Thursday, 31 March 2011

Wood for the trees

See if you can relate to this: It’s a weekday afternoon and you can’t see the wood of your desk. This is because it’s covered with the usual half cup of cold coffee, an empty water glass, desk phone, mobile phone, computer, keyboard, mouse, and a whole host of open files and folders, and piles of paper, and colleagues keep walking past adding more to the pile… Your inbox is rammed with questions and queries, and responses to your own questions and queries, all interlaced with junk mail all needing sorting through, and dealing with or deleting. There’s a problem you’ve been trying to think of a solution to that you just can’t seem to get your head around – if only the effing phone would stop ringing! There are two slightly stressed-looking colleagues hopping from one foot to the other, loitering around your desk waiting for you to come off the phone so they can speak to you and you haven’t even had the chance to get lunch yet. You’re meeting friends later at a new bar and restaurant, you’re not sure if you’ll make it on time, and you haven’t had time yet to see where it is or how to get there. Sound familiar?

Now imagine this: You stick out your right arm, lay it across the left-hand side of your desk and sweep it strongly to the right, clearing the whole lot on to the floor in one fell swoop - NOW you can see the wood! You stand up, walk past your astonished colleagues and go find a quiet meeting room with a lock and a comfy chair, and have an hour’s nap.

When you return to your desk feeling refreshed, you find your computer, keyboard and mouse placed neatly back on your desk, along with your phones, a hot cup of a tea and a fresh glass of water. All your filing has been done – paper and electronic – all junk has been binned and the rest of your emails, paperwork, files and folders are placed neatly in order, with tasks flagged for priority. Somehow you’ve thought of a brilliant yet simple solution to the problem that’s been going around in your head. You feel less stressed; you’re smiling and feel ready to take on the world.

“As if!”

Well, I’m here to tell you that all this loveliness, and more, can be yours! No, really, it actually can. And it’s free of charge and doesn’t require a management consultant nor a life coach. You’ve heard of it, I promise, but you’ve probably dismissed it as pointless or “not for the likes of me.” Well, it IS for the likes of you. Yes, YOU.

“Well, get on with it, woman, I haven’t got time for this, spit it out. What is this miraculous, free, magically life-changing product?!”

It’s meditation. Yes, really. Stay with me, nearly there...

“I don't know the first thing about it; how would I get started?”

There are so many different types of meditation and I am NO expert by any stretch of the imagination, you just have to find the method that works for you – a bit like exercise; some people love running, others love swimming, badminton, dance classes, golf... same with meditation – you may need to try a few techniques until you find one you click with. All I have is a meditation CD that a friend gave me a few years ago and that CD and I, we’re mates; we just “get on”. Do an internet search and see what pops up and what you’re drawn to – it could be a YouTube video, a course, a book, an article, a CD… And then get on with it. You know, it’s not during the meditation you find this amazing mental clarity and calm, it’s afterwards in your regular day to day stuff when you realise that everything around you is just SO much easier to deal with. Just like someone came to your desk and cleared it all up, polished everything and put everything in order, that’s how your head feels – like someone climbed inside, emptied it out, gave it a good clean and made three piles with the contents: one for the bin, one to pass on, and a neat pile of all the good stuff to keep for yourself. Wouldn’t that feel terrific?

Meditation will sort your head and your life out. Guaranteed. I dare you to try it...

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

"When you hurt, make someone else feel better."
~ Lisa Cherry Beaumont, 2011

Monday, 14 March 2011

Air on the G string

On the back of my previous post, a friend asked:

Do you believe in a creator?

I believe the closest there is to a creator is a life force; a special energy. I don't for a second imagine there's a "God" or creator. This is such a huge concept for us to get our heads around that whatever it is, is likely beyond human comprehension, HOWEVER the concept of there being an energy force makes a shed load more sense to me than there being one "divine being" who's in charge. I mean, if there's one divine being in charge, WTF is he up to allowing all this suffering? Nope. I believe in the whole interconnectedness and balance thing, yin and yang, cause and effect, as everything about it ties in with absolutely everything else that I (think I) know and am learning. The concept of a divine creator ties in with none of my other beliefs or understanding of anything whatsoever.

When I say "God is love" (i.e. follow the path of love) I'm over-simplifying in order to make it tangible but what I believe is that showing love, kindness and compassion is the PHYSICAL part of the realisation that we're interconnected. Do you know what I mean? Those who see beyond our illusion of separateness, those who fully realise that we're interconnected - not just with each other but with everything - and that everything is ruled by cause and effect, will automatically treat everyone (and everything) with love and respect because they know it fucks up the balance otherwise but, anyone who doesn't really get that can simply follow the path of "God" (love) and end up having pretty much the same effect without having to understand, or believe, the nuts and bolts of it.

