AUTUMN IS A SECOND SPRING

September 22nd was the Autumnal Equinox which heralds a time when the lengths of day and night have become more or less equal. We have left behind the long summer evenings and are moving towards the lengthy winter nights, which means that right now, we’re in a time of transition.

The moving from one state to another can often feel uncomfortable, and there’s no denying that apart from anything which may have been happening in your personal lives of late, Nature has been giving us a rough ride recently what with all the terrible hurricanes and recent earthquakes. It’s almost as if that last solar eclipse in August stirred things up and unsettled the natural harmony of our planet, for certain areas in the world have been savagely wrecked and there have been plenty of disasters to unsettle us and cause trauma in people’s lives. On top of that, we’ve also witnessed the plight of the Rohinja people, the ongoing wars and the continuing danger signals radiating from North Korea.

And as if that wasn’t enough, there have been some solar flares emanating from the sun which are known to provoke feelings of anxiety and general discomfort in sensitive people, so if any of you have been suffering from unaccountable feelings of overwhelm, anxiety or negativity recently, it may well be related to these occurrences.

Last month I wrote about change which is well and truly exemplified by Autumn – the season into which we have now undoubtedly plunged. Leaves, flowers and plants are dying back, and the familiar greens and bright shades of summer are changing to red, brown, yellow and orange. It’s a time of gathering the harvest and shoring up the dykes against the onset of winter before a proportion of foliage fades and falls leaving us instead with a vista of bare branches against the winter sky.  In the olden days, our ancestors saw the drawing in of autumnal nights to be a reminder of the forces of darkness and the evils of men.  This caused them to focus more on Light as an antidote and a reminder that good can triumph over evil. And in these uncertain times, I think it’s good for us in this day and age, to focus more on the Light, and not dwell  too much on its opposite..

There are many things which can help you prepare for autumn and here are two I’ve always found to be very helpful :

  • Clearing out clutter entails letting go of stuff you don’t need on an outer level which then encourages the same process on an inner one
  • Doing some Space Clearing: For those of you unfamiliar with this technique it’s basically the art of cleansing and consecrating spaces. Certain rituals can be easily performed which are usually a synthesis of native rituals for clearing negative forces from your environment, and also using Feng Shui principles to lift the positive energy (known as Chi) in your home. (You’ll find masses of information about Feng Shui online if you want to discover more about this fascinating subject.)

Both clutter clearing and space clearing echo traditions regarding preparing to bring in the energies of Spring, (hence the title of this piece from a quote by Albert Camus), but the difference is that in Spring, we’re clearing out old stuff to make way for new growth, whereas in the Autumn, we’re letting go of old stuff in order to make space in ourselves for some inner personal reflection which chimes so well with Nature drawing in her energies for the winter. At this time of year, we can very much benefit from giving ourselves the time to pause and contemplate the past year so we can begin to see what changes we could try to implement in ourselves in order to help improve our lives and general well-being.

A very simple way of seeing areas in your life which need changing, is by drawing what’s known as a “Life Pie”.  This is what you do :

Take a clean piece of paper and on it draw a circle of about 2-3 inches in diameter.  This is your “pie”. Then look at the following headings which are the main areas of focus and activity for the average person:

*Work         *Family        *Play         *Romance         *Exercise         *Adventure (i.e. new activities)    

*Friends/Social Life        *Spirituality

Using these headings, allocate a segment of your pie to each of them, but draw each segment proportional to the amount of focus you give to each area.  You’ll almost certainly discover that your “pie portions” will be of varying sizes.  For example, “work” might be a very large portion and “play” very small.

This gives you a graphic overview of which areas of your life are taking up most space and where you may need to find ways of balancing things up.

Use this exercise to consider what you might do to let go of particular things that are causing an imbalance in your life and start thinking of ways you can change them with a real view to taking action and trying to make a beneficial difference in your life.

Gratitude lists are also a useful practice at this time of year.  We can always do with reminding ourselves of the things for which we can be grateful. Appreciating the good things in our lives, however small, makes it easier to change pessimistic attitudes towards challenges and setbacks. This is what you do:

Before you go to sleep each night, try to recall anything that’s happened during the day for which you feel gratitude.  Always include the simple things (as well as anything major for which you are grateful) e.g. enjoying some sunshine in your lunchbreak, a welcome phone call or email from a friend, or delighting in the sight of some pretty flowers in somebody’s front garden.  Remember, the more you begin to think in terms of gratitude, abundance of every kind is drawn towards you.

