Jeu décisif (the decider game)

(published in Kindred Spirit website June 9th 2017. Jeu décisif Kindred Spirit)

It’s amazing what inspiration comes to you when you’re watching a game of tennis!  The first fortnight in June hosts the French Tennis Open (Roland Garros) and I have been struck by the determination, fearlessness and tenacity of the players as I watch their interaction during play.  This is especially so in the Tie-break (jeu décisif): the decider game. These qualities of determination, fearlessness and tenacity are also sought-after spiritual qualities, the acquisition of which will hasten our soul’s growth, and so it is in all our interests to nurture these qualities in our life.  How can we follow the examples set by athletes and sportsmen and women to integrate these spiritual qualities into our daily lives?  Here are a few pointers to help you do this:

Determination:

Determination is such an important quality in all aspects of life:  the attitude of “keep on keeping on”.  It’s important to try and nurture this quality in ourselves: in the routines of daily life, in meditation, in relationships and so on.  It would be so much easier, and yet much less spiritually valuable, to take the easy way, to drop the racquet and say “I give up.  This is too difficult”.  But it’s through all the trials in life—when we need to dig deep and be resolutely determined to overcome these challenges—that we see massive growth spiritually and emotionally!  We can all use this gift of determination wisely, and especially, to do good in life.

Remember to never give up trying, even when the odds seem stacked against you! If you are continually coming up against a brick wall, try sitting in quiet and asking for inner guidance.  Perhaps what you are trying to do or achieve is not the best course of action for you and that is why obstacles constantly arise.  Perhaps your motivations are ego-led: selfish as opposed to selfless.  Living solely for the self can give temporary moments of happiness absolutely—but not long-term joy. Many of us discover this lesson very late in life. So, think through problems logically, analyze your motivations, reason possible solutions and try these one at a time. When you have discovered the right course of action for you and for the good of others, things will flow easily.

Fearlessness:

Courage to trust in oneself, but also to trust in a higher power.  Those who have faith in such an overarching power often appear calmer and less afraid to take action.  Even if we don’t always know what’s going on in our lives and how what we think, say or do will affect others, God does. The essence of the message in this quotation is to trust in Him (whatever name you give Him: God, Source, Allah, Jehovah etc.) that everything will be okay.  This can be a frightening thing to consider and do: relinquishing control to something unseen and unknown.  However, ask yourself if you are happy with the status quo: continually spinning plates trying to control each aspect of your life, usually out of fear that something bad may happen if you stop running.  Is living in fear helping you to grow emotionally and spiritually or is it stifling your life-energy?

“It is I who remain seated in the heart of all creatures as

the inner controller of all.” (Bhagavad Gita XV:15)

Whatever your beliefs, it is certainly true that none of us can see the whole ‘big picture’ in life; we’re only a tiny spark of light in the vast cosmos, a single thread in the tapestry of all life. Therefore, we can only see our little part of the tapestry!  How freeing it is to fearlessly put our trust in a higher power and hand over any doubts and attempts we make to control life around us! It is at this point that we are able to act without fear of any results of our actions.  If God is the umpire of this terrestrial match of life, we are the players on court, and we need only do our best at the end of the day. This is what really matters: how we play the game, the lessons we learn from each challenge and how we learn to love others.

Tenacity:

If we search for the meaning of tenacity in a dictionary, one interpretation will say: “the quality of being able to grip something firmly”.  This is an apt description when talking about a game of tennis or even a limpet clinging to a rock! But what about you and I?  How do we stand firm in the face of, for example, peer pressure to ‘fit in’ or change?  Well, firstly we have the courage to be who we are and not what we think others want us to be; we affirm our self-worth daily to ourselves and to other people; we stand firm when criticized or ridiculed for our beliefs or selfless actions; we constantly battle our bad habits and work just as hard to establish new, positive habits of thinking and doing.  We strive at every turn to be the best player we can be in this game of life. These are the qualities of tenacity which can be nurtured in all of us in order for our soul to prosper.

Our jeu décisif:

Are we going to be tenacious in all aspects of life?  Is this life on Earth going to be our ‘jeu décisif’ in which we conquer accumulated karma with no further need to reincarnate?  Or will our tenacity weaken, hastening our return to play another game? The ball is in your court!

