Tuesday, December 18, 2007

this is my season's greetings card that i've sent to different people around the world...& i just love it - it's joy, wonder, innocence, simplicity, celebration all in one!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Free to be!

Today I was just thinking about how our energy can go in 2 places, trying to controll what's happening ouside of ourselves or what's going on inside us. The latter always being the most fruitful.

Have you ever found yourself, not listening properly to someone, or listening in such a way you put words in their mouth and finish off their sentances. I suppose the extension of this is where we try and control the way others go about doing something: Don't put that there put it here! ...... Don't do it that, do it like this....

I was reflecting in moments like that we cannot live our own uniqueness or let others live their's - we're too caught up with what's happening trying to control, for numerous reasons and often to do with fear of loosing something or just trying to be perfect. So today, I had to check myself and see am I enjoying being in this moment, being in my own space, in my own feelings and making that really special, positive and peaceful and powerful? Try it while your on the phone it's so enrichening, just letting yourself just be. Today I noticed in each of the interactions that I gave myself this special inner attention to, that I had such a laugh with the other person in a really natural way. I was really myself and I also felt like they were really themselves. It's so nice not to be provoking anything from any space of force, and just being with another. It felt very innocent and clean - incredibly special!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Breathe. Easy.

One of the first relaxation techniques I ever heard about, went something like this: "Take a deep breath, and breathe out your tension." Simple, easy and, sometimes, quite effective. One of its enduring appeals is that it appears to use the body's natural rhythms to help us turn around our everyday challenges.

Recently, our Teacher at meditation class was telling us about the natural reservoirs of peace, love and joy all human beings have deep within them, and it struck me that there may be a small problem with this simple breathing exercise I and many others take for granted.

In a world filled with anger, tension and frustration, it occurred to me that we may be adding to these with each breath, if all we ever do is exhale these into the environment around us.

Yet, every breath we make is as beneficial to our world as the breath we take from the air around us. We breathe in oxygen, produced by plants as a by-product of their natural cycle, and we breathe out carbon dioxide, which plants use to make sugars for their own growth, and oxygen for us!

So, if I physically benefit my world with every breath, what if I could do it spiritually too? What if I could breathe in the world about me, then breathe out the peace and joy I have within me? What if we all did the same?

I have a new relaxation technique now: take a deep breath, and breathe out your peace. See how it works for you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ever had the thought that you are a walking tape recorder?



I’ve been entertaining this for sometime and it was really interesting that my morning meditation class took up this subject. Wanted to get it out there as I feel it is a ticket to freedom and a way of creating a life that we want to live.

It’s interesting to ponder on this, not just to ponder but to live by it. I do and will continue to. At every moment, even while you are reading this, you are recording every single thought and feeling in your mind, depending on the quality of your thoughts you could be experiencing the good, the bad and the ugly! Your experience creates an impression in your mind, that becomes your life. And like any old impression that’s made the first or the last, you will come back to it in given a similar set of circumstances. We have probably had similar thoughts and feelings millions of times before it’s a bit like being on auto pilot.

The ticket – when I realise that I am the one who is creating the recordings through the way I think and feel I am in a position of influence and power, (I can choose my responses, my life). All of the past recordings will try and get in the way. This is where the meditation comes in – I need to come back to experiencing my inner qualities (the peace, love and happiness – we all have it, even if we don’t feel like we do, it will just that the other tapes are playing and creating a lot of noise.) The trick is, as you enter each moment to step back from it and become aware of the new recording you are making (now you are in control). The more light and easy and good you feel (from deep within, not just because life is going well, that's where you being influenced by the old recordings) the more lovely your life will be, the more trusting of you will become of yourself. I've noticed the process get’s more and more subtle.

Whatever I wrote will be effective if you can answer how you use the following buttons to access your potential: Pause, Play, Record, Rewind, Fast Forward – have fun.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It’s all about context, transformation made easy!

Recently I went on a retreat in India. It was such a “treat”, to be immersed in classes about spirituality, to practise meditation in a place that is like a launch pad for the soul. Since I have come back I have been reflecting on my own spiritual development and how to move forward with ease, I have always liked the easy life! I’ve noticed as I pass through old habits I often see how attached or even how I am addicted to these old patterns of behaviour. As the saying goes old habits die hard! I’m questioning this; does it have to be this way?

It could be said that a path of self transformation is natural, you cannot transform into anything that you do not have the potential to be. Just as a caterpillar will be a butterfly, an acorn into a Oak Tree. I believe we all have the potential to be our best, it’s natural. Getting there - that’s where the mastery lies.

The place I went to has an incredibly pure atmosphere, it’s a bit like a mirror when you are there – you see what is happening inside you, (if you are willing to look) very clearly, as if it has been magnified – which is great if you are feeling good and very interesting if you are feeling otherwise.

The way it became easier to look at was accepting the context of my own situation, and the interesting thing is the same applies when I look at others and how I see them and relate to them. I had to accept I have been going through life, just like most people, taking from external circumstances, moving along with expectations, this should be like this, they should be….Out of touch with my own inner happiness, and that’s understandable – because I thought it was dependent on the things external to me. I didn’t realise that it was inside me; it’s only since I have been doing meditation that I have really become aware of this (around 6 years now). Now I have set the context, their’s an observation I would like to share. If I hold the awareness that my mind has become like a computer and it automatically switches into old habitual responses and behaves in a certain way and it’s been doing that for around for a very, very long time – even beyond this birth (that’s if you consider reincarnation as a possibility). Well just like any old habit – it takes time to change, you just have to keep reminding yourself to do it and not feel bad when you don’t change immediately, quite the contrary, I found if I see this in context of 100’s of years, I can start to give myself a break – no need to feel guilty, just get on with it. And transformation will then become easy. I really found this useful to work with for myself and also being light when being in relationship with everyone else. Whether we are aware of being on a path of personal growth or not, we are all in the same boat and so it’s interesting when we become aware of each others idiosyncrasies, and the context of this - life has shaped each one through time and what those circumstances have been – God knows! It’s as if each become a “Picasso” of life, from a perfectly sculptured, mini god like, fully blown life sized sculpture – you might have a sculpture in mind, Michael Angelo came to mind. It’s good to see it all in context. Pressure off – creativity and understanding switches on!

First blog

Joining the Free 2B crew. This is my 1st ever blog. Sorry 4 the short sentences and the poor english. Reason: can't be bothered and also am at work and have only 6 mins 2 do this.

I thought of starting off in a different way. Actually - I am The God of plagiarism, so this is not my idea - nicked from a great site (can't mention it).

Here's a photo taken from Tate Modern.


This is one of the many great views in London. There's that feeling of standing back and looking through the eyes, through the windows of the soul and into the world. A slight trace of being disengaged from what's around you - and for me it's in that moment that you can really appreciate and love life.

I'd like to know from you - how this image touches / affects / inspires you.

Thanks. Oh yeah - why Mr. Burns - I have great side burns and I love being nasty - just like Mr. Burns in The Simpsons. :D

Sunday, November 18, 2007

the present is all I have...