And finally, as we creep towards the end of 2017, do all you can to help yourself relax and de-stress using NATURAL aids like massage, meditation and giving yourself as much “me-time” as possible. Give yourself lots of Reiki if you’ve learnt it or treat yourself to a session or two with a professional practitioner to help re-balance your energies. Likewise, if there are difficult issues which are holding you back in life, consider seeing a practitioner of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or Energy Tapping as many people call it now, to help you let go of  any intensity around your personal challenges and/or emotional problems. Now is the time for laying the ground for making positive adjustments to your life and really making a difference to your well-being.

Above all, remember to be compassionate towards yourself and others and work at letting go of judgement and criticism. Make a commitment to learn to love your life, love who you are, and love those around you, for the power of love is the most potent healing force in the world.

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ALL THINGS MUST PASS

They say that change is the only constant in life for all things must pass.  But many of us don’t find the idea of change something to relish. Instead, we often prefer to maintain the status quo rather than undergo alterations to life-style and places which are new and perhaps, alien.  Periods of big change can be challenging and daunting, and on the whole, the majority of people prefer not to be pulled out of their comfort zones if they can avoid it, especially when they know they’ll have to find their way through the shadowy world of uncertainty and the unknown.

That being said, we need to acknowledge the fact that life itself is always full of uncertainties, packed as it is, with challenges, twists and turns. All of our existence on this planet is about change because nothing ever stays the same.  We’re born, we live and we die.  All living things go through this cycle.  Even the mountains and rocks are subject to change for they, too, grow, erode and decay.  Mini-cycles of birthing and dying are happening all the time within each of our lives.  We see this in the ending of relationships and other attachments, in things that manifest into our lives only to disappear once again and in the way that the physical body changes over time.

Nothing grows, nothing develops, and nothing matures without going through change.

Changes come in many guises.  Sometimes it may feel as though the Universe has thrown us a curve ball which arrives out of the blue and knocks us sideways. Sometimes it comes because we actively want to make alterations to an aspect of our lives because we believe that if we can do that, a particular situation will look and feel different, and we will feel happier, easier, and  more at one with ourselves.

However change appears in your life, generally speaking, it often feels uncomfortable, although it has to be said that sometimes a transformation can feel graceful and easy. If we’re seeking to alter a situation and are able to hold a firm vision of what we want to manifest, this can facilitate a much more relaxed transition from one state to another.

Any desire to bring about change usually also involves letting something go. We can make things much harder for ourselves if we harbour any resistance to altering how things are as this can prevent us from making any adjustments to the issue in hand. Very often we have anxieties around making the changes in the first place. Sometimes we need support and aid in moving through these concerns, and there is absolutely no shame in that. Better to reach out for help and overcome disquiet and unease than let that fear remain inside you, preventing you from moving forward in your life.

Our experiences with change mould us into who we are, inform our beliefs and become the foundation of the road we ultimately travel.  We never know when we set out in life exactly where we might end up, even though we may be aiming for a particular goal or destination.  Paradoxically, it’s actually all right to feel uncertainty, because when you don’t know about something, it means you have an open mind!  And if you have an open mind, then this gives you a greater ability to be flexible and a desire to be curious, both of which can spur you on in your quest for change. It can also give you the opportunity to let go of judgement which then enables you to develop greater understanding and compassion.

Coping with change and uncertainty becomes easier if you can practise ways of staying in the present without a jumble of thoughts about past or future running through that stream of consciousness which is your mind. Change also becomes less challenging when we allow things to unfold and learn not to have rigid attachments to outcomes (which is an area where many of us cause ourselves even more problems and difficulties!)  As Deepak Chopra, doctor and spiritual teacher says: “… (when we develop) a willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind which orchestrates the dance of the Universe.”

Ultimately, change is the gateway to all our opportunities, and potential.  By learning to trust the process of change, we find, amazingly, that all kinds of things can start falling into place.  When we step into that field of opportunity, we can discover the possibility of having the freedom to create whatever we want.

As it says in the book “A Course of Miracles “:

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Begin it now

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THE CAUSES OF HAPPINESS

I’ve just come back from a few days in Scotland, and one of the highlights of my trip was a visit to the Tibetan Monastery and Buddhist Centre of Samye Ling (pr. Samee Ling).

