Tag Archives: lover

The Inner Family

I’m currently rereading Anodea Judith’s excellent book Eastern Body, Western MindThis morning, I completed an exercise on the Inner Family that I’m going to share with you.

Anodea Judith suggests making a list of the various parts of yourself. You might include the inner child, the clown, the achiever, the lover, the critic, and so on. In my case, I listed the lost child, the inner child, the lover, the romantic, the fearful one, and the warrior.

Next to each name on the list, write a few words describing how you perceive this part of yourself.

For example, I could describe the inner child as playful, curious or innocent. The lost child might be scared and alone. The lover is open, present and sensual. The romantic believes in love. The fearful one anticipates that bad things will happen. And the warrior is stunning, strong and skilled.

Now, write down what you think each part wants. My inner child wants to experience. The lost child wants to be loved. The lover wants to make love. The romantic wants to connect. The fearful one wants peace. And the warrior wants to live.

Ask yourself how often these parts succeed in getting what they want. How realistic are their desires? And what can be done to bring them into wholeness?

In order to bring the various parts of myself into wholeness, I can connect with people, including myself. I can be open to relationship and to love. I can meditate, rest and be still. I can be in nature, surround myself with beauty, and go on adventures. Using all of my senses, I can make love with life every single day. I can be present, really live, relax, allow and enjoy.

The final part of this exercise is to look at who relates to whom. For instance, does the critic inhibit the artist? Or does the clown entertain the sad inner child?

I realise that the parts of myself that I listed seem to go in pairs. The loving, playful inner child is the lost child’s reassuring companion. The confident lover and the dreamy romantic are in perfect partnership. And the warrior protects the fearful one and makes her feel safe.

This is an interesting exercise. Try it and let me know how you get on.

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Practising Presence

I’m over a week into my challenge to be present. I could tell you that I’m completely zen, that I’ve attained enlightenment, and that I’m connected with and full of love for the entire universe. But I won’t do that.

I’ll be honest. I’m not there just yet. I’m definitely not present all the time. I’m probably not even present half the time. However, the knock-on effect from simply setting this challenge is that it’s making me much more aware. And once you’re aware, you begin to wake up.

I’m looking at my thoughts and feelings with interest. Rather than scolding myself for not being perfect, I’m observing my reactions with curiosity and humour. And when I notice my mind fleeing from the present, I’m now able to catch the tail of my projections and coax myself back to centre.

I recognise that I always have a choice as to how I feel in any given moment. I can decide which thoughts to believe. I can question my assumptions. And I can release stagnant patterns so that life flows with ease, joy and abundance.

For most of my life, the extravaganza of my ego hypnotised me. But now that I’m sampling pure pockets of peace, this mindfulness jazz tastes like more.

Today, I sit in the September sun. For fear of doing nothing, I walk outside armed with phone, book, journal and iPod. But I get a sense that I’m doing this out of habit. I ignore the paraphernalia, put my feet up, tilt my face skyward, and appreciate the wine-stained autumn leaves and the heat on my toes. The crumpled clouds remind me of a morning strand, slick from a recent tide.

This evening though, I huff and puff over the stories my mind barrages me with. Again, it dawns on me that I’m doing this out of habit. I take a breath, drop into my core, and let it go.

In bed tonight, my mind visits many foreign and oft-explored destinations. At first, I indulge these memories, fantasies and nightmares. Then, I shift out of the nonsense and into the present. Only in presence do I realise that my body is clenched and I’m not lying in a comfortable position. I give myself permission to relax.

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zdravoslovnohranene.com

If you want to become more present, remember that practice makes “perfect”. It may be helpful to figure out which places and techniques assist you with the process. Being in nature usually grounds me. So does concentrating on my breath.

And yes, it is easier to be present when faced with a special moment or a spectacular view. Being present comes effortlessly when you gaze at the enormous moon in a glittering sky. Or when you watch the holiday sun melt into the horizon. Or when you turn your attention to your other senses – sinking into a yoga pose after a long day; the sensation of a lover’s touch; the strangely comforting sound of the roaring rain and wailing wind at your window.

But what about all the other moments? How can you be present during the difficult, sad and angry episodes? Can you maintain your presence of mind, body and spirit throughout the mundane and the chaotic? When you’re stuck in traffic or shuffling at the back of a massive queue? When you’re exhausted after a trialling time or choked up with dread over an imminent event?

Don’t worry if your desire to be present doesn’t manifest immediately or if it vanishes at the first sign of struggle. Simply be aware of how you are. The key is to treat yourself with compassion. Whenever I have trouble with mindfulness, I  recall a friend’s suggestion:

“You must be gentle with yourself. Each time you attach to thought and abandon the present moment, bring yourself back with the lightest nudge. Like with the soft top of a paintbrush.”

With practice, presence will start to become automatic. Because it’s our natural state. We just got a little lost along the way. We got caught up in the adventure, we drank in too much drama, and our vision grew blurry.

But now that I’m sobering up, I can focus on the path home, and I finally understand that I don’t have to travel very far. I don’t have to go anywhere at all. I just have to be.

Thoughtclouds

It’s been a roller coaster of a week. I hurtled into shock, grief, disappointment and confusion. And I soared with laughter, love, joy and beauty.