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Sharing our light with others: “Give and it shall be given unto you.” (Luke 6:38)

Published in Bellésprit Magazine online, June 2nd, 2017.

Est. reading time: 10 mins.

Solstice Light

Lush green grass
Spun by nature’s wheel
Trembles in dawn’s eager light.
Solstice embers
Of days remembered
Fizzle out under dew’s
Watchful gaze.
The Sun God Ra flexes his limbs
Coursing rays of love
All over this land;
And like flowers releasing
Their night-borne scent,
The shadows of my heart
Unveil themselves,
Dispersing into ether
To be transmuted into light.

Everything is light:

The above poem came to me one bright, sunny day in late May as I sat on my favourite bench in the garden.  The sun’s gentle rays seemed to permeate all life there as my senses delighted in the birdsong and flitting of wings, in the ethereal delicacy of the butterfly in flight and the drowsy drone of the bee, drunk on nectar and too heavy to fly.  There was a definite scent in the air of summer approaching and I looked forward to days entranced by shimmering heat hazes blurring the edges of earth and sky.

I got to thinking about light and how it is the basis of everything on Earth. All the great Masters knew this.  Jesus was often quoted in the Gospels as saying:  “If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Matthew 6: 22-23), referring to the practice of focusing on the spiritual eye in the forehead during meditation.  Similarly, in the Hindu scripture, The Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna tells spiritual seeker Arjuna: “Out of compassion for them, I, who dwell within their hearts, destroy the darkness born of ignorance, with the luminous lamp of knowledge.” (Chapter 10: verse 11).

Sharing our light with others:

The sun is our greatest source of light in the universe.  It provides energy to allow plants to photosynthesise and grow; its heat and light ripen fruits and vegetables, providing us with endless food; we open our curtains to flood our homes with light each morning; we talk about being “enlightened” when we gain spiritual knowledge and practice.  Light is detected in the pineal gland deep in the brain, which then controls our body clocks.  Light also comes into our body through the eyes— the two physical eyes and the spiritual eye at the point between the brows.

In ancient times, the importance of the sun to all aspects of life was reflected in its deification in the form of the sun god Ra.  As Ra shares his universal light with us this summer, let’s follow his example and share our individualised light (our gifts, love, time and so on) with others.

Summer is the perfect time to do this.  It’s a time of plenty when the natural world offers infinite bounty: there are fruits ripening, vegetables ready to be harvested, warm sunshine raising our spirits.  As we delight in this bounty, let’s remember the words of Christ and Krishna above, who showed us how to lead a better, kinder and more spiritual life, to bring us closer to God.  We can all do this by giving of ourselves to help others.   Let’s share our inner light under the following 3 categories—physically, emotionally and spiritually.

What is this inner light?

We each possess a vast amount of inherent Divine light which can be readily augmented by tapping into our inner silence.  As we do this, we strengthen our link with its Source.  For me, this happens best when I connect with God during meditation.  Once we rediscover this light through the process of awakening, we can then share it with others.

Putting others first:

The benefits of putting others first, of selfless service with no thought of reward (ie. sharing our light) are bountiful. All the great ascended Masters and descended Avatars who have come to Earth to provide guidance on how to live a life pleasing to God—all of them—dedicated their time on this planet to serving others, in sharing their light: Jesus, Buddha, Mahavatar Babaji, and so on.  When we serve in this way, not only are we awakening God’s light in others, we are also enhancing our own light:  “Give and it shall be given unto you.”

Simple ways you can share your light with others:

1.Physically:

Do you ever wonder why you have some gifts and not others?  Why are some people good at maths while others excel in languages? Why are some painfully shy and others ebullient and outgoing? Many of us carry gifts and attributes from previous incarnations into this life in order to learn a life lesson from them.  Some are conditioned by family and environment. Some are attained in this life.  Regardless of their origin, I believe it is our responsibility to use these gifts for the benefit of ourselves and others.

Try these five suggestions:

Use your gifts and give some of your time to local ‘skills-swap’ groups.  There are many online sites (eg. www.swapaskill.com) where you simply list the skill(s) you can offer and the skills/jobs you require). This could be anything from friendship, cleaning, pet care, translation, gardening, and so on.

