Trying to be an island

I read a wonderful article today  “How to Stop Being Influenced by Other People’s Moods”.

I was drawn to read it because it’s something that I really need to work on.  I’ve always been very highly sensitive, and affected by other people’s moods.

This was particularly the case in my marriage.  My ex-husband used to suffer from bad headaches, and when he did he was very cranky.  And it really used to affect me. His crankiness made me feel on edge, and unable to avoid being drawn into his bad mood.  And we’d both suffer.

I learnt a lot of lessons after my marriage ended, but it’s something I still struggle with.  Not to be affected if people around me are stressed/angry etc.

This line from the article particularly spoke to me:

Everyone has the right to be in a bad mood if that is the way they feel, and by not feeling responsible for other people’s bad moods we give them the space to feel as they need without more negativity being directed towards them.

I’d never thought of it that way.

That by being responsible for my own mood, and maintaining my own mindfulness and “peace” that I was actually doing them a great kindness.

I personally struggle to do anything for myself, but I would do anything for anyone else.

So the idea of maintaining my own calm as a kindness to someone else appeals to me greatly.

This is a solo journey, but we share it with billions of other humans. Learning to not be thrown off by other people’s moods and emotions through mindfulness, self-awareness and gentle self-inquiry is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves, as well as for others.

 

 

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Use your thoughts for good and not evil

I saw this great post on FB this week, and it hit home for me, because it’s something I really believe in.Ordinary things

I think part of it is due to my mindfulness practice (which encourages noticing all the small things), but maybe more because I’ve found that it’s doing this that brings real happiness.

My belief is that you should have lots of things in your life that make you happy – all the small moments combined should bring you a sense of gratitude and satisfaction. And if they don’t then it’s probably time to look at why, and what you can do to change it.

Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows – actually from my experience it’s usually the opposite – but if you can focus on the small things that you love then it balances it all out.

For me personally the things that have made me happy this week are:

  • Going to the shops as a family and buying beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables for the week.  I’ve found a great fruit shop that sells the most beautiful fruit – it’s always such fantastic quality.  And things like that give me so much happiness.  I adore my fruit and vegetables and knowing I have a fridge full of the loveliest produce makes me really happy.
  • Nourishing my soul with classical music.  I work from home, so I have the freedom to listen to whatever I like to during the day.  And lately I’ve been listening to cello music.  It’s something Mr ISFS and I both have a passion for.  I just love having it on in the background as I work.
  • Books.  I’ve always been a huge bookworm since I could read.  Sometimes I find I get too busy with other things to read much, but it’s always such a joy to go back to it.  On Thursday during lunch I sat with my feet up, a cup of tea, my cello music playing, and a new book to read, and it was (to me) the idea of perfection.
  • Sharing my favourite takeout (noodles) with Mr ISFS.  This is something that we have always done – shared our favourite takeout together at least once a month.  We are trying to save for a house, so we are mostly budgeting very carefully, but once a month we splurge and get all our favourites – Kway Teow, Garlic Prawns, Special Fried Rice, and spring rolls.

and lastly

  • 12599343_960538727371424_1772379474_n(1)Valentine’s Day.  Today has a heightened meaning for me today, and it’s been a chance to realise how truly blessed I am.  I bought Mr ISFS a 1st edition copy of DeadPool (the comic), and he bought me a pair of amethyst earrings.  They have such special meaning for me as he picked them specially as they are my birthstone, and he knows how much I love them.  But the gifts are really only a very minor part of the day – the day is a reaffirmation for me of how much I love the life we have built together, and how much it means to me.

I am struggling with some personal issues at the moment (health related), but it’s focusing on these small things that makes my life full, and I realise how truly blessed I am.

Much love,
Meg

Mindfulness of mindfulness

This week for me I’ve had a very strong focus on mindfulness.

I had been reading a blog post which talked about another blog post, which talked about a great podcast, which was based on a book (which I then had to buy).  And so it goes.  (Oh how I love technology ♥).

So the book I am currently reading is this one:

Mindfulness

With reading this book I’ve been thinking a lot about mindfulness, and I’ve been trying to be more aware of it in my daily life.

