Soul to Speak

Have you ever read something and you’re suddenly filled with peace or feel relaxed and at ease where previously you felt tension or angst?

I love poetry and particularly love Rumi. It’s usually the case that what you need at a certain time, will appear and other times you don’t know you need something until it does appear.

Yesterday, while on Facebook, I happened to see this image quote…

‘I know you’re tired but come, this is the way.” – Rumi

Just ten words, but the effect they had was so profound that it made me think about it for a while afterwards. It wasn’t so much that I even thought I needed to feel peace at that moment or indeed yesterday, but when I looked at that image and read those words, I was overcome with an enormous sense of peace. It settled slowly all around me until I was completely filled with the feeling. Being a photographer I think images have the power to bring about peace like that and loving trees so much I wondered if maybe it was that, coupled with that lovely Rumi quote. Perhaps…

With meditation and mindfulness to try to understand it too much, is to miss it. It is such a paradox. As humans we sometimes struggle with things we cannot see. In his brilliant book, ‘You’ll see it when you believe it’, Wayne Dyer talked about having to believe (faith) in a power and way of thinking and being before you actually begin to see things happen in your life. Meditation and mindfulness is like that. You can read about it, but truly it requires a leap of faith; to simply accept that some things just cannot be explained or understood fully, and that’s ok, to just practice and trust the flow.

This morning the quote popped up in my head again and I was filled with the same sense of peace as I read it again. There is a place within all of us that is pure peace, love and where we are the very best version of ourselves, the place of our highest good and where we are connected with a higher power and with one another. To try to understand that place is to miss it. You can’t see it. If you took apart your body you wouldn’t find it, but it is stronger than all the power you can imagine and to understand how that could be, is to miss it. Through the avenue of the breath and the present moment, meditation and mindfulness can connect us with that place within and at times if we notice, small things might stop by during our day and remind us of that too…just like this quote did yesterday.

I know you’re tired, but come, this is the way…

 

This image quote is from the Facebook page of Tao & Zen (@TaoZen2012) 

Slow it down

When I think of liquid I think of water.

I love water and am drawn to a paradox. Water has so many;

It can be calm, peaceful and serene, yet turbulent and chaotic.

It is pure, clean and refreshing, yet can be contaminated, dirty and stagnant.

It can be delicate and light, yet heavy and oppressive.

Water gives life, yet can also take it away.

It is clear, yet appears blue, grey, white and green.

We drink it, we swim and sail in it, shower, bathe and wash just about everything in it. It makes up 70% of our body and covers just over 70% of our planet. Water keeps us and our planet alive and is truly a life force akin to our breath.

Without water, our earth and us along with it, would die. Be mindful of the impact your footprint, no matter how small, has on the sustainability of this liquid life force. We think our one little footprint doesn’t matter – that the way we impact our environment doesn’t matter, but it does. If only a tiny portion, which you and I are one, of the over 7.5 billion footprints are mindful that makes a difference.

I love water. I took this photograph on a hike into the hills around Lake Folsom trails in California. The rocks at the side of the river where the perfect natural tripod to slow it down.

via Photo Challenge: Liquid

The actions of others

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” Dr Seuss

When it comes to emotional mastery one of the most difficult skills to learn is in dealing with the actions, behaviour and intentions of others. The short and sweet of it is, as you are probably already aware, in understanding and more importantly, accepting, that we cannot control the intentions of others. We can only control our response and affect our own intentions. The complexity begins when you put that into practice.

Think of times during your day when the actions, behaviour or intentions of others affect you. Quite a lot I imagine. From your kids, spouse and friends, to your work colleagues and total strangers you come into contact with. There are days when maybe you don’t really interact with many people and days when you no doubt interact with lots. Consider the times when someone does something that really irritates or annoys you. Perhaps strong emotion surges within you before you’ve had time to think. There are so many variables to this. You could be feeling super happy one day and the person who cuts in front of you driving doesn’t affect you, but the next day it might – and that’s a simple example!

When you have a regular meditation practice and you practise mindfulness, you will begin to notice space. I’m not talking physical space here, although it can feel that way, but more space, silence if you like, around your own actions and your interactions with others. It’s as though there is extra time just slotted in here and there. The reality is of course, it was there all along, you just didn’t notice it. This space allows you to stop, just for a moment, and consider your own actions and to think for just a second. When this happens and you are feeling strong emotion towards what someone has said or done, it enables you to see that you are not in control of that. You can only control your response to it. That isn’t to say that it hasn’t made you feel upset, angry or whatever emotion has surged within you, but truly, to ask yourself, what is the benefit in displaying that emotion towards them.

