Friday, June 30, 2006

World Cup Fever!!

June/July 2006 is really important for a good number of people in the world! Where I come from it is a really magical time! You can see people of all ages and from all sorts of backgrounds: smiling, shouting, biting their nails, weeping… all sorts of emotions are expressed and welcomed!
Hugging and tapping each other's hands whenever a positive result comes… Hoping in the feet of ten guys and the hands of one keeper…. All that energy …. Thousands or millions of eyes watching the movements…. A form of art…. The sound of a ball being kicked … Being able to shout goooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallll!
I love … seeing people's pride in wearing over their skins the colours of their bit of the earth!
But this year it is different for me… more colourful… I am in a different country and here there is a mixture of every country, of every nation, and everyone is given space. You not only see the flags of this country but of all nations… together…. Can we be like this outside this period? Can we maintain this respect that is bigger outside the fields I think we can… I think we can choose to… I will!!!!! ….but….. I still hope my green and yellow wins…if not though…' the gusto, ardour, liveliness, alacrity, avidity will have made it worth it! It is part of being alive, part of the biggest match! The match of life! Fair play for all… including the play of life! In this… may everybody win!!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Learning chinese

I started learning Chinese at a very young age. My dad couldn't read or write Chinese so he decided to send me to learn Chinese instead. Learning the stroke order and stroke type was hard work. Then it seemed such a waste of time to me. I did not have the vision to see beyond the strokes and hard work. However, now after meeting many people from different cultures I have begun to value what I was given then.

I was chatting with two friends recently. They started pointing at some Chinese characters on a piece of paper and asking me to explain their meanings. The first word was 'tolerate' and the second word was 'righteous'. I explained as best as I could. My friends were Europeans and to them the characters meant nothing, they might as well have been abstract pictures. I had to be creative in illustrating the Chinese characters visually. These are some of the images which came to my mind at that time... (See image below).

This image shows the Chinese character of 'Tolerance'. The visual description is of a blade plunged into a heart. To me the character symbolises more of suppression rather than of tolerance, and for many years, I took tolerance and suppression to mean the same thing. Only after years of self-discovery have I came to understand that tolerance is not suppression. I suppressed many things which ended up in 'volcanic' eruptions of emotions later. It is out of love though that we tolerate - love for myself and love for others. When I am in love I don't even notice other’s funny habits and their personality traits do not annoy me. This is what tolerance is about. Tolerance is love and love is tolerance. Both go hand in hand.

This image shows the Chinese character of 'Righteous'. The straight lines which form the character seem to symbolise order and integrity. To me righteousness is not about ‘doing the right thing,’ as sometimes when I have done what I thought was the right thing I have later found that it was mixed up with the influence of others' opinions or my ego or my stubbornness. Righteousness is about acting from a space of absolute truth. So what is my truth?

Anyone out there who have a similar way of playing with words and characters?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

everything in one's vision...

I have been thinking a little bit more about how we 'choose' or as may be the case 'not choose' the way we see things. How I see something/someone is usually in relation to how I see myself, which is tricky because then very rarely do I see things as they actually are.

I read something recently that said if you want to change the world begin by changing your vision. When you think about it...when your vision of someone else does change that is for the better, then the way you interact with them will also becomes more positive too. Most importantly of all is how do I choose to see myself as it's through these spectacles that I will see the world around me.

So I've been checking which spectacles I've been wearing. What quality of vision do the spectacles you are wearing give you? Our vision is something so subtle...we often think, let me change the way I am interacting with someone or let me change my behaviour towards someone but rarely do we think of changing how we see ourselves and so how we see each other.

Today I had a go at taking off the everyday spectacles that I usually wear and decided to wear instead the kind through which I don't see the body, the role...but just a star at the centre of the forehead and this star was unique and peaceful. I have to say everything became so much easier and my mind stayed free.