And I am noticing many more small moments.  This morning I was making a cup of tea, and I was accurately aware of the sound of the boiling water being poured into the cup.  And I was AWARE that I was aware.  Then I was aware of the silence around me (it was dawn and the rest of my household was asleep).  It was a small moment of clarity, but it was so beautiful.

I then decided to do my jigsaw puzzle while I drank my tea, and listen to a talk about mindfulness tools in daily life.

And a funny thing happened.

I was listening to the tools that the dharma teacher was suggesting (which were great!).  And I was thinking how I could apply them in my daily life.  And then I had a lightbulb moment.

Why?

I was reading this book on mindfulness, listening to a mindfulness podcast.  Trying to incorporate it in my daily life.

But why?  Why practice mindfulness?

To me it was my own ‘mindful’ moment.  I was spending all this energy and focus on becoming mindful.  But I then realised I didn’t know why I was doing it.

My curiosity was piqued then, so I did more reading on why practice it at all.

But for me personally…. I hope that my mindfulness helps me to help others.  My goal and focus has long been to provide support and kindness to others.  And now my intention is that my mindfulness practice helps me to become a better listener, more in-tune with those around me and their hearts, and more in-tune with my own heart.

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A different take on mindfulness

I came across a talk yesterday called “Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness” by Ellen Langer.  I really love challenging my thinking, and learning/growing and this talk has been a real eye opener.

Ellen discusses the concept of mindfulness, but from a very “stand alone” view point.  Her research and opinions are of mindfulness as it’s own practice, and not as part of meditation or Buddhism.

And it’s fascinating.

I’m still absorbing her concepts – as they are many and varied (and brilliant!).  But a few things have resonated with me already.

A lot of her work (as I understand it so far) explores challenging our thinking and the labels we apply to certain situations.  And how changing our thinking changes our experience.

For example it’s proven that most of us view our jobs as “work”.  Our attitudes are that it’s a necessary evil, and we approach our work days as such.  We don’t enjoy our jobs (that’s what our personal time is for!).  However if we can approach work our work as being fun/pleasurable/interesting our experience changes vastly as does our enjoyment.  The work is the same, but the approach and outcome are different.

She also challenges us to explore our set beliefs.  One question she asks is “what is 1 plus 1?”.  And naturally most people are going to roll their eyes and say “2”.  But as she says, that’s not always the case.  What if you had one wad of chewing gum, and one more wad to it?  It’s not going to be 2.

And personally I love challenging my thinking that way.

Maybe I’m weird (okay I own that I am lol), but I often question the labels that we give things.

For example – the common belief is that going into a shopping centre/restaurant/business with bare feet is considered rude.  Why is it rude?  Because as a society we frown upon it.  But why?  Who came up with that rule that shoes must be worn?   We are raised with that belief, but what if the belief was that it was rude to wear shoes in a shopping centre?

It’s an odd example I know, but I often think about small things like that.  Or “the sky is blue”.  Why do we call it the sky?  Why have we given it that label?  Where did that come from?  What if we knew it by a completely different name?

And it’s true of basically everything in life.

Which leads me to say I’ve always been very vocal about my belief that things never black or white.  A neighbour of mine is always very very firm in her opinions.  She will argue – violently – with anyone who doesn’t agree with her take on life.  But I often wonder – how could she be so set in her opinions?  What makes them unshakeable?

I can honestly say I never have set opinions or beliefs on anything.  I just don’t see life being that way.  It’s fluid, and changeable and only appears to everyone differently based on their experiences, on their upbringings, their financial situation, their religion, etc etc etc.

 

I’m enjoying learning more as I listen to her talk.  And I’ve immediately downloaded her book as well, so I am sure this subject will come up quite a lot in coming weeks.

Take care my friends,

Meg

 

 

The value in sincerity

I was inspired by something I heard this week.

I was listening to another Gil Fronsdal dharma talk, and he related a story from the Zen tradition.

A student asked his teacher “If I practice Zen will I become enlightened?”.  And the Zen teacher replied “If your practice is sincere, it is almost as good”.

I was incredibly inspired by this simple concept.

I know myself that I practice Buddhism because I identify with the precepts very strongly.  However I do not hold the belief that I will become enlightened – I would imagine very few Buddhist practitioners ever will become enlightened.

However I can practice with sincerity.  We all can.

And it doesn’t have to relate to Buddhist practice – we can live our lives with sincerity full stop.

