Tag Archives: Eckhart Tolle

I’m Always Here

Mindfulness is a buzz word of the moment. And being present is a recurring theme in my blog posts.

Yesterday however, I realised that there’s an element of resistance in the way I’ve been practising mindfulness. I’ve been using my version of mindfulness to criticise myself and block self-expression.

Living in the now is being present to experience life as it happens. It’s not about dredging up the past or catapulting into the future. It also isn’t about trying to change how things are. Mindfulness means nonresistance.

Mindfulness has certainly enriched my experience of life. It has enabled peace of mind and improved my sleep. And it’s giving me a deeper appreciation of myself, other people and the world around me.

I’ve also become pretty adept at catching myself as I catastrophise a situation. When I worry about what could possibly go wrong, I can quickly bring myself back to the present moment and know that, right now, I’m okay. This potential future I’ve spun dangerously into doesn’t even exist. All that exists is this moment.

Recently however, I’ve been a little hard on myself when I find myself in my head. Get out of there Sharon, I shout. As if my head isn’t part of me.

When I feel excited about something, I immediately shut off that excitement. I tell myself that I’m silly for fantasising. I insist on being present. There’s no place for dreams Sharon, I scold. There is only now.

I convince myself that hope is a dirty word. Where there’s hope, disappointment will follow. 

It’s as if Eckhart Tolle has infiltrated my inner voice and I can hear his disapproval every time I slip into expectation or attachment. Of course, there’s massive wisdom in Eckhart Tolle’s teachings. And mindfulness is a wonderful practise. But what’s important is how we internalise these concepts.

Yesterday, I complained to my Life Coach that I’m not being present when I fancy a guy. I described being alone in my room thinking of a man I like.

The Life Coach asks me what that feels like. “It’s nice,” I answer. “I feel excited. But then, if things don’t work out the way I’d hoped, I feel so disappointed. I’m not being present.” I frown.

“Are you not being present?” he wonders.

Suddenly, I realise that I am being present. I’m actually always present. I’m always here.

I’m aware of myself as I fantasise. I’m aware as I attach hope to someone or something. I’m the witness, the consciousness, that’s observing everything, all of the time.

When I feel disappointed or excited, in love or anxious, it doesn’t mean I’ve taken a step back spiritually. It just means that I’m human. I’m experiencing and learning.

Being present doesn’t eradicate emotion. Mindfulness doesn’t obliterate thought.

I can be present in my hope and disappointment. I can think thoughts and I can watch myself as I think them. I can allow the inner child to play and get excited. And I can open up to love instead of closing myself off for fear of losing myself.

Mindfulness isn’t about being perfect and feeling zen all the time. It’s about being present to everything exactly as it is. It’s about observing and accepting.

With this new understanding, I feel relieved. I feel looser. I give myself permission to be a human being with wants, needs and desires. I allow myself to feel, to play and to love.

This frees me up to recognise myself as something bigger also. The witness who sees everything and doesn’t judge or criticise. And so I can allow all that is and be as I am.

meditationandmindfulnessforchildren.blogspot.ie

meditationandmindfulnessforchildren.blogspot.ie

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Desire Always Tastes Like More

Desire is something that’s glamourised by the entertainment and advertising industries. It’s exciting in its provocative promise of something better than what you’re currently experiencing. But have you ever wondered if it’s your desire that’s making you unhappy?

Every time you long for those shoes or that car, or whenever you sigh in frustration because you won’t be happy until you find your perfect partner, your desire is taking you out of the present moment and into a place of dissatisfaction. A place where you are displeased with how things are so you want something different from what is.

That is not to say that your desires should be repressed. It is healthy to want something and to go for it. Eknath Easwaran writes: “Desire is the fuel of life; without desire nothing can be achieved.” However, desire often takes over and kidnaps you from the present moment, holding you captive in a hellish existence of How I Wish That and If Only. You’re not really living when you’re longing for all the things you haven’t got.

In this case, you have identified with the mind’s idea of an ideal world. You could be content if you just had more money. You’ll finally find happiness when you start a family. You’ll be able to relax when you’ve bought your own home. Well, maybe not until you’ve paid off the mortgage… The mind has tricked you. The ego’s desires can never be satiated. Eckhart Tolle writes:

“As long as I am my mind, I am those cravings, those needs, wants, attachments, and aversions, and apart from them there is no ‘I’ except as a mere possibility, an unfulfilled potential, a seed that has not yet sprouted.”

The trick to all this is to become aware of your thoughts and the feelings that arise from them. How attached are you to the fulfilment of these desires? And who are you without them? This means becoming present. In the present moment, you can learn to be content with what is. What you have or haven’t got doesn’t matter when you’re truly present.