In Prison 2

My flatmate locked me IN our apartment today. I mean, how can this happen? It can. It did. It reminded me of my visit to the prison the other day -- only a few hours deprived of freedom and it can be a scary thing (especially if it means missing a few work meetings). To explain the reason for my absence to colleagues would sound worse than the famous "the-dog-ate-my-homework" excuse. Luckily meditation has taught me not to get affected by these unpredictable 'surprises' in life. So I sat down, read a beautiful text… and fell asleep.

I dreamt that I was in prison and there was no way to get out. This prison had no bars, no doors and no other inmates. It was like a shadow that accompanied me wherever I went, chasing me like a ghost. A constant and invisible fear. I began to run -- but I could not escape this claustrophobic sensation. Breathless, I stopped and sat down... and then it was as if something within me was being cooled down, as if an angel had placed its invisible wings around me, protecting me and allowing my mind to become quiet and still... until I was able to experience a nice, warm, comforting sensation in the form of a wave of light. I actually felt I was pure light. Weightless and sparkling, light and free... no longer trapped, no longer trying to escape. I was being lifted from ordinary fear into a sphere of absolute beauty. Floating like a star in a golden sky. The experience was so beautiful I woke up in bliss!

I learnt two lessons: (1) I hold the key to freedom -- I just need to remember it and (2) I don't hold an extra key to my flat -- so I definitely need to remember that!!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Monday Spiritual Joke #3

Two men meet on the street.
One asks the other: "Hi, how are you?"
The other ones replies: "I'm fine, thanks."
"And how's your son? Is he still unemployed?"
"Yes, he is. But he is meditating now."
"Meditating? What's that?"
"I don't know. But it's better than sitting around and do nothing!"

Rough edges smoothed out

I was recently presenting some new ideas to a group of people in a work situation and came up against some resistance. It's at times like this we can create friction just with our imagination and we wonder: "What are they thinking?....." and then we get tense. If I look at it from another angle though, which says....."It's OK" whatever their reaction is. However they react is completely valid and they need to know that I respect their opinions. I need to do this in order for this moment to move on and for "us" not to get stuck.

I was reflecting on the experience with a friend and my friend had something very special to share about this: "each of us needs consoling", not in a yucky kind of way but in a way that says - yes, you have a point - I can see that, I can understand it (from your perspective). I need to learn to let go of my ego defences, to keep my heart open and let them know, "yes it can be like that can't it, and what about this.....?" It feels so much better than someone saying, "No, it's like this...."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

World cup fever! *Goooaaallll*

It's the world cup fever again! I'm not a soccer fan but when the world cup arrives I find myself in the swing and joining in the commotion around town. I like watching matches with unpredictable teams playing, it is much more exciting and not regimented.

When England was playing against Trinidad and Tobago the whole country came to a standstill. I was driving home from work during the match after work and the streets of London were dead. It was great day for drivers, cruising home in stress-free traffic conditions.

I was looking at how much energy is being generated across the world whilst the world cup is happening. Every goal scored is scored with such intensity. If everyone was to come together with one aim, one support for one positive goal and with such energy we could work wonders could be achieved in the world. However, we all have our own motives and agenda. Until we are able to rid ourselves of these selfish agendas of 'I want' and 'I need' then transformation of the world cannot take place. Let the commotion of positive thoughts start with me...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

In Prison

I am working for a charity which in turn works with other charities. Two days ago I visited a prison to see a project, where prison inmates can join and train to become qualified counsellors to other inmates in issues such as: drug abuse, housing problems, life out of prison, getting training, moving on…

Shamefully when I first went I was very cautious, this being my first time in a prison, and a little weary of what I would find. I was suspicious of the prisoners, I was afraid of them: it was almost as if they were not human in the way I was thinking about them! When we started talking though, I discovered that by being part of something worthwhile they had regained a sense of self-worth, and that by enabling others to change, by pointing other inmates in a positive direction, they had some sense of fulfilment. By giving, they got back: they felt a sense of being of value, they felt good about themselves maybe for the first time in their lives! In fact, more than any qualification they had received this is what enabled them to move on, to get off drugs and to have hope. One of the guys told me: ‘My solicitor told me I was going to be free after my judgement and instead I got sentenced to life. I thought of killing myself. Now I have hope, I can dream of a future, somewhere, at some time…’. Knowing they had performed wrong actions these people were grasping at the only small chance they had to get out of the vicious circle of habitual actions and past conditioning, and to go beyond what had happened, to forgive and to forget – themselves to begin with.

