Random thoughts

I’ve been very lucky to have had a time of self growth and self analysis in the last couple of months.

It was triggered by a number of events.  Largely the spectacular failure of 2 relationships last year.  But also the same advice I kept hearing over and over …. that I needed “to become stronger in myself”.

This last piece of advice was repeated frequently and from different people.  And each time I would stand puzzled thinking – exactly how does one do that?  How is that defined?

However apart from uttering those words, I was not given any other instructions or tips.

I think though I have started to understand what was being said to me.

The change has come around through a couple of key changes I have made.

One is a daily meditation practice.  Since starting this on the 1st of January (yes a new years resolution), I have noticed huge changes in myself.  I am a lot calmer and less emotional.  Events that would have had me react quickly now don’t tend to ruffle me.  I am more even-tempered.

Additionally I have decided to withdraw into myself.

In the past I have always reached out to people when I have been fearful and needed comfort.

This time I have kept my own counsel.

I have meditated, I have read, I have listened to dharma talks.  

And maybe most importantly, I have started to distance myself from toxic people and relationships.

So many times the universe gives us signs, and that is what has happened to me.  I felt like the universe was telling me to limit contact with the people who were not bringing happiness into my life.

It hasn’t been easy for me, but I felt like it was something important that I needed to do.

I read somewhere that you become like the 5 people that you most spend time with.  And that really stayed with me.  I want to be happy and positive and kind.  And it made me think about the people in my life.  And what they brought in to it.

It’s been a slow process.  But I have looked closely at all my relationships.  And I have formed new ones that are based on what I would like to have in my life.  And discontinued those that were built on a foundation of stress, drama and unhappiness.

And today I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time – I volunteered to work at my son’s school.

It’s something only small, but it’s given me a great deal of satisfaction, and happiness and hope.

And I’m starting to feel that maybe things are starting to turn around.

2012 was not a good year, especially the last 6 months.  And at first I blamed bad luck – I have always laughed off the events in my life as my typical bad luck.

However I’ve thought about that a lot more lately.  And perhaps I’ve created that bad luck.  By the people I’ve allowed into my life.  And the behaviour I’ve been willing to accept.

I allowed myself to be treated badly, and I was.  Spectacularly so.

I feel different now though.  

Perhaps I have finally found the inner strength that everyone has urged me to find.

And now instead of looking at recent events as “good luck”, it might be more sensible to see it as laying a foundation of more positive experiences.  

Because in the end the responsibility for my own happiness lies within me.

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Simply beautiful.

Contagious laughter on a commuter train

I couldn’t resist sharing this wonderful video.

What a beautiful thing to share with fellow passengers – positivity and happiness and laughter.

“Contagious laughter on a commuter train in East Anglia. One person starts laughing at something funny in his smart phone, and within minutes virtually the whole train is laughing too.”

The Elegance of Slow

Living courageously is choosing to find, notice, cultivate, and savor the good RIGHT here in our everyday lives! 

~  Lisa, www.barefootbarn.com

 

I feel like the Universe is trying to tell me something this week – about the value of mindfulness , and truly experiencing and enjoying the present moment.

It started with a surprising conversation with my brother over a copy of “Zen Mind, Beginners Mind”.

And followed on with:

A beautiful experience yesterday holding an injured bird, and tenderly stroking it and whispering to it.

A wonderful recent blog post by Lisa at the The Barefoot Barn.  Her blog post touched me very deeply.  It was about finding the good in every day life.  As she said in her post:  

“This is EXACTLY when we need to PAUSE.  To stop right in that moment you feel a tightness coming across your chest.  And soften.  Looooook fooooor the gooooooood.  It’s right here.  In your everyday life.  This is where the magic is — right here in the messiness of our ordinary day.  Put down your cell phone.  Let the dinner-making be for a bit.  Pull out a popsicle if you need to!  And hold your little one – your toddler or teenager – and look at them!  Look at them with regard and love.”

 

And then today, listening to a dharma talk by Gil Fronsdal, and the 4 Foundations of Mindfulness.

So many wonderful reminders to just stop and notice the present moment.

To pause, and breathe and reflect.

It’s especially a great reminder for me to just slow down.  

These days society exemplifies busyness and multitasking.  The more you do, the more you achieve, the more you can juggle, the better a person you are – apparently.

I am taking a stand against this common misconception.

I am going to slow down.  

Life goes by too quickly.  My son will be a teenager before I know it.  And I don’t want to look back and regret the time I didn’t spend with him.

I’m going to enjoy the luxury of sitting and chatting to him while he has his bath.  Instead of rushing around washing the dishes and folding clothes.