I love that thought so much.

Sincerity encompasses so many things – living ethically, honestly and with pure intention.  And all of those things make such a difference not only to our lives, but to the lives of those that we touch.

You can’t really put a value on sincerity and honesty.

So this week I’ve tried to really keep that as my intention.

Also in this past week I heard a discussion on the Buddha – how before he became enlightened he had to live through many lives, and learn from each one.  He was reborn many times.  And of all the lives he lead, and the mistakes he made (as a lay person) one thing he never did was lie.  And specifically he did not lie to himself.

It’s a deep concept – to never lie to ourselves.

It’s also been on my mind this week, and I have given a lot of reflection on the ways I have lied to myself in the past.

There are so many great things that can be gained from self analysis and knowledge.  I feel blessed to have access to the dharma teachings.

And a new day each day to learn from them.

Namaste,

Meg

 

Let it go

Regular readers of my blog will know that last week was a less than ideal week for me.  Stress caught up with me, and I cracked somewhat.  I acted out of character, and I had to live with the consequences.

I’m feeling so much better in myself now.

One of the defining moments for me was a bus ride I took into the city on Monday morning.  I decided to make the most of that time, and listen to a dharma talk by Gil Fronsdal.  I may not have mentioned it before on my blog, but he is my absolute favour dharma speaker.  His talks (found at Audio Dharma) have taught me so much.  I am the person I am today thanks to Gil’s teachings.  So many of them have resonated with me on a very deep level.

So on this bus ride I decided to really take stock of what was going on in my life.  I put on my headphones, and picked a talk by Gil on “thinking”.  I spent the next 45 minutes looking out the bus window, and mindfully listening to his wisdom on thinking.  And I consciously let all the stress go.

I tried to just focus on what was happening to me in that present moment.  And when I did I found I could much better reconnect with myself.

Because what was happening in that moment?  I was having a day off work, I was on the bus (which I love).  I was lucky to be listening to a dharma talk by Gil.  And I was on my way to a rally against violence.  Something I felt very strongly about supporting.

Aside from the bus trip, I have also spent time recently doing things which replenished my soul.

It’s a bit of a daggy hobby (maybe), but I really adore doing jigsaw puzzles.  Ever since I was a child I have found them incredibly relaxing.  To me they are a form of meditation.  I sit there, and sift through the pieces, and let the thoughts come and go in my mind.  I find that afterwards anything I’ve been stewing over is released from my focus, and I feel much calmer and more focused.

I’ve also started to take a lot more note of the people in my life that I am grateful for.

And I have received so much support in recent weeks from my closest friends.  It makes me incredibly humbled.

It’s all these little things that make life so rich.

And on that note I’m going return to my cup of tea, my puzzle, and my classical music.

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Namaste my friends,

Meg

 

Just keep swimming

It’s been a great (and challenging) time for my practice lately.

It’s easy to ‘stay the course’ when things are going well.  But it’s when things are hard that you get to really put into use what you have learned.  And to also grow from the experience.

I must admit at the moment I feel that the ground is very shaky.

And I use that term as it’s one that I’ve seen often used by Pema Chodron in her great books and teachings.

She teaches that at the times when the ground is shaky, are the times that we need to lean into the experience, and to not feel scared and try to resist it.

And I am the worst for trying to resist change (if my friend Loren is reading this she will be laughing in agreement).

So right at this moment when I feel things are so unsettled I’m trying to just accept that, and not fight it.

The biggest issue I face is the knowledge that gossip is being spread about me behind my back that isn’t true (unrelated to my post from yesterday).

It’s stirred so many feelings in me – anger, betrayal, hurt, and indignation.  I want to set the record straight, I want to put out every “fire” where people are being given the wrong information, and set them straight about what really happened.

However in reality I know it’s not possible.  Unfortunately it’s a case where if someone throws enough mud, at least some of it will stick.  And the hard truth is that there is very little I can do about it.

The people that know me well know the truth.  And the people that believe the lies have absolute freedom to do that.  And there’s nothing I can really do to stop it.

I can only hold my head high, and keep my dignity, and have faith in myself.

It’s a good time to really think about things though – as my blogging friend Ben Naga commented – who was the “I” that felt outraged and hurt.

