Tag Archives: enlightenment

Other People

Yesterday, I texted a few of my like-minded friends to share my most recent awareness. The importance of other people.

Relationships (with a partner, friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances) accelerate our growth and teach us more about ourselves than all the spiritual retreats, self-help books, and hours of meditation and counselling ever could.

Other people serve as mirrors. They reflect back to us how we feel about ourselves and the beliefs we’re holding about life.

Every single person who enters our lives is there for a reason – to show us all the barriers we’ve placed around ourselves. Once we become aware of these barriers, we can remove them and open ourselves to love.

In Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Loveshe writes about the two main emotions we experience – love and fear. Fear closes our hearts. Love opens us up to an easier, brighter, more wonderful world.

Up until recently, I had assumed that I preferred to be alone. I’d spend most evenings on my own, reading, writing, and watching TV. I walked alone, jogged alone, cycled alone. I meditated and did yoga alone. I took myself for coffee. I wandered alone in nature and took pictures. I holidayed in the west of Ireland. Alone.

I’m proud of my independence and I’m content in my own company but sometimes a stray pang of loneliness manages to slip through my carefully constructed armour. I realise now that I was confusing strength with a refusal to budge out of my comfort zone.

I really believed that I did better at life when I was single. Romantic relationships seemed to blaze into my world. They were quick and exciting and dangerous.

They were so out of my control that I feared I’d be engulfed in their flames. Then they died out, leaving me to tend to my burns.

I missed the warmth and beauty of relationships but I also felt blessedly relieved to be alone again. Alone, I was in control.

My longest romantic relationship was with my now ex-husband. Everything since then has never made it past the four-month mark.

I led what I thought was a balanced life. I had oceans of time to work on myself. I grow more when I’m single, I convinced myself.

And I’m glad of the time and space I’ve had to heal and to flourish. I agree that one must love oneself and have a full and happy life before one is ready to enter into a healthy relationship.

The thing is, I kept waiting for one (i.e. little old me) to become perfect, conscious and enlightened. I forgot that this life is a journey. And on this arduous yet rewarding adventure, we’re constantly learning, evolving and recalibrating.

It’s nice to share some of that journey with our fellow travellers who can also feel lost and who are also searching for meaning. And there’s more laughter and intimacy to be had on a path walked with more than one set of feet.

feet

After living alone for four years, I now have two housemates. I’m also spending more time with my fabulous friends. And I love meeting new people. How different we are fascinates me. How similar we are humbles me.

I understand now that living involves other people. For what is a life without company, support, affection and passion?

Other people highlight the areas we need to work on so that we can peel off yet another bullet-proof layer. It’s so much lighter and freer to let go of these heavy burdens that weigh us down and close us off. But it’s scary to be so exposed, so vulnerable.

I know that I have difficulty letting people in. Asking for help and believing I deserve to have my needs met is a challenge. But it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept.

Communication is also an area I’m working on. Recently, I detected a pattern of mine. When the going gets tough, my instinct is to bolt. To get out that door and never come back. But where’s the maturity in that? Where’s the learning, the growing, the compassion? Where is the love?

Other people have an amazingly frustrating knack of triggering the emotional reactions that I used to resist and get angry about. Now, when someone does or says something that provokes me to feel hurt, annoyed or defensive, I remember to breathe into it.

I feel grateful for this issue that I need to deal with. I look at my feelings about the incident, which leads to an understanding of why I’m feeling the way I do. Then, I let go and bring myself back to the present moment.

This is a very new practise for me, by the way, but it’s a revelation! I highly recommend it.

Today, I’m more open than ever before. This translates into a heightened enjoyment of life, a deeper appreciation of beauty, and more fun, peace and connection.

I am, thankfully and in Melody Beattie’s words, codependent no more. Nor am I locked in a distant land of me, myself and I.

I’m travelling on this awe-inspiring path called life. And it’s rich with billions of souls from whom I can learn so much, and with whom I can share a luminous journey.

hammock

Images: Favim.com

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Time Out

Whenever I get sick, three things happen. First, I resist the situation. I resent having to slow down and take time off. I think I should be working (and working out). Next, I go with it. I recognise that my body needs to heal. I even enjoy the rest, the reading, sleeping and daytime television. And finally, I learn something huge and take a massive leap forwards.