Volunteer work (eg. singing at a retirement home or teaching others how to fix appliances at a ‘skills cafe’ in your local community.)

Give a sincere compliment to someone (for a service they have done, or simply to give them a boost). This is sharing your love (your light) with another.  By looking them directly in the eyes as you do this, you will amplify the effect.  Imagine light streaming from your spiritual eye to theirs.  It’s easy to share our love and light with family and friends, but it takes far more spiritual effort to share it with others from whom we feel ‘separate’ or different.  Persevere though, as it will get easier and will bring you great benefits.

Share the warmth in your heart with others.  A sincere smile to another, or holding a door open for them, are simple acts of love which can have a huge impact on their day.

Remember the power contained in our words: speak respectfully to and of other people, and remind others to do this as well.

B. Emotionally:

This first suggestion may appear childish in its simplicity: I share light each time we have a sunny day in Scotland by drawing a sun on the calendar and colouring it in yellow. This gives me—and others who see it—a psychological boost.  It reminds us to stop and appreciate the gifts given to us. You could share a photograph of a sunny day on your social media page and add an uplifting message. Everyone has worries and this simple gesture can make a huge difference to their state of mind that day!

Alternatively, if you, or someone you know, suffer from low mood, draw a smiley face on the calendar for each day that you (or they) feel positive and happy.  This is a useful feedback tool to look back on during days of low mood.  In this way, we can remind ourselves that the good days far outweigh the bad. Try it and see!

Secondly, practice listening without interrupting or nodding your head constantly thinking: ‘When can I interject and say what I want?’ Is that a conversation or a competition? Is giving our opinion more important than listening to the other person’s viewpoint?  If so, perhaps this is an aspect of the little self (ego) that warrants exploration with a view to changing it to a more positive way of relating to others.

Try this instead: Sometimes all that is required is to listen without offering words of advice.  The act of listening is an important act of kindness.  By listening, we are giving our love, attention and time to another. This is especially important in this digital age when connecting with a person face-to-face is so beneficial to mental and emotional well-being.

However, do guard against allowing yourself to be an emotional dumping ground for others, as this will diminish your own inner light.  Protect yourself before and after such a conversation; before, by erecting a sphere of protection around your auric field (I call on Archangel Michael to oblige); and afterwards by sweeping down each arm with the hands, physically ‘wiping away’ any negative emotional residue from shoulder to wrist, then flicking it away through the ends of the fingers.  Do this 2 or 3 times on each arm, repeating out loud ‘I release this negative energy from others’.

3. Spiritually:

For many years I dismissed prayer and God, choosing instead the materialist path to life, thinking that this was the sure way to happiness.  In retrospect, I can see that for me this was a selfish and lonely existence—filling each moment with activity, acquiring new possessions, seeking wealth above all else with no thought for others.  There is a better way to be: we don’t always have to be human ‘doings’—human ‘beings’ is just fine! Try these ways to share your light spiritually with others:

Actively think of ways to be kind to everyone you meet (face-to-face, online or telephone). It may be easier to begin by not being negative or unkind.  For example, change your learned behaviour of being bad-tempered with someone who is just doing their job (I’m thinking here of sales people).  Instead, try being pleasant but firm; another example would be to give a few moments of your time to complete a customer feedback questionnaire.  For small firms in particular, this can be especially important.

By doing these simple acts of kindness, you are sharing your love and light.  You are giving freely of yourself.  There are many who trust in the Law of Attraction which echoes the quote from Luke’s Gospel (“Give and it will be given unto you”).  They believe that what you give out into the world by way of your thoughts, words and acts will be reciprocated in the way others treat you.

Start to pray for others. If you meditate, include it in your meditation. I ask God to heal “according to Thy will” the person I am praying for.  I ask that they be given strength and courage to deal with life’s challenges.  I pray for myself also and ask “How may I serve?”. When we pray, we are asking a question of God, and so we then have to be ready to listen out for the answer!  This usually comes by way of intuition, or inner wisdom, a ‘feeling’ that a course of action is right for us; repetitive signals are also not to be ignored.

