Everyday Wisdom #39

By not being in conflict with yourself – by practising peace and compassion and acceptance – you are able to release yourself from suffering.

As you live without suffering and conflict, you allow yourself to be who you really are.

Free from unskillful thoughts and actions – both towards yourself and others.

With the absence of fear, aversion, greed and anger, you are left with a pure and beautiful heart.

The essence of who you truly are.

 

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The quality of everything we do: our physical actions, our verbal actions, and even our mental actions, depends on our motivation. That’s why it’s important for us to examine our motivation in our day to day life. If we cultivate respect for others and our motivation is sincere, if we develop a genuine concern for others’ well-being, then all our actions will be positive.

Dalai Lama

Zen Warrior

When I am Alone

No eyes

upon me

I feel your presence

like a warm embrace

No judgment or expectations

this moment

holds no time

bridging yesterday with tomorrow

No clothes

upon my back

I am naked to the world

for all to see nothing and everything

No fear

within me

I am what I am

when I am alone

Thomas D. Craig 

Have you noticed that in general human beings are afraid to be alone?

We mask our lives in chaos and busyness, in noise and minutiae.  We hide from silence.  We run from stillness.  It is within this silence that our true being exists and is bursting to get out.  It is here alone that we find our truth, there is no other place to look.

This terrifies most of us.  We are afraid to dine alone, or look within.  We hide in crowds, action items and things. We are…

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Happiness is…..

Today I wanted to share a couple of wonderful quotes I have come across recently about happiness.

I would love to hear your thoughts ♥

 

Every moment of your life, including this one, is a fresh start. Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber

We gain strength and courage and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face. We must do that which we think we cannot.  Eleanor Roosevelt

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last and the greatest of human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstance, to choose one’s own way of life.Victor Frankl

You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.  Robin Williams

You are free to experience life negatively or positively, and the choice you make determines whether you are at cause, or at effect, of the life you are living.  Marianne Williamson

The purpose of life is a life of purpose.  Robert Byrne

There’s no such thing as bad weather – only the wrong clothes. Billy Connelly

It’s never too late to be the person you could have been.  George Eliot

A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships. Helen Keller

 

 

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Everyday Wisdom #38

“Awakening” involves the capacity to train the mind to move our brains, and our relationships, toward the open plain of possibility.  Rather than being swept up into engrained patterns of thought or feeling, constrained by prior expectation and filtered perception, we can intentionally move our mental lives towards openness and creativity.
Daniel J  Siegel

 

I’m reading an interesting book at the moment “Bringing Home the Dharma” by Jack Kornfield.

Gil Fronsdal, and Jack Kornfield, are amongst my most favourite dharma teachers.

They have so much wisdom to share, and just radiate kindness and compassion.

In this book, Jack reminds as – as Pema Chodron and Thich Nhat Hanh have done so often – that we can start where we are.

We can introduce mindfulness and awareness into every aspects of our lives.

That “Buddhism” is not something that we dedicate time to once a week.  Or even once a day.

Awareness is possible in every moment of everyday.

We can bring our practice into every aspects of our lives.

As Jack says, and in the words of the Buddha…

Awakening and freedom are found:

When sitting, standing, walking and lying down;
through right speech, right action, right livelihood;
inwards and outwardly;
with the whole body, feelings, mind and relationships;
in solitude and community;
in prison, hut, farm, or palace;
in times of war or peace;
in sickness and in health.

 

Through awareness and practice we allow our hearts to become wise, and our lives to become an expression of freedom.

 

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Important lessons

Firstly, thank you to Lead.Learn.Live. for sharing this great blog post:

 

Turning 60: The Twelve Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned So Far

The author – on the eve of his 60th birthday – shares what he has learnt during the last 6 decades.

There was so much great wisdom in this blog post, that I wanted to share some of it:

  • The more we know about ourselves, the more power we have to behave better. Humility is underrated. We each have an infinite capacity for self-deception — countless unconscious ways we protect ourselves from pain, uncertainty, and responsibility — often at the expense of others and of ourselves. Endless introspection can turn into self-indulgence, but deepening self-awareness is essential to freeing ourselves from our reactive, habitual behaviors.
  • Notice the good. We each carry an evolutionary predisposition to dwell on what’s wrong in our lives. The antidote is to deliberately take time out each day to notice what’s going right, and to feel grateful for what you’ve got.
  • Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.
  • Slow down. Speed is the enemy of nearly everything in life that really matters. It’s addictive and it undermines quality, compassion, depth, creativity, appreciation and real relationship.
  • Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, and don’t expect anything in return.Your values are one of the only possessions you have that no one can take away from you. Doing the right thing may not always get you what you think you want in the moment, but it will almost always leave you feeling better about yourself in the long run. When in doubt, default to calm and kind.
  • Add more value in the world than you’re using up. We spend down the earth’s resources every day. Life’s primary challenge is to put more back into the world than we take out.
 