For the past month I've been meaning to blog about this but not quite ever getting to it as I'm not sure how to put into words without belittling it. But here goes...I have had an amazing insight that I now work with all the time so that I easily let go of any waste/negative and not allowing it to dwell in my mind and then grow into a problem which is what used to happen. I've really realised that the only moment that exists is now - it in fact doesn't matter if you've done something good or something bad in the past - if you are good right now in the present that is the only freedom you have...

So whenever something bad happens i.e. if I am careless - if I hold it in my mind and not live in the positivity, the awareness, greatness, potential of this moment - it becomes a burden which not only i carry into every moment but it's also how others will respond to me. Fix the present, be present, be positive, be the change and live enlightened. Like an alchemist that molds and transforms that which is negative into something that is empowering.

I remember reading a saying years ago and that was 'if you truly change in the present noone will remember your past'.

'Change' and the way the world responds to you will change - the world will in fact reflect who you are and what you think and feel.

For me this insight has been like a key - to unlock the present and release the past.

Friday, November 02, 2007

What's my inner filing system like?

I notice that when I do my filing in the office or even if I take myself back to when I did my art degree - my process of working would be one of going from extreme chaos to extreme order...interestingly enough my desktop also looks that way - when it has too many files and it all gets a bit much, I clean it all up and put everything into relevant folders. It does make me think what my inner filing system must be like. What do I save on the desktop of my mind?...in fact I am seeing a thread of benefit in my madness of filing:) that I am selective (when I eventually get to filing) in what I choose to save in the hard drive (of my subconscious). But meanwhile I am sure I hold on to lots of data that is not needed and either should be filed or deleted.
An image came to me of my mind like a desktop with lots of post-it notes on it and I thought my mind is actually an unltd space...how much information (post-it notes) can it actually hold? why can it not hold more than it does? why can I not remember more things? I thought about the different things that I save (even if just temporarily on my mind - what someone said, how someone said something, a document of regret) - big, heavy files that clog up my mind and slow down the system.
I like this idea of constantly having a clean desktop with only the essentials saved on it - essentially the main folders linked to necessary documents and then uptodate post-it notes (as many as are needed) - so that my mind can work with clarity, ease & stays fresh with uptodate info that's needed for today.

I think I'll start with my computer desktop and see where it takes me:)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We are not alone...

Yesterday, a friend of ours came back from a couple of weeks' retreat, and what an experience it was just listening to her speak about it. She had been part of a large number of people who had gone away to study, meditate, discuss, and study some more; our friend had come back visibly transformed. Was it the rest, the tan, the chance to get away for a while, or something more? She gave me such inspiration, not just because of how she was, but because of the way I felt about how she was.

We all live our thoroughly modern little lives in our thoroughly modern little silos, blinkered and bunkered with our own fears, hopes, and petty likes and dislikes about ourselves and the world around us. If by some twist of fate we find we are no longer happy to accept our sorry lot, and, stumbling and groping in the murk of our modernity for glimmerings of what seem like knowledge and truth, then we are still left with one further mountain to climb: how are we supposed to really change anything, ourselves or our world, when there is just so much to change, and so little time in which to change it?

Our friend seemed to be showing me a way: don't think you can do it alone; don't even try.

We live in a world that seems, almost by design, to be driving us apart with its every attempt to bring us together: Religion preaches brotherhood, yet practices fratricide; Politics promises unity, yet delivers division; and Science offers answers to questions it clearly does not even understand.

Life seems to constantly provide us with only microscopes that, as one poet wrote, ‘deify one razor blade into a mountain range’; yesterday, our friend seemed to be showing a way to transform life's mountain ranges back into mustard seeds.

If we have spent all our lives thinking it's just oneself that we can rely on, just number one that we have to look after, just me here all alone, then, understandably, we may find it hard to think there is anything outside of our own intellect and effort to which we can turn to achieve anything.

Western philosophy has perhaps put too much store in the gnarly old epithet: "I think, therefore I am", a phrase that sounds less brilliant and more desperate with every passing war, technological disaster, and economic slow-down.

If we stopped thinking about ourselves for just long enough to look at each other properly, then we may be part of the way to getting ourselves out of our solipsistic little holes. After that, what if we could take the best of what we saw in others and make that part of our own make-up? What if we could then pass that on to others too?

Our friend, after spending a few short days in the company of other enlightened and illuminated souls, was able to bring back some of that light and illumination for me, just by being her own enlightened self. Everything seems possible when you are prepared to accept that you are part of something bigger than any mountain range in your way, and that the people around you are lighting the path to your own illumination.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hole in the World

I heard this song from a friend's ipod and went looking for the lyrics (see below). This song truly reflects the condition of the world and all that's happening around us. Forget about fighting for peace, forget about fighting for freedom - all we need to learn is to love one another.

Before we can enter the arena of love, we need to break down the barriers of race, gender, nationality, culture, religion, ideas, opinions and beliefs. Until we learn to accept one another as human beings, as living beings, as feeling beings and nothing more, can the cloud of fear and sorrow disperse and there'll be hope in the world.

The beauty of it is that it can all start from you and me...


Eagles: Hole in The World (lyrics)

There's a hole in the world tonight.
There's a Cloud of fear and sorrow.
There's a hole in the world tonight.
Don't let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.

They say that anger is just love disappointed.
They say that love is just a state of mind,
but all this fighting over who will be anointed.
Oh how can people be so blind

[Chorus:]
There's a hole in the world tonight.
There's a Cloud of fear and sorrow.
There's a hole in the world tonight.
Don't let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.

Oh they tell me there's a place over yonder,
cool water running through the burning sand,
until we we learn to love one
another we never reach the promise land.

[Chorus:]
There's a hole in the world tonight.
There's a Cloud of fear and sorrow.
There's a hole in the world tonight.
Don't let there be a hole in the world tomorrow

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In Partnership with Life


Response Able
We now know that the true meaning of responsibility is response able or ability to respond. Whatever we may think, say, do, or feel - these are our responses for which we, and no one else, are responsible. This is easy to see but hard to live, for we have been taught to believe and think the opposite. So we don't consciously choose our response, we react instead, and then we blame others for our reaction. No wonder we feel imprisoned by others and our circumstances. The enlightened, on the other hand, have broken the spell, they see the illusion. They take full responsibility for their response abilities and as a consequence, they always hold their own destiny in their own hands. They are free spirits. From
www.innerspace.org.uk

Today I read this and thought, I want to be a free spirit. But sometimes I get trapped. As you know I have been looking at all the different things happening with me at work and my responses to them. Recently I have been working on a compassionate view towards myself and everyone else, it feels good and helps me see the best in everyone and in life and allows me to open to healing rather than what can feel like an addictive nature that has wanted to take from external sources to feel good about itself (someone put it very well recently at a lecture I attended - lustful, anxious nature - it's not so gross as it sounds a bit more subtle but still the same stuff going on). So with this compassionate view point I've been thinking how good like is and how benevolent it is, helping me face that false satisfaction that I can get from the identities that trap me like - "being good at my job". When I Identify with this I'm in big trouble, my ego is inflated and anyone can come along and pinch me and pop it the bubble, with some negative feedback - OUCH! The question of the day is where do I place my value in life?