This time, after the initial groaning and settling process, I learned something pretty major. I had been complaining about noisy neighbours, a lack of sleep, and tiredness. I had decided to approach said neighbours so that they would be made aware of my suffering and would hopefully change their noisy ways.

However, with a bit of time and space to meditate on the issue, I realised that I have a thing about noise. I have been living in my current flat for just over three years. And since I’ve moved in, I’ve had problems with noisy birds, followed by a noisy buzzer, and now, noisy neighbours.

Last weekend, I heard someone say: “Wherever you go, there you are.” I can’t stop thinking about this quote.

I had been hoping the noise would stop. I’d been wishing the neighbours would move out. I’d even been fantasising about living in a large, detached house in the middle of the countryside. But wherever I go, there I am. It’s not about the flat or the neighbours or even the noise. It’s all about me.

me

Spiritual guide Anthony de Mello said that no noise can rob you of your peace, unless of course it’s so loud that it damages your eardrums. De Mello opted to hold his meditation classes in a room on a busy street as he felt it was important to be able to centre yourself in any environment. His class used to meditate on the sounds they heard.

One mantra that’s helped me over the years is: “If one can, everyone can.” If Anthony de Mello’s class could connect with stillness in the midst of all the noise, then so can I. If people can get used to sleeping in a hectic city or a rowdy youth hostel or next to railway tracks, then I too can accustom myself to noise. If certain people can boast about being able to sleep through anything, then it’s possible for me to able to get to that state.

I once heard Soul Coach Denise Linn speaking on Hay House Radio about a shape shifting technique. She suggested imagining ourselves as being an abundant or successful person. Once we get into the feeling of being like that, she said, we actually transform into that person.

After listening to that show, I did a shape shifting meditation with my Positive Living group where we imagined being a beautiful bird. We were all able to feel what it was to be that powerful, majestic bird soaring in the sky.

A while later, I was struggling up a hill on my bicycle. I remembered the shapeshifting exercise so I decided to shape shift into a super fit person. The climb became effortless! So with regard to the neighbours, I could shape shift into someone who simply isn’t bothered by noise.

The other day, one of my Life Coaching classmates asked me how I feel after ten minutes’ meditation. I described feeling calm and grounded. I joked: “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to get into that feeling without having to do the meditation!” She sighed, “If only it was that easy.” But perhaps it can be that simple.

You want to be happy? What would it feel like to be perfectly content? Really get into the feeling… Can you do it? Yes? Well there you are, you’re in it. Want to feel relaxed, still and centred? Visualise feeling that way. Soon, you’re no longer visualising the calm. You are that calm.

Since having these realisations, I’ve still been woken by noise. But instead of labelling it in a negative way, as something that shouldn’t be happening (because the annoyance and anxiety that consumed me as a result of that thinking was what was keeping me awake), I’ve brought acceptance to the situation.

However, it can be quite a challenge to effortlessly move from rage to serenity in the middle of the night. So instead of beating myself up for getting so uptight, I’ve used a wonderful affirmation that I learned from the Emotional Freedom (Tapping) Technique: “Even though I’m [filled with anger], I deeply and completely love and accept myself.” 

That was the bridge I needed to go from desperately wishing things were different to acceptance of the situation and of myself. And every single time, I’ve drifted back into slumber.

If I hadn’t had the time off that my flu had forced me to take, I’d probably still be blaming the external forces for my suffering. It can be so enlightening and empowering when you give yourself permission to slow down.

Images: weheartit.com

Images: weheartit.com

The Work

Today, I attended a Byron Katie workshop. Byron Katie’s work involves asking yourself four simple questions whenever you’re feeling bad. They are as follows:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

You then turn the thought around. I’ll give you the example I used when filling out the “Judge-Your-Neighbor” worksheet. We were instructed to go back to a time when we felt hurt. I remembered being dumped by a boyfriend. Katie asked us to go back to the centre of the most painful moment of that episode. I was lying on my bed, roaring crying. I felt shocked, upset, disappointed and rejected. I was also angry because I felt that he had disrespected me.

Here are a couple of the questions from the worksheet: In this situation, what advice would you offer to that person? You should be honest and true to yourself. What do you think of this person in this situation? I think ______ is asleep, unfair, dishonest, cowardly and immature. 