Samye Ling is a little piece of Tibet set against the hills of the Scottish Borders and nestling amongst the pine forests, heather and wildflowers.  I could feel its vibrations stretching out towards me even before I began to walk the path that leads towards the main complex. The entire architecture is Tibetan with long oblong buildings and roofs that curve upwards towards the sky. Along the entrance path, two tall arches rise up painted in the traditional Tibetan red and gold and embellished with intricate paintings and designs. In the main complex can be found tranquil pools and waterfalls and wonderful huge statues of golden Buddhas, and the whole place is very, very peaceful.

The Shrine Room building has a wide flight of stone steps leading up to it from a large courtyard.  Inside, the eye is greeted by magnificent Tibetan ornamentation and decoration and the great Golden Buddha which is the centrepiece of the room. Here I found the vibrations so incredibly powerful that after a short while, I had to sit down on one of the chairs arranged against the back wall. Once seated, peace descended upon me like a cloak being gently laid upon my shoulders. Within moments, I was in a place of utter stillness inside and I sank into an effortlessly deep meditation which lasted for about twenty minutes (ah, would that it were always thus!!).  I emerged strongly grounded and centred, totally peaceful, and with an immense feeling of contentment. It was a wonderful experience.

As we drove back to Edinburgh where I was staying, I was reminded of a line from the Tibetan Buddhist prayer which begins: “ May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness ……” and I found myself thinking how one cannot help but feel content when the mind is still. This led to my musing upon the importance of finding happiness in oneself, not only as a way of peace and fulfilment but also as a wonderful way of self-healing.  For in just the same way that one cannot be negative when one is relaxed, one cannot be unhappy if one is serene, for it is in that place of equanimity that the turbulence of the emotions is stilled. This is why truly happy people tend to be not so concerned with material riches. Nor do they angst over finding the perfect relationship. Somehow, even when facing challenges or ill-health, they still manage to be happy.

So how do they do it?

It’s long been accepted that there’s a direct connection between the body and mind and that our thoughts affect our bodies.  Our bodies respond to the environment, and they react to the ways we think about ourselves.  Limiting beliefs, negativity or any toxic mental patterns are going to cause cortisol to be pumped around our systems most of the time which can lead to illness, disease and to generally undermining our health.  So it makes sense to think about pleasurable things as much as possible to provide the antidote to this!

The good news is that you can be happy right now by changing your thinking and your attitude.  You can choose to be happy – and generally speaking, the only person who’s going to stop you from doing this is you! So here’s a few suggestions to help you along the way:

Begin by thinking of all your problems as challenges.  Instead of focussing on how difficult something is, start looking at it as an opportunity for you to change and make your life better.  Every challenge is a lesson to learn and a chance to grow and become all the stronger for it. There’s usually an upside to any issue if you’re prepared to look for it – so make a point of focussing on that instead, and practice eliminating the word “problem” from your vocabulary!

Try not to sweat the small stuff. Remember that whatever little thing is irritating you right now will be irrelevant in a year, a month or even a day, so why wind yourself up? Tell yourself: “I’m just going to put this on one side for now,” and then get on with the other things in your life.  It’s easier than you think to do this.

Resolve to let go of grudges and be kind to yourself and others. Research has shown that this is a big factor in feeling happier. Kindness releases a powerful energy which helps to build relationships and fosters positive feelings for yourself and those around you.

Choose to spend time with friends who are positive because that way you’ll be buoyed up by their positive energy. Notice how frequently you make comparisons between yourself and others (whether you think you’re better or worse than them!), and consciously switch off your critical thoughts.  Everyone is a unique individual and being judgemental in any respect is detrimental to your happiness.  Also, don’t talk about plans, dreams and ideas to people who are negative because they’re likely to pull you down and generally be unsupportive. If you want an opinion, ask a positive person, and wean yourself off the need for approval from others.

You are what you eat, so make an effort to eat healthily.  Processed junk foods will leave you feeling sluggish and prone to health problems. So avoid the pizzas, burgers and chips and go for more fresh vegetables and fruits and try to buy organic produce whenever possible.  Also remember that exercise produces endorphins (these are those happy hormones which are so healing for your body). Even walking for 30 minutes a day can enhance your state of mind, reduce stress, help to keep down your weight and make you feel happier.