So at the moment, I'd like to grow a relationship of trust with life, give the best of myself to it - because the best is in me, let life help me learn to see it more and more of the best that's below the surface - the real diamonds, pearls and wonder of ones nature. I'll do my work life and you do your work life and we will get there. Today if feels so nice to be in Partnership with life. I'd like to beat life to it though, I wonder how I can do that?

"loves the jobs you hate"

I was sitting in meditation this morning & out of the blue - in my minds eye I see a pool of rubbish - not a pleasant sight to wake up to I know...but in fact it was quite a pleasant experience as I somehow I didn't identify with it. I then thought meditation is like plumbing - when the drain is clogged you use a suction tool to pump out whatever is blocking the drain...when finally you see the rubbish coming up you're almost happy to see the drain being cleaned. That was the feeling this morning - it felt like I was the drain being cleaned and quite happily seeing the rubbish come out and to be honest it was quite liberating to see it, not to identify with it and end up with a clean drain (well, fairly clean that is - still some more work to do:)). The drain for me can be likened to the Intellect - so long as it's clogged, stagnant, not functioning properly it won't be able to hold wisdom and strength. Aha so I have an idea - they say that if you want to keep the drains clean - occasionally use bleach to keep the drains clean and odour proof...so the Mr Muscle cleaning agent is for me daily meditation where I remove any slight residue that's creating a blockage - in fact I wonder if not God is the true Mr Muscle that daily cleans the soul:)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ask the Cosmos?

It's interesting to see what happens when you pose a question to life and just watch what comes back - right now so many different options seem available, a week ago the answers were not so clear. My recent question was "How can I be stronger and stonger, more resilient - fearless!" The answers have been raining down from many directions - here's a few splatterings in essence - "take all your energy from inside yourself and from your connection with the divine, don't take expect praise from anyone, if you do life will find it's way of teaching you that you have everything you need inside yourself and what you need to do is stop looking for it". Do everthing with love and let go of expecations of anything coming back, that way you don't cause any sorrow and you face everything (you can't kid yourself, it's like an arrow that has to strike the target. It either does or it doesn't!). But the best of all - was be like a little child and anything that is causing you any obstacles in your mind give that to the Divine. So for me it was the pain I had caused myself for making mistakes and taking sorrow from it (yes it's taking time) give it like it's something smelly (we've all seen children when they don't like something and they say, yours, yours...don't like it ....) feel the Divine taking it and in return all the love of the Divine coming back to you, see that you have everything inside and you need nothing.... As you can see my last post was about facing the gremlins inside with love and forgiveness - so it was great to get all of these other wonders sent my way this week! Finally check this out it was a recent Thought for Today it really struck me, I got it from www.innerspace.org.uk

Everything's Fine
To a truly contented and enlightened soul everything in the world, which means the way the world is right now, is just fine. To the unenlightened and discontented soul this will sound like a massive avoidance. But think about it. Does the masterful actor go to the theatre for their evening performance, and on entering the stage start shifting the backdrop, altering the scenery and moving the props around? Of course not, they are totally concentrated on the role they need to create and play to the best of their ability. And so it is with the world. The backdrop to our life is the way things are at this moment in time. The props are exactly where they are meant to be at this moment in time. Many people spend their whole lives trying to change the backdrop and move the props around, little realising the futility of the exercise. Yes they may succeed in altering an angle here, a minute part of the picture there. But all at the cost of the focus and the energy needed to put on their best performance. Little did they realise that if they had fully focused on their performance and achieved their own highest standards of excellence, not only would those around them be immensely enriched, but the backdrop and the props of their life would have changed automatically, as the invitations roll in to perform their life elsewhere. Excellence is a much more powerful influence in the world than discontent. So everything is fine out there. No one said it's perfect. But it is exactly the way it should be ...at this moment. So here is the paradox of effective change - if you want to influence change for the better, then the most effective way to begin is with contentment with the way things are. The way things are, are the way things are meant to be!

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Negative World...

I was remembering recently when I was very young, and discovering the afterimages one could make on one’s eye-lids, by staring at objects intently, then closing one’s eyes tightly. It was like having an internal camera, I thought, with you developing strange pictures from the photographic negatives in your mind. I remember being amazed that you could ‘see’ something so differently, just by looking at it another way.

A few years later, the first documentary I saw on the Turin Shroud reminded me of that same experience; an ordinary-looking piece of ancient linen revealed startling images, when, with the newest technology of the 19th Century, photographic negatives were first made of it. The sensation these negatives caused reverberated well into the next century; the shift in perception it triggered in some is no doubt reverberating still.

It made for fascinating, if slightly hallucinogenic, viewing; a plain object visually inverted, which in turn inverted my idea of that thing. Is it not strange when we are shown a familiar object in an unfamiliar way? It struck me how easily we fool ourselves into thinking the world is just as we perceive it, when we may hardly ever perceive it accurately in the first place, be it with our eye or our intellect, our science or our philosophy, our culture or our religion.

As a child, I was never struck with unease by the inversion of colours and shapes that these mental ‘negatives’ created; the bliss of ignorance is no proper explanation for my being able to thrill at it all then, because age has brought only a widening of my horizons with no automatic increase in the wisdom needed to understand those horizons. Indeed, until recently when I began to actively practice daily meditation, mounting unease and fear had begun to cause me to want to stop looking to my horizons quite so much, or quite so anew.

A need to cling to the familiar, to crystallise perceptions and ideas, to polarise intellectual and political positions, to accept a little dogma and other ‘received wisdom’; all this seemed to be a necessary and intrinsic part of growing up, settling down and getting on. Limit your horizons, don’t look too closely or too differently, and the unease might, well, ease.

I’m finding there may be another way to see the world again; rather than reduce my horizons, how about I just reduce my fear? If I can keep remembering how it felt to see the world inverted when I was young, then I am also remembering who I was then and what I could be again in future, if I just stop getting in my own way.

Because it may be that fear is also just an afterimage, a photographic negative of my world; If I keep in mind that when I was young I had nothing to fear from seeing the world differently, and only wider horizons to explore, then I may have begun to make my whole Negative World a place of positive beauty and wonder once again.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What an amazing experience it was this morning walking through the streets of London. It was early, everyone busily walking to work, drizzling with rain - I couldn't help but to keep looking at the buildings and aware of all the construction work - literally everywhere you looked - the City in constant change.


I remember when I used to go skiing as a child and we would be at the bottom of the mountain and all you could see were tiny dots moving up & down the mountain...my father used to say that we look alot like ants - almost stating how insignificant we are when you look at the larger picture. I suppose the City this morning wasn't much different - like workers - each one having their destination, their task, their purpose for living...it felt good to be able to watch it all without being part of it. And there I come around the bend, looking at this most unusual building which had almost all its foundation removed and just the top part of the building remaining and then I see a huge banner 'be the change you want to see in the world'.


And for a moment, I did wonder how many people live by this...it's usually when our environment or a relationship changes that we feel the impact of it and we get molded by those changes and we might complain in the process. Is it possible to think of myself bringing about change and leaving an impact. I remember someone sharing something quite insightful - extroverted people taking their inspiration and resources from the outside, whereas introverted people draw it out from within themselves.

