What are you searching for?

I would wager that everyone is searching for some sort of meaning in their life. There are probably as many ways of doing this as their are people in the world. Many are probably not even aware but everyone is motivated to do things that they think will make them happy. Even bad things. Because doing things that are unskilful (I prefer that to bad) can sometimes distract us from being with feelings, thoughts or emotions that may be painful or uncomfortable. Drinking or taking drugs is a prime example of this.

You see when I look at my life it has been pretty hard (by Western standards anyway). I was in an abusive marriage for 15 years and the abuse continued afterwards too, I am still single at the age of 53 having had my hopes dashed many a time, my eldest son is a homeless heroin addict and I have no idea where he is right now, I used to have a business and lost a lot of money in the crash of 2008 and had to sell my house to pay off some debts so I have no financial security (if anyone ever does), my ex husband died in 2014 so I am now my sons’ only parent, among other things. I am now consciously creating my life. I live in a beautiful area, I have enough money (for now) and some savings so I am richer than many in the world. But it’s not about material wealth for me, it’s about the riches within.

I would probably not have chosen this path if I had know differently when I was younger but all the hardships and good times have led me to where I am now. When my marriage became intolerable in 2001 I was so scared the only thing I could think of to do was to pray. I don’t believe in God in the Christian authoritarian sense but by praying – I didn’t really know who I was praying too – I found the strength within me to get out. It wasn’t easy by any means and I had 3 young children to think about too. What it did give me though, was faith, faith in something higher.

I have been studying Buddhism since 2007 and what I have learned from the Buddha’s teachings has helped me through many a difficult time since. I have learned not to take things so personally. Everyone is on their own journey and doing the best they can with the tools they have at their disposal. I was brought up in a Christian environment and now it all makes sense. I can see the meaning and symbolism instead of taking it all literally. I no longer want to be bound by the label of a ‘religion.’ Buddha wasn’t a Buddhist and Jesus wasn’t a Christian but we can learn from the examples they set. What I do like about Buddhism is that it recognises that everyone has the potential to become a Buddha.

We are all divine, spiritual beings. Human beings. The more we can let go and allow ourselves to be the more our divine nature shows through. We don’t need ‘fixing’, we don’t even need to search for anything. I now choose to radiate love, starting with love for myself. Love is the highest vibration. It is not weak, it takes strength to love. That’s why it’s hard sometimes, especially when we have been upset by someone else’s actions.See my previous post on forgiveness.

It is a paradox that when we reach enlightenment, we will realise that we were enlightened all along. I sometimes get glimpses of it in my meditation, that sense of pure love and light and peace with the world. That’s when I am reminded I can stop searching, I already have it within me. Of course I forget but one thing I always remember is to have faith.

Love to you all you amazing beings. Choose love, always.

Forgiveness…

… can be very hard but if we don’t we are the ones that suffer. Take a moment to think about a time when someone did something that upset you and you haven’t forgiven them. How does it feel? You see the think is if you are holding onto that resentment it hurts you, not them. Forgiving is not the same as forgetting or condoning someone’s actions. Rather it is recognising that they probably didn’t upset you intentionally and they are suffering too. Even if they did mean to hurt you it is because of their conditioning and chances are someone has hurt them.

I remember several years ago seeing one of the mothers of the children who was murdered by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley – the moors murderers – in the 1960s on the news. This was over 30 years later she was still wanting revenge. I know what happened is probably the worst thing that can happen to a parent but she was the only one who was suffering.

Around the same time there was a bomb in Northern Ireland and amongst those who were killed was a 3 year old boy. His father, who had lost his only son, was being interviewed on the news. The interviewer asked him if he wanted to get back at the IRA for what they had done. His reply was, ‘No, because two wrongs don’t make a right.’ You see he knew that holding onto hate would only make him suffer even more than he was already.

I know I sometimes set high standards for myself that I fail to reach so I have to learn to forgive myself. I look to the example of the Dalai Lama and his attitude towards the Chinese. It is possible but if we still find it too hard to forgive others we can start by forgiving ourselves…

Meditating with crystals

I have been using crystals for over 10 years now. I have also been meditating for almost as long and yet it was only today I thought of combining the two so I appreciate this is not a new idea. It’s just a new experience for me.

I am by no means an expert on crystals – I just know they work. I don’t even know the names of them (apart from rose quartz) let alone their qualities. I bought the ones in the picture above yesterday and have forgotten the names of them already.

The person who first introduced me to crystals told me choose the one(s) I liked and trust they were what I needed. And really that’s all you need to know. Pick up whatever you are drawn to and they will provide the healing you need.