If you’re not already doing it, learn to meditate.  Research has shown that it calms the nerves, is good for your health and supports inner peace. And if you can commit yourself to trying to practice more awareness of living in the NOW instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, that will provide much grist for the mill.

Being able to express gratitude or appreciation for the things that you have (rather than the things you have not),  has been found to help with stress, foster happier moods, more optimism and bring better health.  Gratitude causes beneficial shifts in the body’s biochemistry, reminds you of the positive things in your life, and can turn bad things into good things.  It can remind you of what’s important in life and crucially, remind you to remember to thank others for their gifts, kindness and help.  Simple acts of kindness cost nothing and are very healing for both the giver and the recipient.

It’s a good idea to start a “gratitude journal” and write down all the things you’ve encountered each day for which you’re thankful. As an alternative, you could also spend a short while each night before you go to sleep making a mental list of things for which you’ve felt grateful during the day. In this way, you can start training your mind to think in a more appreciative fashion.

And finally, remember nothing in life is ever going to be perfect.  Happy people are able to accept what can’t be changed and instead put their energy into the things that they can control and are able to improve.  So, when change enters your life, resolve to accept it and see it as something really positive.  And when you can’t change something, practice acceptance of that, too.

I hope these ideas are helpful for those of you who would like to find ways of feeling happier and are useful reminders to those of you who are already working on themselves in this way.

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LIFTING THE HEART

The other evening I was sitting outside in my courtyard enjoying the gentle breeze that was playing through the plants, lifting the fronds of the passion flower and virginia creeper and causing the geraniums to nod their heads a little. It was a relief to feel the cool soft air after the relentless heat we’ve been experiencing and instead, enjoy the long ‘silk-coloured evenings’ (to quote Philip Larkin) of summer. So peaceful and quiet was the day at that moment, my shoulders relaxed and my spirit lifted as I soaked in the serenity of the approaching evening. My mind stilled without effort and a sweet calm pervaded my body and mind. Ah! How good it was to be cool and still!

The weather this month has mirrored the fierce temperatures of anger, grief and unrest in the world of late, and in particular, what has been happening in our own small piece of the planet, and without a doubt, we have all absorbed elements of it to one degree or another. Living amidst such vibrations and not being affected by them in any way, shape or form is hard to avoid, if not impossible, so it’s really important to find some antidote within ourselves in order to help us counteract the heaviness it can cause to body, soul and mind.

More than ever before, it’s important to practise ways of lifting the heart, for in lightening any burdens we feel, we are automatically raising the spirits of those around us and our environment. The wonderful HeartMath Institute is currently involved with researching  the effect of human emotions upon the Earth’s subtle electromagnetic field and has found, amazingly, that ‘when large numbers of people create heart-centred states of loving care and compassion, it results in a more coherent electro-magnetic field around the earth that benefits everyone – plants, animals, and the planet itself……..Every single person affects this global field because we are all interconnected with and affected by the magnetic fields generate by the sun and the earth……. And every cell in our bodies is bathed in both an external and internal environment of fluctuating invisible magnetic forces’ . From “Making Life Easy” by Dr Christane Northrup.    

Bearing in mind this research, I’m sure you’ll appreciate why we need to incorporate techniques which make our hearts feel light on a daily basis so we can benefit from  the way we are fortified and supported by such emotions.  All of you will have tried and tested  mechanisms you already  use to do this from time to time, whether it’s by sitting quietly (as I was doing) enjoying the cool of the evening, or gazing upon a beautiful view.  You can lift your heart by listening to your favourite music. You can do it by singing (yes, singing lifts the spirit very effectively which is why all religions since time immemorial have used singing and chanting as a fundamental aspect of their worship).  Lifting the heart can be achieved by being with loved ones, through laughter,  by tuning into the joy of children playing, by stroking your cat, walking your dog, feeding the ducks and swans, or reading an inspirational book or piece of poetry. It’s there for you when you walk in the countryside or beside the sea, or beside a river or stream. Did you know that being out in nature automatically encourages your aura to open and expand which will, in and of itself, elevate your mood? Also were you aware that every time you are close to running or moving water, your aura is cleansed? This is why a shower is so invigorating and a walk beside the sea is so refreshing!