To read the full blog post, click here.

 

“Instructions for living a life. 
Pay attention. 
Be astonished. 
Tell about it.” 

Mary Oliver

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Everyday Wisdom #37

Just pause

How you speak to others is often reflected as an extension of how you are.

If you are frustrated, or feeling short-tempered, then your tone and words will often reflect this.

Before speaking, it can be very useful to just pause.

Pausing gives you a chance to relax.  To scan your body, and release any tension.  To take a deep breath.  And to speak from a place of calm and peace.

It allows you to make a conscious decision as to what you want to say.

And all this can be done so quickly that the pause is almost imperceptible.

Sometimes you may need more time.  Particularly if you are dealing with a sensitive issue.

And it can be useful to say honestly “let me think about that”.

To give yourself time to breathe, group and refocus.

And therefore give a wiser and more considered response.

 

Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
Ambrose Bierce

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Love is…

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Each day I walk my son to school, and we love all the different people and animals we get to talk to along the way.

We often used to talk to this dog through the fence, but today we discovered he had pushed over one of the fence palings, and could see the outside world :-).

I couldn’t fit my hand in to pat him (and was also a little cautious), but he stuck his paw through, and insisted I hold it.

I sat there for ages this morning just holding his paw.

It was so beautiful ♥

 

Share with me….

Today I would love to hear from YOU.

 

Share your wisdom with me…

What are your favourite books?

What are your favourite podcasts?

What has changed your life?

Who inspires you?

 

These are mine:

Favourite book:  Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

Favourite podcasts:  Audio Dharma, with Gil Fronsdal

Who inspires me:  Audrey Hepburn, Nelson Mandela, Gil Fronsdal, Thich Nhat Hanh, my WordPress friends

Namaste friends ♥

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Everyday Wisdom #36

You decide

Your day doesn’t have to be “perfect” to be joyous.

Happiness is the result of a decision to be happy.  

It is a feeling you choose, not an outcome of events.  You can be happy simply by changing your thinking

YOU are in complete control of our life, and how you perceive your life.  

You can decide to be happy.  Or you can decide to be miserable.

What choice are you going to make?

 

 I decide to be happy and commit myself to making happiness my state of mind, rather than relying on a set of circumstances to do it for me. 
Richard Carlson

 

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It’s the little things…

Today I am grateful for the little things that have touched my heart this week.

My son came to me with this drawing this morning:

 

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It’s of his doggy friend Bandit “singing from his heart”.

Those words really touched my soul.  It’s so true – dogs really do speak from their hearts.

And each night this week he has surprised me with something kind that he has done.

One night he snuck into my room after I put him to bed, to put a torch on my bedside table.  Each night he takes his favourite blue torch to bed.  Just in case he needs it.  That night I had offered him my torch instead.  So after I tucked him in, he snuck into my room to give me his blue one.  So I would have one if I needed it.

Another night I went into my room to go to bed to find he’d picked out some pyjamas for me, and laid them on my bed:

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And every night without fail, when he brushes his teeth, he also gets my toothbrush ready.  He puts toothpaste on it, and leaves it for me as a surprise.

Today I am grateful for all these beautiful little things – and more.

Happy Sunday everyone ♥

 

 

We are blessed

Today I am feeling incredibly grateful for all our neighbourhood doggy friends.

My son and I lost a lot last year.  But perhaps the most painful of all was the loss of our pet cat Dougal.  We were not able to bring him with us when we moved.  He went to a very loving home, but we still both grieve for him deeply.

I feel so fortunate though that we have made so many new friends – both human and canine.

These people and animals mean the world to us.

Amongst our wonderful doggy friends are Cassie, and Molly and Chester.

Cassie is the most beautiful old lady.  At 16 years old (112 in human years), she has lived a very happy and long life.  And she has the most beautiful and gentle spirit.  

I have had the honour of looking after her twice in recent weeks, and it’s been an absolute pleasure.

All she asks for (the same as any dog), is to be loved and hugged.

 

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And as for Molly and Chester… these are 2 of the most loved and looked after dogs I have ever known in my life.

From having every single meal home cooked for them.  To having their own clothes hand made.  Their own pyjama’s (which also get ironed).  And pearls for Molly, and a bow-tie for Chester.

My son adores these dogs more than I can put into words.  

With his Aspergers Syndrome, he struggles to make connections.  But it’s incredibly beautiful to see how he has opened up with these dogs.  

