Joy

I have written about joy before….experiencing it on demand (as the great Chade Meng Tan talks about). Truly though, if you give it a little thought to it, aside from Christmas when joy seems to be scattered everywhere (joy to the world and all that), when do you experience joy?

It isn’t a word I am familiar with. I haven’t experienced a lot of joy in my life and haven’t come to know it well, until recently. It has always been fleeting and has required much thought and focus, which really, if you think about it, totally negates joy.

To me, joy is happiness multiplied. It is the feeling of being overwhelmed with love, happiness, elation, positivity and total bliss in the moment.

The Oxford dictionary describes joy as;

the joy of being alive

..which to me, and am sure you will agree, sums it up perfectly.

Recently, I decided my focus is on joy. Noticing it and bringing more of it into my life. Surprising how that attention of awareness brings so much to fruition. The main joy in my days are my two children – who honestly are not the epitome of children. My daughter is 19 and my son is 15, and although I am totally biased, they are the funniest two humans ever. They make me laugh constantly….the forever running stream of accents that range from Russian to Italian to something Polish and in between. My son only ever speaks to our dog in a Polish accent, it is absolutely hilarious. You could not find a comedian that could make this stuff up. They are my greatest critics and the cause of my greatest sorrow. I love every inch of both of them and my life would not be what it is without them. They are joy in it’s full entirety.

I am always in a state of some self development….and this year has been the culmination of many, many years of work on my self worth…and the value I place upon my self, which, if you think about it is probably the cause of most people’s discord – that feeling of not being good enough basically. I have worked hard on this and have to say, I like who I am today. I have bad days, but don’t we all? But I no longer hate or loathe myself and this is alien to me now. However, joy is also quite an alien thing. It comes and goes, but I want more of it.

I’ve talked about affirmations before and especially the power of writing them down, which you can read about here. My affirmation has been for a while about loving and valuing myself and noticing joy. Seriously, these written affirmations never fail to materialise…it is totally magical and you can’t truly believe it until you practice it and do them daily.

Here is my list of joys just this past week:

  • Feeling somewhat annoyed at a business trip having turned into a mega long trip stuck in traffic, only to realise that my destination [seriously didn’t realise it was that far] was in North Wales…I LOVE Wales – such a great feeling to be there
  • I apologise if this seems racist, it totally is not intended that way, but the total picture of it was so funny…I kept seeing signs on the M6 of pedestrians in the road. I thought that was odd, I mean would they not be ran over? So a couple of miles after the signs, I see a car and a traffic officer with two completely white robed muslim men bombing along the hard shoulder and the slow lane trying to retrieve luggage that had flew off….I was laughing so much I nearly crashed the car
  • Woo (my lovely daughter) singing
  • Re-connecting with the third book I want to publish and actually finding a way to publish it (am working on it and it precedes Maldives for the Mind)
  • Looking at photographs (whilst working on aforementioned book) of my kids when they were little
  • Creating some positive quotes with my photographs for social media
  • Baking both days of the weekend
  • Meeting my sister and mum for drinks at the pub
  • Visiting my beautiful Grandma and sitting in the garden with our faces in the sunshine
  • Embarking on my 50 minute National Parks Challenge that turned into an hour and 43 minute, 5 mile walk through mainly wet grass with our dog, Lenny
  • Visiting my brother and chatting with my nephew who fashioned a ‘fix’ for the light pull in the bathroom. It was too short and you couldn’t grasp the cord so he fixed it with a tampon ha ha ha…seriously the kid is just too intelligent
  • Sitting on my garden swing in the sunshine, just for 10 minutes with a cup of tea
  • Ironing my son’s new (6) school shirts and realising this was the last year I would be doing this and remembering all his school years… picturing him as that cute 6 year old (warms my heart…he is now 6ft 2)

There is so much more….

Notice joy and it is everywhere.

 

[This photograph was taken along the Highway 1 route in California in 2009. My beautiful two children on the campsite we stayed at, just across from the beach.]

He loves me, he loves me not

I wasn’t sure what to call this post and the title of the game, where one person seeks to find out if someone loves them or not by picking the petals of a flower; taking it in turns between he (or indeed she) loves me, he loves me not, seems apt. The line that goes with the last petal picked is the true answer. Oh if life were that simple!