And if, in this moment, you desire something, your presence of mind will allow you to achieve it. And so you will be able to bake the most delicious cake. Or share some wonderful intimacy with a loved one. Or pluck up the courage to ask that person out. Or feel confident enough to go for the job you really want. Or simply take yourself to the ocean’s edge and really see it and hear it and feel its spray on your upturned face.

"If you desire many things, many things will seem few." Benjamin Franklin

Image: http://photo.99px.ru/i/?pid=21942

How to Deal with a Pre-menstrual Female

Most women suffer from Pre-menstrual syndrome at some point in their lives. This nasty affliction causes food cravings, moodiness, cramps, headaches, breast tenderness, and much, much more. Fortunately, not all women get PMS all the time. It depends on a range of factors, including hormone levels, diet and lifestyle.

I’m a woman so I’m allowed say this but pre-menstrual females can be extremely tricky. If you’re one of the men lucky enough to bag a woman who sails through her cycle, without even the slightest touch of PMS, you must have done something really good in a past life. If not, here’s some information, tips and insights from one of the not-so-lucky females…

The pre-menstrual woman suffers from exhaustion, irritability, and bloating during this time. She will be convinced that she’s put on weight. Even though she thinks the exact same thing every single month, she will not see a pattern. She will compare herself to a whale. She will wonder if she could possibly be pregnant, even if the last time she had sex was in 2004.

Don’t be surprised if she refuses to get out of bed or if she starts keening during an episode of Secret Millionaire. If you hear her wailing “Just kill me now” and “I hate my life,” don’t be alarmed. She’s probably just deciding what to wear.

If you’re another female, now is not the time to tell her how well your diet / marathon training is going. If you’re male… a 10-day sabbatical might be for the best. If you’re her partner, she will want to punch you in the face every time you cough / laugh / speak / breathe a little too loudly. She will admit she was being unreasonable. But not right now. Right now, everything you say / do / don’t do will drive her demented. That’s just the way it is.

We all know that women can get cranky, spotty and depressed just before their period but did you know that women can also become clumsy? Yesterday, I walked into a barrier, opened my car door into a wall, knocked my elbow off the same wall, and dropped my purse in the newsagent. As coins spun all over the shop floor, the cashier asked, “Are you okay, miss?” I wanted to scream and cry and pull my hair out and maybe pull his hair out a little too but I merely sniffed a barely audible “Yes” before getting on my hands and knees in front of the rather cute customer I’d just been eyeing. FML.

Some women swear by Evening Primrose Oil to curb the symptoms. Here’s my testimonial: That is some good shit! One month, I ran out of the capsules and thought, I probably don’t even need them. By God, it was probably the worst month of my (and my shell-shocked new boyfriend’s) life. In other words, it works.

In Chinese Medicine, one of the main causes of PMS is Liver Blood Stagnation. Acupuncture is great for getting the energy and blood moving around the body. Exercise also does the trick but I’ll let you suggest that one to her.

But it’s not all bad… *scratches head*… Eckhart Tolle has a section in The Power of Now about how women, because they go through this condition each month, are closer to enlightenment! Is it worth it, ladies?

And guys, if you’re starting to feel sorry for us, don’t worry. You more than make up for it with this: 

Image: http://alittleteenangst.tumblr.com/post/12149939979

No More Excuses

It’s all well and good having brilliant flashes of insight into our behaviour. It’s marvellous to come to some understanding as to why we might be miserable. We can have many an Aha moment as we read tonnes of self-help books and watch endless YouTube clips of Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra. But what’s the point if we never actually change? We moan:

“I’m exhausted because I push myself too hard. I’m constantly striving for perfection. Because I think I’m only worthy of love and acceptance when I’m perfect.”

What a wonderful realisation! But what can we do with it? We might take a little rest (if even) and resolve to love ourselves unconditionally, before falling right back into our old self-destructive patterns. Working too hard, exercising and dieting to excess, and denying ourselves any morsel of pleasure in life… until the next time we binge or act lazy or reconnect with a bad habit; until we fall ill or get depressed and can no longer do all those things that make us feel we deserve a space on this planet. And yet again, we punish ourselves and cry, and wonder what’s the point of life… And if we don’t break down completely or (worst case scenario) decide to take our own lives, we pick ourselves up, wipe away our tears, root out those Mooji clips and dusty Thich Nhat Hanh books and start all over again…

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this. At least we’re trying. I know I do the exact same thing, time and time again. I thought my life would never be the same after watching an inspiring movie, after being introduced to Byron Katie’s work, after reading Awareness, Mutant Message Down Under, Veronika Decides to Die, The Power of NowAnd I really believed it. Every single time. Until my next spell at rock bottom, when I was left wondering where it all went wrong.