I asked myself the four questions, which I understood and which rang true for me. But it was the turnaround that really blew me away. Turn the thought around: should be honest and true to myself. Yes, without a doubt. ______ is honest and true to himself. He is awake, fair, honest, brave and mature. Of course he is. He was awake enough to know that he didn’t want to be with me any longer. He was honest with himself and with me. He was brave enough to end it. He was mature enough to do the right thing. was asleep, unfair, dishonest, cowardly and immature. Right again! I was willing to stay in a relationship that wasn’t working. I was being dishonest with myself and with him. I was wailing like an abandoned infant. Wow!

There were a number of other Aha moments as the day progressed. I’ll mention a few of them. One man stated: “_____ should be more open-minded.” Katie asked, “Can someone be more open-minded than they are in that moment?” The answer is no. This really got me thinking. Imagine if we stopped trying to control how others behaved? If we stopped judging them, criticising them, feeling superior to them, feeling hurt by them? The other person is not hurting us. It is our thought, our reaction that hurts us. And we have the power to change that thought. What a liberating realisation!

Byron Katie spoke about relationships. She suggested: “Your partner is your teacher. He / she is working on you as he / she is always showing you what you need to learn. This makes it much easier for you as it cuts your work in half.” I had never thought of it that way before. So, it’d be in my interest to find myself a “teacher”… Must put in a request…

Finally, one woman told us that she hates her belly because it’s too fat. Byron Katie picked up a little flower and said (in the type of voice a flower might have): “I’m so beautiful!” She then pointed the flower in the direction of a vase filled with different flowers. She / the flower said: “There must be something wrong with me… I’m not yellow. I don’t have as many leaves as that flower, I’m not as open as that other one, and I think I’m too short.” We laughed at how ridiculous it sounded. She then turned to the woman and asked, “Your belly is too fat for what?” The woman answered, “To be sexy and attractive.” Katie said: “So, you see your body as collateral. You think – I’m not going to get much with this body.” Again, we laughed. The woman admitted that sometimes her boyfriend tells her that he doesn’t like her belly. Byron Katie said: “You be your boyfriend and tell me that you don’t like my belly. I’ll be somebody who loves my belly. I’ll be you.” When the woman told Katie that she had a problem with her belly, Katie responded: “Oh my God, I hope you get over that! That must be awful for you. Whose problem is that? It’s certainly not mine.” She added: “If your mind cannot compare, is it possible to see yourself as anything other than perfect?” She concluded: “Your ego doesn’t want you to become enlightened. Your attachment to the thought that you are fat is not allowing you to wake up.” Sit with that one for a moment…

Who would you be without the thoughts that are terrorising you? Relaxed? At peace? Happy? Present? Become aware of the thoughts that are making you feel bad. Develop an inquiring mind. Question your beliefs. And turn them around. As Byron Katie says: “Change your thoughts. Change the world.”

Which of these poppies is not perfect?

Image: incrediblesnaps.com/60-beautiful-flower-pictures

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

Anger: from destructive enemy to constructive energy

Living with anger is like swallowing a wriggling baby octopus. As it grows, it expands, and pushes against your insides until you feel so full with it that you’re about to burst. When the pressure becomes too much to bear, it will use its tentacles to pierce and swipe its way out.

Some of you may be welcoming more awareness into your life at the moment. You’re currently coming to many realisations about yourself and about how you’ve been living and behaving. Despite this new-found enlightenment, you’re noticing that you’re getting angrier than ever before. I used to be such a gentle, peaceful human being. This alien emotion may surprise and even scare you.

Think of it this way. You have begun a fascinating journey of discovery and you are rapidly changing for the better. However, you’re still surrounded by people who are not travelling along the same route as you are. Your energy has shifted and what was once safe and familiar now annoys you. You no longer accept bad treatment from others because you’re starting to think more of yourself. Instead of feeling hurt and depressed by others’ misdemeanours, you’re now getting angry, which is a healthier reaction. But you need to realise that you are replacing your passivity for aggression.

Don’t worry about this new way of being. For a while, you will feel as if you’re walking in a field of land mines. You need to finally release all of these pent-up emotions. When there are no more long-buried devices left to explode, you will come back into balance. By this time, you will hopefully have removed yourself from situations that don’t suit you and distanced yourself from people who are not good for you. As Eckhart Tolle explains in the following clip, anger is just energy.