I am going to pause and see – really see – the people I am speaking to.  Instead of stopping for a rushed hello as I race off to my next destination.

I’m going to allow myself the luxury of a slowly drinking my tea – savouring every mouthful.

I’m going to sit and eat my dinner without distractions – no computer, no TV.  Enjoying the tastes and textures, and the comfort in a home-cooked meal.

I’m going to accomplish less, and enjoy more.

I invite you to join me in “the elegance of slow”.

Blessings, Meg

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Savour life slowly

These days we have an abundance of luxuries – food, entertainment, and possessions.

How often though do we stop to truly appreciate and savour what we have?  And to notice and appreciate what is going on around us?

True happiness lies in appreciating and enjoying what we have, not striving for what we don’t have.

By savouring life, we are also developing healthy habits to build emotional resilience.  This resilience increases our emotional reserves and provides us with a greater ability to withstand the stressors we encounter in life.

There are so many areas of our lives where we can just savour the experience.

Next time you make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, aim to drink it with no other distractions.  Don’t drink it while you watch TV, or read a book, or surf the net (or drive your car).

Take the time to simply enjoy it.

Drink it slowly, with your eyes closed, fully appreciating the aroma and the taste .

This mindfulness can be applied to so many experiences.  Eating a piece (piece, not block!!) of very good quality chocolate.  Letting it melt in your mouth, noticing its earthiness, the richness of its texture as it melts in your mouth.

Reading a blog post, article, newspaper or book very slowly – really noticing each word.

The key is not to rush through these activities. 

So much of our life is spent multi-tasking, or working to deadline.  We are missing the simple beauty of the many every day moments in our lives.

When we can stop – really STOP –  and fully appreciate what we are doing, we can find lasting contentment and happiness.

Savour everything you do, every experience, every meal, every interaction.

 

Because every single moment of every single day – whether those moments are good or bad – is a gift.

 

Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content
~ Robert Greene

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Love is all around

Well actually in my case it’s kindness, but I have that song in my head now :D.

Once again I feel very privileged to be attending another one of Andy Smallman’s kindness classes – this time The Practice of Kindness.

Today I had numerous experiences to practice acts of kindness – some small, and some larger – and I am so humbled by the experience.

I have often read that what you think you become, and you draw into your life.  

And I could see that today – because I was focused on kindness, and finding opportunities to practice kindness, they just seemed to keep appearing out of nowhere.

#1 After reading the latest “assignment” from the kindness class, I was trying to think what I could do that would be meaningful. And not a few minutes later my Mum rang to say one of our relatives celebrates her 80th birthday tomorrow (which I had not realised). My Mum said she thought about sending a card, but decided it was too hard.

And I knew instantly what my kind action this week would be 🙂

However it was more than about just sending a card.

I wrote my relative a lovely long letter to go in with the card. And filled her in on all that my son and I had been up to since we saw them last (more than 12 months ago). I also included photos, and a drawing done by my son.

It was such a privilege to complete the action this week. I adored how meaningful it was to actually write a letter to her. Not many people seem to write letters any more, and I know older people especially enjoy receiving one.

#2 Removing a tree branch off the road so it wasn’t a traffic hazard.

#3 As I approached my sons school, I went to press the button to cross the road, but stopped. Instead I waited for the line of cars to go through first before pressing it so I wasn’t holding them up while I crossed.

and lastly:

#4 I saved a Rainbow Lorikeet (native Australian bird) that had been hit by a car. I ran onto the road and scooped it up. Then sat on the footpath and gently cradled it in my hands and stroked it’s head. I held it like that until it had recovered enough to fly away.

 

For me, all of those opportunities were such a blessing, and I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to have done them.

Perhaps the most meaningful though for me was to help this little bird.  It was so incredibly profound to sit there on the footpath cradling it’s warm little body.  And stroking it’s head, and whispering to it that it would be okay.

I truly felt that it knew I meant it no harm.  It didn’t struggle, or try to bite me.  It just lay peacefully in my hands as I poured love into it.

And looking back on these events, nearly all involved a level of fate or “meant to be”.  

I was walking to the post box when I came across the bird, just after it had been hit by the car.  Had I left a few minutes later (as I had been intending to), it would have been hit by the next car going past (which was coming towards me as I ran onto the road to pick it up).

I’m really so moved by the events of today, and thankful to have had the opportunity to be involved.

Blessings,

Meg

I adore this ♥

Begin again

Many of us are taking the turning of the year to reflect and resolve on how to be in the coming days.   Every one of us has taken an occasion at some point in our lives to set a new intention.

