I went to see the Dalai Lama in Sydney yesterday with my friends and this was one of the messages that he had to share with us. Peace starts within.
After he had given his talk Beyond Religion (Ethical Mindfulness in Every Day Life) on the benefits of living ethically, he answered questions for about 45 minutes and one of the questions that came in was “How do we, or I, have an impact on today’s world, when there is so much violence and religious tension? What can we do as an individual?”
And his answer? “Real change, at a global level, must come from the individual. Not through the United Nations or European Parliament. . . we as individuals must start.”
And he went on to say “World peace, must come through inner peace.”
And this is something that has taken me a little while to get my head around. However, through my spiritual journey of late and from reading a fair amount on Buddhism, some of the Dalai Lama’s books like ‘The Art of Happiness’ and most recently Mr Eckhart Tolle’s books, the penny has dropped.
Our thoughts create our reality. Therefore, if we are not at peace inside and in our head, the reality that we experience will not be peaceful.
And it’s very interesting, because the more calmer I have become in my body and in my head, the calmer my life has become. The more love I have given to myself, the more love I have experienced in my life. And the more peace I have found inside, the more peace I have started to witness in my external life.
To some, it might sound too simple, but the beauty and brilliance of this notion, is that it really is that easy.
If for any reason we don’t like what we are experiencing in our external world, all we need to do is look inside and start to change what is happening in the thoughts in our head and the feelings in our bodies, and watch how our external world changes accordingly.
If our life is too fast and too crazy, we need to slow our thoughts down through meditation or yoga perhaps. If our life is sad, angry, or frustrating, we need to be kinder and more loving to ourselves through the thoughts we are thinking, and watch how everything external to us starts to change.
And most importantly, if we are looking for peace in the world, rather than running around trying to change everything outside of us, we must look inwards and seek to be more peaceful in our thoughts and feelings. We need to be the change we desire to see in the world.
You can see the Dalai Lama answering this specific question in the below You Tube clip around 2 hours 47.
It is something that is very important to me, because, it is only in the present that we can we find our true selves, along with peace, love and joy. If we are living in the past or the future (that are just illusions and don’t really exist) we are only setting ourselves up for pain and suffering. True freedom from both of those things can only be found in the now.
The only reason we suffer guilt, anger or sorrow is because we are living in the past or stuck going over a past event that we no longer have any influence over. The only thing we can do is choose to accept what has happened, understand that it is what it is, forgive and forget and choose to live in the present moment.
And the only reason we have nervousness, anxiety, worry or fear, is because we are living in the future. And once again, the only thing we can do is understand that the only way that we can influence the future, is in the present moment, focussing on the now. And that we will never actually reach the future, because the future and the past is happening right now.
So taking all of that into account, you ask, how can I live in the present then?
And there are some very simple steps to follow to achieve this.
4 steps to being present
1. Breathe – this is a very simple one, normally overlooked by most, but it is the single most effective way of becoming present in any moment. If life is getting carried away, your thoughts are clouding everything, the voice in your head is driving you a little crazy. Stop what you are doing and take 3 deep breaths. This is all that is needed to bring you right into the present moment as quickly as possible. Then start to focus very specifically on your breathing and notice that everything else starts to fade away and disappear.
2. Become aware of your body – this is also very easy. Once again, if you find yourself stuck in thoughts or feelings about the past or future. Or if you find yourself struggling to shrug off an emotion that you don’t want to feel, start to become aware of your body. Feel the space inside your body. Become aware of your hands, your feet, your lips, the blinking of your eyes. Become aware of the energy that resides inside of your body and you will start to enjoy the present moment.
3. Pay attention to the small things – it can be as simple as looking up at the clouds in the sky, enjoying looking at a beautiful flower, the soft fur of a passing dog, the feeling of the sea or sand on your bare feet, watching the sun rise or set. Finding joy in the simple and small things in life is another way of becoming present.
4. Focus on the sounds around you – this is super easy no matter where you are. You can choose to focus on the sound of a bird chirping in the trees, a car engine, children laughing, a gate shutting. It doesn’t matter what sounds you focus on, but by deciding to do this, will bring you immediately into the now and take you away from your thoughts, feelings, emotions or ego, which of course, are just illusory and not really you.