It’s a great time to delve further into it (gently) to figure out why it has hurt me so much.  And to perhaps let that go.

And also for me a great time to just accept the uncertainty of the moment, and maybe even embrace that.

(and in the meantime I’m feeling the love from my cat Milly :p)

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Provide what you wish to receive

This is something I have learnt over time, and that has helped me to deepen my capacity for empathy – providing to others what I wish to receive.

If I am feeling lonely, I will try to provide companionship to others.

If I am feeling anxious, I will try to ease the concerns of another.

It’s an interesting exercise, and I have found so much benefit personally from doing it.   Particularly a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment that I am easing the suffering of another.

And it helps to deepen my own intentions, and wish for others to be free of suffering.

Through generosity we find happiness.

 

Everyday Wisdom #78

To sleep perchance to dream

When you come to understand that everything is impermanent you can approach situations with more humour.

Things won’t matter so much if you see it as part of a dream.

This is also how you can begin breaking down the invisible division between your spiritual practice, and your everyday life.

Allow the inspiration and spaciousness of your meditation practice to transform your perception of everyone you meet.

Allow this spaciousness to inform your choices and responses so that your life becomes an unbroken expression of your deepest intention.

 

All that counts in life is intention.
Andrea Bocelli

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Zen & the Art of Tea Drinking

or “Buddha in a cup”

Stopping and focusing on making yourself a cup of tea (or coffee!) can be a great way of practising being present, paying attention, and slowing down.

If you are having a busy and stressful day, pausing to enjoy the process of making a cup of tea is a great way to quickly regain focus and calm.

When you drink with mindfulness, you’re connecting with millions of others who have done so over the centuries.

Follow these simple tips to make the most of your tea break!

  • Start by using filtered water if possible.
  • Place the water on to boil.  Enjoy the moment of peace and quiet while you wait for the water to boil.
  • Really notice your cup/mug.  The shape, and weight in your hands.
  • Pour the water into your cup.  Take a moment to enjoy the aroma of the tea leaves.  Notice the colour, texture, and smell. What aromas can you detect?
  • Upon taking your first sip – notice the temperature of the tea as it enters your mouth and your perception of the flavour as the tea moves from the front of your mouth to the back.

 

Doing this regularly throughout the day can be a great way to help you focus.  It’s a great exercise to do before you start work on something important – where you want to focus and minimise distractions. 

And best of all practising mindfulness in your everyday activities helps to decrease stress and increase happiness.

 

 “Zencha ichimi” – tea and Zen are one

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Compassion and forgiveness

I heard this wonderful story that I would like to share.

As soon as I heard it, it caused such a shift in my mind.  It’s so beautiful, yet so profound.

 

One day the Buddha was sitting under a tree, teaching his students.

A man – who was there for the first time – walked right up to the Buddha, and spit in his face.

All the Buddha did, was remained sitting, and remained calm. and asked him what else he would like to say.

The man was shocked.

He didn’t expect that kind of reaction.

The Buddha’s disciples were outraged, and asked why he would allow that kind of behaviour.  That if he tolerated it, that others would think it was acceptable.

Speaking to his disciple, the Buddha said –

“This gentleman is obviously upset, and has something he wants to say.

I’m not offended by his behaviour.  But I am however upset by yours.  You have known me for years – and you want me to react to that?  To lash back at him?  Do you think, after all the years I have taught you, that I would do something like that?

That I would yell at him, or correct him or embarass him?

This gentleman probably has some mistaken view of me.  He has some mistaken concept of who and what I am.

He didn’t spit on “me”.  He spit on his idea of me, because he didn’t know me.  He spit on a notion of me.

If you consider it deeply, and take it a step further, he spit on his own mind.”

The gentleman that spit on him couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

He had never received this reaction before – he was used to being yelled at, or retaliated against, but that wasn’t happening this time.

He went home, and couldn’t sleep – he thought about it all night.

He came back the next day, and he bowed deeply to the Buddha  to show respect.

The Buddha looked at him – the same way as the last time – and asked him what else hw would like to say.

The man profusely apologised and asked for his forgiveness.

The Buddha said –

“I am not the same person you did that to.  

You are not the same person you were 24 hours ago.  

Everything is constantly changing.  The man you spit on, is not longer sitting here.

So don’t worry so much about what happened yesterday.”