The banner itself was like a flag of insight, of creativity, of individuality amidst the blurred rush of the City...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Gardening

Recently we moved into a flat with a garden. We never had a garden before so the thought of having a garden was an exciting one - It's so easy to imagine the beautiful flowers and plants growing in all sorts of colours and trees gently swaying to the rhythm of the wind.

However, reality finally sunk in. The garden was neglected and slowly grew into a forest. The grass was growing as high as my waist with the trees and shrubs unkempt.

I've never done any gardening in my life before. With a mum who is an exceptional gardener, I never helped in the garden at all. Unfortunately, she now lives on the other side of the world and it's now down to me to learn. I was so enthusiastic at first that I bought many books on gardening and thought by reading it, I would know how to do it.

So, yesterday I had a go at clearing the weeds and pruning the shrubs and trees. Man - that was hard work! I don't know what about you, but after two hours I was completely shattered. I was grumpy and didn't want to know the garden anymore. I walked back into the house and told my husband that we are going to get a gardener in because I had enough of this! He laughed at me while seeing me all worked up and said, "You've never done any gardening work before and you expect it to be transformed in one day?!" I took a step back and look at myself and how ridicules I sound. I sighed and asked, "Will you help me next weekend to do the gardening then? It'll make it a lot easier" He answered, "For my sanity, yes". :)

So, this is a new challenge for me for the coming year. It is going to help me learn about patience - patient with myself and with others. I thought by reading a book on gardening, I will be an expert in gardening. However, this is not the case. It is the experience that make it real for me. With the aches and pains, comes the joy and laughter - I'm can't wait for it! (Oppsss... there goes my impatience...)

I will post some photos up once I got the garden sorted.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Face the Gremlins with Love and Forgiveness

Today I was reflecting on the past week and how I had either sailed the storms or got swept up in them. My meditation experience today was reflective of my current inner work on forgiveness, love, experiencing the love of the Divine and becoming detached through that forgiveness and acceptance. There's a lot that's been going on at work recently that has brought up some interesting and insightful moments (looking at it from a purely positive perspective!) It's been challenging. It feels as if it has all been about moving on and letting go, and I need to learn to pick up the pace as - like any corporate environment nowadays - it's getting more and more full on. My key experience to moving on and letting go has been experiencing love and forgiveness for the self, creating a clean space for myself to breath in, to step back into, to be light in and to give light. This is where it has been interesting. Just to look the situations in the face and see the gremlins that come up in my mind to try and make me feel inadequate - and the thing that seems to be working to combat this is looking at what I can learn from this and saying: I forgive myself. I forgive everyone else....(all the other people I work with who are also feeling any tension from the way that they are dealing with their situations right now and the way that they projecting that on to me.) I Forgive you..............I love and accept myself. Sounds corny but it is a healing balm of truth and in a quiet mind it feels so so good.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Teachers II

I hope you don't mind if I share a small bit of personal history with you: one of my uncles, my mother's youngest brother, died in March this year, in his mid-sixties. I was not able to go to his funeral, though my sister-in-law and brother were there, and they told me just what an extraordinary event it turned out to be, as I would have expected from such a loved man, given the positive way he had touched so many lives.

My uncle Francis Xavier was born in the mid-Forties; the last of eight children, he was born with Down's Syndrome. This was the least interesting thing about him; though, I've always felt that the extra chromosome with which he was endowed also made him more capable than other people of giving love to those around him.

My mother said he was always everyone's favourite, because he was guaranteed to cheer up grumpy members of the family with a kind word, a pithy observation, and, failing all else, a little hug. He wasn't all sweetness and light, by any means: he was just as capable of moodiness and tantrums as any kid (and that got dealt with in the same way as with the other children); he had a typical teenage period, too, and was a sly wit, always being able to mask a shrewd observation with a well-intentioned joke. But the thing that made him forever different to others was his naturalness, his honesty, and his love.

My earliest memories of him must have been when he was in his early thirties; he always made time for his sibling's children, and he was especially good at calming down babies, who would always fall asleep when he gently held them. He had impeccable manners, both at the table and at other social events, nor he was he slow in correcting those younger than him on theirs. He had his little routines that he stuck to - reading in the mornings, and a favourite radio program at night - but he loved travelling, and being outdoors; he was a mean flower and vegetable gardener.

But the extraordinary thing about him was his love for others. It may have been because love was all he had ever known from the people around him all his life, but, regardless, it was all he ever seemed to radiate. The affect it had on everyone in our family, from his own siblings, to their children, was profound. Patient and kind, he brought these qualities out in others; he may well have been the person who inspired my mother to become a teacher for toddlers with learning difficulties. My grandmother may have been the family matriarch, but my uncle Francis Xavier also held the family together with his presence.

He lived with my grandmother until she died when he was around fifty, though he had always had his own room at a special school he attended 3 days a week in his later years, where he was taught a variety of skills; he turned out to have a real talent as a baker and chocolatier.

He was luckier than most in many ways, to be sure: the family was fortunate enough to have been financially secure, so, from an early age, he was always provided for and attended to with the best and latest education, which made a real difference to the quality of his later life. Also, he had no serious physical disabilities, for in those decades there was not the expertise or knowledge that exists now to identify and successfully treat some childhood conditions.

He himself never married, though he had a number of girlfriends; he was a regular church-goer, and he led the singing at his mother's funeral in his usual quiet and thoughtful manner. He was generously provided for in her will; his brothers and sisters, many years prior to my grandmother's death, had already worked out between them a schedule to allow Francis Xavier to come and go between their homes, and there was never any lack of people willing to let him stay with them.

Certainly he was lucky, but I know that my whole family felt blessed by him too. He was never going to develop a drug habit or drive drunk, or get conceited or deceitful, and he would forever be free of some of the more immediate financial and social pressures that most adults have. Most of us may feel that we would be better people than we are now, given the same circumstances; but he truly was that better person, and so made better people of those around him.

I sometimes miss my smiley uncle Francis Xavier, but I'll never forget him, and what he taught the people around him. I'm sure it wasn't all a bed of roses whilst he was growing up - but when is it ever with children? Like all children, my family never expected him, or knew at the beginning what they would be getting with him. But, by the end, we all knew, and wouldn't have changed a day of his whole beautiful life if we had all had the choice.

Monday, October 01, 2007

all things beautiful...

How often are we clear which direction we'd like to go - do we ever questions...whether it is to God or to the universe or even to oneself...and most importantly be open enough to receive an answer.
This morning I did this & I felt more proactive for it. I suppose most of the time I am content coasting along but how often do we challenge ourselves and take leaps...how often are we closed in within our own little (narrow) worlds.
Upon asking the question, I found it difficult initially as there was just a general feeling of being ok, but then I realised 'no' I could actually be more like this or like that...and so I felt myself beginning to look outside of the box of my own thinking, my own ideas, my own beliefs.

I listened to something quite inspiring over the weekend - it compared the awareness and attitude between someone who is 'self-centred' and someone who is 'open-hearted'.

