The Moon Rabbit

In today’s post, I want to talk about charity, selflessness, kindness to others. I always feel that January lends itself to charitable deeds, and many people take up challenges such as Veganuary, or Dry January for example, often asking friends and family to sponsor them financially for their chosen charity. So I thought I’d give us all a little prompt to do our own self-audit of how charitable we’ve been this month. First here’s a tale which embodies the qualities of charity, selflessness and kindness to the max!:

In the Buddhist Jataka tales (Tale 316),[2] a monkey, an otter, a jackal, and a rabbit resolved to practice charity on the day of the full moon, believing that a demonstration of great virtue would earn them great spiritual reward. They came across an old man begging for food and decided that giving him food would be a good way to practice charity.

First, the monkey gathered fruits from the trees and gave them to the old man. Next, the otter caught some fish and presented it to the beggar. Meanwhile, the jackal caught a lizard and stole a pot of milk-curd. The rabbit knew only how to gather grass. Did humans eat grass? it wondered. Then it remembered that they did eat rabbit meat, so it offered its own body, throwing itself into a fire that the old beggar had built.

But the fire did not burn the rabbit! The old man revealed himself to be Śakra, ruler of the Gods. He was touched by the rabbit’s selflessness and virtue, and drew the likeness of the rabbit on the Moon. In this way, all would see it and remember the rabbit’s kindness.

It is said the lunar image is still draped in the smoke that rose when the rabbit cast itself into the fire. The legend is popular and part of local folklore throughout Asia (in China, Japan, India, Korea, Sri Lanka and so on).

So how can we use this tale to do our self-audit? How can we endeavour to embody these qualities of charity, selflessness and kindness? We don’t have to literally give ourselves, but couldn’t we all give of ourselves to help others? How have you measured up this month? Is your first thought in the morning to check your social media for likes, or to call your mother to say good morning? When someone has admired something you are wearing or a treasured possession, have you felt puffed up with pride, or did you feel even a little impulse to offer it to them as a gift? If you won a Christmas hamper, did you keep it all to yourself or did you share it with friends and family (or neighbours, local community groups?). Don’t be hard on yourself, for that is a form of unkindness. Simply use your experiences as a starting point for improvement. You’re on the road to a new, kinder, happier you. Enjoy the journey, and remember to look up into the night sky every so often and think of the kindness of the rabbit!

Much love, Anita.

The Ultimate Staycation

It’s the season of holidays in the sun for many of us, but how can you have an inspiring and relaxing holiday when you are housebound for one reason or another (financial, physical, emotional and so on)? Read on to find out. Much love, Anita.

Click on the photo to download the Article pdf

 

Sit in inner stillness.

“The quieter you become,

the more you are able to hear.” – Rumi

 

Isn’t that so true!  Certainly where meditation is concerned, when we still the breath through the practice of pranyama, the body and mind gradually become still.  We find ourselves no longer enslaved to all the bodily sensations but can start to focus within.  This turning inwards of the senses is called pratyahara and this practice allows us to be in the silence.  As we sit in this silence, we can chant Om (or your preferred sacred words) inwardly or outwardly, almost like a foghorn sounding through the mist.  Feel the vibration of the words in your head and concentrate on their meaning.

Listen:

And we listen for a response.  We may hear the noises of our body (pulse, heartrate and so on); we may hear one of the sounds associated with the chakras in the body (buzzing bee for root chakra, flute for sacral chakra, harp for solar plexus, bell for heart chakra, rushing water for throat and a conglomeration of all the sounds at the spiritual eye).  You may hear static.  Concentrate on whatever you hear.  You may hear nothing (which in itself is great – no restless thoughts!).  Don’t force it, just be in the stillness.  Pray, chant an affirmation, or be silent.  You will find an amazing sense of peace comes over you if you simply surrender to the quietness, to a state not of doing, but of simply being.   For some people, this is a wonderful relaxation and de-stressing technique.  For many others, it is in this peace and stillness that we connect with God / Source.  And it is wonderful!

Benefits:

Recent studies have demonstrated the numerous physiological benefits of meditating (sitting in inner stillness), with spine erect to allow the life force to flow upwards in the body:

  • brainwaves shift from beta (processing information and external stimuli) to alpha (relaxed state) so the nervous system can rest;
  • relaxed muscles decrease tension headaches and other tension-related pain in the body;
  • regular use can lead to a reduction in anxiety;
  • increased peace and joy felt in meditation overspills into our relationships with others and improves our self-esteem and happiness.