 

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Everyday Wisdom #35

A  game of memory

Do this fun exercise to help build your memory, perception and mindfulness skills.

Have someone gather together an assortment of unconnected everyday objects.

Have them look for objects with different smells, colours, textures and associations.  Eg a photograph, a leaf or flower, a scented candle or soap, a piece of fruit, a tea bag etc.

Have the person place all the items on a tray, and then put it in front of you.

Now pick up each item – one at a time – and examine it carefully.

Notice as much detail as you can.  Run your fingers over them, look at them closely to see their colours, feel their textures.

Now put the tray away.

List as many of the objects as you can on a piece of paper.  

When you start to struggle, close your eyes and try to recall the different sensory experiences.

 

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She glances at the photo, and the pilot light of memory flickers in her eyes. 
~Frank Deford

 

Kudos to Karise

I love this video.

To me it’s another great example of mindfulness.

This young woman – only 19 years old- is clearly singing from her heart.

With soul, passion and authenticity.

And it gives her performance true power.  The power to move people.

It is clear to me that even at such a young age, she has experience suffering.  More so than most.

However she has turned that suffering around.  To stop it eating away at her from the inside.  Instead she has focused it outwards.

And it’s amazing, and beautiful ♥

Everyday Wisdom #34

Zen and the art of calm driving

Heavy traffic can cause even the most zen-like of us to become frustrated.  Especially if it’s also causing us to run late.

Next time you are stuck in heavy traffic, try the following tips to keep your cool:

Have a conscious intention to stay calm whilst driving.  Before starting the car, state this intention out loud.

Write yourself a note ” I have inner peace within me”.  Put it somewhere you can see whilst driving.

If you find yourself getting frustrated with another driver, try to visualize what might be going on for them to be acting the way they are.  Are they speeding?  Perhaps they are on their way to the hospital to see a loved one that is gravely ill.  Are they going too slow?  Perhaps they are bringing their newborn baby home from hospital.  Did they forget to signal?  Perhaps they have screaming kids in the car and are at their wits end.  Or perhaps they’ve just received very bad news.  Everyone has accidents and makes mistakes, it doesn’t make them a bad person.

Put other cars needs ahead of your own.  Let people merge in front of you.  It won’t make you arrive any later, or earlier, than you would have anyway.  However by focusing on being kind, it will help you keep calm whilst driving.

Always leave at least a car’s length between you and the vehicle in front of you.  That way you are never in danger of being cut off, and the frustration that can go with it.

Treat other drivers as you would like to be treated.  Allow people plenty of room – don’t tailgate them.  Be courteous when they are parking, and wait patiently.

Make sure you always have your favourite music, or an audiobook, or podcast to listen to.  Make the most of the time spent in the car.

Use the time you are stuck in traffic to do a quick body scan.  Do you have any tension anywhere in your body that you can soften?  Shoulders?  Neck?  Are you frowning?  To finish, take a deep calming breath, and smile.

Listen to classical music – or anything that is light and calming and soothing.

And finally Charles Friedline – one of our Facebook followers – had this great suggestion for how he keeps calm:

I just try to “assume innocence”–which is to say,always assume that the person who pulled out in front of you, or cut you off, or whatever, just didn’t see you. Assume that it was an honest mistake. Now, I just try to smile and breathe.

What strategies do you find help to keep you calm in traffic?

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This is what happened to my car when I wasn’t as mindful as I should have been…

High Tea

Today I had the best fun holding a “High Tea” at my house for my friends and I.  We had a wonderful time, and it made me realise…

High Tea is really just tea with extra mindfulness.

It’s all about stopping to take notice of – and enjoy – the little things that we normally overlook.

Beautiful china.

White clean tablecloths.

and my favourite…

Small morsels of yummy cakes and sandwiches.

I love that – the extra small portions of food.  Instead of the frequent approach to food in our society – gluttony. And more is better.

High Tea is all about eating and drinking tea in moderation. With mindfulness.

Appreciating the tastes and textures and colours.

The feel of the fine china.

And of being mindful of the entire experience itself, and dedicating time to enjoy it and make it special.

 

There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea. 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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My late Grandma’s china

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I see you

I listened to an interesting dharma talk by Gil Fronsdal yesterday, on how we define ourselves and other people.

I wouldn’t consider myself judgemental ordinarily, but it made me realise that I too am guilty of seeing people through the labels I have defined them by.

My Mum comes to mind.  I realised I always see her through the filter of “mum”.  But she is a person in her own right.  She was her own person – an individual – before she had me.  And she continued to be her own person after I was born.

It’s easy to see people through filters.  By their sex.  Or occupation.