Maya Angelou wrote, “When you know better, you do better.” So, if we know what’s to be expected from that sort of conduct, why not save time, energy and heartache and just change, once and for all?

All the motivational books and videos and quotations do help. But they can only bring us forward a certain amount. It’s not called “self-help” for nothing. Ultimately, it’s you, and only you, who can help yourself. People can give you advice, tips and recommendations, but if you’re not ready to take them on board or if you’re unwilling to change, then it’s not going to do much good, is it?

“You can’t teach anybody anything, only make them realise the answers are already inside them.” Galileo

It’s much easier telling others how to live their lives, and to spot where they’re going wrong. We can talk all we want about needing to transform our thinking, but when it comes to actually making a change, most of us chicken out. Because it’s unfamiliar and scary. It takes courage, determination and persistence to change.

I’m not going to finish this off with a persuasive video clip or a book list that’s guaranteed to change your life.

Just change. Do it.

Images: http://blamethecrane.tumblr.com/; http://stylishwebdesigner.com/50-stunning-photographs-to-refresh-your-mind/

The Gift of the Present

We spend far too much time in our heads – worrying, remembering, giving out to ourselves, complaining… Imagine how much energy we waste on our thoughts… Do we really need them? Could we go on without them? Picture how free we would be if we cut most of them out…

"I've developed a new philosophy... I only dread one day at a time." Charlie Brown

It’s extremely difficult to break the habits of a lifetime but it is possible and so worth it. Everybody’s got to start somewhere. So, here are a few simple exercises that you can try right here, right now…

1. Close your eyes and really feel what it is that you’re feeling. If you’re anxious, find out where that anxiety is. What parts of your body are affected? Give it a colour, a shape. Allow it to expand. There is nothing to fear. When we move out of our thoughts and into our feelings, we take a huge step towards being present.

2. If you’re experiencing pain somewhere in your body, don’t run away from it. It’s trying to tell you something – that you need to take a rest, slow down, make a change… Give the pain a name. Describe how it feels. I know it’s “sore” but what else? What’s the first thing that pops into your head? Homeopaths find the most effective remedies when people describe their symptoms in peculiar ways as it really narrows down the search (there are thousands of remedies). Is the pain digging or dragging, stabbing or burning? Does it feel like tiny needles or grains of sand? Is it hammering or pulsating? When you acknowledge the pain and allow it to express itself to you, it may shift or alter or even disappear completely.

3. I found this next exercise in Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now

“Close your eyes and say to yourself: ‘I wonder what my next thought is going to be.’ Then become very alert and wait for the next thought. Be like a cat watching a mouse hole. What thought is going to come out of the mouse hole? Try it now.”

How long did it take before a thought came in? Are you amazed at how quickly one invades your mind? Did you notice the gap in thinking – the stillness, the “state of intense presence”? Wasn’t that nice? Do you want more of it? Don’t worry, you don’t have to force anything. The more aware you are, the wider the gaps will become.

Being present is being aware. Of what you’re experiencing right now. Not what you think about it or what you think you should do about it. But what simply is. It’s so simple, in fact, that we dismiss it for that very reason.

"Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness." James Thurber

Images: http://cuzworldisntblackandwhite.tumblr.com/post/13779627654

Recession Ireland: A Whole New World?

Some of you will delight in me writing this. Others will be too indignant or alarmed to read on… Some will presume I’m having it off with Jim Corr and switch off. And then there are others, who will breathe a sigh of relief that, finally, somebody normal is speaking out about their thoughts and fears regarding what’s going on in the world. Someone without a background in economics or activism, politics or finance; somebody regular who’d never even heard of a default or a foreclosure or an NWO up until a year ago.

We can pretend like nothing’s changed. We have offices and kitchens and children to attend to. Christmas is fast approaching. And The X Factor final is on this weekend. But we cannot ignore the growing dole queues, the increasing break-ins, the persistence of the Occupy movement, and the unfair Budget cuts. Our children are growing up in an unprecedented era. Forget about the Púca – it’s the IMF that’s got everyone really scared.

Dole Queue in Cork

There is talk in certain circles that the economy is on the brink of total collapse (no surprise there). Some people are forecasting (and gleefully anticipating) the breakdown of all of society’s major institutions, which are finally losing their grip on the power they’ve wielded over the obedient public for far too long. Even prime time television is warning that we might have to revert to the punt. And if that happens, what little money we have left will be almost worthless.

If this actually occurs, so much will have to change. We won’t be able to afford oil or petrol, thus limiting trade and transport. We won’t have the option of buying new clothes or technology. We’ll have to return to self-sufficiency, which would be no bad thing.