And it is when you are in the present moment, enjoying the now, that you are able to then come from a much more peaceful, loving and joyful state. And you are able to connect with your true self, your intuition and be able to make decisions and take action from a calm and neutral place.
“Nonresistance, nonjudgement, and nonattachment are the three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living.”
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
Darren and I went to see The Great Gatsby on Monday night, and apart from it being a truly beautiful and very wonderful film with an awesome soundtrack, the story also delivers a very spiritual and metaphysical message.
It has taken a couple of days for the penny to drop and for me to process the true meaning of the story, but I joined all of the dots up today and wanted to share my learning’s with you.
At first, when I was watching it, I thought that it was a story about the power of manifesting. That Jay Gatsby had decided to take himself from a life of little and manifest money, property, friends, success and much more, just from deciding that he wanted a better life for himself. And, not knowing the story, I was convinced that it would have a happy ending with him achieving the cherry on the top by winning back the heart of his one true love, Daisy. Alas, that was not meant to be.
What I now know and understand is that Gatsby’s character, as with everyone else in the story, except for that of the narrator, Nick Carraway, is a representation of the ego. And that Carraway’s character is that of the silent observer, or indeed, consciousness.
In Eckhart Tolle’s book ‘A New Earth’ he talks about how there are three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living, and they are nonresistence, nonjudgement and nonattachment. And this is exactly what Carraway’s character represents in The Great Gatsby. When asked by Gatsby if he can invite his cousin Daisy over for tea, he kindly obliges. When invited over to Gatsby’s house for a party, he goes along. When invited over to dinner at Daisy and Tom’s house, he attends. Throughout the story, at no point does the character ever resist what is, nor does he judge the behaviour of others, neither is he ever attached to anything or anyone. All he does is constantly and silently observe. He is always there, aware of what is happening, but in the background, watching.
In F.Scott Fitzgerald’s book Nick notes,’ I’m inclined to reserve all judgements, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me…. [although] the intimate revelations of…men or at least the terms in which they express them are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions. Reserving judgements is a matter of infinite hope.’
In ‘A New Earth’ Tolle also talks about awareness and that it ‘implies that you are not only conscious of things (objects), but you are also conscious of being conscious. If you can sense an alert inner stillness in the background while things happen in the foreground – that’s it!’
He also talks about the conscious choice that we have in awakening. And that when we realise that we may at times, slip back into a dysfunctional state (for example caught up in our emotions, the past or the future, or indeed our ego, all of which get in the way of our true selves shining through) we are able to choose to step out of identification with thinking and emotion and enter the state of Presence. He says that in that moment you can ‘relinquish resistance, become still and alert, one with what is, within and without.’
And there is a quote in the Great Gatsby that mirrors this perfectly when Nick Carraway is at a party surrounded by people drinking and behaving carelessly (once again a representation of the collective ego), ‘I wanted to get out and walk eastward toward the park through the soft twilight, but each time I tried to go I became entangled in some wild, strident argument which pulled me back, as if with ropes, into my chair. Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.’
Furthermore, Gatsby is fixated and obsessed with the past. He is convinced that by recreating the past, he can win back the love and heart of Daisy and they can be together, just as they planned before he went away to war.
Unfortunately, his character doesn’t understand that you cannot repeat the past, because the past does not exist, as all we have is the present. And his crazed obsession with the past and creating a life of wealth to attract Daisy, is actually the thing that repels her from him in the end.
So I guess the thought for the day is, consciousness is a choice, just as it is a choice to become the watcher of your thoughts and how they manifest in others.
When we choose to stop judging ourself and others, allow ourselves not to get attached to things or people and allow everything to be as it is, we create a space for us to be present.
And, according to Eckhart Tolle, ‘the joy of Being, which is the only true happiness, cannot come to you through any form, possession, achievement, person, or event – through anything that happens. That joy cannot come to you – ever. It emanates from the formless dimension within you, from consciousness itself and this is one with who you are.’