For the month of September, I’ve decided to be present. And for the first few days, my commitment to this challenge has really been tested.

Instead of beating myself up over being less than perfectly present, I’m glad that I’m aware when I swing high above and far below the present moment.

When I experience a rush of happiness, I look at it with curiosity. I can see that this feeling was born by a thought. A fleeting image of an interesting man I’ve been chatting with. I detach from the reverie and come back to the present.

When I tell myself I’m in a bad mood, I question it. Am I this feeling? Does it belong to me? I examine it. I realise that I feel this way because I just read a message from a friend who’s depressed.

If she’s feeling unwell, should I feel lousy too? Is it my responsibility to make her better? I need to cut the cord that I have loving placed around both our necks before we strangle one another completely. I unravel the attachment and step back into the present.

When I believe a thought, I adhere importance to it. A feeling arises from this connection. This can occur so quickly that it’s difficult to spot the sequence. Now that I understand what’s happening, I ask myself: What am I choosing to believe? And is that true?

This evening, I flake out on the armchair and watch the thoughts that dance for my attention. What can I say to help her? Will I go to badminton tonight? Would it be better to drive to the airport next week or get the bus? Maybe she doesn’t like me any more. Will I grow old gracefully? I wonder if we’ll fancy one another… I need to make an appointment for a bikini wax. What’ll I wear tomorrow night? Where am I going to live? Is everything okay?

The thoughts shimmy before me and I am exhausted. I decide that I’m too tired to think. I just couldn’t be bothered.

I could simply be present. Isn’t that where I want to be anyway? Isn’t that where I am? Spiritual teacher Mooji said:

“You’re like the infinite sky. Can any clouds come and stay? Everything is passing, everything is passing. Will you fall in love with a cloud? How long will your relationship last?”

Thoughts come. Thoughts go. Feelings surface. Feelings change. Nothing is permanent. Nothing stays the same. Everything passes, like clouds.

Why then should I fear what won’t last? And why should I hold tight to things that cannot remain? I’d rather not waste time and energy when there really is no point in doing so.

So I sit here, close my eyes and breathe. And the thoughts pass. Like clouds.

Coming to my Senses

Every so often, I have a flash of what life would be like without one of my senses. And so I give thanks for my five functioning faculties.

I am grateful for my sense of hearing because of the following…

The soprano song of a violin. The passionate pounding of a piano. A talented vocalist. The morning call of a Collared Dove. A baby’s laughter. Howling wind. Hammering rain. Thundering waves.

I am blessed with the sense of sight because I get to see…

Fairy lights. Ballet. A handsome man in a tight T-shirt. The explosion of colour that a sunset brings. A night sky crowded with stars. The ocean. The dimple of a smile. Flowers and foreign lands.

My sense of smell allows me to enjoy…

Coffee, cut grass, and Christmas trees. Sunscreen and spices and incense. Baby smells of Sudocrem and innocence. The whiff of a cooking dinner when I come home after a long day.

My sense of taste gives me the pleasure of…

Kisses. A mug of tea made by somebody else. A glass of juice after a hard night’s drinking. Gyros and Greek salads. Chips from a brown paper bag. A home-cooked meal following a day in the mountains. Picnics.

Without my sense of touch, I would be unable to appreciate…

A tight embrace. The warmth of an open fire. Sun on skin. A welcome breeze. Skinny dipping. A lover on my neck.

Images: http://patriciaquintessence.blogspot.com/2011/06/oceans-day-today.html; http://weheartit.com/entry/18825370; http://favim.com/image/152231/

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Please don’t stop the music!

Creativity brings colour and beauty to our lives. Be it a painting, a photograph or a piece of writing… But music is a worldwide currency, a universal language. It helps us feel less alone in our grief and confusion. It can seem like the lyrics have been wrenched straight from our swirling thoughts and splintering hearts.

Music adds force and meaning to drama and advertising. A simple song can bring a person to tears. Music unites people and collects them on the dance floor. It gives them license to sing into their hair brushes and whoop from their car windows.

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Berthold Auerbach

Music encourages sharing. When we come across a new favourite song, we rush to post a link on Facebook and burn copies for our best friends. Music is especially delightful when it comes with a really cool video and a voice as satisfying as an impossible-to-reach back-scratch…

In the thought-provoking blog, 365 Days of Gratitudethere’s a section called Resonating Sounds, where the writer uploads some of her favourite tracks. Great idea! And it’s how I came across this fantastic cover of Robyn’s Be Mine

This may be insensitive of me but when I was sent the following viral YouTube clip, the accompanying song made as much of an impact on me as its tear-jerking message about the unfortunately rampant issue of bullying…

When someone you know pursues their passion and you can watch them make a name for themselves, it’s exciting and encouraging. Carosel’s Michelle Phelan is what sunbeams and angel wings would sound like if they sang…

“Discovering” a new artist is particularly pleasing. Check out upcoming Irish talent, Laura Hughes, here.

Music is powerful. It lifts you up when you’re down, invigorates you before a night out, and motivates you on a run. It can soothe the rawest of emotions, remind you of a lover, and envelope you in a childhood summer. Music connects us and contents us and inspires us…

"A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence." Leopold Stokowski

Share your much-loved melodies too!

Image: http://erin-lee.tumblr.com/post/1276589434