It is easy to think we are free when we are not locked away behind prison walls. It is easy to soak all the prejudices society subtly (or not so subtly) communicates to us and become a judge of others – be they in prison or in the office next door. On my way home, I reflected on the many prisons I allow myself to get into: the prisons of habit, the prisons of prejudice, of negative feelings, of wasteful thinking, of not accepting others and myself, of holding on to the past: they too refletc a lack of self-worth, of self-respect and of the very determination these prisoners have so much inspired me to have! “If you love yourself, start by setting yourself free!”

Monday, June 19, 2006

Monday Spiritual Joke #2

An 85-year-old couple, after being married for almost 60 years, died in a car crash. They had been in good health the last ten years, mainly due to her interest in health food and exercising.

When they reached the Pearly Gates, St. Peter took them to their mansion, which was decked out with a beautiful kitchen, master bath suite and a Jacuzzi.

As they looked around, the old man asked St. Peter how much all this was going to cost. "It's free," St. Peter replied, "this is Heaven."

Next, they went out in the back yard to survey the championship-style golf course that the home was located. They would have golfing privileges every day and each week, the course changed to a new one representing the great golf courses on earth.

The old man asked, "What are the green fees?"

St. Peter replied, "This is Heaven, you play for free."

Next, they went to the club house and saw the lavish buffet lunch with the cuisine's of the World laid out.

" How much to eat?" asked the old man.

"Don't you understand yet? This is Heaven, it is free!" St. Peter replied, with some exasperation.

"Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol tables?" the old man asked timidly.

St. Peter lectured, "That's the best part - you can eat as much as you like of whatever you like and you never get fat and you never get sick. This is Heaven."

With that, the old man went into a fit of anger, throwing down his hat and stomping on it, and screaming wildly. St. Peter and his wife both tried to calm him down, asking him what was wrong.

The old man looked at his wife and said, "This is all your fault! If it weren't for your blasted bran muffins, I could have been here ten years ago!"

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Relative perception

I am currently at the point of realising how incredibly relative our perception is.

The other day someone asked me to walk up the stairs… and there I was - walking up the stairs in my usual manner. Once again at the bottom of the stairs, I was asked to imagine that I was a king and then I was asked to make my way back up the stairs again. I found myself straightening my back, lifting my head and slowly stepping up. I was the same one, I just had a different perception of myself. I was walking up the stairs as a king would:-).

The summer is now coming. Next time it gets very hot outside, imagine that you are a master of coolness and see how you feel! I tried this and it made a 6 hour journey on a coach enjoyable even though the temperature was more than 50C (the bus didn’t have air-conditioning).

This proves that I can really change my perception!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Open offices

I at least do not work in a 'cubicle', though I work in a small open office. There are many advantages of open offices and I do believe they can facilitate communication. How often do they really though? Yes, you get to hear everything your neighbour is saying, but does that actually bring people closer to each other? Real communication comes from being open and from truly listening, without any criticism or judgement. In an office environment we tend to be too concerned about being politically correct and fear exposing ourselves by talking about who we deeply and spiritually are. Hence, we are no longer genuine. We also lose the ability to inspire, because we sort of “blend into the wallpaper”, we say what we are expected to say and do what everyone else does. What a boring life!