How many times have you wondered whether someone likes you? Not just in a romantic way, but anyone you know. It might be a friend, work colleague, sibling, parent or yes, partner. Are you cursed with the dreaded self limiting belief that people don’t like or love you? This most likely stems from feeling not good enough, but the belief that you aren’t loveable or likeable is one that can completely mar your every day life.

This topic has come up in conversations I’ve had with three different people during the past week and so thought perhaps it was worthy of a little prose.

Just because we believe something to be so, doesn’t make it true. In the case of not being liked, most of the time we are completely wrong in our estimations. However, because we believe it, so to do we think it, which means we feel it and we begin to behave in such a way that we attract it! This cycle of conscious creation is what makes the world go round. The universe does not differentiate between good and bad, it simply is, and so the cycle works just as well for the negative as it does for the positive. What we think we become.

‘What you think you become.

What you feel you attract.

What you imagine, you create.’

– Buddha

Ultimately, this means we end up attracting into our life the very thing we are most afraid of – people not liking us! The problem is that when you grip something too tightly you don’t allow it to flow and often we try too hard. We believe someone doesn’t like us and so we try hard to make them, which only pushes them further away.

I have found in life that the solution is always to be found in the problem and in this case it is simply to let go. It is quite freeing and just in using that word it sounds so light and breezy and easy to do. I realise, however, that the reality of it is very different and many people find it incredibly difficult. The reason? They worry and worrying is what gets in the way and certainly what gets in the way of letting go of the need to be liked or feeling that you are disliked or unloved.

Worry begets worry. The more you worry, the more you will worry.

Practising mindfulness can help, both in terms of breaking the worry cycle and letting go of the belief you are not liked or loved.

Establishing a regular meditation practice is always the foundation of mindfulness practice because it sets you off on the right footing and starts your day in the direction of being more mindful. Even if this starts out as just a few minutes each morning, the benefits are greater than not meditating at all.

To get into the habit of being mindful throughout the day I always suggest cues. My watch reminds me to breathe often, not that I stop breathing of course, but I use these lovely prompts as a reminder to be mindful. It might be on the hour each hour, when your next client arrives or in the case of the problem we are discussing here, I suggest you use your worrying as the cue to be mindful. In this way you are not only practising mindfulness, but you are actually interrupting your worry cycle and over time, with persistent and consistent practice, you will break the habit of worrying. The cue will form a habit and your reward will be breaking that worry cycle and becoming present.

You cannot ruminate over the past or worry about the future if you are present.

Remember, to be present is simply to bring yourself back to now – the moment you are in. Engage all your senses in each moment; what can you smell, hear and feel? The more you practice mindfulness the more you begin to notice and the more your senses heighten.

This doesn’t have to apply to just worrying about whether people like you or not, it can relate to any worry.

Through meditation and mindfulness practice we begin to see things as they truly are, not how we see them. We begin to see that much of our belief about not being liked isn’t true and if it indeed is true, we can choose to move away from that situation or simply not respond.

Truly it comes down to liking and loving yourself first. When you do, the same rules apply. You cannot like yourself and not begin to attract that in others; it’s simply how the universe works – like attracts like after all.

There is a humorous twist on the, ‘love me, love me not’ game, that is, ‘he loves me, he loves me lots’ – let that be your mantra.

 

 

 

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 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.]

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…]

 

Luminescent Earth

Along with writing, I love photography and am fascinated by the sky. Never a good move when driving of course, but am often distracted by the colour of the sky. I could literally take a photograph of the sky twice in as many minutes and it would appear differently.

I find in photography I am often drawn more to colour than to subject or composition. Some of my favourite photographs are simply because I am in love with the mix of colours and the sky never seems to disappoint.

I love the piercing azure blue sunny skies of California, the magical deep midnight blue sky on a clear night, milky indigo on a dewy morning and the lure of a sparkling aquamarine Maldives ocean. No sunrise or sunset is ever the same. Flying above Greenland the sky can be the most beautiful shade of pink, orange and red, like giant pillows of candy floss against the vast expanse of white below.

While travelling on a night flight recently back from San Francisco I was mesmerised by the horizon appearing luminescent as though the earth was glowing.

Another magical moment of mindfulness…

 

Daily Post: Word Prompt/Luminescent https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/luminescent/