What a wonderful world this is….!

I see You now
in the flowing waters of the stream
brighter and clearer than any diamond.

I hear You now
in the silence of my heart
louder and richer than any song.

-from poem I See You Now©Anita Neilson 2016.

Continuing from  my previous post Plastic is not fantastic, my plea today is for all of us to commit to really looking after our world.  And what a wonderful world it is……!

Have a great weekend everyone.  Happy Earth Day 2018 on Sunday 22nd April.  Anita.

It’s hard to be humble…

“Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble
When you’re perfect in every way
I can’t wait to look in the mirror
Cause I get better looking each day
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man
Oh Lord It’s hard to be humble,
But I’m doing the best that I can.”

-from It’s-hard-to-be-humble-Mac-Davis song

I was going to start this blog post with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, but as soon as I started writing, this song started ringing out in my head, so I went with these lyrics instead.  You should take a minute to watch the YouTube video link above.  It’s such a catchy song, very tongue-in-cheek but at the same time contains a serious message if you want to look into it more deeply.  Because the difference between maintaining a state of balance in your body-mind and slipping into ego-led delusion is like teetering on a knife-edge, and one on which I teeter (and fall) quite often.  As I frequently tell people, “I’m a work in progress!”  

Humility

One spiritual quality I struggle with is that of humility.  It is hard to be humble, as the song says.  We are hard-wired to strive for better, to improve ourselves, and when we do make improvements (be they physical, mental, spiritual) we naturally feel gratified.  Watch out though, for this is the ego entrapping us in the cycle of action-gratification-more action-  and this will inevitably lead to unhappiness.  I awoke to the reality of life on earth through ill-health some 9 years ago.  I see this awakening as a true blessing, but when I look at others who are still caught on the treadwheel of material desires and delusion, a sense of smugness can sometimes beset me.  I start thinking things like, “I’m better than him or her”, or I judge their behaviour because it doesn’t come up to my standards.

Who made me God?

But hold on a minute here.  Who made me God?  I don’t get to decide how we should all behave and think!  I know this to be true, but equally I haven’t fully assimilated it in a practical sense yet.  This is a big block I need to deal with before I can progress further.  Where did this arrogance come from?  I was certainly very driven since childhood, but perhaps it comes from a previous incarnation?  In any case, it has to go. This arrogance is the opposite of humility and I know I must do my very best to hand it over to God and at every moment, make the choice of humility instead.   Here’s the Gandhi quote:

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom.”

-Mahatma Gandhi.

God’s spark shines in all of us equally.  Paramahansa Yogananda (20thC Swami who brought Kriya yoga to the west) made the analogy of sunlight falling equally on a lump of coal and a diamond, yet only the diamond receives and reflects the light.     Have a nice weekend and Shine-on-you-crazy-diamond (Pink Floyd)! Anita.💎

 

 

 

Are you present?

Being present:

I remember from my school days the register, or roll call, being taken every morning before class began.  You were expected to answer to your name being called with “Present Miss/Sir”.  Often times, I’d be busy day dreaming, looking out of the window wishing I were out there too.   That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy school, I did.  I loved the challenges and was fiercely competitive but also easily bored with work which was too easy for me.   In any case, if during daydreaming, I didn’t say “Present Sir/Miss”, this would be met with a palpable silence and then that feeling of all the faces turning to look at me with heightened interest.  “Was she daring to ignore the teacher?”  Was this what my fellow pupils were wondering as their necks craned round?  Then I would hear the teacher’s booming voice laced with sarcasm, “Miss B_____, are you present?”

image: Pixabay

 What is consciousness?:

I guess I wasn’t really consciously present in the sense implied.  I was in another ‘present’ of my own making.  I was sailing in my imagination, oblivious to the ‘real’ physical world all around me.  When we experience the joy of this inner world of the imagination, we are actually bringing our subconscious mind to the fore, which is the same part of our mind used in the dream state.   We are ‘present’ but not in the physical world, not in the world of the conscious mind ruled by our senses and restless thoughts.

This is the state I enter when I write.  I take myself out of the physical world and into the different reality of my imagination.  I am fully present in this world where time can seem to stand still or speed by, where tasks are completed seemingly effortlessly, where joy is felt.    Call it “being in the flow”, “being fully present” or “being mindful”, it signifies a calm state of active concentration and can be highly conducive to productivity and creativity.

How to put this into practice:

Try this relaxation practice to disengage your mind from the conscious reality of logic, reason and restless thoughts and allow you to access the subconscious mind.  It will take perhaps 10 minutes.  Sit quietly ideally where you won’t be disturbed, feet on the floor, hands on your thighs, spine straight.  Say an intention or mantra, eg. “I am calmly relaxed, ready for any task.”  Take a few long, deep breaths, trying to equalise the in-breath and out-breath.  As you do so, visualize a current of gentle heat rising from your feet very slowly up through the legs, your torso, the arms, chest, neck, head and face.  As this warmth rises, concentrate on the muscles and will them to relax.   Now, see, and feel the warmth of, this ball of white heat in the centre of your chest and watch it expand outwards as you breathe.  Fill the room with this white-hot ball of light and bask in its warmth and energy.  Sit quietly, slow your breathing and keep concentrating on the light and the sense of warmth and peace it brings.  Imagine it expanding even more to encompass the room, then outwards into your town.  Send this light out to everyone who needs its comfort and energy.  Repeat your intention or mantra.  You should be feeling pretty amazing by now!  Open your eyes.  You are ready to get started on your task!