I’m now going to explain the Lord’s prayer
(Oh yes! It’s all go this morning, isn’t it..?!)

Our father
(god-> the life force/energy, manifesting itself as love)
who art in heaven
(which can be seen/realised when the mind reaches peace->clarity->nirvana)
Hallowed be thy name
(which is highly respected, sacred)
Thy kingdom come
(This place, this heaven, this nirvana, will be reached in our minds)
Thy will be done
(when we will realise our interconnectedness and treat others with love)
On earth as it is in heaven
(in our day to day lives.)
Give us this day our daily bread
(When we ask for our basics for survival, nothing more, without greed)
And forgive us our trespasses
(We will be treated by others with love, kindness and compassion when WE fuck up)
As we forgive those who trespass against us
(when we treat others with love, kindness and compassion when they fuck up.)
Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil
(Let’s steer clear of greed and attachment and our minds will be free from pain)
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
(because this realisation of our connectedness, and therefore our loving treatment of others, is what it's all about; it's the only power that will make us happy and healthy, and allow us to know true happiness: nirvana)
For ever and ever
(and although our lives are impermanant, these rules are not.)

My interpretation of The Lord’s Prayer:

Our life force, which is sacred, we will come to know when our minds reach nirvana.
This place, this heaven, this nirvana, will be reached in our minds
when we see beyond our illusion of separateness, when we realise our interconnectedness, and treat others with love in our day to day lives.
When we ask for our basics for survival, nothing more, without greed, and when we treat others with love, kindness and compassion when they fuck up, we ourselves will be treated by others with love, kindness and compassion when WE fuck up.
Let’s steer clear of greed and attachment and therefore keep our minds free from pain, because this realisation of our connectedness, and therefore our loving treatment of others, is what it's all about; it's the only power that will make us happy and healthy, and allow us to know true happiness: nirvana.
Although our lives are impermanant, these rules are not.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The Holy Bible and other horror stories

What I’m going to do is shed some proper light on all the religious guff we’ve been fed since children and show that, if we strip away all the obscurity, the deity (e.g. the bearded man in the sky) and the metaphors, what we’re actually presented with is the truth, and a way of living our lives that will GENUINELY make us happy.

Stick with me, keep reading. I’m going to make sense of something for you – this could make a big difference to your life.

I think, for some reason, we’re given the bearded-man-in-the-sky stories to “help” us to understand something, to keep us on the right track and to make us scared of going against the common good. But unfortunately, it simply doesn’t work for most of us because it’s so exaggerated and shrouded in so much bullshit that it doesn’t make any sense and so we disregard it as nonsense. Well, I know I always have.

So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and here’s what I’m realising:

We all came from the same stuff.

We didn’t just land on the planet ready-made, did we? We came from something, probably after the big bang, there was this bacterium that then multiplied and then all these different bacteria mutated into all the living beings on the planet, changing bit by bit, over the years, to fit into their different environments. It makes perfect sense if you think about it, doesn’t it? So, going WAY WAY back, you and me, we’re related! Oh, and we’re related to next door’s dog and your mum’s cat and those goldfish in the tank in the dentist’s waiting room. Yes we are; we’re family, innit! So let’s treat each other as such! And no, I don’t mean arguing about the washing up; you know what I mean.

We’re all just big children trying to be happy.

In order to be happy, we need to look outwards. This means being good to others and not just to our friends and family but EVERYONE and all living beings (see above about us being family): colleagues, neighbours, strangers in the street, people on the bus, next door’s dog, your mum’s cat, the dentist’s goldfish and all those gazillions of beings living all over the world. Being good only to ourselves makes us selfish – think about a world where it’s every man for himself: we push to the front of the bus queue, we barge our way through doorways first, someone loses their wallet and we find it, thinking how lucky we are – is this really the way to live happily and in harmony? Course not. Now imagine a world where everyone is kind to each other… take a moment to think about it. The last time someone in front of you in the check-out queue let you go first because you’ve only got one item and they’ve got a massive trolley-full – how did you feel? Aww, that’s a nice feeling, isn’t it? Did you say to yourself that it’s restored your faith in human nature? I bet you did. That time you saw someone in the street crying and stopped to check that they’re OK – how did you feel? Better? Warmer? Kinder? More connected? Happier? It touched your soul, didn’t it?

What are our excuses for when we’re being selfish?

I’m in a hurry. To go where?

Strangers are not kind to me, why should I be kind to them? Be the change we want to see in the world – be a good example, it’s contagious.

If someone found MY lost wallet I bet I wouldn’t get it back. So we’ll be selfish, so other people will be selfish, and so the cycle continues. Let’s break the cycle.

Material possessions mean nothing.