It’s over to you:

I hope this article has given you plenty of ideas on how to share your light with others—physically, emotionally and spiritually.  As you do so, keep the image in your mind’s eye of the sun God Ra who “flexes his limbs coursing rays of love all over this land”, for this is what we do when we share our light with others.  When we give our gifts, time and love, with no thought of reward, the shadows of our heart will unveil themselves and be transmuted into light.  We are on Earth to learn from life’s challenges and enable our Soul to grow. We are here to rediscover that we are all interconnected, we are all One. So, use your gifts and skills not solely for material gain but for the good of others; nourish your inner compassion and use it to help those in need; choose to be kind at every moment; and re-establish your connection with the Creator in meditation and prayer.

Sharing our light is a wonderful way of being! Putting others first above ourselves takes a lot of practice, but persevere, as it will become second nature (or rather ‘true’ nature, for we are rediscovering our true selves in the process). So throw open the curtains on your heart, let in the light and start sharing it today!

3-simple-acts-of-kindess

Published in Finerminds.com Mar 24 2017.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins.

Kindness. For some people, it seems to come naturally, doesn’t it? For others, like me, it takes effort and determination. All too often we can neglect the art of being kind, not just to others but to ourselves, so caught up are we in our busy lives. Or we may see ‘big visible’ acts of kindness on social or traditional media and—feeling unable to contribute in such a way—decide that it is pointless even making the effort. However, know that ‘small’ acts of kindness can be a portal to happiness and peace if you allow them to flourish again in your heart. I know from experience that kindness and thinking of others can:

  • teach us to steady the symptoms of mental dis-ease such as anxiety or depression;
  • increase our tolerance to chronic physical health conditions; and
  • will enable us to make positive changes to our inner world and the world around us.

This week why not immerse yourself in these three simple acts of kindness! Their simplicity belies the power they possess, for in cultivating kindness we take an important step along the way to self-realisation:

1. Give others your full attention

Have you ever watched people in conversation? Observe what they do at the same time as someone is speaking to them. Scrolling through posts on social media, scanning a newspaper, watching a television programme, typing on the computer? Now, think about your emotional response if you were on the receiving end of this behaviour. Some people would be unperturbed, finding this normal behaviour. Others would feel disrespected, as if their opinion didn’t matter. The first step in giving others your full attention is to notice when you are not doing so! Awareness allows you to stop the activity and give the other person your full attention. Look them in the eye and really listen to what they have to say. You may not like what they are saying; you may not like the person! Both are inconsequential. As sentient beings, one very important way we connect with each other is through the eyes, which many believe to be portals to the soul. So make it a positive choice today to give others your full attention. In this way, you selflessly give them your time—a precious commodity in this earth-bound world. Further, by fully connecting with others in this way we are given a Divine opportunity to live our lives differently, and this allows our inner joy to shine out. Joy and happiness are infectious, enveloping everything around us in a loving embrace. Awesome!

2. Address bad habits

Compassionate self-analysis entails changing well-established patterns of thinking, old habits of behaviour and replacing them with positive alternatives. It allows us to develop kindness and understanding towards ourselves firstly in order to strengthen our spiritual core.

“Take a small habit

that you intuitively know

you want to change.”

This then facilitates pouring kindness onto others. Choose a ‘poor’ habit and make a commitment to turn it around, starting this week. This is not the same thing as giving up sweets for Lent or alcohol for Dry January. Take a small habit that you intuitively know you want to change. It could be staggering out of bed in a bad temper in the mornings or never saying thank you. Again, it’s important in the first instance to be aware of when you are acting out a ‘bad habit’. Catch yourself as soon as you notice this and immediately replace it with a positive alternative. So this could be saying a quick gratitude in your head before getting out of bed or always saying thank you to others and so on. You can amplify this practice by ‘handing over’ these poor habits to the Creator during meditation. When we go through this process of handing our past behaviours over to God, we free ourselves of regret. This allows us to progress to the next step of actively and sincerely choosing to do things differently from now on.

