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!

How to cultivate fearlessness in our lives.

What’s the big deal with our emotions?

So many emotions rush in and out of our lives on a daily basis: anxiety, joy, sadness, boredom, surprise and despair are just a few. Yet if we trace these emotions back to their origin, they either come from love or fear.  Take anxiety for example.  We may feel anxious about how others view us or about the result of an action we have taken or are about to take.  These negative thoughts and feelings are often irrational and not based on facts.  They are manifestations of fear, and we all have them from time to time.  Negative emotions make the body contract, the stomach knot and the mind worry.    When we experience a positive emotion like joy, the physiological effects are quite different: we may feel a pleasant warmth in our body, as well as relaxed muscles and little awareness of time passing.

Many psychologists and self-help teachers tell us that a state of emotional equilibrium is best for our mental health.  This means not allowing ourselves to be buffeted by high and low swings of emotions but rather to remain more ‘even-minded’ and therefore less affected.

Fearlessness

Fearlessness is having faith in yourself—or a greater power—that everything will turn out for the best in the end.  Nowadays when I am fearful I hand it over to God and trust in Him.

Release control!

Many of us have issues with control, and I count myself among them.  I can trace this need for control right back to childhood: trying to organise the games we played and manipulating others with bad moods in order to have my own way.

Now I realise that we can control very little about events occurring in our lives and in those of others around us, and that what do have influence over does not even bring lasting contentment.  We can control our thoughts and emotions however, and thoughts are extremely powerful.  Thoughts often become words, words often become acts, and acts repeated over and over become habits (good and bad).  So it’s vital to trace and then change the thoughts and resulting emotions if we want to rid ourselves of bad habits, including living in fear.

Try these simple ideas to help cultivate fearlessness and change your life for the better:

  • throw away the lists, or at least adopt more flexibility towards them, enabling you to change when you do things or if you do them at all;
  • start meditating (even short periods of quiet time enable us to look within and be at peace);
  • keep this question in mind when faced with challenges: “What’s the worst that can happen?”. This reminder should help you to be more courageous and determined in what you do; and
  • sail your own course through life, regardless of what other people think or say. Dare to have the courage to be you!

It’s over to you

The tight grip of fear may have felt like trailing lead balloons behind you through life, dragging you down and holding you back, and yet you are the one who attached them to yourself!  You can let them go now.  Hand them over to a higher power, breathe a long sigh of relief and start down the path of a new, positive you, filled with fearlessness and love for yourself and others around you.  !

 

 

How to have a junk-free June

Wouldn’t you like to ‘junk the junk for June’?  No biscuits (cookies) or cakes, or added sugars.  A lot of people have a sweet-tooth.  I know, for me, ever since childhood, sweets were a weekly treat and I associated them with a reward for being ‘a good girl’.  But I’m 52 now, so why do sweet foods still feel like a cuddle from a parent for being good?  This is such a strongly-ingrained habit which has taken many years to cultivate, so trying to overcome it isn’t going to happen overnight (or in the space of one month)!  But, concentrating on eating healthily during June is a good starting point.

Take a moment:  to analyze your own sweet-tooth craving!  What’s behind it?  Childhood reward? Habit? Sadness? Boredom? Food often goes hand in hand with an emotional response or need.

Why ditch sugar?
There is a certain bliss in ignorance, you know.  I hadn’t realised that excessive sugar consumption was becoming a major health concern.  So much so that the World Health Organization has recommended that we only consume 25 grams per day (six teaspoons) largely due to the explosion of Type II diabetes worldwide perpetuated by excessive sugar consumption.  Our bodies don’t like this artificial sugar.  We experience an initial, welcome burst of energy after eating something sugary, but this doesn’t last and many of us can then have a sudden and severe drop in blood sugar levels soon after. The symptoms of low blood sugar are really unpleasant: shakiness, trembling, sweating, anxiety and panic can all set in and you feel compelled to eat more of the same type of food to immediately recoup your energy. So then we find ourselves on a blood-sugar roller-coaster, swinging from one extreme to the other, and—as with everything in life—we know intuitively that moderation is best, don’t we?!