 

I loved this story.  About our own ego’s and our ideas of “self”.

That the Buddha could recognise that it was not himself that was spat on, but an idea of himself.  

And that he was able to remain equanimous and understanding.

 

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Today I give thanks….

It’s been a little quiet on my blog lately, so I wanted to apologise.

The reason it’s been so quiet?

I found the man of my dreams :-).

The most wonderful, kind, caring, gorgeous, and fun man.   I have been profoundly blessed to have him come into my life (and my son’s life).

I’ve found happiness I didn’t know was possible.  And it’s made every single difficult moment and challenge of the recent past worthwhile.

I can’t believe that this kind of happiness was waiting for me.

My very dear friend Lisa over at Gems of Delight made this beautiful and eloquent comment today on my Facebook page:

I have found, for my own self, that loving and being loved so tenderly nourishes — yes — the heart — but also the mind/brain and every CELL in my body. 

And I now truly understand this for myself.

I am walking around (well floating around actually) with a permanent grin on my face.

And a deep and profound sense of gratitude.  To my wonderful partner.  And to the universe.  For crossing our paths.

I don’t doubt for a second that I have found my soul mate.

And it’s the most beautiful and glorious feeling.

 

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Everyday Wisdom #48

Refraining from all evil,

not clinging to birth and death,

working in deep compassion

for all sentient beings,

respecting those over you

and pitying those below you,

without any detesting or desiring,

worrying or lamentation –

this is what is called Buddha.

Do not search beyond it.

Dogen

 

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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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Don’t worry be happy

Worry is visualizing the future in a negative way. 
If we do that, we ruin a perfectly good present moment by dwelling on an imaginary possible future. 
Done consistently, it warps a person’s ability to see reality clearly and robs them of their vitality.

 

I must admit upfront that I am a worrier – I always have been.

Although I am grateful that, thanks to my practice, I am learning to overcome the compulsion to worry obsessively.

For me, it helps to remind myself of the following:

“If you have a problem that can be fixed, then there is no use in worrying. If you have a problem that cannot be fixed, then there is no use in worrying.” – Buddhist proverb

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened” – Winston Churchill

I also try to be gentle with myself. 

I know that worry or anxiety is often my first reaction in a stressful or new situation.  But I’ve come to accept that, and stop trying to fight it.  And to stop feeling frustrated with myself.

I now take a moment to breathe, accept that I am feeling worried, and let the feeling dissipate. 

I try to be mindful of my body, and really interested in what anxiety feels like – instead of pushing it away.  I take note of the sensations – tightness and clenching in my stomach, the feeling of adrenalin racing through my body.  And interestingly those intense feelings usually last only 10 seconds or so at most.  Then they pass.  And they always do pass.

Another thing that has really helped me is accepting that sometimes I need to walk away from a situation and come back to it.   

Instead of letting the fear take over, and avoiding the problem (I have been the queen of avoidance in the past). 

I let the initial anxiety subside, then return to what was worrying me, and face it.

Eventually I realised that I cause more anxiety to myself by trying to avoid an issue, than by approaching it calmly and with an intention to handle it with kindness and love.

 

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Spreading kindness

I was inspired by reading this great blog post today Be Kind Anyway.

Mother Teresa was truly such a beautiful person.

She was a great reminder to us all that as human beings, we are capable of bringing about a world based on kindness and compassion.

This blog post is dedicated to remembering her, and the kindness, compassion and love she brought to the world.
 

“Spread love everywhere you go: First of all in your own house…let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
 

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
 

“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
 

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is a beauty, admire it. Life is a dream,realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game,play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure,dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is life, fight for it!”

 

 

Together we can create a society based upon peace, harmony, wisdom and compassion.

 

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And this is why….

And this is why I practice.

I believe, and follow, this quote with my whole heart.

“Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.” ~ Buddha

 

Handbook of life

I was given this list some years ago, and it is something that I have tried to follow ever since.  I love the points on this list – each one is so profound and meaningful.

