Tonight at an Amber Run gig, I watch as the band becomes immersed in playing. There’s something riveting about witnessing other people express their creativity and passion. It’s exciting to be invited to share the experience.
The vibration of the music pulses through my body. The beat of the drums pulls me in and spurs me on. My hips begin to sway. I raise my arms and close my eyes.
The music moves in me and expresses itself through me. I’m not thinking about how I should dance. And I’m not looking at what other people around me are doing. I’m perfectly happy with myself in the enjoyment of this moment.
Suddenly, I realise that the same concept holds true for life. When we’re present to the now, we’re in the flow. We don’t have to worry about how a thing will unfold. Because when we let go and allow, unfold it will. Beautifully so.
We are the instruments through which life happens. We are the consciousness that sees life happening. And we are life.
A bombshell of awareness and connection implodes and explodes and ripples into infinity. I stand for a while in blissful understanding. Then I smile and rejoin the dance.
I went for a cycle this morning. The sun was shining but the wind was strong. As I struggled against the wind, I thought: It’s amazing how something invisible can exert so much force, how something I can’t see can hinder me from going where I want to go.
Then it struck me. Our thoughts are a lot like the wind. They’re intangible and we can’t physically look at them. But they can stop us in our tracks as we attempt to battle against them.
Last night, as I flicked through a friend’s Coaching manual from Executive Coaching Solutions, I came across a section on Common Cognitive Distortions (CCDs), otherwise known as ‘thinking traps’. This is the type of distorted thinking that causes us to feel negative emotions.
Examples of CCDs include All or Nothing thinking, Disqualifying the Positive, Jumping to Conclusions (suddenly we become really talented mind readers and fortune tellers), Approval Seeking, Comparison, and Woe is Me thoughts.
I know I’ve engaged all of the above on many the occasion. The trick here is to be aware of the style of thinking you’re employing and to question it. Question the validity of your statements, check the facts, and see if you can turn it around into something more useful, more positive. I’m a big fan of Byron Katie’s work. Read more about how to question your thoughts and turn them around here.
Now, back to the bike. As the wind blew, I had to stand up and pedal harder. The sun blinded me as it reflected up off the wet ground. Then, I spotted a man walking his horse. When they heard me approach, the horse bucked. I waited for it to settle before moving on.
Today’s cycle threw up a few obstacles. At least with the things I could physically see, I was able to manoeuvre them. I squinted and averted my eyes from the glare of the sun. I stopped until the man had his horse under control before passing with caution. But there was nothing I could do about the wind. Well, I could get off the bike and walk but I was determined to keep riding.
Moments later, I turned a corner. I got in front of the wind and freewheeled down a hill. I felt exhilarated. By the time I got to a flat surface, the wind had died down and I cycled the rest of the way home with ease.
Your thoughts are much like the wind as you balance precariously atop the saddle on your exciting journey through life. Sometimes your thoughts will come thick and fast and you’ll have to decide whether to ride on or get off the bike. Other times, your thoughts will die down and you’ll flow through your days with ease. But you’re human and so thoughts will always come. It’s up to you whether you make them work for or against you. It’s your choice. Labour against the wind or ride with it!
Last night, I went to see The National in the O2. They were amazing. Matt Berninger’s voice sounded just like it does on their albums. And he really got into the performance.
The person with me commented: “They don’t write songs for the public, they write songs for themselves.” This really rang true. The lead singer appeared to let go when he was on stage. It was like he was losing himself in his passion, exposing his darkest thoughts and deepest emotions, sharing his heart with all of us. It felt raw and honest.
We could only get seated tickets, which was fine as The National’s music is quite relaxing. But there was no dancing or jumping in our section of the arena. However, after a while, the energy of the musicians rippled into the crowd. The woman in front of us started raising her hand and standing after each song. The man beside me played air guitar. And I swayed and roared in appreciation.
I gazed at a beautiful visual behind the band of the ocean and a sun-streaked sky. I was brought back to times when I swam in the sea or bobbed on a boat. I had felt free and alive.
I thought: How often do we experience these things in our everyday lives? When do we allow ourselves to let go and become one with that joy, that aliveness?