The dawning of a new year gives us the chance to begin again – to start over, and to decide how we want to be in this world, and the impact we want to have.

They don’t have to be seen as resolutions – as resolutions are often quickly forgotten.  A common mistake people make when setting resolutions is setting big, nebulous goals that have no tangible, achievable outcome.

Instead the New Year can be a time to make intentions – how you want to be not just this year, but every year going forward.

Here are 7 powerful ideas to help you on your path.

 

Begin

The feeling you get from taking the first step is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around thinking about it.  Get up and take that first step, then keep on moving in the direction of your dreams.

Follow your own path

Pursue your own path – instead of walking in the footsteps of others.  Chase your own dreams, and do what’s right for you.  Live a life that you are proud of.  Live according to your intentions and what makes you happy and fulfilled.  And if you realise the path your following is no longer making you happy, find the strength to start over again on a new path.

Focus

Make a list of what you need to do, and stick to it.  Don’t fill in your day being busy, instead be productive.   And most importantly – be prepared to see your project through. What makes it challenging makes it worthwhile and fulfilling.  There are no shortcuts to going any place worth going.

Find balance

We need to find a way of balancing our ‘inner’ work and our ‘outer’ work. In order to be truly generous, truly of service to others, we actually need to be ‘self-centred’. We need to spend time focusing on ourselves, and nurturing ourselves.

Be kind

That’s it in a nutshell.  Be kind.  With no exceptions, no conditions, no expectations.

 Kindness in words creates confidence.  Kindness in thinking creates positivity.  Kindness in giving creates love.

By acting with an intention of kindness, you make a profound difference to every life around you – including your own.  Kindness generates kindness – it’s self-fulfilling.  The more you give the more you will get back in return.

Acknowledge, accept, release

Leave the past in the past. 

To truly move into the future, you need to let go of the past.  To move past the sorrows and mistakes of yesterday, and face tomorrow with hope and optimism.

Choose to see the positives in your situation, and to make the most of it, anyway you can.

Have faith in yourself

Believe that you are strong, and that you are capable of doing anything you set your mind to.  Because in the end, the only person you can truly count on is yourself.  Have strength and faith and confidence in yourself, and your ability to achieve your dreams.

 

Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.

– Alan Cohen –

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52 Changes for 2013

I’ve just bought the most wonderful e-book from the always inspiring Leo Babauta at Zen Habits.

I highly HIGHLY recommend his blog for wisdom on subjects from simplifying, to living life, to fitness, to finding peace.

This wonderful ebook covers the following topics:

Table of Contents

  • How to Use This Book
  • Introduction
  • The Principles
  • Change 1: Meditate
  • Change 2: Unprocrastinate
  • Change 3: Walking
  • Change 4: Flexible Mind
  • Change 5: Identify Your Essentials
  • Change 6: Mindful Eating
  • Change 7: Most Important Things (MITs)
  • Change 8: Clear a Shelf
  • Change 9: Start Saving
  • Change 10: Yoga or strength training
  • Change 11: Floss
  • Change 12: Pay a small debt
  • Change 13: Mindful Exercise
  • Change 14: Budget Simply
  • Change 15: Create a support crew
  • Change 16: Eat some veggies
  • Change 17: Gratitude
  • Change 18: Clear counters
  • Change 19: Slow down
  • Change 20: Play
  • Change 21: Flow
  • Change 22: Let go of a vice
  • Change 23: Don’t wish things were different
  • Change 24: Clear a closet
  • Change 25: Let go of TV
  • Change 26: Get more sleep
  • Change 27: Value time over money
  • Change 28: Replace opinions with curiosity
  • Change 29: Read
  • Change 30: Cut out shopping
  • Change 31: Learn that you’re good enough
  • Change 32: Create
  • Change 33: Eat real food
  • Change 34: Explore work you love
  • Change 35: Help others
  • Change 36: Breathe
  • Change 37: Enjoy the habit
  • Change 38: Solitude
  • Change 39: Unclutter a room
  • Change 40: Iterate the habit
  • Change 41: Less busywork, more impact
  • Change 42: Disconnect
  • Change 43: Let go of a goal
  • Change 44: Treat failure as a learning opportunity
  • Change 45: Reduce commitments
  • Change 46: Turn problems into opportunities
  • Change 47: Savor
  • Change 48: Clear your inbox
  • Change 49: Teach
  • Change 50: Compassion
  • Change 51: Reflect
  • Change 52: Realize you’re not missing out

To find out more, or download a copy, click here.

It’s a wonderful way to kick off 2013.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year.  May you all be blessed with good fortune, love, happiness and peace ♥