Self-centered: narrow vision, local impact, rigidity in behaviour, limited sphere of connection with others, no interest to learn
Open-hearted: broad vision, flexibility, positivity, sees the bigger picture, an openness to learn and retain information, interact with others with more empathy & compassion

And now on a slightly different note but I suppose still relevant - I occasionally take photos of things that look beautiful - it helps for the 'eye' to see things in different ways - to look, to discover, to question. It's a captured moment of someone elses own quiet time (an old man fishing in a canal) & others quite bemused by it - including me:)























Friday, September 28, 2007

finding my Space


I really enjoyed the blog by Mo “a nice way to live”. It’s something that I’ve been giving some thought to recently. We’re here in the world bobbing along, and we all want to live in a happier and more peaceful way right? It’s as if there is a perfect fit between us all, where there is love, respect and harmony – sometimes I’m there sometimes I’m not, it feels like it’s something to do with knowing my place. When we just look at our own lives and step away from the world at large, we can see in our day to day living when we do experience being in tune with others, and in the moment. We sometimes see this when the pressure is off or at extreme moments in life where we “do the right thing” without even thinking about it. I was asking myself apart from meditating every day and being aware of myself as spiritual being, that has an eternal and unique connection with the Source how can I really begin to learn what my unique specialities (gifts) are, and begin to understand exactly what I have been given. The feeling I get sometimes is that I have just gone a bit wayward, and it’s this that distorts my reality and causes the turbulence every now and then.

When I stood back a few question came to mind, where does my happiness come from, and what do I really think is my purpose at this time? (I have been asking this for a long time now and it feels as if it is starting to unravel, I feel like I know it at a high level I just want to connect more to it)

In this game of life, it could be said that we are creating our lives as we speak, through our thoughts and actions and we are then responding to that creation (1st cause and then effect). I was thinking to myself my value and happiness is not in the “final product” like doing a task well, or even helping someone out. My value is in the response if I choose to put my value into my responses. It has really made me think about what is my speciality is and how in a way it is my greatest weakness. My part is so different to everyone else’s just as your's is. So if we never compare ourselves (to the good or bad in others) and their final products or their responses, I can be happy, and be happy to facilitate bringing the best out in everyone and their specialities. A bit like a great, Mum. A great Mum has the heart to always see the best in her kids even if they are playing up a bit, because they belong to her. I need make this more tangible it’s been at the crux of my spiritual development for sometime now. Thinking in this way and putting the value on myself in this way does make me feel like I could let go of old weaknesses and begin to be in harmony more, be more respectful of myself and others, more real. I don’t have to be great at anything particularly, I think that’s someone else’s job (Don’t tell my boss I said that). Years ago I came across a really nice definition of what it means to have Good wishes. “My heart is filled with recognition of the value of others. I feel I want them to do well and be successful. The success of others is really my success”. It makes you think hey?

I need to give this some more thought, for now it feels like I’m on the right track…. Let’s see what the week brings. I’ll keep this with me and give it some thought each day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Teachers I

Decades ago, one old monk at school told us the following story: as a young novice, it had been his task to rise especially early, before the others in his community, and fill and light all the oil-lamps in the Abbey, in preparation for the first prayer of the day.

In the days before the mass electrification of the country, one can imagine how a bitter English night must have felt inside the dark vaulted interior of the place; the pale limestone walls cold and echoing, whilst one slight and shivering figure shuffled a jerry-can of black lamp-oil from station to station, with only an old set of wooden library steps to assist him in reaching up for the empty lamps, then replacing them again, full and unwieldly, with increasingly tired outstretched arms.

One morning, due to whatever combination of cold and tiredness, the inevitable occured, and, in some dark corner behind the alter, down fell one of the lamps, full of bitumous liquid, though, luckily for the mortified novice, not yet lit. The porous stone almost immediately soaked up the oil, and despite his best efforts that day, and for years to come, the floor of the Abbey remained indelibly marked with a dark splash where the old oil lamp had shattered.

Our old monk probably never forgot the lesson, about taking care of the smallest things, as everything leaves a lasting impression; last February, in an Abbey now better heated and lit, like everywhere else, after the old monk's funeral, I went looking, and, there, still, was a faint darkening in the smooth stone floor.

Not all mistakes are bad, not when they can still teach long after the teacher is gone and forgotten.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

THE CHEERING AUDIENCE, THE ACTOR AND ANNIE LENOX!

Annie Lenox has a beautiful song:
‘Hey, hey I saved the world today
Everybody is happy now'
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wa_lkpBVkXU
This is how I felt yesterday.
‘I killed my ego yesterday!
Everybody is happy now!’
I had to go and talk to someone but my ego was saying, no, nO, NO! Then an image jumped into my mind. I saw myself on a cinema screen, the audience is watching holding their breath. They know if I go and talk to my friend, the film will end happily. They can see this because they are not hearing the strong recommendations and reasoning of my ego. I was hearing them saying: ‘Come on, go and speak to her!’ I said, okay then, and I did! It was so cool! The conflict was resolved. I could hear the audience cheering happily and clapping, it was like living in a sitcom! Then I thought about it. How could I kill my ego? Where did I get the power?
Then it clicked, I was practising ‘suddenly dropping a wall’ between the chattering of my mind and myself on that day. I was just going inside, and saying to myself; ‘it is so nice to be in here’. I was trying to feel relaxed, as if I was lying in a hot bath or something. Just realising that space inside me; makes it easy to access at times of need! Try and please share the comments of your audience!

Monday, September 24, 2007

the monks next door...


Not sure if you can see what this image is (I took the photo from my window) - I work from home...and everyday I look out onto the sky and directly opposite to another window where for the past few months they've had this cardboard box resting against the window and on the outer side of the box facing me are pictured four monks sitting around a table. Everyday when I see this I reflect on the story that I once heard and it went something like this...

...it's an old story about a group of monks living with their master in a Tibetan monastery. Their lives were disciplined and dedicated, and the atmosphere in which they lived harmonious and peaceful. People from villages far and wide flocked to the monastery to bask in the warmth of such a loving spiritual environment. Then one day the master departed his earthly form. At first the monks continued on as they had in the past, but after a time, the discipline and devotion that had been hallmarks of their daily routine slackened. The number of villagers coming through the doors each day began to drop, and little by little, the monastery fell into a state of disrepair. Soon the monks were bickering among themselves, some pointing fingers of blame, others feeling guilt. Finally, the senior monk could take it no longer. Hearing that a spiritual master lived as a hermit two days walk away, the monk wasted no time in seeking him out. Finding the master in his forest hermitage, the monk told him of the sad state the monastery had fallen into and asked his advice. The master smiled. "There is one living among you who is the incarnation of God..." With those words spoken, the master fell silent and would say no more. All the way back to the monastery, the monk wondered which of his brothers might be the incarnated One. "Perhaps it is Brother Jaspar who does our cooking," the monk said aloud. "Perhaps our gardener, Brother Timor, is the one," he then thought. Reaching the monastery, he immediately told his brothers what the master had said and all were just as astonished as he had been to learn the Divine was living among them. Since each knew it was not himself who was God Incarnate, each began to study his brothers carefully, all trying to determine who among them was the Holy One. Each so concentrated on seeing God in the other that soon their hearts filled with such love for one another the chains of negativity that held them bound fell away. As time passed, they began seeing God not just in each other, but in every one and everything. Days were spent in joyful reverence, rejoicing in His Holy Presence. The monastery radiated this joy like a beacon and soon the villagers returned, streaming through the doors as they had before, seeking to be touched by the love and devotion present there. It was some time later that the senior monk decided to pay the master another visit to thank him for the secret he had revealed. "Did you discover the identity of the Incarnated One?" the master asked. "We did," the senior monk replied. "We found him residing in all of us." The master smiled.