3. Selfless action.

Selfless action is action with no thought of reward or attachment to the outcome of the action. This is a highly desirable spiritual quality and one which needs to be nurtured on our path to enlightenment. Keep in mind your motivation in helping others. Our apparent altruism and selflessness is tempered by that part in all of us (the ego) which likes to be thanked and covets praise for helping others and being kind. Your motivation should be selfless, an act of being kind because it is the right thing to do, because each act of kindness leads to a better world, because we are effecting positive change in the world around us. Listen to your intuition for it will quietly provide guidance in the background if we are open to listening. Our intuition will always guide us to a path that is for our highest good. I call these spontaneous or “spur of the moment” thoughts, words and acts of kindness. Listen to how your body feels about the action by way of a simple barometer—relaxed is a Yes; contracted is a No! Here are some simple selfless actions to try: taking the time to add a positive comment/review to a social media post/site; playing and interacting with your pets; tidying up mess in your street or local park; blessing others for the service they have carried out for you, and so on. Do not advertise your good deeds to everyone (beware of the ego craving praise!). Simply inspire by example.

I leave you with an extract from my poem “Kindness”:

When you love without
You thrive within.
When you care for others
Your soul is swaddled
In the arms of the Creator.
Each ripple of your compassion
Fills the Infinite Ocean.
Each step you take
To connect with your neighbour
Lightens and brightens your inner demeanour.

Today and every day, in this and every moment, may you choose kindness and love. Kindness….it’s a beautiful thing!

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6 Steps to Easter Kindness!

Published in KINDRED SPIRIT Magazine Online · MARCH 17, 2017. 

Estimated reading time: 4 mins.

Kindness is our natural state of being and it is essential to nourish this innate capacity throughout the year. However, when we gather together at times of celebration such as Easter, it’s especially important to show love and kindness to ourselves and others, and give thanks for all our blessings. Outlined below are the 6 steps to Easter kindness (E.A.S.T.E.R.) that all of us can take to lighten and brighten our lives and the world around us.

E for Elimination

Lent (the six weeks leading up to Easter Sunday) is a time of renunciation, when many of us choose to forgo a bad habit (perhaps an over-indulgence in food or alcohol, excessive swearing etc.).The best way I have found to temper fear and temptation is through love and kindness.  Here are some ways to show kindness to yourself and others under the first heading of Elimination:

  • take some quiet time for yourself this Easter. In meditation or periods of rest, use the symbolism of the fire and ashes to hand over any bad habits of thought or behaviour. Let them be consumed by a spiritual fire to be recreated as purity and positivity. Continue in this new positive vein and eliminate them permanently!
  • have a physical clear out of your home and or office. Get rid of unnecessary clutter to give yourself more space and clarity of thought. Donate items to charities, give other items away, sell some you no longer want and if you can afford to do so, give the money to charity.
  • Encourage your children to donate an item for other children to enjoy.

A for Acceptance

Accept others for who they are and not who you want them to be. We hold mental images of perfection in our minds about our loved ones and are disappointed when they do not attain these high standards. Next time you are about to have an argument with your partner about the mess or not taking the trash out, for example, stop and say to yourself: “I’d rather have the mess/the trash than not have him/her”. Keep saying this each time. We all have our ingrained habits and opinions which are very difficult to change and it is pointless trying to control people. Let them be who they are and take delight in your differences!

S for Sharing

The giving of eggs has been used by Christians around the world at Easter time to symbolize new life and also the empty tomb of Jesus after he rose from the dead. Here are some additional ways to share your good fortune with others this Easter:

  • buy an extra Easter egg to give to either a food bank or a neighbour;
  • give your time to someone this Easter;
  • give other symbols of new life, such as plant seedlings, to a local nursery or primary school.
  • Easter is a fun festival for children. Consider making a donation to a charity such as Unicef which protects all children around the world.

easter-2151813__480

T for Transforming

Spare a thought this Easter time for people who are struggling—mentally, physically, emotionally. A few words of encouragement can transform someone’s day (or life!). Here are two schemes which you might like to take part in: http://www.sendkidstheworld.com and http://www.moreloveletters.com. These are easily done from home and you can involve your children, encouraging them to think of others.

E for Energising

Analyse what needs re-energising in your life. Is it your work/life balance; health and fitness; spiritual health; relationships with family, friends or work colleagues. Choose one aspect every week and concentrate on ways in which this can be re-energised. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • go for refreshing, revitalising walks after work to clear your mind;
  • physically speak to colleagues sometimes rather than always sending emails;
  • go to the yoga or meditation classes which had caught your eye;
  • help out at your church food bank or other charitable group;
  • give people your full attention when they are talking to you, looking them in the eye.