There are many more ways of connecting to a lightness of heart simply and easily.  You can achieve it by  participating in an activity which brings you joy (running, swimming, driving, skiing, painting or some other creative interest, etc., etc.), or meditating, praying, or just sitting for a while in a temple, church, cathedral or mosque and absorbing the powerfully peaceful vibrations of such places. All of these things are freely available to each and every one of us, and no doubt you can come up with other ideas of your own.

Practising being able to lift up our hearts and spirits in these times of unease and difficulty can only be beneficial and healing.  Remember that even though the world at the moment isn’t a peaceful place, we won’t make it any better by dwelling upon catastrophes and violence.  I’m not suggesting we turn away from the iniquities and tragedies around us and pretend they’re not happening. No.  But what I encourage you to do is to make it a priority in your life to find ways to offset the de-stabilising effect such troubles and unrest can have upon you so that you can build a greater ability to  maintain a state of balance and well-being  within yourselves which in turn will help others.

The power to change is within us always, as the following poem illustrates:

I prayed for change, so I changed my mind.

I prayed for guidance and learned to trust myself.

I prayed for happiness and realised I am not my ego.

I prayed for peace and learned to accept others unconditionally.

I prayed for abundance and realised my doubt kept it out.

I prayed for wealth and realised it is my health.

I prayed for a miracle and realised I am the miracle.

I prayed for a soul mate and realised I am the One.

I prayed for love and realised it’s always knocking, but I have to allow it in.

Jackson Kiddard

 

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LOOK TO THIS DAY

No doubt you were all shocked and horrified by the recent atrocity perpetrated in Manchester and, like me, are full of admiration for the people of that city for their courageous solidarity in holding together and not being cowed by the terrorist attack. Their indomitable spirit is a wonderful demonstration of how life has to go on, no matter what happens.

It’s also a powerful example of how it’s possible to find a positive in the worst of situations. None of us know what the future will bring or how long we have left on this ‘mortal coil’, to coin a phrase from Shakespeare.   I doesn’t feel inappropriate therefore to ponder upon the most positive thing we might draw from the trauma and distress of the Manchester massacre, and it must surely be to remind ourselves to try to live more in the present moment and make the most of every day that we have.

Living here and now is something we can all do but many of us only manage it spasmodically.   This I because a lot of the time our minds are somewhere other than right here, right now.  Too often our thoughts are consumed with picking over the past or agitated by worrying about the future, conjuring scenarios which have not yet happened and yet believing they will.  It’s also because we’re very good at getting easily distracted, (thanks to living in a world which is driven by infotechnology) or diverting ourselves from the present by doing more than one thing at a time. Eating food while watching television is a good example of this, or talking to someone whilst keeping an eye on one’s mobile phone so as not to miss any messages or social media posts that come through!

Present moment living doesn’t have to be some extraordinary esoteric art which can be only be learned by the few. We ALL have a natural ability to do it already – it’s just that we need to remind ourselves that it’s not only possible, but fairly simple to do.  All we need is a little awareness and intention. Everyone has  experienced being totally present at various times. It’s when whatever it is you’re doing is consuming your total attention and complete attention is being 100% there. Times of enjoyment and pleasure rank high as present moment experiences because we’re so fully immersed in the happening of it.  (Think about making love!) When we’re here and now, quite naturally, we open ourselves up and simply let the energy of what we are doing flow into us and move through every cell of our bodies. There are no extraneous thoughts. We’re concentrated and focussed without effort. And there are no feelings of being constrained by time.

I remember the first time I went to India, I experienced an unfolding awareness  of losing track of time.  Five minutes could sometimes seem like thirty minutes. Thirty minutes could feel like five.   A whole day could completely obliterate any need to count the hours and just feel like I was living in a continuum. I was amazed at how elastic time became and initially, was at a loss to understand why I was suddenly experiencing every day so differently.  Little by little, I realised that the reason for it was very simple.  I was so enthralled with everything I was seeing, doing and experiencing that, for the first time in my life, I was actually living each moment.  And in doing so, I was completely at one with each person I was with and with every place that I went.  My thoughts were calm and clear, I was content and at peace, and it gave me an amazing sense of just being. 