...this story reminds me of the power of our own vision, & what we choose to see and focus on is what will ultimately be our reality...changing our vision of each other (maybe first of our ownselves) could be the start of visibly see a change in the world.

Monday Spiritual Joke #28

A woman was walking along the beach when she stumbled upon a genie's lamp. She picked it up and rubbed it. Lo-and-behold a genie appeared. The amazed woman asked if she got three wishes.

The Genie said, "Nope. Due to inflation, constant downsizing, low wages in third-world countries and fierce global competition, I can only grant you one wish. So, what'll it be?"

The woman didn't hesitate. She said, "I want peace in the Middle East. See this map? I want these countries to stop fighting with each other."

The Genie looked at the map and exclaimed, "Gadzooks, lady! These countries have been at war for thousands of years. I'm good, but not THAT good! I don't think it can be done. Make another wish."

The woman thought for a minute. She said, "Well, I've been trying to find the right husband. You know, one that's considerate and fun, likes to cook and helps with the housecleaning, has a great sense of humor and gets along with my family, doesn't watch sports all the time and is faithful. That's what I wish for. A good mate."

The Genie let out a long sigh and said, "Let me see that map again."

Try this out!

I randomly picked up a book recently and just loved this...

Do this simple exercise for one minute each hour and you will be amazed at the result.

Breathe slowly and deeply, relax and think...
I am a peaceful being...
I am peaceful...
I love peace...
and I share peace with others...

I tried it out of curiosity (and a bit of boredom) and just could not believe the change I felt in myself.

So for anyone who's feeling time's tight and in short supply, here's a simple solution.

Diversion continues...

.... Continuing from my previous post...

Diversion does not mean distraction. We can easily distract the mind with the telly or watching a movie. When sitting in front of the telly, my mind is bombarded with what is shown. My mind becomes subservient to the telly and absorbs anything coming its way - without filtering the good or the bad for me.

So, diversion is an active process not a passive one. Diversion is when I fully take charge of how I want to feel and what I want to experience. Diversion takes many forms - a few of them which have worked for me: -
  • Writing / blogging
  • Going for a swim or doing some form of sports
  • Singing out loud in the showers
  • Going for a long walk
  • Cooking and baking for your neighbours and friends
  • Cleaning
How does this process help? When my mind is weak at times, by creating a diversion I allow my mind some breathing space to step away from the situation. And when I do come back to face the situation, my mind would have had the clarity and space to deal with it.

I understand that we will eventually reach our destination regardless but do I want to wait for 3 months or 6 months before the road block is cleared for me to move forward or do I want to get there sooner? Again, my choice...

So, do you have any diversions which have worked for you?

Diversion ends here...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Diversion

Rather than letting the headache and flu occupy my mind, I decided to channel this energy into blogging something tonight.

There's nothing insightful of what I'm going to write about but I didn't want my mind to focus on the pain because it is rather affecting me. As I can't seem to meditate or sleep because of the headache and the blocked nose, I decided to blog instead - hoping that this would help refocus my mind, redirecting it away from the pain the body is experiencing. This is called creating a diversion.

There are times when I'm driving through the streets of London where frequently I come across road works or road blocks. However, with every road works or road blocks comes a 'diversion' sign - helping motorist to avoid the area. This situation also applies to my internal world. When my mind comes across a road block (emotional or mental), it is important to learn to follow the 'diversion' signs. If there isn't one in place then let me create one. If not, I would come to a halt either dwelling on the past, future or just trivial matters. So, I have to learn to recognise where to place those 'diversion' signs so that I don't end up meeting road blocks or worst falling into the pit of the road blocks.

I'm already feeling much better whilst writing this blog!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

We'll be back soon....

We've taken a holiday from the blogging world but not from the spiritual world. We're getting our acts back together after a very long break and we're definitely missing it.

So, stay tune and you'll have us back on full force!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday Spiritual Joke #27

GOD: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in the Midwest? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it -- sometimes twice a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS: No Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, Sir.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD: Enough. I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have they scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE: "Dumb and Dumber", Lord...

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Life is a game...

... and the winner of the game is the one who enjoys it in happiness at all times!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Addiction

I was 'speaking' to my cousin yesterday - online via MSN - him in Singapore and me in London. I have always been fascinated by technology and how it has made the world a smaller place to be in... Anyway, we got into a rather interesting conversation and he thought I should blog our conversation.

The conversation started of with a discussion on addiction...

We are all addicts.

Definition of addiction: something you are emotional or psychological dependent on.

We are all addicted to one thing or another. It's not just substances (drugs, alcohol, tobacco...) either - the 10secs or 10mins hit- that we're addicted to anymore. If you google the word 'addict' you get hits naming a mirad of different types of addiction that are out there - be it shopping, food, television shows or people. One that doesn't come up is the addiction to speaking. I think there are good number of people who are addicted to speaking. There are people who just love speaking about what goes on in other people's lives; there are those who just love talking about themselves and there are those who prefer to talk because they feel uncomfortable with silence.

I appreciate the importance of language and words but if we are talking gibberish, gossiping, speaking hurtful words or just for the sake of talking then all we are doing is just wasting our energy. These types of conversations lead to nothing but exhaustion, a false sense of esteem and frustration.

Only when we use the right words at the right time is there power in our words. Those words will not only inspire others but help them grow and follow their own path. This is clearly seen through out history with great people like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi who have truly made an impact on many people's lives - just by them living to their words and values.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A nice way to live...

A little while ago I was attending a talk in London (you may have seen the summary of talks on 'Let's Get Spiritual', it was one of these!) and the speaker said something that really touched my heart. I can't remember the exact words but at that moment I felt my mind opening up towards something new. To a different way of seeing life that could really make a difference to me!

She related facts about a friend of hers' who always seemed to find herself in places (quite often work places or events) where people feel hopeless or even depressed. At that moment I caught myself thinking; well maybe it's because she is a bit depressed herself that she attracts these types of situations & people... (we are so quick to draw conclusions!)

She had a completely different take on it though- she realised that the reason why she often found herself in these situations was because she is really good at giving hope to people! These situations were opportunities for her to express her specialities!! I thought to myself: "Wah, this is an amazing awareness. If each one of us were to think & act in this way there would be world transformation!"

To be honest I am quite far away from mastering this headspace, it's so much easier to say: "Why is this always happening to me?, Why can't I have what this person has, What have I done to deserve this situation?, How bad must I be... ?"

As I have started to practise this awareness though I found that situations can be triggers that actually have the potential to awaken our specialities. Two questions kept coming up for me. "Do I recognise that life is there to help me?" and "Do I acknowledge my specialities?" As I kept realigning myself to these questions I found myself starting to enjoy life 10 times more, and 100 times more...

Cool, isn't it?

Monday, April 30, 2007

being re-planted...