Out of curiosity I was asking a colleague about her children: ages, names, etc. She immediately stopped after a while and started asking me personal questions as if to say, "I disclose a bit, now you disclose a bit" so that then we are both "equally vulnerable" to each other. This seems to be quite a fearful state of mind to be in! I caught myself thinking sometime after this "I wonder what she'll do with this information", but this thought is also a facet of fear.

So I have decided to step out - not out of the open office, but out from the 'closed life'. I have decided there is plenty within me that is beautiful, colourful and special (also within everyone else!) and so why not share it? Sharing is about living from that space of inner beauty, inner peace and inner joy. To live from that open space inside where there is no fear of others’ opinions or intrusions, but where others are welcome and can therefore feel they belong. It is about a way of being which inspires others to open up to their own uniqueness. It isn’t about being vulnerable but rather about not being afraid of being genuine. I am trying it, how about you?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Why do I get irritated so easily?
I have been watching my thoughts like a motorway and one by one, blocking each road and giving my questions a space.I know that it is only me that can do something about my thoughts.

Then an answer....blooming in my mind like a flower.“Hey, whenever you feel something negative inside you, just say “ I love you" to yourself, "I really do”. And I did, and it really works!!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hayfever Season

It is now full on Hayfever season here in London , and I found myself waking -up this morning a little breathless. I have had this for several years now hayfever exacerbating my asthmatic symptoms, so it was nothing new - I reached for my inhaler, for a little light relief.......and then a little later......boom, boom, boom went my heart beat, really fast.........(I thought it's not supposed to have that affect on me!)

As it was a very special time for me, "my meditation time" that I like to keep "sacred", I sat there for a few moments tuning in to it, and tuning out...of it, it was still going on: boom, boom, boom........until I eventually I tuned out of it.

Later on that morning I was thinking to myself, "thank God for Meditation". If I hadn't have had that time of peace - I would have been an absolute wreck.

Friday, June 09, 2006

unshakable yo-yo!

As a teacher I have had to learn how to work with different people at the same time, to take one topic and the students' different interests into account and make them all happy and content. Imagine 10 students, 10 lives and 10 stories in 10 heads!
I am really learning that 'imagination' and misunderstandings are the biggest blocks between the students and me. When I forget my role and get too emotionally involved..... I have sometimes thought of putting up a sticker on my forehead saying:
The other day a student made a negative comment about my teaching during a lesson. I wilted a bit! Just a bit! Then later on in the day
I saw her in the supermarket. We were in the same queue and she began to tell me about how much she had learnt this year! I said to myself, 'see Funky, how you cannot base your self esteem on other people’s opinions if you don't want to be like a yo-yo, up and down!
I am feeling dizzy! I want to be immovable and unshakable in front of defamation and praise and love myself for who I am!'

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Salary Dropped & Increased Wealth

After many years working in banking, I have decided to change careers - and the change could not have been more radical: I am now working for a charity. Well, I knew I would not get the same salary in the new job as I had in my previous one, but the drop was HUGE! In the first months, it was hard to adapt. But as time went by, I realised that my life had not changed that much (I could still do pretty much everything I used to do before). Most importantly, the change was all for the better: I was doing a much more meaningful job and I realised that one can live very well with less. I also saw how my consciousness changed: from one of fear (of lacking something) to one of freedom (from depending on a lot of money). And I realised also that abundance comes from within. It is a result of fulfilment and of being eager to share. Has anyone had a similar experience?

The equation goes like this:
Daily life + meaning = fulfilment = sense of wealth.
With more fulfilment there is less desire. With less desire there is less lacking (with or without money). Does that make sense?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

My bus journey...

My car has been in the garage for almost two weeks now and I am reliant on public transport to get to and from work, usually I drive. I have chosen to take the bus instead of the tube because I find the bus journey is a lot more entertaining - I get to look at the architecture of the buildings and at the billboards I miss whilst driving.

