Misty mornings

I was trying to sleep one afternoon, but the beginning of this piece kept repeating itself in my mind, a sure sign that I should get up and write the words down lest I lose them as quickly as they had arrived. I am entranced by early morning, the quiet time just before all the chaotic ‘human’ action begins. Here are today’s musings:

    “The mist hangs low across the field this early morn: an ethereal backdrop to the grand play of life; a silken web of silence spun by Nature’s thread. All the supporting characters are already in place. The trees stand stock still, a verdant frame if you will to the enfolding picture, with their delicate branches trailing to touch those of their neighbors, as if wishing to hold hands. A couple of roe deer graze in their usual spot in the far corner of the field, ears, head and tail popping up at the slightest sound. And the birds—both garden and woodland―are rousing, taking their roll call, yet still too drowsy to venture out for food.

    There linger a few man-made traces in the pink-smeared sky – evidence of recent holidays abroad and business trips. Life in the fast lane. If only it were as easy for us to fly as it is for our avian friends! The swallows who dart and swoon so gracefully and in perfect unison, or the woodpecker with his comical bounce, seeming as if he will tumble out of the sky at any moment, or finally the great majestic buzzard who languidly circles in the blue. His eerie call echoes through the treetops, attracting families of crows to rise in ambush of this dangerous intruder.

    My neighbor, (some 20 years my senior and hardier than a lifelong North Sea fisherman) is walking his dogs. Rico, the soppy Rottweiler, who sits on your feet and leans into your legs for a cuddle, and little tiny Rosie, a fawn-colored terrier, barrel-round and waddling, with the cutest face to bring a smile to the gloomiest of hearts. I wave to them through the glass. “Well now,” I turn and say to my own two dogs, “let’s take our places girls. Today’s play has begun!”

    TODAY: Try not to let the drama of life’s ups and downs get to you. Just treat them like scenes in a play or movie. Keep yourself a little more detached from the action. This helps to balance your mood and steady your emotions, leading to a calmer, happier you! □

The above was an excerpt from my new book, Soul Murmurs, out July 26th.

Self-Realization of the awakened soul

What is self-realization?

Well, it’s many things to many people.  For some, it’s simply the fulfilment of our character, our dreams, our place in the world.  Often the first thing people ask us when we meet for the first time is, “And what do you do?”  We are identified with the position we hold in our community, aren’t we? 

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I remember with such clarity the time in my life when I had to retire on medical grounds.  Pretty soon thereafter, I was left feeling distraught and completely lacking in purpose. This was the exact opposite of self-realization as I envisaged it at the time.

For others, self-realization is a deeper knowing of our role in the universe, of being awake to and aware of all our infinite capabilities, inextricably linked to Source (God, the Creator).  We realize that we are not this body-mind; we simply inhabit it temporarily.  It took trauma and crisis in my life to open my eyes to this eternal truth, and I’m forever grateful for it!

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Read the full post on Bellesprit magazine, here.

Have a wonderful week. Much love, Anita. Send me your thoughts. I love to connect!! 😊❤

The duality of life

Just as the quote below says, we need oppposites in life. We need challenges which, although painful at the time perhaps, will help us to grow emotionally and spiritually. If life were just one series of material and bodily pleasures, what impetus would we have to improve ourselves, or to seek the pleasure found in spiritual endeavours such as meditation, helping others and finding our way back to the Divine? The duality of life is one of the ways that God throws in his fishing line in the hope that we will take the bait and return to Him.

Here’s another beautiful quote that I came across this week:

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us

to give ourselves the gift of living well.”

– VOLTAIRE

In order to grow from life’s challenges, below are outlined just a couple of examples of how to change learned habits of behaviour and react in different, more positive, ways:

  • when someone is angry with you, don’t retaliate because you will simply be fanning the flames of their ire. (I had to learn this skill pretty quickly as a high school teacher. At the start of my career, I took part in a couple of quite ridiculous in retrospect shouting matches with pupils. My goodness, the flames of anger must have been reaching out of the top of the building! But I was presented with this opportunity many times to change my ways of reacting to pupil challenges. And each time I learned how to behave more positively, more lovingly. Teaching isn’t all lovely children and fun, although it is that too. To really appreciate the good times, we need to learn through the challenging ones. So, to get back to the issue of anger, quite often if you are quiet and say nothing, this can extinguish the flames! It is really difficult to do this at first, but you eventually reach the stage where you immediately see this challenge as a test. How will you react? If you can do this, it is a major spiritual step forward in my view. If you have a mantra, repeat it over and over inwardly. When the person’s ire has burnt out sufficiently, then you can talk to them quietly, reassuringly. They don’t need to hear harsh words; they don’t need to hear how stupid they’ve been; any kind words and acts you can offer them at this stage will sow a seed in their consciousness. Hopefully, they will think twice about igniting their rage in the future!
  • when you feel rushed for time and feel as if you don’t have enough minutes in a day, do an activities audit. I PROMISE YOU THIS WORKS! Write down all the activities you do in a day/week such as taking the kids to dance class or play dates 3 times a week, doing the weekly cryptic crossword in the weekend newspaper for 2 hours, watching 4 hours of tv a night. Which of these activities are really essential to your life and which can you simply let go? Learn to let them go and you will feel more at peace, more relaxed. The challenge of time pressure was created by you and you can change it.
“The only reason for time is that everything doesn’t happen at once.”
– Albert Einstein