I’ve had a difficult few weeks dealing with hurt and emotional pain. I was away in January visiting a friend and my meditation practice had slipped. So yesterday I went crystal shopping. The blue heart is to help with communication and protecting my aura. The others are for grounding. I definitely needed that as I am very good at spending too much time in my head and overthinking things. I walked around all day yesterday with the crystals in my pocket and felt their effects immediately.

So today when I sat down to meditate I was still very much in my head. Then I thought why don’t I hold the grounding crystals. I realise I may be preaching to the converted here but sometimes we overlook the most simple ideas.

The result? Difficult to describe sometimes but definitely miles better than before. My third eye is open again after having been shut for a few weeks now. I had completely forgotten about it and how much better it feels to have the chakras open again. I would just add though that I wouldn’t expect this kind of thing to happen all the time. It happens to me quite a lot but only recently because I have built up a depth of practice. It’s like paying into a bank account – of course it’s best to keep it topped up regularly – but if you miss a few payments the reserves are there already.

The Demise of Bubble Buddhism

I see similar happening in the UK too, the end of McMindfulness. Reality isn’t always pretty…

Engage!

budda-bubble

We are about to see the demise of Bubble Buddhism in North America. It’s a long time coming, and it’s too bad that it takes the onset of a fascist dictatorship and a constitutional crisis to provoke it.

Bubble Buddhism is about to be completely discredited. The next time your beloved Teachersays “just relax”, “ultimately, everything is empty”, “don’t worry about phenomena, it’s all impermanent anyway”, he (she) will soundlike a total idiot. It just won’t work anymore. You won’t get the soothing hit of oxytocin and serotonin that you used to get from him (or ‘her’, but most likely ‘him’). Or you might get that hit, but then you’ll glance at your iPhone for a second and realize that your once safe and secure ‘relative’ world is shit getting flushed down the toilet. You toocannot escape this political catastrophe and it’s devastating effects. Not this time.

Or you might…

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Doing away with negative self talk

I guess like me you are probably your own worse critic. My one intention for 2017 is to love myself more. We are only 11 days into 2017 and I have messed up spectacularly a few times already. Or have I? Is that just me being overly critical of myself? Probably, because when I have confessed to friends they have reminded me I am only human.

I have been practising meditation and mindfulness for about 10 years now. If anything that can make it worse because I can see my patterns and sometimes I feel powerless. I have noticed in the last few weeks that I can still feel just as insecure as ever. So what do I do? Beat myself up even more. I am now trying to laugh at it – not at myself – but at the human condition in general. I have been setting very high standards for myself. I think I should be a good Buddhist and because I am a coach I should be calm in all situations. And there’s another thing. That word ‘should.’ We should be this, we should be that.

So how am I going to stop criticising myself? I can practise more self-compassion. I can choose to be connected to my inner child and recognise when she is hurt and be kind to her. I have had many challenges in the last few years so I am also choosing to give myself a break. If a friend had been through similar I would be there for her so why can’t I be there for myself? I am also accepting that it’s ok to lean on people sometimes. That’s what friends are for after all. I don’t do it very often so I’m going to let myself be carried sometimes.

So if you’re stressing already about your new year resolutions, look at them again. You are good enough already.

Love Helen

Managing your emotions 

So December is here and it’s almost ‘that’ time of year again. The season of goodwill. And also the time of most relationship break ups. Not to be too doom and gloom about it! Work is usually stressful too whatever your job; excited children who want to do anything but schoolwork, dealing with extra orders, Christmas parties etc. So how do you take care of yourself through all of this? Without managing our emotions effectively we can easily go into reactive mode which only makes the situation worse. All well and good you say but my partner’s nagging me, my boss is putting pressure on me and the kids – well don’t even mention them!

When I started teaching I thought I had to be something I’m not. To be strict and scary so the kids would be perfectly behaved. After all we had been told in our teacher training that how we show up in the classroom would affect the kids too. All well and good and perfectly true but we weren’t given the tools to put it into practice. 

Over the years as I’ve been meditating and practising mindfulness I’ve learned strategies to help me ‘stay in the gap’ between receiving some stimulus and responding to it. Also I’ve learned to stop taking things personally. It’s never personal. That’s not to say I don’t get angry if someone cuts me up at a roundabout or feel excited when I’m going on holiday. I probably feel it even more. I know I can choose though, not to act on my feelings (mostly!). 