“When you make the present moment, instead of past or future, the focal point of your life, your ability to enjoy what you do – and with it the quality of your life – increases dramatically. Joy is the dynamic aspect of Being.”
– Eckhart Tolle –
It will come as no surprise to you my darlings that I have a bit of a crush on Eckhart Tolle at the moment, and I can’t see that waning any time soon. Not a crush in the sexual sense, but a crush in the sense that I have an insatiable appetite for his wisdom, knowledge and teachings at the moment, and the more I read and learn, the more I wish to share.
Despite the fact that I am only about a third of the way through, I actually skipped to the end of the book, which I never do, and read his conclusion. I have no idea why, but it felt right in the moment, so I did.
He summarises the book by explaining that there are three ways in which consciousness can flow into what you do and thus through you into this world. Acceptance, Enjoyment and Enthusiasm. I have already written a fair amount on the importance of Acceptance, letting go, surrendering to what is, and I will probably write more posts in due course.
However, I wanted to write about Enjoyment today, because it is particularly salient to where I’m at in this moment.
I’m in the process of writing a book on branding and at times I know I can take myself and the process too seriously. And furthermore, I can actually get so stuck in the seeming stress of writing a book, that I forget to enjoy the process. Which kind of totally negates writing the book in the first place! So this post, is a reminder for me to focus on the joy, as much as it is inspiration for anyone else out there forgetting to be joyful in what they do.
I also decided to look up the etymology (or origin) or the word enjoyment too.
According to etymonline.com the word ‘joy’ originates from around 1200 meaning the ‘feeling of pleasure and delight’.
The word ‘enjoy’ comes form the late 14 century from the Old French enjoir ‘to give joy, rejoice, take delight in’.
And the word ‘enjoyment’ is ‘enjoy’ + ‘ment’, with ‘ment’ originally from French and representing Latin ‘mentum’ which was ‘added to verb stems sometimes to represent the result or product of the action’.
And so in this day and age, according to dictionary.com, enjoyment is:
1. The act of enjoying
2. The possession, use or occupancy of anything with satisfaction or pleasure
3. A particular form or source of pleasure
And I think sometimes, we can start to engage in an activity with the intention of it being enjoyable, and actually end up turning it into a chore without meaning to.
So the key is to focus on the enjoyment of an activity in every moment. In fact, you can even turn a chore into something enjoyable, if you so wish.
For example, I’m not the biggest fan of washing up (Darren will tell you this) and we don’t have a dishwasher at the moment. So when I need to do the dishes, I will turn it into a fun activity by sticking on some of my favourite music, cranking up the volume, donning my rubber gloves and enjoying every moment of the washing up.
And if we can start to find joy in simple tasks like washing up, or even waiting for a bus (sometimes I’ll strike up a conversation with someone at the bus stop, or read a book), we can start to spread joy into other areas of our life.
Eckhart Tolle says in ‘A New Earth’, ‘Expansion and positive change on the outer level is much more likely to come into your life if you can enjoy what you are doing already, instead of waiting for some change so that you can start enjoying what you do . . . begin enjoying what you are doing now.’
And this is what I need to focus on for my book. I really need to enjoy the process of writing it, rather than being scared by it, or thinking that it is going to be difficult, hard or arduous. I just need to ensure that I am fully present.
Eckhart goes on to say ‘You will enjoy any activity in which you are fully present, any activity that is not just a means to an end. It isn’t the action you perform that you really enjoy, but the deep sense of aliveness that flows into it. That aliveness is one with who you are. This means that when you enjoy doing something, you are really experiencing the joy of Being in its dynamic aspect. That’s why anything you enjoy doing connects you with the power behind all creation’.
So, my thought for the day is ‘Focus on the joy now‘. Make a list of activities that you engage in every day, especially those that you would normally find boring. And whenever you are engaged in those activities, set the intention to enjoy every moment of doing them. You will then start to find that by focussing on the joy of the moment, rather than being stressed or irritated by the tediousness of them.
“Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home. . . it’s your responsibility to love it, or change it.” – Chuck Palahniuk
We’re all guilty (myself included) of taking life, ourselves and our thoughts a little too seriously sometimes, and that’s OK. We’re human after all.
However, every now and then we need to be reminded to lighten up. Let go. Be kind to ourselves. Laugh a little. See the funny side of life or look for the silver lining in a situation. Because life is meant to be joyful, and light and easy.
I watched this great video the other day of Eckhart Tolle explaining how we shouldn’t take our thoughts too seriously. Of course, it’s one thing to say we’re going to do that, and quite another to actually do it. So this video is a great little 10 minute piece of inspiration and advice about how to exactly set about doing it.
And if something is feeling like it’s too hard, or too difficult. Stop for a second. Take a deep breath. Count to ten. Ask yourself whether you need to be taking it so seriously? Ask yourself if there is something simple and easy that you can do to make the situation nicer? Maybe ask someone for help? Or just simply decide to see the lighter side of life. After all, in the greater scheme of things we’re all generally pretty lucky with where we are in life, and things could be a lot worse.
So, whenever you’re next in a tricky spot, in that very moment, you can decide to lighten up and I promise you that things will seem a lot different.
Take care of yourself, take care of the now. Lighten up my darlings.
“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but thought about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.”
– Eckhart Tolle –
I have been on a pretty awesome spiritual journey over the last few months since last December (and am obviously still on one), and there is one dot that I properly joined up yesterday.
The notion of neutrality.
My life has always been a bit of a roller-coaster. Up, down, up, down, up, down, and so on. As much fun as it has been, I’m keen for the ride to flatten out a bit, and rather than being on something like the Nemesis at Alton Towers in the UK, I’d rather be on the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland.
The reason for this? The highs and the lows aren’t real. They aren’t my true self, but rather heightened or lower states of emotion. And it’s taken me a while to get over this. Especially because anyone who knows me will tell you that 95% of the time, I’m positive, optimistic, on top of the world, super happy. And 5% of the time I’ll hit a little dark spot (don’t we all from time to time, after all we’re only human). However, I’ve decided that I really want to eradicate the 5%, and that means flattening out the 95%. Because I would rather be in a state of neutrality, or peace, than keep experiencing these extreme highs or lows, that aren’t really real, but more an illusion.
Furthermore, if you are in a state of positivity or negativity, you will attract someone with the opposite disposition, because the Universe is constantly finding ways to level things out. Have you ever felt super happy and awesome, and then someone has come into your life to pop the balloon and bring you back down to earth with a bang? Believe it or not, that was the Universe helping you out. Darren is the one who is usually doing this for me in my life. Up until now I have always thought that he was raining on my parade, but in actual fact he is a beautiful gift from the Universe to take me from my unnatural high and ground me into neutrality. And how about when you’re feeling super low, normally, the Universe will bring you someone you cheer you up and bring you back to neutral.
When you’re in a neutral state of mind you’re in a better place to made decisions and integrate life’s experiences finding meaning and gaining understanding.
I stumbled across a great blog post that explains this really well, and in particular, how a neutral state of mind also helps us to see the big picture.
Taken from consciousmatsery.org ‘According to Dr. Guruchander Singh Khalsa, D.C. ‘the neutral mind rules and integrates all parts of ones self. It evaluates the input of the positive and negative mind and gives us guidance within 9 seconds’. If our mind is busy swinging between polarities, from the positive state to the negative state or simply remaining in one or the other with no neutrality we can easily miss the direct guidance that attempts to reach us.
He also says: The neutral mind can see the big picture and how all parts of life have been necessary and perfect, because they have led us right to where we are now.
So my pledge, from this day forward is to aim for neutrality. Now this doesn’t mean not having a view or an opinion on something. Of course not. But what it does mean is that I’m going to aim for Pirates of the Caribbean. I want to be able to take everything in. I don’t want to be so caught up with the highs and the lows, that I can’t enjoy everything that is on offer to me from the ride. The brilliant thing about Pirates of the Caribbean is that it’s slow and steady and you can be completely and utterly present to the music, the sights and sounds.