R for Remembering

After an Easter celebration, remember others who are not as fortunate as you. Below are some easy ways to do this:

  • donate some chocolate or flowers to a local nursing home where many residents rarely or never receive visitors or presents. How kind to remember them in your thoughts and acts!
  • encourage the children to accompany you so that they may learn to be respectful of and thoughtful to the older generation.
  • remember the ancestors who have gone before. Think of the gifts they bestowed on you (physical attributes, financial legacy, good upbringing and so on) and share this gratitude with the next generation.

All of us can be happier and more fulfilled by allowing kindness to come to the forefront of our daily lives. When we remember to think of others, it fills us with gratitude for all our blessings. Whatever you are doing this Easter, I wish you a joyful time of celebration, love and kindness.

About the Author: Anita Neilson is an Author, Spiritual Poet, Blogger and Acts of Kindness Devotee! To connect with Anita visit her blog http://anitaneilson.com; and Facebook Page.

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3 Easy Acts of Kindness from Home

Published in Best Self Magazine 26 Jan ’17 as ‘4-simple-acts-of-kindness’ Article

Estimated Reading time:  5 mins. 

It’s not that difficult to be kind and put others first before our needs and wants.  We just get wound up in the story of our ego and its “what’s in it for me?” attitude to life.  Don’t beat yourself up over this, but instead commit to being kinder this year.  It does take effort at the beginning to retrain your mind to show kindness and compassion, but it’s worth it! Now, for some people who have to spend the majority of their time at home—for one reason or another (ill-health, carer responsibilities, homeworkers and so on)—the idea of spreading kindness can seem pretty daunting.  What if you hardly see anyone during the course of a week?  What if you have a mental or physical disability and can’t get out and about as much as you’d like?  What if you are so painfully shy that interaction with others is terrifying? 

Acts of Kindness appear often in the media.  They can range from an individual starting a campaign to raise funds for someone in need, to whole communities coming together to protect their local shop etc.  These acts of kindness are amazing in themselves and can bring about almost immediate change for the better.   Never underestimate the power of the small acts of kindness however, for these too can have hugely positive effects on the world around us.  Every one of us—regardless of any limitations we may have—is capable of many small acts of kindness every day.  Here are 3 things you can do today from home:

1. Send a message to someone via social media (text, email, facebook, skype etc).
One of my favourite messages is to write about what has made you smile that day and then ask the same question: “What’s made you smile today?”  The replies you receive will also make you smile and it has the added benefit that the recipient will feel that someone cares. If you’re not able to connect with others via social media, then why not start a Happiness Journal at home, listing in it anything that has made you smile on a particular day.  You could record this orally if you have difficulties with writing. This is a brilliant act of kindness to yourself as you will then be able to use this resource to cheer yourself up on a day when you are feeling low.  When you read through some of the entries, you will be reminded that life is mostly good and happy and fun and that today—this low mood—will pass.

2. Do a media audit.  By this I mean asking yourself if the programmes you watch or the news that you read are bringing you joy.  If the answer is No, then stop watching/reading them and replace your media with something else more positive.  This act of kindness will have a dramatic effect on your mental and emotional health, and this will filter through to your relationships with others.  You will be more positive, more understanding, kinder.  Think about a small child who is repeatedly told: “You’re a waste of space.  You’re hopeless. You’ll never amount to anything!”  That child is going to grow up with a pessimistic opinion of him/herself.   S/he will believe these repetitive statements to be the truth.  Why not immerse yourself in positive media instead.  It’s not burying your head in the sand.  It’s simply choosing to focus on the positive.

3. Greet any visitor to your home by looking them in the eyes.  The eyes are the windows to the soul.  The eyes are just as involved in smiling as the mouth is!  We have become so used to going about our business, not interacting with others and certainly not looking them in the eye!  When did this happen?  It reinforces this feeling we have of ‘separateness’ from others.  Yet, we are not separate – we are all interconnected on Earth.  Once we realise this, and that everything we do impacts on others, then life becomes simpler, kinder, more compassionate to others needs.

Extracted from ‘Acts of Kindness from your Armchair’ by Anita Neilson, to be published Nov 2017.

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