Steps for dealing with anger:

1) Sit with it

Like in a quiet waiting room, if you’re sitting with someone long enough, you’re eventually going to ask them where they’re from. Speak to the anger. Examine your feelings. What is it about the situation/person that angers you so? Is there something that you recognise (and dislike) in yourself? I know a man who became unreasonably irritated whenever his children let out the sofa footrests as they watched TV. Years later, he admitted that it was because he detested his own lazy streak and was reminded of it every time his kids sat back and relaxed.

Maybe you’ll discover that the anger you’re experiencing is directed at yourself. This could be for not living up to your purported potential, for acting in a manner that you’re ashamed of, or for feeling things that you’d rather not admit to. Holding on to anger is an exercise in self-destruction. It has no positive consequences but it will make you do stupid and even dangerous things. It will ruin relationships, fill your days with misery and, ultimately, bring about disease.

2) See where the attachment lies

Understanding what’s charging your anger is like finding the right plug in a large, tangled clump of electric wires. You have to unravel each cable and find which one you’re attached to before you can disconnect it. Recognising where the attachment lies will help you let go of this disturbing emotion. If a loved one has said something to upset you, ask yourself why these words have had such a profound effect on you. Do you care so much what that person thinks of you? Has something in what they’ve said resonated with a part of you that you fear, dislike or distrust?

3) Understand

When you begin to grasp why the person is behaving in a certain way, it makes it a lot easier to handle. Maybe it’s the only way they know how to act in order to get through life. We are all just trying to survive in this world and everyone has a different way of achieving this goal. Know that their behaviour is nothing to do with you. This knowledge will make you a lot less angry and will enable you to accept people for who they are, without allowing yourself to be dragged into their pain. Also, understanding why the person has filled you with anger will push you further on your road to self-discovery.

4) Express yourself

Get it out! Break some glass at the bottle bank. Smash a few plates, Greek-style. Go for a sprint. Take out the punching bag. Scream and shout. Scribble down your rage. And if you can express it to the person who’s brought all of this up in you, do so. Let them know how you’re feeling. You will not let them get away with treating you badly. Aside from relieving the pressure on yourself, this will have the added benefit of ensuring that a similar situation will not reoccur. Now that you’re stronger and more assertive, people won’t dream of treating you with anything less than respect. And if they still feel they have a right to mistreat you, it’s time for you to move on.

5) Energetic medicine

In Chinese medicine, repressed anger can create physical discomfort and disease. Acupuncture is an excellent tool for releasing anger. Staphysagria is a homeopathic remedy that you can take whenever you’re feeling a sense of entrapment, anger, frustration, or resentment.

6) Let it go

If you’ve expressed your rage, come to understand it, and removed yourself from the people and situations that are bringing you down, it is now time to let go. As Siddhārtha Buddha said:

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

7) Transform

Anger and passion are two ends of the same stream. One comes straight from the source, high in the mountains, clear and fresh. The other leaks into the ocean, becoming lost and bitter. Once you’ve dealt with the anger in all its stages, all you’re left with is energy.

Use this energy for whatever invigorates you. Allow it to ignite your creative spark, light up your spirit, and propel you into a world of power and passion.

Images: Google

The unexpected: balding eyeballs and sheep poo

This was taken before...

Everything finally seems to be in order. You’re feeling great, you’ve discovered your passions, and found your niche in life. You’re enjoying yourself and living in the now. You’re perfectly content with your partner or your single status, and you’re more at ease with life and they way you live it.

You’re moving along at a steady, comfortable pace when suddenly, some unforeseen circumstance throws a pothole in your path and gives you a serious jolt. And everything you’ve learned and implemented whooshes out the door. You instantly morph back into that stressed out, negative, completely un-zen like creature you’d been trying so desperately to shake off.

The unexpected can surprise you in any form- a death, a job loss, a life-threatening illness. Even the less serious but equally unexpected things can shake you to your core.

I was finally feeling good about myself. I had let go of control and was starting to enjoy life and love myself. Until one day recently, as I cleaned my flat, I managed to get bleach in my eye (I never claimed to be the sharpest tool in the shed). And just like that, half my eye lashes vanished. I felt as though I’d lost my femininity and charm. I might as well give up on finding a man, I thought dismally. I’d pass by the mirror and burst into tears at the sight of my freakishly bald eye.