 

Just Giving!

This week is holy week in the Christian calendar.  It asks us to remember the life of, and sacrifices made by, the avatar Jesus Christ who came to earth as an incarnation of divine forgiveness and love and was crucified by his people for blasphemy.  I’m thankful for his teachings and for the example of his life.  He was still teaching his disciples right up to the end.  At the last supper, he washed their feet, and I remember this being done at Holy Thursday mass when I was a little girl.  The priest would wash a member of the congregation’s feet, and I always wondered why he did that.  Jesus explained it to his disciples:

4 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.  – John 13:14-17

So, I’m thinking, okay I’m not going to be washing anyone’s feet any time soon, but how can I carry out a simple act of respect and service for another?  Well, I woke up this morning with the hymn “Suffer little children to come unto me….for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” ringing in my head over and over.   Yes, I can do something to help children!  Here’s what I’ve done.  I’ve set up a justgiving.com fundraising page to raise money for the Save the Children charity, which helps children in desperate situations all around the world.  I have set an easily attainable fundraising target of £100.  Would you like to help me reach this target by donating 1% of your income for this month (or any amount you like, however small)?  If you would, God bless you and I send you love from my heart.  If you can’t donate, send good thoughts.  Every little helps.   Anita.  Click on the link below to make a donation:

Anita’s justgiving page

Kindness traits in action

This post is for my #healingwordsthu and is an extract from my book, Acts of Kindness from your Armchair.

Chapter 6, Kind thoughts, words and acts.  Practice 7:  Kindness traits in action

Look at the kindness traits below.   Make a note of each one (*please use free downloadable pdf worksheets to accompany this Practice if you prefer) and beside each one write down any events, however small, where you feel you have made progress in embedding these traits of kindness more deeply in yourself.  It may be helpful to have two columns as outlined below with some examples:

Goodwill:                                I noticed when I was judging a friend unfairly and replaced this with a positive thought.

Benevolence:                          I joined in a prayer for wisdom for world leaders as they met to discuss a way forward for war-torn Syria.

Charity:                                   When entering a competition, I affirmed to myself that I would give some of the winnings to charity.

Compassion:                           I watched a tv programme and felt compassion for one of the celebrities who seemed lonely.

Generosity:                             Upon receiving four small gifts from my sister, I spontaneously offered one each of the gifts to my other sisters.

Humanity:                               I felt sympathy for people in the world who still have to walk miles to collect water each day.  I will no longer waste water.

Kindliness:                              I played Hunt the Food with the dogs instead of ignoring them to watch tv.

Philanthropy:                          I bought one of a friend’s paintings to encourage her in her art.

Understanding:                      I put myself in my husband’s shoes after I had cajoled him about something he hadn’t done and realised that it doesn’t feel good to be the recipient of this.

Other examples of how you have shown kindness traits in action could be:  perhaps you have thought more charitably of refugees fleeing for their lives; perhaps you became aware that you were about to say something negative about yourself or others and you stopped yourself and instead remained silent; perhaps you hugged a friend who needed emotional support and so on.  Note down the ones which you have experienced.  Read this list often, and add to it, and you will be amazed at what kindness your heart is capable of.

Kind thoughts:

 “If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him….if a man speaks

or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.”

– The Twin Verses, Buddha.

Thoughts create our reality:  acts of kindness result from kind words which themselves originate in kind thoughts.  The Law of Attraction has fascinated many scholars throughout history from the Buddha to Albert Einstein to Christian Larson (The Optimist’s Creed) and more recently Rhonda Byrne (The Secret, The Magic) to name a few.  It proposes that our thoughts create our reality and what we think, say and do will be the reality that we attract back to ourselves at some point.   For example, if we think and say that life is unfair, that bad things always happen to us, that we are never lucky and so on these negative thoughts of lack are the reality that we create for ourselves and therefore we will always think of ourselves as a victim in life because it doesn’t go the way we want it to.  These thoughts lead us to negative emotional patterns where our lack of success – as we see it – may result in us experiencing bitterness and discontent.

With the support of a Cognitive Behavioural (or Holistic) therapist, we can learn that it is beneficial to think of compassionate alternatives to challenge anxiety and negative thoughts.  This gradually leads to much improved mood and motivation.   We are retraining ourselves to think more positively and attract a better reality for ourselves.  Instead of adopting the victim mentality of:  “I will fail, I’m not going to try”, we would say for example: “What is the worst that can happen?”  or “It might be fun!”  So, be kind.  Notice when you are being negative about yourself, acknowledge it when it happens and immediately change the thoughts or words to something positive.  Keep practising this and it will eventually become a new automatic mode of behaviour.

I hope you have enjoyed this section of my book, the content of which came from my personal experiences working towards finding new purpose in life through kindness. Om Shanti!  Anita.