On a more positive note…things changed today. – I re-planted a plant in a bigger pot…and as I took the plant out of the old small pot…I saw all the roots so tightly woven together…wanting to branch out but with not enough space to do so. Re-planting it felt like I was being re-planted – giving myself more space to breath and stretch and it felt such a relief. Today was a relief. – I had time to do the things that were pending…Connected with being busy – this week was not the greatest…Things happened and internally I held onto the conversations, the reactions and most of the all the feelings. I’m aware that I rush in my mind…jumping from one thing to the next – and today my mind stopped. My day started with meditation and a class at a meditation centre. I got home at noon and did cleaning, then I went for a walk I Hyde park, then I went to do some grocery shopping, then I re-planted the plant in the new pot that I had bought and filled it with new compost. Next I made banana muffins and prepared the ingredients to make bread tomorrow, then I made dinner, then I sat for meditation in the evening…plus throughout the day I did three loads of laundry. At 8pm my flatmate came back with and had brought a beautiful plant with her which she’s just now planting into a pot that we have on the balcony…She just said: it’s amazing timing that you bought compost today…By the way I’m the last person to look after plants – they tend to die on me unfortunately…but I’m determined for a bit of change. I have to be honest and say that tonight was the first time in a long time that I sat and my mind was quiet…restful and it is still restful. In my evening meditation the thought came: why am I here?…Is it to run around working for ordinary things or am I here to offer something of some value?…Just recently I attended a talk and the speaker shared…that to serve is to give peace and happiness. This is what I want to do…this is how I want to live…this is what I want to create inside. Well, it’s Sunday and it’s easy to think in this way – my aim this week is to carry it through – to work on another level…a level of love.

Is anyone too busy?

Is anyone too busy?….I’ve been thinking…Why am I always rushing against time?…I heard sometime ago that being busy is a sign of laziness…and this somehow rings true for me, but knowing this hasn’t inspired me to change the busy syndrome…One thing is for sure that although life may feel busy, I can say that I do enjoy it…Still I do sometimes wish that I had more time on my hands to do what I want/need to do. Recently even blogging became too much…I didn’t have the time and yes life was busy, but I think there is something in developing the art of doing more in less time. Do I waste time?…Well, probably at times – well, I think others reading this will have a chuckle, my 5mins are usually 15-20mins if you’re lucky. If I’m working on the computer trying to finish a design or write up a report my 5mins can easily turn into an hour…On the other hand if there is a deadline I can usually meet it. I remember once when I was in art school and we had assignments that were due, someone told me (at the time I didn’t understand what he was talking about) that I have a very good sense of timing (no laughing if anyone is reading this that knows meJ). I do tend to manage everything in time, but just on time…and do I feel stressed? do I feel stretched?…Well, yes…I am not exactly displaying self mastery at these times…Sometimes it means I stay up late just to get the work done on time…and most of all I tend to drag everyone else into the late nights…My flatmate recently jokingly said in passing: remind me never to work with you…So what is it that I need to change?…Do I want to change?... This is the real key question? I have to say I quite like my process of working…I enjoy the feeling of having pushed myself…and the sense of achievement it gives – Is this good from a spiritual perspective? Probably not…Today I had the thought that… this week I’m going to do another kind of work and that is to take more time in the evening to meditate…so that my clarity of thinking develops and my intellect becomes sharper…As only then do I think I will really be able to save time and use time in a worthwhile way…It is also easy for me to take this time right now as I don’t have any pressing deadlines…At least I should take this opportunity to build a reserve inside so that when I am faced with deadlines it might be possible to tap into an alternate way of working. Let’s see. Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The mouse story

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package.

"What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered - he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning.

"There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow and said, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose."

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap -- alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.

The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient.

But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

Moral of the story: So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, remember -- when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.

---
*extract from en email sent by to me by a good friend...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Just be me

I've just returned from a trip I made to India for some quiet moments of reflection and meditation. I always find India such a unique place for solitude, despite the mayhem and chaos which the country offers. Everytime I visit India it is as though it is my first visit and each time I find myself fascinated by the culture, religion, people, noise, language and lifestyle.

I grew up in the East with a mixture of both Eastern and Western values (influences of upbringing, culture, family, TV/Media and colonialism). When I was a kid I used to reject the Eastern values I was taught preferring to be more 'Western' - I would prefer to speak and read in English rather than my own native tongue; to watch Hollywood movies and American / English sitcoms and to listen to music by American / English artists on my walkman. Never once did I ask myself - what's wrong with being me?

However after embarking on this journey of spirituality I have come to accept whatever I'm 'made of' - be it externally or internally. The day I stopped resisting was the day I started being who I am meant to be. I begun to like myself more and see my own potential instead of trying to be someone I'm clearly was not. Otherwise I am not only living in someone else's shadow but I also lose my own integrity and pride by doing so.

So, this time in India, I came to understand that I should stop using my head and start letting things be as they are and as they should be. Destiny has greater plans and 'I' should not get in her way.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Does God exist?

By definition, an atheist is a person who does not believe in God.
So, if God didn’t exist we wouldn’t be able to define an atheist.
In short, if God didn’t exist, there would be no atheists!
However, atheists exist, so… well, the conclusion is obvious:-)!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Travelling light

I went to the coast last weekend to work on a project and a friend of mine asked me to collect some pebbles for her whilst I was down there.

So, to fulfil the request, on the way back I walked down to the beach to pick up some pebbles. The car was parked a fare bit away and my neck and shoulders were aching from carrying the pebbles by the time I got back to it. These were just pebbles and were surprisingly heavier than I thought.

Driving home I thought to myself: we carry so many types of ‘pebbles’ around with us be they past hurts, emotional traumas, fears, worries or negativities. It doesn’t matter how much these 'pebbles' strain and burden our mind or heart we still hold on to them, carrying them around giving us a false sense of security within.

I felt the strain on my body just carrying those pebbles for 15mins. So what kind of impact are these negativities and emotional burdens having on us when we carry them around around 24/7? No wonder we are tired, angry, disappointed and unhappy with life! We drown ourselves looking for quick-fixes and indulgences to temporarily wipe out the heaviness of the burden we experience. Unfortunately the happiness and love we attain from externalities never lasts and even bring more disappointing after they go. They come like a spark and then leave us with nothing to hang on to and we end up looking for more and more until it completely drain us.

I have come to learn that I have to be selective about what I choose to carry in my mind and heart. My mind and heart are sacred to me. Let me begin to store only good feelings and vision and drop all the other 'pebbles' and I can start 'travelling' light again...

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Importance of Feedback

Sorry for my long absence from this beautiful site…

I was wondering why people shy away from giving honest, clear and useful feedback at work since it is so important that we understand what is going well or not so well – and what is expected or not from us. Otherwise it becomes hard to improve and when crisis comes guess who is the first one out the door? Interestingly, having been on both sides of the equation (giving and receiving feedback) I noticed that the fear factor is as high for those who are giving as for those who are receiving feedback. It does not need to be like that though. Establishing a relationship of trust is key, which may take some time to develop. However I have found that one can have a very good time giving/receiving feedback even if it means addressing one's own/someone’s weak performance. It just takes a little practice, as follows:

TO GIVE FEEDBACK
  1. Think and rehearse what you will say, check the tone of your voice and your body language (practice in front of a mirror and put yourself into the other person’s shoes to see what 'message' you are giving out)
  2. Give practical examples of the behaviour you are talking about (positive or not so), mentioning real situations when you saw that person do that/ or not
  3. Check yourself: what is your intention in giving this feedback? What do you want to accomplish? Are you being honest, i.e. giving feedback in such a way that it empowers the other person to progress? Are your words gentle, clear, loving (even if the subject is unpleasant)?

