Without failing we would never discover new and diverse ways to overcome our challenges.

2.  Happiness, success and elation are temporary. Happiness happens but only sometimes. Emotions are real. We all have them and one of the keys to a well lived fulfilling life is to feel them and to accept ourselves at the same time.  Life is up and down. The heights and the depths can even out over time and the trick is to practice not to judge the highs as being better than the lows. They are what they are.

3. Balance requires movement. Even the most experienced tightrope walker will fall if he stops moving. You have to have opposition in order to have balance. And so chaos is essential to learning a balanced life. And although our inner Balance is never dependent on the external physical unless we are fully enlightened beings, we will be influenced, even a little, by the circumstances in our lives. The trick is once again to refrain from judging ourselves in the process.We find balance somewhere between shadow and light. We sometimes need to step into the shadow as part of our journey. Sometimes we overshadow ourselves and in doing that we give ourselves the opportunity to discover more about ourselves. Carmen Warrington, in her book Who Am I, writes:

I am a Pendulum: I seek balance always.  In my quest I swing from one side to another, sometimes wildly and seemingly out of control. I must explore both extremes and all points in-between or I will be pulled later to what I have not already investigated. The still centre, which I crave, is the result of visiting all possibilities, all extremes.

Until the polarities within ourselves are recognised and accepted, we will always struggle to find harmony and balance. And so, as this year of trials and joys and tribulations and tests and losses and gains comes to an end, I wish you all the blessings you wish  yourselves. May the year to come bring us all self acceptance, self patience, self kindness and self compassion.  May we pass our wisdom onto all we meet by simply being who we truly are.

And remember, two steps forward and one step back, is just the way it is.

 

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