Imagine the world blew up and, after the explosion, you’re left roaming around for days, alone in the rubble of houses and buildings, mucky hands and face, tatty clothes. What would you hope to find… An iPad? A pair of Kurt Geigers? A plasma TV? A Rolex? A Bentley? “Don’t be daft, Lisa!” I hear you cry, “After food and shelter needed for basic survival, I’d hope to find a fellow human being for companionship, to share my experiences of the explosion, to help me make sense of what’s happened!” Damn right! Would you fight this person and see them as competition, or would you be glad of the friendship of this stranger and share your food and shelter and hope they’d do the same for you? So, what’s the difference in our world of plenty? Why are we fighting and grabbing for more for ourselves instead of caring and sharing? Does the grabbing (working all hours to earn more money) make us feel satisfied and content or do we just run faster on the hamster wheel, filling our homes with more and more crap..?

Attachment is the root of our problems.

What’s attachment? It’s the unhealthy way we fasten ourselves to thinking that we “need” something and, it’s so unhealthy that, if things don’t go our way, if we don’t get what we want, it makes us truly miserable! But it’s not not getting what we want that makes us miserable, it’s our minds telling us that we’ll be unhappy if we don’t get it. For example, you want a bigger house. You see this beautiful house, in the street of your dreams, you put in an offer and it’s turned down. Oh, the misery! Boohoo, poor me! But really, it’s just a house. Becoming detached does NOT mean you don’t care about anything, what it means is that you’re flexible to the outcome, that’s all; that you don’t rest your worth or happiness on external factors.

So, who is God and how will following him make me happy?

Well, this is what gave me my Eureka moment this morning while I took breakfast on the balcony. God is simply love. There’s no bearded man (like you imagined for a minute that there actually was – I credit you with WAY more sense than that). Let me explain. If we let it, love can be the guiding factor in our lives. When we struggle to know what is the right thing to do, if we turn our focus outwards (instead of worrying about our own selfish needs – or attachment), if we show love to everyone around us, if we treat others with kindness and compassion, then THIS is what will help us to see the right way, and will make us happy because it makes us ALL happy. Do you get it? Read it again ‘til you do because it’s important.

And what about this eternal damnation; burning in hell??

Oh crikey, it’s no wonder we don’t like religion if we worry that if we put a foot wrong, we’ll burn in hell! What I believe this refers to is the loneliness, emptiness and mental torture we’ll endure if we behave as though we’re independent, cut ourselves off from the outside world, are greedy and selfish, and treat others with contempt. There may be more to it, something to do with karma, but this is as far as I’ve got. It’s enough for now.

And redemption?

Well, we’re none of us perfect, are we? But if we realise where we’ve been going wrong and we stop being led by greed (attachment) and look outwards and treat all other sentient beings with love, kindness and compassion, our loneliness, emptiness and mental torture will cease.

It’s quite straightforward, really, isn’t it? We don’t need a big fat book of convoluted horror stories. If we stop being greedy and grabbing and starting from now begin treating absolutely everyone with love, kindness and compassion, we’ll receive the one thing we all strive for each and every day of our lives – happiness. :o)

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Hands together, eyes... open.

Do you pray? Do you put your hands together, close your eyes, and ask for something in your life, and give thanks for what you already have? If not, you may wish to start doing so, as I've figured out why it's so beneficial and, here's the thing: -

It's got bugger all to do with God!

Oh, you are gonna love this... (can you tell I'm excited?)

Whether anyone can hear us or not, when we pray, it's two-fold:

1) We ask for something
When we ask for something we've made a decision about something that we want. We've removed the airy-fairy concept from our mind which is usually jumbled up with all sorts of other crap, and formed a concrete idea of exactly what we're looking for. We've made sense of it, we've said it out loud and, in doing so, affirmed to ourself that it's what we want. Sound familiar? Sound a bit like the law of attraction? Oh, yes it does. And whatever you believe about the law of attraction (or The Secret), at the very LEAST it helps us to realise what we want, and to look out for it and because of that, we're far more likely to spot the opportunities we need in order to get it.

2) We give thanks
We look at the good things that we have in our lives and express gratitude. Sound like point 9 of my top ten happy tips?? Oh yes. A few years ago, a psychologist named Martin Seligman asked 600 people to focus on some positive aspects about themselves and their lives, which included getting them to write down three things that went well each day for a week. Because these participants were focusing on the positive things in their lives (rather than the negatives), their happiness levels increased significantly, and stayed that way for at least six months. (I've done this many times as have several of my friends and I guarantee it works every single time.)

It's really that simple. Those people who feel that they're getting what they want and their lives are better since they started praying are right, but not necessarily for the reason they think!

Food for thought, hey? Try it for a week; see if your life improves. And let me know! :oD