TO RECEIVE FEEDBACK
  1. Check yourself: have you been doing your work with honesty? Do you deeply respect your colleagues? What kind of ‘energy’ do you believe you bring to your work environment?
  2. Now check your performance: do you deliver your assignments on time and to high standards? Do you ‘walk the extra mile’ or ‘barely do the minimum necessary and out the door’? What is your attitude at work?
  3. If you are not doing your best, acknowledge it, understand the reason for it (do you not value your work? your time? ) and then decide: do you want to change this situation? If yes, then when/if you receive an unpleasant feedback, you are ready to accept, you have prepared what you will say -- and you can move on. If not, then try to see what would make you be enthusiastic -- and create that in your work!

TO BOTH PARTIES
Now prepare yourself:
  1. Sit down quietly in a clean, nice, place where you can be left in peace
  2. Still your mind (tell yourself: “I will sit here for 5-10 minutes and for that time I will only think what I choose to. Any other thoughts that may come are ok, but I will ask them to return after those 5-10 mins". Keep doing this again and again until your mind is still and focused).
  3. Then be present – feel your physical presence in that place, every muscle, every organ, every cell of your body in the present
  4. And then go beyond your physical presence – reconnect with your real self, the eternal self, and allow feelings of peace to emerge: "my original nature is peace"
  5. When you have enjoyed a silent, peaceful experience, you are ready to visualise the ‘feedback’ encounter
  6. See it going very well – visualise the meeting happening in a light, calm, respectful manner; visualise both you and the other person covered in a white light of peace, sharing a nice experience
  7. Remember: if you are giving feedback about someone’s weaknesses or talking about their mistakes, make sure to criticise the act, not the ‘actor’. And if you are receiving unpleasant feedback, remember that you are not those acts, you are the ‘actor’ -- and you can always improve or change your part! Also never let that affect your self-esteem. Know how much you are worth: a lot!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Monday Spiritual Joke #26

From the kid's world...

Children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, "Take only one, God is watching."

At the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. Moving through the line a boy wrote another note to leave by the cookies, "Take all you want, God is watching the apples."

----

A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they drew. She would occasionally walk around to see each child's artwork. As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.

The girl replied, "I'm drawing God."The teacher paused and said, "but no one knows what God looks like."

Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing the girl replied, "They will in a minute."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Rules for being human

1. You will receive a body. You may like it, or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around. So learn to like it.

2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full time informal school called life. Each day in this school you have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think they are irrelevant and stupid. So learn to like the lessons.

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error and experimentation. The 'failed' experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately 'works'.

4. A lesson is repeated until learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go to the next lesson. Periodically, the lesson will be represented to see if you still remember it.

5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learnt. If no lessons is being presented, it is likely that you are no longer alive.

6. 'There' is no better than 'here'. When your 'there' has become a 'here', you will simply acquire another 'there'. That will again look better than 'here'.

7. Others are simply mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.

8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you make of them is up to you; the choice is yours.

9. Your answers lie inside you. The answers to life's questions lie inside you. All you have to do is look, listen and trust yourself.

10. You will forget all this. That fact is itself a lesson.

-An email extraction from a friend-

Monday, January 29, 2007

Mind the Gap!


My mind is like Clapham Junction sometimes! Different trains to different places and all dragging a long queue of carriages behind them.
If a train is to Brighton all the following carriages go to Brighton, right? It is the same with my thoughts I’ve recently realised.
Something unpleasant happens and that first carriage drags a long queue of following carriages with grey curtains along with it. These curtains don’t allow me to enjoy the scenes of life, as I can’t see them. Also it’s like a bullet train and is generally going backwards- to the past!
Surprisingly enough if something pleasant determines the starting thought then all the following thoughts are of the same quality. A first class train and with no curtains to block out the scenes outside, going slowly along you can enjoy the journey, and all this is happening without effort!
I have been taking the first train most of this life and it has left me discontent and discontentment has brought the same train back again and again. It is like being on a ring tour: same route, going nowhere different and coming back to where it started!!
- “Hey, you have got to do something about this feeling of exhaustion. At the end of the day it is you who choose which train to jump on.”
- “How do I become clear and attentive and stand on the right platform to catch the right train?”
I decided to keep a gratitude diary. To thank God -or whoever it was that was holding my hand when I was in trouble- for one thing every day from the heart so that I could see those first class trains and carriages more around me.
Guess what? I have been travelling mainly first class recently!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Monday Spiritual Joke #24

INSTALLING LOVE

Customer Service: Can you install Love?

Customer: I can do that. I'm not very technical, but I think I'm ready to install now. What do I do first?

Service: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart?

Customer: Yes, I have, but there are several programs running right now. Is it okay to install while they are running?

Service: What programs are running?

Customer: Let me see� I have Pasthurt.exe, Lowesteem.exe, Grudge.exe and Resentment.com running right now.

Service: No problem. Love will automatically erase Pasthurt.exe from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory, but it will no longer disrupt other programs. Love will eventually overwrite Lowesteem.exe with a module of its own, called Highesteem.exe. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge.exe and Resentment.com. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those off?

Customer: I don't know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

Service: My pleasure. Go to your Start menu and invoke Forgiveness.exe. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge.exe and Resentment.com have been completely erased.

Customer: Okay, I'm done. Love has started installing itself automatically. Is that normal?

Service: Yes it is. You should receive a message that says it will reinstall for the life of your Heart. Do you see that message?

Customer: Yes I do. Is it completely installed?

Service: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other Hearts to get the upgrades.

Customer: Oops� I have an error message already. What should I do?

Service: What does the message say?

Customer: It says "Error 412. Program not run on internal components." What does that mean?

Service: Don't worry, that's a common problem. It means that the Love program is set up to run on external Hearts but has not yet been running on your Heart. It is one of those complicated programming things, but in non-technical terms it means that you have to 'love' your own machine before it can 'love' others.

Customer: So what should I do?

Service: Can you find the directory called 'Self-acceptance'?

Customer: Yes, I have it.

Service: Excellent, you are getting good at this.

Customer: Thank you.

Service: You're welcome. Click on the following files and then copy them to the 'Myheart' directory: Forgiveself.doc, Selfesteem.txt, Realizeworth.txt and Goodness.doc. The system will overwrite conflicting files and begin patching any faulty programming. Also, you need to delete Selfcriticize.exe from all directories, and then empty your recycle bin afterwards to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.

Customer: Got it! Wow! My Heart is filling up with really neat files. Smile.mpg is playing on my monitor right now, and it shows that Warmth.com, Peace.exe and Contentment.com are copying themselves all over my Heart!

Service: Then Love is installed and running. You should be able to handle it from here. One more thing before I go�

Customer: Yes?

Service: Love is freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everybody you are meeting. They will in turn share it with other people, and they will return some really neat modules back to you.

Customer: I will. Thank you for your help.

Service: You're very welcome.