Once back home I realised how lucky I’d been to have this experience, for continuing in the same way was not at all easy and mostly downright impossible.  I was constantly disturbed and diverted from the peace of mind and sense of being at one with everything that I’d felt in India. Happily, I gradually discovered ways I could re-experience that “now-ness”, for I eventually came to see that in everyday life I could find some very accessible portals to the here and now.  Examples were : walking in nature (where you can get caught up in the wonder and beauty of the scenery around you and give it your full appreciation); gardening (when it’s easy to become absorbed in the tasks in hand and let go of the thoughts which are crowding constantly into your mind); sitting quietly and looking at the day (you can do this from a park bench, or by looking out of your window, or watching a sunset, or by allowing yourself to  be lulled into relaxation by the sound of the waves by the sea).  I discovered I could catch that awareness when I stopped to watch a flight of birds wheeling and soaring in the sky, or by gazing at a river as it flowed past me.  I could find it by stroking my cat and just allowing myself to be at one with the gentle vibration of her purring and enjoying the silky texture of her fur. And, of course, meditation was a great help (although all of the things I’ve mentioned above can be meditations in their own right).

From here I grew to understand the power of appreciation and gratititude for all the things that I had, and gradually I became less pre-occupied with the things that I lacked. All this unfolded slowly and increasingly led to a greater sense of peace and happiness within.  I’m not pretending that I live in the present all the time.  I don’t, because like so many of us, I can still get distracted and pulled off in too many directions (something that often happens during periods of challenge and difficulty).  But the good things is :  I know how to get back to these practices  when I’ve “fallen off the wagon”, and I know without a shadow of doubt, how much better I feel about myself and life when I do.

Too often we starve ourselves of the peace and contentedness which can be there for us in every moment.  Too often we tell ourselves we’ll only feel that peace and joy of being if a certain set of external circumstances fall into place. But it doesn’t have to be that way! We can still be fully alive and in the present moment by just BEING HERE AND NOW and making the most of our lives.

I want to end this piece with a poem by Kalidasa, an Indian playwright and poet who lived during the 4th and 5th centuries.  I hope you will find it as inspiring as I do.

“Look to this day, for it is life, the very breath of life.

In its brief course lie all the realities of your existence:

The bliss of growth, the glory of action, the splendour of beauty.

For yesterday is only a dream, and tomorrow is but a vision.

But today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness,

And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.”

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AWAKENING THE HEART

It seems to me that these days, we’re bombarded regularly with dreadful scenes of carnage in Syria and elsewhere, terrorist attacks in major cities and news of people showing total disregard for their fellow human beings. In addition, right now, quite apart from the dangerous stand-off between the US and North Korea, we have endless coverage of politicians making speeches ahead of the French and British elections which seem designed to cause ever more divisions between people.  So many vibrations around us are about aggression, disunity, and fear. Sadly, we live in a very unsettled world which for many folk doesn’t feel at all safe.

How wonderful, therefore, to learn that in spite of all this turbulence and instability, there’s a growing number of people who are noticing themselves feeling more kindly and more accepting of others. All over the world, people are apparently reporting feeling less need to hold on to old hurts and resentments, which is a very positive indication that there is perhaps a growing movement towards the need to exercise compassion and understanding towards each other for the greater good, despite  the discord and acrimony in the world around us.

I gleaned this information recently from reading through an article on the wonderful HeartMath website (https://www.heartmath.org) and I must say, I found it very encouraging.  I have, myself, been very aware of an increased heart-opening over the last months, and can’t help feeling that perhaps there’s a new momentum of heart awakening happening because our deeper instincts tell us that the only way we can ever make a paradigm shift from the chaos of today to a world in which compassion and co-operation are the norm, is not through war and politics, but through each of us becoming kinder and more open-hearted towards each other. Perhaps we are beginning to sense that living from our hearts is “the most practical approach for increasing individual and global peace, being that we’ve tried most everything else already”. Sara Childre, President of HeartMath Institute and Doc Childre, HeartMath Founder.

As the song says : “What the world needs now is love, sweet love ………”

The heart and its emanations are much more powerful than we might imagine. Energy emanating from the heart is approximately 5000 times greater than the energy generated by the brain. Research has shown that the energetic vibrations of the heart permeate every cell in our bodies and create an electro-magnetic field which envelops the entire body and extends out in all directions into the space around us. It is now understood that aside from this organ’s most well-known function of pumping blood around our bodies, the heart has its own equivalent of a brain which is constantly interacting and communicating with the head-brain on neurological, biochemical, biophysic and energetic levels.