When you experience this often, you will also begin to see that not everyone is self aware. Now this isn’t to say that those who are self aware are enlightened humans who can rise above any such trivia and let everything go. What it is saying is that if you do not have a level of self awareness you will be blissfully UNAWARE of your actions, behaviour or intentions on others. Is this selfish, ignorant? You might think so. I say it is neither good or bad, it just is.

Most people live ‘unconsciously’ and operate on autopilot; simply playing out the same patterns of behaviour, responding to situations in the same way they always have. These people can only perhaps see life from their own perspective. As you increase your level of self awareness you begin to see that everyone has their own perspective and when you truly realise this, you can feel more empathy towards others. You can see that if their actions aren’t kind or particularly thoughtful, that’s not necessarily because they are intentionally trying to upset others; they are just coming from their own perspective, their own place. This dulls the effect they have on you and enables acceptance, which leads you to decide (in that space) how you respond, or not. I mean often the best thing is simply to smile and be silent.

It’s like a light being switched on. Suddenly you can see clearly that lots of people you interact with on a daily basis are unaware of the impact of their actions, behaviour and intentions on people around them. With meditation and mindfulness you can work on increasing self awareness that enables you to dodge these situations in as much as not being affected by them. Often I find that situations are more diffused because you have not responded to them. On a work front the interaction be in emails, which have to be one of the biggest forms of miscommunication we deal with everyday. It is so easy to fire that email back when truly, did we really understand what the other person meant, or even if they meant what we think they meant, do we really need to respond to that in a way that just fuels fire with fire?

As human beings one of our biggest flaws is that we think everything is about us. So when someone says or does something that you take complete offence to, just think about their perspective too. They may indeed be completely ‘wrong’ with their facts or perception, but they might also just have found out some awful news or be having a massively bad day. Who knows why people act the way they act. You can’t possibly know everything, right? You can, however, (thank goodness!) control your own actions, your own behaviour and intentions. When you strive to live your life in this way, you will show kindness and compassion to others. You don’t need to be a push over or be walked all over. You can just choose to step out of the way and let the situation go by you without event. You can choose not to let the rising emotion take over your body causing you to react in a way that you will later regret. You might choose to respond but it will be in a more mindful way and one that is thoughtful of the other person’s perception or standpoint.

So when you are next faced, later today, tomorrow or the next day, with someone who is evoking negative emotion within you, look out for that space and allow yourself just a moment to consider your response. When you observe something, what you are observing will change. There will be a shift. In his beautiful book, ‘The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down’, Haemin Sunim said,

“People say hurtful things because they themselves have been hurt. When you encounter someone prickly or malicious, think about what kind of miserable situation he must be in. If he is too much, and you don’t have time, just whisper, ‘bless you’ and move on.”

You can choose kindness and if I know one thing to be true. It is always better to be kind than it is to be right.

 

The lovely insightful image today is from best selling author Karen Salmansohn’s site Not  Salmon, self help for people who would not be caught dead doing self help.

Unlikely that…

I love these photo challenges….but when I read the amazing experience of the cheetah in the back of the truck, I was perplexed at what could be as unlikely as that.

On a side note, it made me think about being more mindful of ‘unlikely’ when out with my camera, but then I guess it wouldn’t be unlikely if I was being mindful of it, and so a whole paradox in terms.

We visited the Blue Lagoon in Abereiddi, Pembrokeshire, where the annual Red Bull cliff diving world series takes place. The lagoon is a former slate quarry and so there is a high slate wall beneath the much higher cliffs behind. It is still frighteningly high, but my fearless daughter, who scuba dives, was keen to jump from the top. I wasn’t so keen, but just as she was climbing up, some divers returned from the sea into the lagoon and convened in the water beneath her, just in case. It gave me a little reassurance, but not all that much.

She did the jump a few times. When I looked at the photos afterwards, I realised it was unlikely to catch her in such a position that it looked like she was standing on a ledge half way down.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/unlikely/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The power of faith and trusting what is

A long time ago, when I was became interested in Buddhism, it took me some time to fully grasp the concept of letting go and acceptance. For a while it meant being walked all over or not having a voice, about shirking all responsibility, but over the years I have learnt the true meaning of letting go and acceptance.

