The joy of friendship!

What do we really need to be happy in life? What are the things that truly matter in the long run? You know what I’m going to say, don’t you, and it isn’t career, material wealth or possessions. Sure, these things are good in life as long as we don’t become too attached to them and make them our whole raison d’etre. For me though, (and I’ve come late to this realisation) what’s really important is who and how we love.

TODAY: If you’re a competitive person like me, remember that everything we have (looks, personality, possessions, skills and so on) is on loan to us for this lifetime. We can’t take any of it with us when our time comes to leave the earth. Are these things really so much more important than allowing love into your heart?  Here’s my poem on the joy of friendship. It’s called, I am Complete:

I am complete

I am replete

I open the door on this life

and gifts in abundance

come tumbling out:

🌿

love for living

joy in giving

health and well-being

bounty beyond all my needs.

🎈

But friendship holds me high

with encouragement to fly

“Look at me!” I squeal

as I soar in the sky

like a kite on a blustery day

vulnerable yet full of joy

🌿

free to be me

supported by the filaments

of companionable love.

 The above is an extract from my new book, Soul Murmurs, published end July 2019.  I’d love to hear your views. Anita😁

It’s hard to be humble…

“Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble
When you’re perfect in every way
I can’t wait to look in the mirror
Cause I get better looking each day
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man
Oh Lord It’s hard to be humble,
But I’m doing the best that I can.”

-from It’s-hard-to-be-humble-Mac-Davis song

I was going to start this blog post with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, but as soon as I started writing, this song started ringing out in my head, so I went with these lyrics instead.  You should take a minute to watch the YouTube video link above.  It’s such a catchy song, very tongue-in-cheek but at the same time contains a serious message if you want to look into it more deeply.  Because the difference between maintaining a state of balance in your body-mind and slipping into ego-led delusion is like teetering on a knife-edge, and one on which I teeter (and fall) quite often.  As I frequently tell people, “I’m a work in progress!”  

Humility

One spiritual quality I struggle with is that of humility.  It is hard to be humble, as the song says.  We are hard-wired to strive for better, to improve ourselves, and when we do make improvements (be they physical, mental, spiritual) we naturally feel gratified.  Watch out though, for this is the ego entrapping us in the cycle of action-gratification-more action-  and this will inevitably lead to unhappiness.  I awoke to the reality of life on earth through ill-health some 9 years ago.  I see this awakening as a true blessing, but when I look at others who are still caught on the treadwheel of material desires and delusion, a sense of smugness can sometimes beset me.  I start thinking things like, “I’m better than him or her”, or I judge their behaviour because it doesn’t come up to my standards.

Who made me God?

But hold on a minute here.  Who made me God?  I don’t get to decide how we should all behave and think!  I know this to be true, but equally I haven’t fully assimilated it in a practical sense yet.  This is a big block I need to deal with before I can progress further.  Where did this arrogance come from?  I was certainly very driven since childhood, but perhaps it comes from a previous incarnation?  In any case, it has to go. This arrogance is the opposite of humility and I know I must do my very best to hand it over to God and at every moment, make the choice of humility instead.   Here’s the Gandhi quote:

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom.”

-Mahatma Gandhi.

God’s spark shines in all of us equally.  Paramahansa Yogananda (20thC Swami who brought Kriya yoga to the west) made the analogy of sunlight falling equally on a lump of coal and a diamond, yet only the diamond receives and reflects the light.     Have a nice weekend and Shine-on-you-crazy-diamond (Pink Floyd)! Anita.💎

 

 

 

I Surrender!

“For like the olive
I cannot be without
The sturdy tree;
And like the nectar
I cannot flow without
The blossom at its Source.”

-Anita Neilson

Surrender:

The above quote is taken from my poem In the Garden which I wrote last year at Easter time.  It got me thinking of the issue of surrender.   The more I read and talk about spiritual matters, the more the word surrender raises its head.  And I’ve finally understood it!  Just as in the poem, an olive cannot exist without the sturdy tree which gives it life; and nectar cannot flow if there is no blossom from which it may flow.  So neither can we exist without that which gives us life – the Creator / God / Brahman / Source.   I’ve also realised that the more I/we fight this higher power and try to do things our way, even when it feels wrong, the more we become immersed in “I”, the ego.

The ego is the part of us that is entrenched in the duality of the material world.  It believes in all the dramas playing out before its eyes.  It has desires, needs, wants and believes that these will bring it the happiness it seeks.  But, deep down, we know, don’t we, that the soul has always had the right idea all along – we just didn’t want to listen!  For the soul is linked with wisdom – Divine wisdom – and it directs us towards courses of action which will be for our highest good.  Always.  We just have to surrender to it and have faith that everything will be as it should be, for our greater good.

Surrendering doesn’t mean giving in and doing nothing.  It means listening to our inner wisdom and choosing a course of action in line with it, one that will be for our good and the good of others.  It means doing the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do and not wanting or expecting something in return (praise, reward etc.).   This is non-attachment to the outcome of our actions, which is a highly desirable spiritual quality we should all endeavour to attain.

This Easter time, whatever your religion or belief system, why not take a moment to think about the avatar, Jesus Christ, who came to earth over 2,000 years ago as an embodiment of Divine Forgiveness.  Think of his teachings and the example of his life of renunciation and selfless service.   He was and remains an inspiration to many, and yet he was condemned by his people.  #healingwordsmon

Surrender  –  Faith  –  Non-attachment  –  Forgiveness 

 

Kindness traits in action

This post is for my #healingwordsthu and is an extract from my book, Acts of Kindness from your Armchair.