One thing I have definitely noticed on the bus is the people I travel with, they are almost the same ones every day. For the past two weeks I have met the same people at the same bus stop, all of us catching the same bus at the same time and sitting in the same seats. Now I even note that the guy with the brown coat and shiny shoes was not on the bus last Tuesday, and that the lady with long black hair and a big red bag was not at the stop this morning. I don't know what goes through other people's heads... I like to observe the behavioural patterns of people as this helps me make sense of my world and their worlds though.

I thought that I would try something new on the bus today. I picked my subject carefully, the old lady who has been sitting opposite to me for a couple of days now and with whom I have made eye contact several times. As I boarded the bus I smiled at her and said: good morning. I thought it would be safe to choose someone older and the same gender as myself, as I did not want to give any one the wrong impression.

Her reaction however was not one that I had anticipated. She was dumbfounded - it was as if she had received a shock to her system, and she avoided eye contact with me for the rest of the journey and on all journeys there after.

I wonder how she would have reacted if I had bemoaned the weather?

It seems as if we are more immune to misery, depression and violence coming our way from others than to a genuine smile. Is it so difficult for us to accept and return a smile, to share good wishes? We have built so many barriers and walls to protect ourselves from being hurt, however this has also resulted in those good feelings for ourselves and for others also being imprisoned behind those walls. It is important not to be vulnerable to situations and people, but is it not equally important to be part of the world? Should the question not be 'What can I give?' instead of 'What can I take?'. There are so many 'takers' and too few 'givers'. The more I take, the smaller my heart shrinks. The more I give, the bigger my heart grows. So, let me keep smiling for my sake and for the sake of the world.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Monday Spiritual Joke #1

One day whilst he was in London Buddha was approached by a street vendor who asked him if he would like to buy a copy of the Big Issue. Buddha decided to purchase a copy and he pulled out a £10 note.

When Buddha asked for his change the vendor smiled and said, "Ah... change must come from within..."

feel free

Sometimes I need to feel - I am free!, and I just go for it. You know the feeling I mean.......having the breeze blowing on my face as I stand there on top of a high mountain; sensing the environment around me as I ride around on my motorbike; jumping from a boat straight into the middle of the sea for a swim; seeing the moon rising in different places every day....
However, am I free inside my mind? Do I experience this "cool breeze" in my thoughts? Well I have to confess, not always…from now though...with the same determination I used to go for the external situations ...

I will go for it ….go for it inside!
tell u latter!!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

life is a game. seriously!

I saw someone in the mirror(!) sulking and said to her:
Hey Funky, life is a very, very serious…….GAME!
Don’t take it seriously, take it as a game you seriously love and enjoy!
The more you take a game seriously,
the more you do your best.
And you get the most out of it and don’t miss out any joy.
Then, you will say,
“ Oh man, this live music at the tube station puts a smile on my face every morning!”
Rather than saying,
“ Oh man, this is sooo loud!”

Friday, June 02, 2006

What I paint on my face...

I went to see the Blue Man Group last week and it was excellent. I would recommend everyone to see that show. It's ingenious and full of life. I can't tell you more than there are, three men in blue performing on drums and using props in such a clever way. What captured me most is, the three blue men do not speak. They just communicate with each other and the audience through their eyes and body language.

I found it amazing how we do not need to utter a single word for others to figure out what we are thinking or feeling. Everything is written on our face and shown through our body language. If someone who has gone through hardship they will have lines written on their face or if someone is going through depression they will have they eyes, face and body language of hopelessness. I have to be careful what I 'draw' on my face as it reveals my internal state. What kind of face do I want to have? - I ask myself. I want a face that sparkles, eyes that twinkles and personality that shines through my behaviour.

I can!

"I can."

It's a magic couple of words - let them change your attitude, your perception, your intention - for your greatest good.

Just ask yourself, "how do I want to be, how do I want to feel?".

Go within, become quiet and calm, make the decision, if you want to change you can.

"I can?"

Yes you can!

"I can!"