“A leaf, a flower, a fruit, or even water, offered to me in devotion, I will accept as the loving gift of a dedicated heart.”
These loving words were spoken by Lord Krishna to his devotee Arjuna in Chapter 9 of the Bhagavad Gita (the Hindu Bible if you like). It was written centuries before the Christian Bible, and at a time of higher spiritual attunement to God. The sentiments are clear: if a person is sincerely seeking God, determinedly trying to be a better person each day, meditating regularly and deeply, this person need not offer gifts of material wealth to God. Rather, seekers are encouraged to offer up everything they think, do, say, eat, drink, see, touch and so on, even and especially the smallest thing, so that we realise that it is God Himself that is behind everything.
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.
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!
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. 😘🙏
What a lovely review of my book from the fabulous https://beinglydia.com. Why not check out her blogsite. It’s so uplifting!
“Acts Of Kindness from Your Armchair” (RAOK) by Anita Neilson is a very easy read. At the same time, it is full of practical and easy ways to show kindness to yourself and those around you.
Anita is writing for those of us who, like herself, are mostly housebound due to chronic illness. How can you feel kindness toward yourself when you are isolated and not feeling well? How can you reap the benefit of helping others to feel better about yourself if you aren’t able to get out amongst other people? This book shows you how through suggestions and practical applications.
Part one is dedicated to learning to be kind to yourself. Anita talks about …….”
Click on the link below to read the full review. Thank you Lydia!
September is Fibromyalgia Awareness raising month in the UK. I want to share with you the 10 things I do better now that I have fibro! If you don’t know what fibromyalgia is, it’s an illness categorized by constant pain in muscles, joints, nerves as well as overwhelming fatigue at the slightest activity. I have had fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (M.E.) for around 9 years. I’ve run the gamut of emotions in that time, but now I make it my intention to focus on the positive every day (and some days that can be so difficult, but we know, don’t we, that we have to ride the storm of bad days in the knowledge that the following day will be better for sure!). In this spirit of positivity, here’s a chart tabling what I can no longer do and what I do in its place. I’d be interested in your feedback! I hope it’s helpful.
What I can no longer do:
Here’s what I do instead:
I take a few moments to visualize swimming and immersing myself in the peace that it can still bring me in my imagination. I wrote a lovely post about just this: Inner-stillness-the-joyful-soul-dance
2. Go for long walks
Go for short walks! We go to our local park in the evening and walk along the tree-shaded riverbank for a few minutes. It’s so relaxing. We stop and chat to other dog walkers; we take in gulps of the freshest of air; we peer through the trees to catch sight of the deer. We delight in nature for the short time that we are out in it. Start small and build up a little more each time. I sit out in the garden for a few minutes each day too to bathe my bones with rays of healing sunshine.
3. Hold down a full-time job
Request a job-share or go part-time, although firstly take a really hard look at your finances to see if you can afford to cut your working hours. If you can, be so grateful that you can and make the right choice for your health. There are plenty of opportunities for volunteering to help others, and I have found that when we are engrossed in helping others, we forget about our pain for a while.
4. Heavy housework
I was unable to do any housework at the beginning of my illness (not so much of a hardship!). Now I am able to do light housework such as 10 mins of dusting or tidying up. Hubby does the heavy work like vacuuming and emptying bins. If you live alone, ask for help from your neighbours or friends. Employ a cleaner once a week if you can. This is also good company for you, especially if you are mostly housebound like me. If you really miss housework (!), you could always spend a few quiet moments visualizing how wonderful it was. Lol!
5. Concentrate in the afternoons
I do any writing in the mornings because I know this is the time I am most alert. For others, it may be the afternoons. Do any paperwork or anything when you need to concentrate (such as make telephone calls) at the optimum time for you and REST at your worst times.
6. Go shopping
I really don’t miss shopping. The shopping mall, that cathedral to commercialism. It all seems so unpleasant now. I buy clothes online, making sure I check the size guides before purchasing. If you need to make a return, in the UK it’s so easy now to have packages uplifted from home or from local stores.
I can’t do airports (too much stress, light, noise, people, extremes of temperature; just too much of everything, sensory overload); I can’t travel in the car more than an hour at a time and when I arrive at our destination, I’m exhausted and have to sleep! So we tend to go away for day trips to the beach, to seaside towns or to a Farmer’s Market, and I always write nice reviews for any places we have visited as an act of kindness. You can make future memories in the small things. You remember the weather, the time for you and your partner to talk, the nice food and good service you had for lunch, the photographs you took and so on. I’ve visited many places in my earlier life; nowadays I enjoy watching television programmes about travel to beautiful places. The brain doesn’t distinguish between imagining doing something and actually doing something, did you know that? Fascinating.
I used to love knitting, but it belongs to the past and to the perfectionist personality that I was (and which still lurks in waiting in the background!). There was a lot of ego involved in knitting, that sense of “Oh look what I’ve created. Aren’t I clever!” I was looking for praise from other people and that was all tied up in my lack of self-esteem. Now I know I no longer need others’ approval. I can appreciate my niece’s knitting achievements for example ToryaWintersDesigns, but don’t feel the need to take up the needles again.
I can no longer drink alcohol, but you know, I don’t miss it. I realised that I relied on alcohol to relax me and I thought I couldn’t have a ‘good night out’ without it. Not a bit of it! I can now go out for a short meal in the evening, although I find it very tiring and have to sleep a lot the following day. But it’s wonderful to feel connected again with family and friends. If you can’t get out, why not invite people to your home, which is what we did for the past 8 years. By doing this, I was able to sit and relax on a comfortable chair at home while everyone else organised the meal around me! People are so happy to come and spend time with you, they don’t mind if you ask them to heat up some food or make tea. If you’ve explained your condition, they’re happy to help.
I used to love to drive. The freedom that it gives you. I rely on other people to drive me now, although we have recently bought an automatic car which I can drive for a few minutes at a time, but it does cause pain in my arms and I daren’t go out at all in the afternoons when concentration is poor. I just wouldn’t put others at risk. The thing about driving is, it encapsulates the big thing about having a chronic illness: having to rely on other people. My goodness, how I fought this for years, so determined was I to stand on my own two feet. But it’s such a relief when you finally say, “Yes, would you help me with this…” You can still do many things for yourself, but everyone needs a little help with something in their lives. Your pride stands in the way; let it go and you will be happier.