Chapter 6, Kind thoughts, words and acts.  Practice 7:  Kindness traits in action

Look at the kindness traits below.   Make a note of each one (*please use free downloadable pdf worksheets to accompany this Practice if you prefer) and beside each one write down any events, however small, where you feel you have made progress in embedding these traits of kindness more deeply in yourself.  It may be helpful to have two columns as outlined below with some examples:

Goodwill:                                I noticed when I was judging a friend unfairly and replaced this with a positive thought.

Benevolence:                          I joined in a prayer for wisdom for world leaders as they met to discuss a way forward for war-torn Syria.

Charity:                                   When entering a competition, I affirmed to myself that I would give some of the winnings to charity.

Compassion:                           I watched a tv programme and felt compassion for one of the celebrities who seemed lonely.

Generosity:                             Upon receiving four small gifts from my sister, I spontaneously offered one each of the gifts to my other sisters.

Humanity:                               I felt sympathy for people in the world who still have to walk miles to collect water each day.  I will no longer waste water.

Kindliness:                              I played Hunt the Food with the dogs instead of ignoring them to watch tv.

Philanthropy:                          I bought one of a friend’s paintings to encourage her in her art.

Understanding:                      I put myself in my husband’s shoes after I had cajoled him about something he hadn’t done and realised that it doesn’t feel good to be the recipient of this.

Other examples of how you have shown kindness traits in action could be:  perhaps you have thought more charitably of refugees fleeing for their lives; perhaps you became aware that you were about to say something negative about yourself or others and you stopped yourself and instead remained silent; perhaps you hugged a friend who needed emotional support and so on.  Note down the ones which you have experienced.  Read this list often, and add to it, and you will be amazed at what kindness your heart is capable of.

Kind thoughts:

 “If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him….if a man speaks

or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.”

– The Twin Verses, Buddha.

Thoughts create our reality:  acts of kindness result from kind words which themselves originate in kind thoughts.  The Law of Attraction has fascinated many scholars throughout history from the Buddha to Albert Einstein to Christian Larson (The Optimist’s Creed) and more recently Rhonda Byrne (The Secret, The Magic) to name a few.  It proposes that our thoughts create our reality and what we think, say and do will be the reality that we attract back to ourselves at some point.   For example, if we think and say that life is unfair, that bad things always happen to us, that we are never lucky and so on these negative thoughts of lack are the reality that we create for ourselves and therefore we will always think of ourselves as a victim in life because it doesn’t go the way we want it to.  These thoughts lead us to negative emotional patterns where our lack of success – as we see it – may result in us experiencing bitterness and discontent.

With the support of a Cognitive Behavioural (or Holistic) therapist, we can learn that it is beneficial to think of compassionate alternatives to challenge anxiety and negative thoughts.  This gradually leads to much improved mood and motivation.   We are retraining ourselves to think more positively and attract a better reality for ourselves.  Instead of adopting the victim mentality of:  “I will fail, I’m not going to try”, we would say for example: “What is the worst that can happen?”  or “It might be fun!”  So, be kind.  Notice when you are being negative about yourself, acknowledge it when it happens and immediately change the thoughts or words to something positive.  Keep practising this and it will eventually become a new automatic mode of behaviour.

I hope you have enjoyed this section of my book, the content of which came from my personal experiences working towards finding new purpose in life through kindness. Om Shanti!  Anita.

How to nurture resilience in your life.

What is resilience? 

Resilience:  flexibility, durability, strength, adaptability, toughness. When all around us seems unsteady, it is our ability to remain resolute and determined which sets us apart from others.  Life is a process of continuous change.  Do we fight it and struggle or do we accept change as a lesson to be learned and move forward with courage and enthusiasm?

Whatever the tasks we set ourselves today, this week, this month, the process is the same: don’t give up when progress seems impossible.  Persevere.  Be industrious.  Think of new ways of doing things which may bring more success. 

“We create our future in our present.”

So how can I incorporate resilience into daily life? 

  • Be yourself and be sincere.  Those who preach and moralise are not listened to attentively by the disinterested.  Yet those whose courage, energy and diligence shine from their eyes so brightly, light a beacon which others will (even subconsciously) follow.  They will be dazzled and intrigued to know more, and find out how they can be like this person.  This is a very important way in which to live your life and serve others—by showing, not telling, the way to others, by being as well as doing. 
  • Notice those who show by example and emulate them: the neighbour who picks up litter; the child who continues to attend school despite being bullied; the person who persists in his or her endeavours despite ridicule from others, and so on.  You know who they are. 
  • Be someone who persists in striving to make his or her part of the world (our world!)better.  This could mean: tending your front garden to keep the neighbourhood tidy and welcoming for others; maintaining a clean and tidy home (remember your outer clutter reflects the inner emotional state!); extending the hand of friendship to all who need it.
  • Follow the example of the natural world.  I watch the blue tits and coal tits at the feeder in my garden each day.  These tiny birds are constantly bullied by the larger sparrows and starlings and yet they return time and again to get food for their young.  I see the trees in the field bend time and again under the ferocious Atlantic winds and yet they persist and thrive.  I want to be like that each time a wave of pain threatens to overwhelm me:  climb into my ‘boat of resilience’ and keep sailing till the storm passes!

So make it your intention to incorporate the quality of resilience into your daily life, no matter any physical, emotional or financial limitations you may face.  Start today! I’d love to hear your feedback, and remember you can ‘sign guestbook’ here.