How to reduce sugar intake:
If you want to ‘junk the junk for June’, start by taking a look at the back of packets to see how many grams of sugar are in the food you are about to eat!  Remember, the recommended daily intake of 25 grams!  It’s not that much.  Have some fruit instead, as this natural sugar is better for you than refined sugars.  Do some research and inform yourself of the many different guises (names) of sugar so that you will recognise them on labels.  Stock up on fruits that you like, such as clementines, dates, grapes, apples and melon; make sure to include protein at every meal and snack.  This makes you feel fuller for longer, so reducing snack attack moments!


Sugary drinks are another no-no, even the sugar-free ones which have artificial sweeteners in.  Avoid them altogether.  Some alternatives to fizzy drinks would be to put fruit slices in a jug of water and place this in the ‘fridge; make fruit smoothies in a blender (there are plenty of recipes online); and drink water!

The spiritual aspect:
Giving up a bad habit, especially one in which the craving is particularly strong (such as eating sugary foods) takes a lot more spiritual effort than say giving up alcohol when you only drink 2 or 3 units per week anyway.  This will take determination and focus.  You have to will yourself to keep going.  Have a mantra or affirmation to hand that you can repeat when temptation strikes, such as “I will keep my body temple clean.”

Over to you:
Take the first step this June to gradually reduce your sugar intake and keep your body temple clean.  I’ve done a sugar-free month before and it’s tough, especially the first fortnight when your body craves sugar.  It gets easier thereafter, to the extent that you don’t miss it at all. Use distraction techniques, and follow the advice above.  Keep good company and don’t give in to peer pressure.  By that I mean, do not allow your friends to ‘persuade’ you to have cake (“Just one won’t hurt!”). Good luck.  Your body will thank you.  What a wonderful act of kindness to do for yourself. Let me know how you get on.  Remember, I’m no nutrition expert; I just want to share what has worked for me. Anita.

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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!

Jeu décisif (the decider game)

It’s amazing what inspiration comes to you when you’re watching a game of tennis!  This fortnight is the French Tennis Open (Roland Garros) and I have been struck by the determination, fearlessness and tenacity of the players.  This is especially so in the Tie-break (jeu décisif): the decider game.

Determination:

You know I’ve realised that determination is such an important quality in all aspects of life.  The attitude of “keep on keeping on”.  I’m trying to nurture this quality in myself: in my daily life, in meditation, in my relationships and so on.  It would be so much easier, and yet much less spiritually valuable, to take the easy way, to drop the raquet and say “I give up.  This is too difficult”.  But it’s through all the trials in life when I’ve needed to dig deep and be resolutely determined to overcome these challenges, that I’ve seen massive growth spiritually and emotionally! So let’s use this gift of determination wisely and to do good in life.

Fearlessness:

Courage, trust in oneself, but also trust in God.  I received some great advice the other day:  even if we don’t know what’s going on in our lives, God does, so trust in Him that everything will be okay.  We can’t see the big picture; we’re only a tiny spark of reflected Divine light, a single thread in the tapestry of all life.  We can only see our little part of the tapestry!  From now on, I’m going to be fearless in my trust in Him, handing over any doubts and all the attempts I make to control life around me (that’s a biggie)!

Tenacity:

I’ve just looked up the meaning of tenacity and it says “the quality of being able to grip something firmly”.  That’s very apt when talking about a game of tennis or even a limpet clinging to a rock! But what about me (and you)?  Are we going to be tenacious in all aspects of life, including conquering negative, bad habits and establishing new, positive ones? Is this life on Earth going to be our ‘jeu décisif’ when we conquer accumulated karma, or will our tenacity weaken and we will need to return to play another game?