You’ve probably heard the expression ‘count to 10 before responding ‘ but it’s easy to forget in the heat of the moment. By having a regular mindfulness practice though we become more integrated and that practice becomes part of our daily lives. In fact we can choose to make our whole life our practice. We can notice moment by moment what is going on in our thoughts, emotions and in our physical body too. Become interested and curious and soon you will start to notice your patterns. It can be fun too. You start to take yourself less seriously and think ‘Oh that old thing again!’ 

Life is short and none of us know how long we’ve got. Live for the moment and have a wonderful festive season. 

If you are interested in coaching please comment below or send me a message via the ‘contact us’ page. 

Making good habits fun

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Good habits don’t have to be boring. The picture above is my ‘choices’ bag. I returned from a retreat in October and I wanted to find a more creative way to stay  ‘in the gap.’ This is the space between something happening and responding to it. Most of the time we react without thinking about it. I have been meditating and practising mindfulness for over 10 years now and one of the downsides is that I am very aware of my bad habits! I am learning to be kinder to myself and instead of beating myself up replacing them with better ones. It is much harder to stay with our experience when we are upset or bored so we find something to distract us – usually something addictive like social media, alcohol, cigarettes etc.

In my choices bag are coloured cards. On the yellow different meditations, the pink different forms of exercise, the blue different writing activities and the green different inspiring ideas of something to read. I keep it by my bed and I pick out one of each colour as soon as I wake up. I am not one for a day to day routine so this works for me because I love stationery and I don’t know what I am going to choose it makes each day’s activities different. It can be hard to stay motivated when you are working at home. Another reason it works is that of course I have only put on the cards things I enjoy doing. There is no point me putting going to the gym on a pink card because that will never happen so I have doing yoga, going for a walk or bike ride or swim.

Sometimes they don’t all happen so I have to remember to be kind to myself as life gets in the way. However in less than three weeks I have established a daily writing habit, something I was struggling to do before.  If you struggle to get motivated please feel free to contact me about coaching.

Thank you for reading and have fun today!

 

Celeb death maths

So two more ‘celebrity’ deaths have been reported in the media this week – Victoria Wood and Prince, and probably a few more that slipped my notice. There’s been a lot on my news feed on Facebook and Twitter with people saying ‘Oh no not another one.’ It seems as though there have been a higher than usual amount of celebrity deaths this year starting with David Bowie in January. Or have there?

Being a mathematician I thought about this in terms of numbers. Firstly I am of a certain age, about 5 years ago in my mid-forties I realised that more than half the population of the world are now younger than me. People under 40 don’t seem to be overly concerned about these older people dying because they have not had much influence on their lives. Growing old is a privilege denied to many so once you get past 50 your chances of dying increase rather a lot each year. Thinking about how many films, TV programmes and musicians there are around these days statistically a few are going to die each week. Look how many obituaries there are in the papers each day – 3 or 4? And I bet some of these people did stuff that probably increased the likelihood of a shortened lifespan like David Bowie and his drugs, Victoria Wood and her weight. That’s not being judgemental – it’s a fact – they weren’t bothered they just enjoyed life.

So party like it’s 1999 or something like that and live like you’re going to die tomorrow. Because you might.

Reflecting your inner world

The internet is a funny place. I don’t tend to comment or post much and I’m not really bothered whether people like me or not and I prefer to make friends in the real world rather than with other bloggers. When I do I put a lot of thought into what I write and my intention behind everything I write is to be kind and helpful. It still comes as a shock though when people you don’t know and will never meet make unkind and judgemental comments. I know not to take what they say personally as it says far more about them than me.

We live in such a litigious society and people are so suspicious of other peoples’ motives. I find that very sad. I am used to being with people who are happy sharing – isn’t that what used to happen before we had libel, copyright and other laws? Does it really matter? We are all going to end up dead anyway.

So the point of this post is, and my learning for today, people will always be unkind whatever your motives. Remember whatever you say is a reflection of your inner world. I am grateful that I am not living in their world, imagine what that must be like!

May all beings be well and happy.

I Wonder by Derek Tasker

The Write Idea

A friend sent me this poem by Derek Tasker a few years ago when I was dealing with a particularly difficult person. Today, my birthday, I offer it to myself and all of you, as a possibility. I wonder, too.

I Wonder

I wonder what would happen if

I treated everyone like I was in love

with them, whether I like them or not

and whether they respond or not and no matter

what they say or do to me and even if I see

things in them which are ugly twisted petty

cruel vain deceitful indifferent, just accept

all that and turn my attention to some small

weak tender hidden part and keep my eyes on

that until it shines like a beam of light

like a bonfire I can warm my hands by and trust

it to burn away all the waste which is not

never was my…

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