Interestingly, my Dad has always suffered from motion sickness and has never been able to come on any of the crazy up and down rides that me, my Mum and sister have always enjoyed. And when we were at Disneyland, Pirates of the Caribbean was always his favourite ride. Maybe he was always trying to communicate to me, that it was the better kind of ride to be on. Thank you Dad, I get it now.
So, in connection with my post the other day ‘Enjoy the ride’, I say enjoy the ride, but just ensure you’re on the right ride. One where you can be present and enjoy every moment of it, rather than missing everything in a blur of emotion.
P.S. Don’t get me wrong, roller-coasters are awesome, but I’d rather my life not be a constant roller-coaster. After all, we only visit Theme Parks every once in a while. If we spent our whole life in one riding roller-coasters, we’d get motion sickness and disoriented after a while.
“For many who may not even have realized it, the process of awakening has already begun. For some, it may have begun through loss or suffering; for others, through coming into contact with a spiritual teacher or teaching, through reading The Power of Now or some other spiritually alive and therefore transformational book—or any combination of the above.
An essential part of awakening is recognizing the unawakened you, the ego as it thinks, speaks, and acts—as well as the conditioned mental processes that perpetuate that state. You cannot fight against the ego and win; it will trick you into identifying with it again and again. It will take you over, an imposter pretending to be you.
But when you recognize the unconsciousness in you, that is your consciousness awakening. It is the act of recognition itself that is one of the ways in which awakening happens.”
– Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose –
So I’ve been wrestling with a few pretty profound questions for a while now, all centered around the meaning of life, and our purpose as human beings on this planet.
The questions have most notably arisen, since just before Christmas, after I gained my sponsorship and visa in Australia through Thought Cloud, and interestingly enough, after I discovered that I’m a 22 Life Path and after having my tarot cards read, by my beautiful friend Cat who is a clairvoyant.
Since then I can safely say that I have definitely been on a journey of spiritual awakening and discovery. A journey that I am still enjoying might I add. And I think this is one of the reasons why I decided to start to write a blog, so that I could share all of the wonderful and amazing learning’s that I was gaining. In the hope of spreading the love and discoveries far and wide.
In experiencing what I have been experiencing over the last 6 months in particular, I have definitely felt like I have awoken from a coma. Or perhaps better still, my zombification, has been reversed. And this has actually been a gradual awakening, that actually predates December 2012.
My stopping of watching the news or reading newspapers. My decision to start to eat organic and use toiletries that don’t contain carcinogens or harmful ingredients. My commitment to the word ‘love’ and it’s importance in my day-to-day life. The tattoos I have had done to remind me of this commitment every day, ‘All you need is love’ on my left wrist, ‘Love is all you need’ on my right wrist.
And a tattoo of the molecular structure of an Oxytocin molecule on the inside of my right forearm, to remind me of the most beautiful and amazing hormone in the human body, the ‘love’ hormone.
My decision to leave the corporate world and set up my own company doing what I love (mentoring, marketing and branding). And have that company exist to help others do what they love. I could go on for quite some time with this list . . . .
However, I also feel like it has been coming for quite some time, as do others that I talk to about this awakening. I feel like I’m a volcano that has laid dormant for decades. That has had stuff bubbling up inside of me for a while, and now is the time to erupt. Now is the time to wake up.
I feel like I am really starting to connect with my true self and my destiny. I’m starting to understand for the first time in my life, why I’m here, what my purpose is and how I can live a life full of peace, love, joy and abundance.
And as I continue to further awaken and learn these incredible discoveries, I will be sharing them with you all, my beautiful readers.
So to conclude I will leave you with one fantastic video that I have just watched, that indeed prompted me to write this post. It’s great and further explains the meaning behind and inside this post.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
– Lao Tzu –
I’m just pages away from finishing The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and I cannot recommend the book highly enough. At the tender age of 32 I have read thousands of books in my time and this is, by a country mile, far and away the most incredible, life changing and re-affirming book I have ever read.