The list is really endless.  For more information, visit www.artofliving.org.  Whatever you do today, try to find a few minutes to become quiet.  Who knows what you will hear!  Much love, Anita. 😘🙏

More on patience!

Patience in action this week 😏:

my husband sieving 4 tonnes of topsoil over 3 evenings before filling our newly created flower beds;

me walking very very slowly with my elderly dog, Jet, who struggles and drags her back leg, but is still keen to get out for short walks to catch up with all the doggie news (who’s been where and done what and how are they etc.  You can tell a lot from dog pee apparently!);

sitting to meditate twice daily despite feeling a little disconnected of late (just keep on keeping on!);

acceptance when at times poetry isn’t flowing freely (trusting that perhaps I need to do more introspection for spiritual growth, or that this body-mind needs rest for a period, or that there is some other reason of which I am unaware.   Just trust and accept, no forcing.

Om Shanti!  Have a wonderful weekend and keep a look out among those closest to you for examples of patience in action.  Sometimes the answer to our inner struggles is played out before our eyes and we can’t see it!  Much love, Anita.❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is patience really such a virtue?

Patience, from the Latin patientia, a derivative of pati, to suffer or endure.

The trouble with patience:

Patience is our ability and willingness to endure misfortune and adversity.  Patience is certainly a virtue to my mind, conjuring as it does such synonyms as:  humility, submission, endurance, calmness, composure, self-restraint and equanimity.  And yet, some of these definitions may at first hand appear negative.  For example, if a person appears to be humble, are they perceived as allowing others to walk all over them?  Likewise with submissiveness.  However, when we bring to mind some of the other meanings of patience, namely the qualities of endurance, calmness, composure, self-restraint and equanimity, these appear to be wholly positive.  Many of us can confuse the concept of patience in order to get our own way in the end!!  This is simply the little self (the ego) trying to micro-manage every aspect of our life and that of others around us.

“I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”

– Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister (1979 – 1990)

 

The struggle is half the battle:

The busier we are with daily life, the less even-minded I feel.  My calmness disappears in a fog of ego-bound restlessness, frustration and impatience.  I guess many of us have this struggle at various times in our lives.  But is it self-imposed?  I think I’ve figured out why this is.  It’s all to do with our relationship with the big T: Time.

Time’s up!:

Time is a manufactured state that we humans imprison ourselves in and one against which we struggle impatiently throughout our lives.  There is a better way.  Look to the animal kingdom, to our pets.  Are they stressed about time?  Are they rushing to be somewhere at an allocated time and worried about others’ reactions if they happen to arrive late?  No, of course not!  Let’s stop putting ourselves under this time pressure.  Not so easy in the workplace, I grant you, but a few moments stepping back from the frenzy of time-restraints can reset our inner balance, enabling us to work thereafter with increased patience, calmness and equanimity (not riding the storm of emotions high and low).

How to nurture patience in your life:

So how can we develop and nurture patience, and all its synonymous qualities outlined above, in our daily lives?  Below are 3 examples:

  1. You’re late for work.
    Instead of flapping and rushing, pause, close your eyes and take as many calm breaths as you need. Then think through the situation logically. How might you create a win-win situation for you and your employer? For example, phone them to explain and offer to work later to make up the time.
  2. You give a task to someone to do and they have not done it by the desired time.
    Do not allow yourself to become angry. If you find yourself thinking disparaging or angry thoughts towards the person, do not give these more power by enunciating them. Instead say nothing and walk away for a few minutes to collect yourself. Keep trying to slow down the breath as this will allow you to think more clearly. Why was the desired time so important to you? Can the task be delayed? What are the reasons for the task not being done? Did you properly supervise the person and check in on their progress? How can you proceed? and so on. Any decision you take, or words you say, must not derive from chaotically-veering emotions but should be wisdom-guided.
  3. You are finding a painful situation (physical or emotional) intolerable.
    Remember that life is God’s play (lila) and we are simply the actors in it. Depending on our individual karma accrued from past lives and our current incarnation, we are presented with situations to challenge our bad habits and our attachment to this world of sensory pleasure. God wants to see if we will renounce all the wonders that He has provided for us and find pleasure in inner communion with Him. Can we trust in Him that everything will be alright? Can we find the humility to understand that we don’t control our lives, He does? Can we submit to this higher power in the wisdom that often the things that are good for us can sometimes initially seem painful?

Have a wonderful week, and remember to be patient!! Anita.