A friend in need

Today I’m featuring this post by Eilidh Horder. If you, or someone you know, has struggled with mental health issues this is a must-have read. Eilidh talks about the true value of friendship for those suffering from mental health, including that which we give to others, and how honesty is key. No more pretending we’re fine when we’re not; no more shutting ourselves off or not wanting to be a bother to others; but equally re-evaluating how good a friend we are and have been to others.

Read Eilidh’s post here. Much love, Anita.🎈

Don’t wobble!

When you are walking, walk. When you are sitting, sit. Don’t wobble. Gautama Buddha.

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I love this quote. Especially the “don’t wobble” part. In my case, I interpret this as “don’t fidget”! But it’s really all to do with mindfulness, isn’t it? In this crazy frantic world we are so accustomed to doing things unmindfully. We cannot do just one thing at a time, nor are we able to give it our full attention. Our thoughts flit about; our senses experience the world and stimulate memories or thoughts of the future. As the wonderful spiritual teacher, Eknath Easwaran put it,

When we do things with only part of the mind, we are just skimming the surface of life. Nothing sinks in; nothing has real impact. It leads to an empty feeling inside. (from Take your Time)

I know this is definitely the case with me. HOWEVER, I’m fighting back. I don’t want to live that way any longer. It makes me feel “wired but tired”. So this morning was Day 1 of the new, mindful me.

an example of one-pointed attention

My usual morning routine goes something like this. Perhaps it will sound familiar to some of you:

I stagger a little bleary-eyed into the kitchen, with our Labrador nipping at my heels, desperate for her breakfast. As if I would forget to feed her! (Well, I did once. 😏 I wonder if dogs have memories?). I put on the kettle to boil water for tea. As it’s doing so, I’m measuring out her breakfast feed. As I do this, I notice some laundry in the dryer and open the door to check if it’s dry. Before I know it, (and the kettle has boiled by now!), I’m sorting laundry, feeding the dog, checking the weather on my mobile phone, flicking the switch on the kettle again, and putting away any dishes left on the drainer from the night before. Isn’t this exhausting, but many of us function in this way, ALL DAY! And then we wonder why we can’t relax; why we don’t find lasting enjoyment in life. Function is a good word to describe this way of living. It’s not based on enjoyment. Rather, it seems to originate from a relentless need for efficiency and good time-management!!

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Here’s how I changed things up this morning:

I lay in bed for a few extra minutes until I felt okay to begin the day. Amber the Labrador was firmly told to stay in her bed while I made her breakfast. When distracting thoughts came into my head, I brushed them aside again and again to concentrate on the task in hand. Once I had fed the dog, I made myself a cup of tea. After I had made my tea, I put on a slice of toast. I forced myself to do just one thing at a time and to fully concentrate on it. When my mind was saying to me, “Wouldn’t you like to check your fb page while you wait?” or “Why not put away some dishes or plan the menu for next week?” I said to it, as firmly as I told Amber to go to her bed, “No.”

The most difficult thing to do was to eat mindfully!

I found it very strange not to switch on the tv, or complete the crossword I had started yesterday, or put on some music, or sit and look out of the window, or watch the birds at the feeder. All of these are distraction habits. They make us “skim the surface of life” where nothing really sinks in, not even eating. And so, I sat with eyes closed and concentrated all my senses on just having breakfast. Here’s what I found:

  • the sense of touch: holding a warm mug of tea in both hands is so comforting, especially on a cold morning.
  • the sense of sight: I purposefully kept my eyes closed while eating so that I would not be distracted by things going on around me. Although I did notice that I like my tea to be a certain colour (with not too much or too little soya milk). This adds to my enjoyment of it.
  • the sense of smell: melting soya spread on wholemeal toast. What an amazing aroma! Concentrating on this really enhanced the experience.
  • the sense of hearing: I tried to block out any external noises and niggling internal thoughts and kept bringing myself back to concentrate fully on breakfast.
  • the sense of taste: I enjoyed experiencing hot and cold on the tongue, chewing slowly and mindfully. I was hyper aware of the physical process of swallowing food. This is usually automatic, but you know, when you slow down and take notice of it, the alimentary system in the body is really quite amazing and beautiful in its simple complexity.

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I hope you find some of these suggestions useful and that you manage to have less “wobbles” in your day. Why not try to have a mindful breakfast tomorrow? Let me know how you get on! Much love, Anita.😊