THE HANDBOOK OF LIFE

  1. Make sure that you drink a sufficient amount of water each day.
  2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
  3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured.
  4. Live with the 3 E’s – Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
  5. Make time for your daily cultivation
  6. Read more useful books than you did in the previous year.
  7. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
  8. Sleep for 7 hours.
  9. Take a 10 – 30 minute walk each day, and while you walk, smile.
  10. Don’t compare your life to others’.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  11. Don’t have negative thoughts on things you cannot control.  Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
  12. Don’t over-do.  Keep your limits.
  13. Don’t take yourself so seriously, no one else does.
  14. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
  15. Envy is a waste of time and energy.  You already have all that you need.
  16. Forget issues of the past.  Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past.  That will ruin your present happiness.
  17. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.  Don’t hate others.
  18. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
  19. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  20. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn.  Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
  21. Smile and laugh more.
  22. You don’t have to win every argument.  Agree to disagree.
  23. Call your family often.
  24. Each day do something good to others.
  25. Forgive everyone for everything.
  26. Spent time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
  27. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  28. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  29. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick.  Your family and friends will.  Stay in touch.
  30. Do the thing that you ought to do, and not the thing that you want to do.
  31. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  32. Pure and peaceful mind heal everything.
  33. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  34. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  35. The best is yet to come.
  36. When you awake alive in the morning, be thankful that you have another day to enrich yourself.
  37. Your inner true nature is originally happy and at peace.  So be happy and let go of all your unnecessary attachments.
Do you have any to add?  I would love to hear from you 🙂

Courtesy of Chung Tian Temple

A peaceful life

One of the things I feel truly blessed to have is a calm and peaceful life for my son and I.

I have strived to create a very relaxed and nurturing home environment for us, and I thought I would share some of my techniques for cultivating calm.

  • Avoid watching, or listening to, the news as much as possible.  See my earlier blog post here for more.
  • Listen to classical music.  Especially the “lighter” pieces.  This is my favourite radio station.
  • Lavender oil.  Not only is this fantastic essential oil relaxing, it also helps dispel negative energy.  Use it in an oil burner.  Sprinkle it on your pillow before bedtime.  Or wear it instead of perfume (to stay calm during the day).
  • Practice deep breathing.
  • Smile – even if you don’t initially feel like it.
  • Go for a walk everyday.  As you walk, use the opportunity to really notice your environment.  What can you see?  Hear?  Smell?
  • Practice meditation
  • Write out your intentions each morning.  Including the intention to be calm.
  • Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
  • Drink tea, mindfully.

and my favourite, and I most highly recommend:

  • Avoid harshness.
    Harsh speech.  Harsh thoughts.  Harsh influences.
    Be mindful of what you exposure yourself to.  For example – music, books, movies…
    Are they adding to your feeling of calm and peace?

I must admit that I used to read a lot of horror and crime novels.

Until I read this enlightening blog post:

I won’t Kill Bill

“On a personal level, I question how I can claim to dedicate myself to a life of peace and nonviolence when I’m watching movies like Predator and Goodfellas on the weekends.”

The points in the blog post can also be extended beyond movies, to what other influences you expose yourself to.

Reading this blog post really opened my eyes.  And made me aware of how I felt after reading those types of books – depressed, anxious and jumpy.

Now I tend to stick to non-fiction books.  I usually spend my time reading to learn something, or improve myself.

Remember that peace generates peace.  By cultivating calm and peace within ourselves, we influence those around us , thereby making them feel more calm as well.

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Nurture your happiness

Some of my favourite tips for nurturing happiness, joy, delight and wonder ♥

 

Fake it till you make it – decide to be happy.  Smile, laugh often and have fun.  Sometimes actions come before feelings (instead of the other way around).  So in other words: act happy, and you will feel happy.

Smile – as Thich Nhat Hanh advises … wear a half smile always.Smile while listening to music, smile during your free moments, smile even when you are irritated.

Listen to upbeat music – my personal favourites:  walking on sunshine, somewhere over the rainbow, don’t worry be happy.  And my favourite place to listen to them – in the shower!  Nothing starts your day off on a positive note like listening to these songs while you have your morning shower.  

Laugh – because generally life itself is too absurd not to.  Even if you can’t about something now, chances are you will be able to at some point.  Really – sometimes all you can do is laugh.

and lastly…

Be grateful

Surround yourself with people who make you smile

Dream big, sing loudly, and dance like no-one is watching

 

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A proud parenting moment – the classroom work brought home by my 6yo.  Never fails to make me grin 🙂