These difficult circumstances would force us to come together as communities. We’d have to rely on agriculture and fishing. The long-suffering Irish farmers would be granted a new-found respect. Our lawyers and accountants and PR executives would have to be taught how to sow seeds and cut trees. Our scientists would be able to dedicate their time and genius to work on tapping into alternative sources of energy.

Fishing in Connemara

When I hear these outlandish but strangely plausible predictions, I try to imagine such a future. I guess we’d have to ration our food and our firewood. We’d only be able to afford enough petrol for one vehicle per village. We’d work in the daylight, and sleep beside one another in large fire-warmed living rooms. We’d have to darn our socks and put patches on worn sweater elbows. We’d drink fresh milk and eat lots of stew. We’d go back to natural remedies and energetic healing. We’d have time to sit with each other, to knit and play games and tell stories.

Is such a world even conceivable? And what about technology? Would our phones suddenly stop working? Would electricity fail? Without the companies that connect us, would the internet perish?

Oh, I’m all for getting rid of money-hungry, ethically challenged governments, multinationals and pharmaceuticals. And I look forward to the day when the food we eat isn’t laced with hormones, pesticides and preservatives. I would gladly embrace a time when we are content to live off the land. When we inhabit a world that refuses to be dominated by mass-produced fear. When we take the time, effort and courage to inform ourselves and think outside the government-constructed box. When we recognise real health and call a halt to the pumping of too-trusting populations with vaccines and medication and other hidden chemicals. I long for a land of free thinkers, where open minds and creativity are a valued commodity.

Despite my idealistic hopes, I also have doubts. I worry that, if things really do go belly up, not everyone will react favourably. Many will be shocked and scared, angry and incredulous. Parents will fight for their food and children will steal. The streets will see violence and riots and looting. Some will go hungry. Others will go mad.

Dublin City © Gearoid Muldowney

And I can’t help hypothetically grieving all the materialistic luxuries I currently enjoy. How would I cope without my car and my holidays abroad? What would I do without the ability to discover new music at the click of a mouse? How would I feel about the loss of lipstick and mascara? Could I welcome a world without the internet and blogging? And if money disappears and I can no longer pay rent, will I have to move home? Or would my landlord accept payment in poems and potatoes?

Then again, this may never happen and you’ll laugh when you remember the crazy blogger who once ranted about the possible links between sudden poverty and freedom. But if the alternative news reports do prove to be correct, at least I’ll have given you a heads up. To encourage you to spend some of the money that’s lying in fear in your bank account. To get yourself some practical essentials. To give you time to install a stove and stock up on rice and tins of tuna. To buy good winter boots and some quality clothes that’ll last longer than your usual purchases from Penneys. Better silly and safe than stubborn and sorry.

Whether or not this apocalypse-like scenario manifests, we cannot ignore the fact that change is in the air. Perhaps this upset and turmoil is a necessary step in our evolution. Masses of people are awakening and there is a definite shift in consciousness. This could be the New Earth that Eckhart Tolle wrote about. And a new way of thinking and living and being will emerge from the redundant ashes of the old world, like a phoenix, ready to take flight…

Deepak Chopra

Images: http://www.allthingswhisky.com/?p=499; http://www.indymedia.ie/article/92133; http://www.ballynahinch-castle.com/fishing-connemara; http://www.flickr.com/photos/gearoid/page10/; http://pinterest.com/pin/418493398/

The magic of nature

Nature amazes me

The intricate system of veins on the back of a leaf. A large tree that holds candles of flowers all the colours of a little girl’s sun dress. The abundance of hawthorn. The gnarled bark that holds secrets of wisdom and healing, if we would just bother to ask for them.

The cutest baby lambs and their huggable mothers, their wool sticking up like they’ve just rolled out of bed.

Shades of blue smudged across the sky, white clouds barely moving like a mirage landscape of snowy mountain ranges. A pine branch swaying dreamily. The biscuity scent of yellow furze that tickles my nostrils each time a light wind dances. A sudden downpour of fresh water droplets from the heavens.

‎”See the fullness of life all around you. The warmth of the sun on your skin, the display of magnificent flowers… biting into a succulent fruit or getting soaked in an abundance of water falling from the sky. The fullness of life is there at every step.” Eckhart Tolle

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“Live as though heaven is on earth.”  Mark Twain            

Heaven is on earth. Heaven is in our hearts. It is up to us to open our eyes, our minds and our hearts; to see, feel and experience the abundance and beauty that’s right in front of us.

Look  OBSERVE  Appreciate  Meditate  Breathe  Love  Give thanks