The heart/brain connection operates when the heart is coherent.  (i.e. experiencing stable, wave-like patterns in its ryhthms.) Amazingly, when there is a smooth, ordered rhythm of the heart, it brings all the organs and systems of the body into synch with each other.  This is hugely beneficial to body, mind and spirit as it brings more clarity, the ability to be better at decision-making and a greater sense of well-being. When we’re stressed, it destroys this coherence, and incoherence in and of itself causes stress.

Just think what this means in terms of all those emotions and feelings which are traditionally connected to the heart like love, compassion, appreciation and understanding.  Think about how your whole being feels when you’re consciously or unconsciously linking in with these emotions. You feel aligned and in flow. You feel open and connected. There’s a sense of ease and movement, things go more smoothly in your life, tasks become easier, communication is better. Your energy levels are high!

And think what your body and mind feel when it’s not like that. e.g. when you’re consumed with anger, resentment, frustration, or when you feel you’re not being listened to or appreciated, or when you’re misunderstood or generally don’t feel good. Or when you’re feeling exhausted, burnt out and overwhelmed.

The good news is that there’s a very effective and simple way developed by the HeartMath Institute to facilitate better heart coherence which will not only help you to change your state of mind, but will also allow you, with practice, to build your own heart coherence and resilience over time. Not only will this impact beneficially upon your health overall, but it will also enable you to influence the emotional states of others and those people with whom you interact – in other words, you can help make others feel good, too, just by being in a coherent heart state yourself!  How good is that?

I’ve talked about The HeartMath institute many times in the past.  It has an incredibly interesting and helpful website (see above link),  and I would like to encourage you to have a look at it. HeartMath has developed a breathing technique which brings about a sense of inner ease (which I’ve also mentioned many times before and can’t recommend highly enough.). This technique isn’t going to eradicate all your challenges in a flash (!!), but if you practice it you will slowly but surely build up a greater ability to go with the flow, connect with your higher potential for effective reasoning, discernment and  interactions with others, deal with the onset of stressful feelings and generally manage your mental and emotional system more effectively. This is how you do it:

  • Close your eyes, place your hands over your heart area and allow yourself to breathe a little more deeply than normal. Think of yourself breathing in and out through your heart and give this your full focus and attention.
  • With each breath, breathe in for a count of five and out for a count of five. Allow your breath to be smooth, unforced and comfortable. It’s not hard to do, but it may take a few moments to get used to breathing this way and eventually, your breath will settle naturally into breathing in this rhythm.
  • Once this breathing pattern is established, bring to mind a positive feeling about something that makes you feel love, gratitude or appreciation. (Don’t focus on something or someone you have loved and lost – focus on something for which you have purely positive associations unhindered by any sense of loss or rejection.) Focus on these positive emotions for about 5-10 minutes whilst maintaining the breathing pattern described above.

Practicing this technique can greatly add to your sense of well-being. Many people find it helpful to spend a little while on the technique first thing in the morning or last thing at night (it’s great for helping you to  drift off into a peaceful sleep!). But you can do it when you’re travelling, on a break at school or at work, or even whilst doing housework, It’s particularly helpful if you’re feeling stressed or un-focussed because of grief or overwhelm, as it can help to calm, centre and balance you.   

Overall, it’s a wonderfully simple aid to increasing your energy, coherence and resilience.  And if you, too, have been experiencing a greater sense of heart awakening of late, then it will help you to strengthen those feelings and in time, increase your capacity for understanding, compassion and forgiveness. If you haven’t noticed any changes in your heart opening towards the world in general, or if right now, you feel you need to simply concentrate on yourself – no matter.  Try using the technique and practice it as often as you can – even if it’s only for five minutes here and there through your day..  It will benefit your body and mind bringing feelings of calm and peace, and as these feelings emanate from within you, amazingly, those around you will start to feel quieter and more serene as well.

You’ll not only be helping yourself, but adding to the ripples of heart awakening that are already happening and contributing towards the growing desire for a more harmonious world.  This is such a practical and simple thing to do for yourself and others, it can only be beneficial to one and all..

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A SPRING IN THE STEP

It’s definitely spring!  We’re awash with daffodils and crocuses and yellow baby chicks and pale spring sunshine. The trees are frothing with blossom, Easter is around the corner and the clocks have gone forward.

Yes! Spring is here so that means it’s the time for planting – and I don’t mean casting seeds upon the earth, for, as you well know, we can also plant metaphorical seeds into the garden of our minds. As with any kind of cultivation, things take time to grow.  But whatever we plant in ourselves now can soon start showing green shoots.