I bought it via amazon.co.uk this time last year and got my parents to send it out to me, because books are so darn expensive here in Australia. And for some reason, even after it had arrived, it didn’t feel like the right time to read it, so I didn’t.
After coming back from the most incredible Christmas and New Year holiday in Queenstown and the South Island of New Zealand with friends and family, I started reading it this January and it has taken me the best part of 3 months to finish it.
I am literally pages from the end, and part of me doesn’t want to finish it at all. And another part of me can’t wait to finish it, so I can get started on the follow-up to it ‘A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose’. And I guess that is what life is like really. Part of us wants to hold on to the past and things that have gone before. Songs, people, times, places, etc. And another part of us can’t wait to get moving into the future. And this can happen positively and negatively.
Perhaps some of us hold on to things from our past unnecessarily, unable to let them go. Past relationships, people who have passed, pets that are no longer with us, bad feelings, tricky things that have happened, people or things that have hurt us. And this causes us pain and suffering, that if we just decided to let them go, from a place of love, and live in the now, we wouldn’t feel.
And some of us get scared or nervous or anxious about the future, which paralyses us from doing really awesome things. I remember that I was so scared to even book my round the world ticket, because I was so scared about travelling by myself, worried about getting malaria or sick, nervous that something bad might happened. In fact, I had pretty much convinced myself that I could quite possibly die on my trip, so much so that I made sure that I spent time with all of the people who I loved the most back in the UK before I left. They didn’t know it at the time, but I was secretly saying goodbye to all of them, in case I never made it back to the UK. Strange but true.
The danger of thinking thoughts like that is that what we think, we become. So it wasn’t very clever of me to have such a fatalistic view of my trip! As it happened, I did get pretty sick, was hospitalised and was taken from the backpacker trail for 6 weeks after the first few months of travelling. But I got better and made a full recovery.
And, as it happens, I never did return back to the UK (permanently), because I fell in love with Australia along the way, and this is where my heart is now. I still love the UK and everyone back home, but in a funny way, I guess I was right.
The big learning for me through all of it though, was the importance of living in the moment. There was no point in looking back to the UK, missing my friends and family, because it meant that I wasn’t enjoying the time that I had travelling. And there was no point worrying about the future, the unknown and what could or couldn’t be, because again, I would be missing out on the amazing travelling experience by not being fully present to it.
So one of the biggest things I learnt and continue to instil in every day that I have on this beautiful planet is to live in the moment. Life is too short and the world is too awesome to put your energy and attention into anything else.
My goal now, every day that I wake up and in every moment that I have is to be as present as I can and my life is continuing to transform and produce more and more incredible moments. I can’t recommend it highly enough!
“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on”
– Eckhart Tolle –
When thinking about what to write for my blog, there were so many subjects that came to mind today. This one, however, rose to the surface.
We spend so much time in our heads, clinging on to the past, things that we’ve accumulated and friends that we perhaps don’t resonate with anymore. And we spend so much energy worrying about the future, what might be, what could be, that we forget to live in the now, and appreciate what is.
Considering it is Easter weekend and Spring is upon us (well in my head anyway – despite that it is in actual fact Autumn as I now live in Australia), therefore a bit of Spring cleaning is in order.
I have a beautiful Willow dress that I bought last year for $450, which I am going to sell. When I bought it, I was in love with it, the colour especially. My favourite, a deep and beautiful violet. The cut is amazing too, very unique and very flattering. Whenever I wear it, people comment on how beautiful it is, but, I haven’t worn it in over 9 months. So, it can’t be that special or important, can it? More importantly, if I sold the dress, I could do something much worthwhile with the money right now, and spend it on something that is more important to me. Such as a fantastic retreat in the Hunter Valley which will broaden my mind and enrich my soul.
I have also come to realise, that it is not the things in my life that I surround myself with that bring me happiness and joy, but the stuff inside me. And this realisation makes it so much easier to let go. Because I’m with me, all the time, wherever I go. And as long as I’m there, in the moment, I’ll be happy.
Sometimes you need to let go of everything, to realise how little you really need.
So, the question is, what do you need to let go of that you no longer need?