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.

Everyday Wisdom #2

Stop, look and listen

It’s easy to live as if on a constant treadmill – you go to work, you eat, you sleep, you go to work again, and so forth. Until it’s the weekend again.

Make regular time to stop and reflect on your life.

Today, spend a few minutes daydreaming.  Without guilt.  Allow yourself this downtime, and simply let thoughts emerge.

Then listen to what your innate wisdom is telling you.

What exactly are your intentions?!!

Intention sets direction

All of us have different intentions that will arise – depending on the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

We can’t control those intentions, impulses and desires that arise, but we can choose whether or not we follow them.

The intentions you do act on define who you are.

There are many different situations that we face throughout life – some of them difficult – and most times we have little direct control over them.

What we do have control over is how we react to those situations, and with what intention.

Our intentions have a huge effect on our minds, and our behaviour.  And not only do they affect our ourselves, but also the people around us.  And subsequently how we see and experience the world.

For example if you have an intention to be kind and generous, you will mostly find that people around you will react positively and kindly.  Conversely if your intention is to be angry, you will likely be met with the same from those around you.

It’s nearly like “instant karma” where we can immediately feel the effect that acting on certain intentions has.  And this doesn’t just apply to our speech and actions, but our thoughts as well.  By practising mindfulness, you will notice how angry thoughts produce unpleasant sensations in your body.  And vice-versa.

The intentions that we live on also create a habit in the mind.  It strengthens those intentions, so the mind is more likely to react in the same way in the future.  If your intentions are mean-spirited, then you are strengthening those tendencies.  If your intentions are to be kind and generous and giving, you will also strengthen those conditions in your mind.

And the time that your unconscious intentions and reactions are most likely to arise is during times of stress and anxiety.

Practice exercises

Spend some time considering the following:

  • Which intentions do you act on?
  • Which intentions do you decide are useful?
  • What conditioning arises for you during times of stress?

And most importantly, spend some time asking yourself the following question:

“What is the deepest intention that I want my life to be based on?”

And how can you follow through on that intention?

All that we are is the result of what we have thought.  What we think we become”.  The Buddha.