Spring is all about re-birth, so it’s good to think about what might help us grow, strengthen and renew in ourselves for the year ahead. Often this means doing a little revision on stuff we know, but forget to do!  So check out whether you’ve got a bit rusty on any of the following things over the winter months:

It’s always good to have an openness to whatever this benevolent Universe brings us, (even if what is presented to us at the time is tough and challenging), as this helps one to go with the flow of life more comfortably. How are you doing on this concept?

Your attitude governs whether you’re generally happy and content or frequently angry and resentful. Thoughts are energy and wherever you place your focus will make that area grow strong.  So it stands to reason that there’s no point in focusing on not being happy!  Instead, are you making a commitment to putting your attention into thoughts that make you feel joyful and at ease?

It’s a fact that 90% of happiness comes from how you decide to think about events and only 10% from the events themselves. So make sure you’re living your own version of happiness (not anyone else’s!), and resist the temptation to look for it outside of yourself because in the end, it always comes from within.

If there are negative thoughts churning through your mind, change direction and make a conscious decision to try to think about something else which doesn’t bring you down. How are you doing on this?

How’s your attitude of gratitude? Remember, it can go a very long way to creating a happy life for yourself.  If your ability to feel gratitude has got somewhat jaded, why not make an effort this spring to re-double your efforts in this direction?  It’s easy to lose momentum. You can strengthen your gratitude muscles by remembering that before you go to sleep at night, you think of three things you feel grateful for which have happened during the day.  They don’t have to be big things.  Helpfulness from a shop assistant or a warm smile from a work colleague or even the sight of a blue sky and spring sunshine beaming down are all things which can spark gratitude if we think about it.

Don’t let’s forget that concept of living your life with a glass half full or half empty. The paradox is that it can be BOTH things. It’s how you view it that matters.  Are you making sure that you always view your glass as being half FULL? It’ll go a long way towards helping you to be happier in yourself and generally more content.

Where are you with trying not to over-think things? Remind yourself that mostly it only complicates matters. Re-double your efforts here if this is a seed you need to re-plant. Practice looking for good to come out of every experience, and if you’ve been hit with a big challenge, spend time searching to see what might be positive in that situation and concentrate on that instead of the pain or anger you’re feeling. Don’t forget that you can choose how you view your life, and this can lead to more contentment and give you a greater sense of calm.

How often do you smile? Research shows that smiling (and laughing)  triggers a part of our brain that leads to happiness and optimism – so doing more smiling and laughing can lead to contentment and success. You can also have the pleasure of passing on happiness to others by smiling more!

How good are you at not taking life so seriously? Make sure you haven’t forgotten how to laugh at yourself – but not in a dismissive way. We all get things wrong sometimes, we’re only human, and nobody’s perfect.  Maintaining your sense of humour (especially about yourself) is a wonderful safety net. As a Zen monk once said: “If you’re not laughing, you’re not getting it”.

Who you are right now is down to whatever difficulties, heartache and sorrow you’ve overcome in the past. All those ups and downs you’ve experienced have made you a great deal stronger than you were when you first started out in life. Are you celebrating that and giving yourself some appreciation?

And finally: very often, the thing you think you want most of all in the world, isn’t actually what you’re after. More often than not, it’s the feeling of having that thing which is the real desire because that is what you think will bring you success, joy, relief or whatever. So here’s a time-tested technique you can use to help you feel like a millionaire without winning the lottery!

Whatever that thing is that you really want – think of yourself already having it! Close your eyes and think about how good you’d feel if it was in your life right now!  Let yourself experience that feeling to its utmost. Think about doing the things you want to do because you have that thing. Think about how life is so much better.  Think about how happy you are with that thing in your life and let yourself feel that happiness. Get a sense of how that joy feels in your body, how it sings and zings through your being.  Let yourself be filled up with that feeling and allow it to flow through your entire body.  Let it flow in through your head, down through your body and out through your feet and then let it flow in through your head again.  Keep recycling it  – in, through and out –  for as long as you can.

Then take a breath and see how you feel.  Notice your mood. Notice how it feels in your body.   Be aware of how it feels around your heart area.

If you’ve focussed on this with concentration and done it whole-heartedly, you’ll be BUZZING from head to toe.  Your energy will be in full flow.

Now, doesn’t that put a spring in your step?

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