Letting go actually allows more to come into your life and as the Buddha said,

by the absence of grasping, one is set free

When you can begin to accept the impermanence of life, that we can only ever truly control our own thoughts, behaviours and actions and not those of others, life begins to open up a whole world of new possibilities and opportunities.

Letting go and acceptance also mean the allowing of something else too.

Trust.

Not everyone finds it easy to trust. Not just in trusting others but in trusting yourself and trusting what is.

When you have faith, let go and accept what is, you will find that you start to ‘see’ and trust what comes your way is meant to be. When you live your life consciously, i.e. practising mindfulness and living in the present moment, you will notice that you trust more in what comes your way. That isn’t to say that every situation, person or scenario you experience will lead you to something positive, but what it does mean is that you trust that whatever you are faced with is meant to be there. Whether it be a hard lesson or something more enjoyable.

There is power in trusting what is – you lose expectations and you become less focused on outcomes, spending more time simply enjoying the journey. When you  trust in what is, you live your life more in flow. What used to feel difficult will become easier, what used to feel ‘stuck’ will become unstuck. Your life will meander along much more smoothly than it did before.

I use faith and trust interchangeably and indeed, one is a synonym for the other, but they actually mean different things. Faith is what you hold within you and having the ability to believe in something you don’t have proof or evidence of, whereas trust is more certain and says it IS so.

So you are having faith, that when you let go and practice acceptance everything will be ok. The more you do that, the more you trust what is, because you are experiencing it for real. When your live your life based on these simple principles you will find your life experience is elevated to a whole different level. One where your unshakeable faith and trust create true power, fuelling your ability to change your life and achieve more of what your heart desires than ever before…

 

 

[This photograph of a beautiful Buddha statue was taken along the serene Land of Medicine Buddha Hike in Santa Cruz, California.]

Golden Gate Sunset

I get excited every time I read through the Daily Post photo challenges….the sky is one of my favourite things to photograph and so loved the Rise and Set challenge post recently.

I live in England and visit my family in California often…my sister lives in San Francisco and this photograph was taken as we walked along the marina towards the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/rise-set/

 

 

Perspective

I was listening to a podcast yesterday with Tim Ferriss interviewing Gabor Mate (very interesting guy if you haven’t heard of him) and towards the end of the podcast Gabor talked about his favourite quote, relating to perspective. I often talk about how having empathy for others and being mindful of the perspective of others, but this really made me see the enormity of perspective and its incredible impact on our daily lives…

Think about a time recently when something upset you and then think about how you responded.

During the interview I listened to, Tim said that there were a bunch of things that needed fixing around his home and while he was away, he had agreed with someone to come and do the work for him.

When he returned home the work wasn’t done.

Gabor asked him how that made him feel. What were the emotions he felt.

He said he felt upset and the emotions were anger and frustration.

Gabor asked him to think about why he felt angry and frustrated.

Tim responded, because I felt like the guy did not care about me or respect me.

Gabor pointed out that there could be a million and one reasons for the guy not doing the work; he could have taken ill, had a relative become ill, called out of town and so on.

He said,

We don’t respond to what happens, we respond to our perception of what happens; our interpretation.

He stated three key points:

  1. We choose the worse scenario/outcome
  2. We don’t choose, we jump to the worst conclusion automatically
  3. We don’t respond to the present moment, we respond to the past

Responding in this way usually goes back to childhood and the patterns of behaviour and ways in which we respond just play out over and over throughout our lives.

The more mindful you become, the more self aware you become. Being mindful is being present and so cultivating mindfulness in your life will enable you to notice your responses and gain insight into your perspective.

Think about situations in your own life where you are faced with a situation where you respond without really knowing any facts about a situation or the person you are responding to.

Our perceptions are our reality, but it doesn’t make them true.

Mindfulness gives you a fresh perspective. A perspective where you can see things as they really are and because you are present, you cannot be on autopilot at the same time, – meaning you are less likely to jump to a conclusion, based on an automatic response that comes from past. You cannot be in the past if you are present.

This doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch. Mindfulness is a practice and as such needs practising daily.

If you wanted to listen to Tim Ferriss’ interview with Gabor Mate, you can find it here on the Tim Ferriss Podcast.

 

 

[The image is one I took in San Francisco, where my sister lives. I visit often and have taken so many photographs of the Golden Gate Bridge, but each time I seem to find a new perspective and the photographs always seem different…]