Perhaps when we drink alcohol, take drugs, have sex or go on holidays. Or when we attend gigs like this one. We connect with that passion when we witness someone living their dream, when another human being lets us in to the honesty and depth of their authentic selves.
We become truly present. We enjoy all of our senses. And we give ourselves permission to be free, even if just for one day, one night, one moment…
I just watched the season finale of Love/Hate, a hard-hitting Irish drama. I couldn’t believe my reaction when the credits began to roll. I admit that it had been difficult to watch at times but it was such an honest and thought-provoking portrayal of Dublin criminals that it had gripped me right around the jugular. This programme got me thinking in a way I’d never thought possible.
Throughout the series, the viewers got to know, and like, the characters. We watched them progress from naive young adults to violent gang members, desperate drug addicts, prostitutes and murderers.
We all hear the news about massive drug seizures and gang shootings. And it doesn’t have much of an impact on us. We’re just grateful that we’re not involved. We condemn these “low-lives” for choosing such a depraved existence. But what we fail to consider, and what this brilliant drama has demonstrated, is that life is never simply black or white.
The pretty girl, with so much potential, is putting herself in danger to work as a prostitute because she would do anything to get the drugs she’s so dependent upon. The corrupt policeman, who’s being paid by the fearsome gang leader, is too terrified to put a stop to it because his children have been threatened. The young man, who’s already taken the lives of two human beings, cannot look at himself in the mirror. He thinks that if he does this one last job, he’ll be left alone. They all dream of one day walking away from this hideous way of living.
Most of these people would never have willingly chosen to do the things they are now doing. As children, they too had hoped for love and success and happiness. But circumstances have forced them into this. Of course, I don’t condone their behaviour. The taking of a life is especially difficult to comprehend or forgive. But now I understand that we are all just trying to survive this challenging world we live in. And everyone, everyone, has their reasons.
I recently received an email from an old friend, who’s living abroad. She was writing to tell me that my blog has really inspired her to stop and look at life and has made her realise how lucky she is. She continued:
“Today, I was rushing to get to the shops before they closed when I saw a man, alone in the snow. He was shaking. I was a bit apprehensive but I thought: ‘I can’t leave him. It’s minus 10 and instinct tells me he needs help.’ So, I stopped. It turns out he had Parkinson’s and had hurt his arm. I phoned for a taxi and paid the driver to bring him to the hospital. The look of relief in the old man’s eyes when he sat in and shook my hand was heart breaking. I really think reading your words has changed my way of thinking. I’ve always had a lot of empathy but it takes courage to do something about a situation that’s a bit intimidating. Thanks, Sharon.”
This story brought tears to my eyes. Only days previously, another woman had told me I should stop publishing my work on the internet because I’m not getting paid for it, and on top of that, somebody could steal it. But this unexpected email reminded me why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Not everything we do has to result in monetary, or even personal, gain. Occasionally, people surprise us by giving, without looking for anything in return. The other day, I stepped onto a busy Luas (Dublin tram) when I felt a tap on the shoulder. I looked around at a dishevelled young man, who carried a sleeping bag under his arm. He said:
“Sorry, luv. I just wanted to let you know that your bag’s open. Be careful ‘coz someone could snatch your purse.”
I thanked him and zipped up my handbag. We then chatted about his life as a homeless person. He spoke about how he tries to rustle up enough money each day to stay in a hostel. Otherwise, he sleeps on the streets. I waited for him to ask me for some change (of which I had none – I’d given my last few coins as a tip to a waitress) but at the next stop, he simply said, “See ya luv” and was gone. “Take care!”, I called after him, feeling helpless yet totally moved. Yesterday, it snowed. I hope he’s okay.
Speaking of looking for change, check out this inspiring short film…
‘Tis the season of giving presents to our loved ones but how about, this Christmas, giving or doing something special for somebody who really needs it?
Being outdoors in nature, personal development, spirituality, teaching, yoga, friends & family, sunshine, good conversation, writing, a good cuppa, swimming in the sea, books, adventure, travel, learning, laughter, fun, good food, bear hugs…
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