“I can hardly notice when you wear eye liner,”  a close friend tried to mollify me.

“But I can’t wear eye liner all the time. What if I want to have a shower with someone?” I blubbered.

“You don’t even have a boyfriend.”

Yeah, thanks for that. After a couple of days of feeling sorry for myself, I decided that this must have happened to teach me a lesson. There was still clearly a certain amount of shallowness lurking within me. I still had a terrible time allowing others to see my imperfections. I still believed I had to look good to be liked, loved, and wanted. I thought I had become more enlightened but I still had a way to go. I promised to never again complain about my short, straight lashes. I thanked my disappearing lashes for teaching me more about myself. And I felt grateful for what I had and also for what I didn’t have (alopecia or cancer, for example).

With every lesson learned, the universe will test you. Which brings me to today. I had a couple of hours off before work, so I borrowed my aunt’s car and drove out to the plains of the Curragh. I felt good about how I was dealing with things and interacting with life. I marvelled at the blue blue sky, lifted my face to the sun, observed the grazing sheep, photographed the trees, and lost myself in the music pounding from my iPod. Until I realised I’d lost the key to my aunt’s car.

I flew straight from the present moment into a tornado of panic, worry, self-flagellation, and an endless string of curse words. I was propelled into a near future where I was walking the streets, freezing and starving and in desperate need of a shower. I no longer noticed the sun, sky, trees or sheep. And my music annoyed me so much that I had to switch it off.

All I had on me was a camera, an iPod, and a hankie. And the Curragh was unusually devoid of people. My options were to wave my hankie in the air, while taking multiple photographs with the flash on, and blasting The Beatles’ “Help” on full volume. Or I could retrace my steps as best as I could remember.

Unfortunately, I was searching for a single black key that happened to look very much like the sheep droppings that carpeted the vast plains of the Curragh. I eventually came across a chap in army attire, who told me he wasn’t allowed carry a mobile phone. I just had to laugh.

So, armed with my sense of humour, the seeds of a lesson that had to be watered, and the makings of a relatively humorous and thought-provoking blog post, I made my way back to Newbridge town. My aunt wasn’t at home so I called into her neighbour, a woman I had done a course with about a year ago. What was it her name was? Maureen? Unexpectedly, a strange man answered the door. He looked red-faced and hostile. I was thrown.

“Is Maureen there?”

“Maureen who?”

“That might not even be her name. I took the car. It’s not mine. The key’s in the Curragh. There’s so much sheep poo…” I babbled.

“Who are you looking for?” Silence. “Do you have her name? What’s her number?” Eh… “What do you want?” Oh God! “Do you want to use my phone to call this Maureen character?”

“Yes!” I finally managed to splutter.

“Okay, come in. My wife Pauline will be down in a minute.”

“Pauline!” I shrieked. “That’s her name! I’m Sharon,” I muttered, relieved that something was starting to make sense.

With that, Pauline sauntered in.

“Siobhán!” she called me. And her husband snorted.

And so, after telling my aunt the embarrassing news, I sat back with a cup of tea and a choccie biccie and listened to this couple’s tales of travel in South America. When my aunt returned and we rescued her car with the spare key, I enjoyed a long, hot shower.

The car key is still missing but I’ve gained some insight as to how I function. I’m happy with myself and with life so long as it’s running smoothly. It’s easy to be fully aware and appreciative of the present moment when everything is going the way you want. But when life happens, when you come across an unexpected fork in your journey, it is then that you need to take a moment to be still before deciding which route to take. The unexpected is what we call life. According to John Lennon:

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

So, the next time a  volcanic ash cloud or snow storm disrupts your travel plans, a shocking event occurs, or you receive some bad news, you miss the bus, your friend cancels on you last-minute, your eye lashes fall out, or you lose your aunt’s car key in a sea of sheep poo, here’s what to do:

  1. Release control
  2. Go with the flow
  3. Believe that everything happens for a reason
  4. Observe what unfolds instead
  5. Unleash your sense of humour
  6. Accept the situation
  7. Check out what lesson you’ve been sent
  8. Learn from it
  9. Move on