Or even by a previous encounter we have had with them – either pleasant or unpleasant.

Perhaps we see them as “angry”, or “emotional”, based on that encounter.

However no person can be defined by one label.

Even yourself.

You are the sum of everyone you have ever met.  Every experience you have ever had.  Your hopes, dreams and intentions.

Today’s practice:

Pick a prominent person in your life.

Spend some time reflecting – what “labels” have you defined them by?

How else can you see them?  How many ways can you describe them?

 

define nothing. Not beauty, not patriotism. I take each thing as it is, without prior rules about what it should be.
Bob Dylan 

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Everyday Wisdom #33

Gossip Free Zone

I feel really passionately about the Buddhist concept of “wise speech”.  So today’s post is a follow up from yesterdays’ on listening rather than talking.

When we talk about another person, a lot of care should be taken regarding what is said.

Even if the intention of the talk is not harmful – as in harsh speech, or gossip – it is still possible to cause harm.  We cannot know the effect that our speech may have.

I am reminded of this story:

In a small German village, a woman differed with her minister and became so angry that she began spreading ugly rumors about him around town. As fate would have it, she eventually became ill and called on the minister to pray for her. He came gladly, and she asked his forgiveness of her gossiping.

“I will grant you forgiveness,” the minister said, “but there’s something you must do.”

“I’ll do anything,” the woman said.

“As soon as you get well, go pluck the feathers from a black chicken and put them into a basket and bring them to me.”

When the woman got well, she did what the minister asked her to do and presented the basket of feathers to the minister.

“You did well,” the minister said. “Now take this basket of feathers and scatter them in the corners of the marketplace and from the towers of the church. Scatter them throughout the town. Then return to me.”

So the woman did. She walked from one end of town to the other, scattering the feathers. Then she returned to her pastor. “I have done as you asked,” she said.

“Very well. Now take your basket and collect all the feathers. Make sure not one is missing.”

“But that is not possible!” the woman said with a choking cry. “The wind has carried many of them away!”

“So it is with your words,” the minister said. “While I have gladly forgiven you, do not forget that you can never undo the damage your untrue words have done.”

Personally I try to uphold a practice of not talking about someone if they are not present.

It’s an interesting practice… and surprisingly difficult to do.

It’s a great opportunity for analysis though – why do we want to talk about that person?  For what purpose?  What is our intention?

 

With our speech we can cause great change

Words can hurt and words can heal.

The basic Buddhist guidelines for wise speech include:  no slander, no harsh speech, no gossip, and no idle speech. In addition to the fundamental precept of not lying.

Speech is such a fascinating area to be mindful of, and practice mindfulness in.  I will explore the topic more in future blog posts.

But for today, try this practice:

Do not speak about anyone who is not present

And be mindful of the challenges that this exercise creates for you.

 

Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Miguel Angel Ruiz

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Time to Dance Walk Baby

I couldn’t resist sharing this…

This truly put the hugest smile on my face :-).

Happy Friday friends – Love & Blessings to you all ♥

An ordinary, magical life

Things that I will do my best to carry on in your honor: I will order salad with french fries on the side, with a straight face. I will drink my tea with too much milk. I will carry cookies in my coat pocket for all the dogs. I will love unconditionally. —
Eulogy for Shelagh Gordon, Feb 2012

I first read Shelagh Gordon’s story in March 22.

It really touched something deep within me.

About how a modest life can have a huge impact.  On the people around them.  On society.

As was written in the article, it made me question: “Do I love as deeply as Shelagh? Do I exult in the small pleasures of life the way she did? How do I want to be remembered?”.

I truly hope that I live a life as rich, warm and loving as Shelagh.

That I leave a legacy.  And that I have touched people’s live as she did.

I tried to find a quote to sum up my feelings, but this Cold Play song “Green Eyes” seems more appropriate:

Honey you are a rock
Upon which I stand
And I come here to talk
I hope you understand 

That green eyes
Yeah the spotlight, shines upon you
And how could anybody deny you

I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter 
Now I met you

Everyday Wisdom #32

You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time
— M. Scott Peck

 

The cone of silence

Spend one day trying to say as little as possible.

Try to keep the focus away from yourself.  

When you’re tempted to gossip, or tell a story, ask a question instead.

When you’re tempted to say “That’s what happened to me!…”, ask instead “How did that make you feel?”.

Try (within reason) to bring each conversation back to the other person’s opinion, and listen to what they have to tell you.

At the end of the day, make a note of how much you have learned.  About other people.  About life.  About yourself.

How much of this would you have missed if you had spent that time talking about yourself?

 

“Effective questioning brings insight, which fuels curiosity, which cultivates wisdom.”
— Chip Bell

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