31 December 2021

10 do-able secrets of those who flourish

What helps you to flourish? A New Year is dawning and each year the 1st of January reminds us to aspire to be the best person we can be, and to consider how we might be of most help to those around us.

So this year – multiple choice! Based upon observation and reflection, here are 10 things people do who go beyond having “a good year”, go beyond “being OK” and who actually flourish, but first

     Thought for the day

To investigate is to contemplate with a silent mind. 

It is to illuminate that which is cloudy or confused

—to explore and to discover 

What we have not yet noticed or understood. 

This kind of deep inquiry provides us with the tools 

To free the mind from suffering 

And the pitfalls of an unexamined life.

                   Narayan Helen Liebenson

What do you aspire to for 2022?

Some people are naturally capable, but many work quite hard at making the most of their lives. What helps you to flourish? How relevant are the following things people do who are flourishing? 

1. Remaining curious and open; constantly seeking new ways to grow

It all begins with the mind. Maintaining an open, curious, enquiring mind means life will never be boring; it will always be interesting and you will continually make new discoveries and evolve.

2. Being gentle with yourself

It may be well and good to aspire to becoming a Saint, but in the interim we need to live with our strengths AND our weaknesses. Learning to accept our weaknesses and committing to work on them, while making the most of our strengths is a sure recipe for flourishing.  

3. Aspiring to being non-judgemental

It is so easy to recognize the faults of others. Some seem to value pointing out the faults of family, friends and colleagues, and maybe there is a time as a teacher where this is appropriate – particularly if the other person asks for direct feedback. However, in day to day life, it is so hard to appreciate someone else’s circumstances and being judgemental is highly fraught. 

4. Practising gratitude

Maybe the biggest secret of them all. 

The power of gratitude is immense. 

It empowers others when we acknowledge and thank them, it makes every cell in our own bodies sing when we get fully into it; truly one of the best things to do – and so easy... 

5. Exercising self-care through personal discipline 

Externally imposed discipline can be tough unless you have really bought into it. Self imposed discipline involves recognizing what is good for self – and doing it. Personal discipline is a personal kindness. If you waver, go back to what you value, consider how important it is to you and what it will take to accomplish it. From this comes the discipline to eat good food and meditate – plus all the other self-care tricks that work for you personally…

6. Seeking out good company

While our lives are enriched by variety, we are social animals and need to feel connected to kindred spirits. For example, being seriously committed to a healthy lifestyle may well make you different to some of your friends, family or colleagues. While we can manage a fair amount of this, it is important to avoid being overwhelmed by opposing views and to seek support from the like-minded. Clubs, groups, communities – where does you support come from???

7. Living in accord with values and ethics 

While attempting to avoid sounding like a preacher, it is clear, happy people who flourish have a strong sense of direction and purpose and this direction is based upon personally sound values and ethics. Need a reality check? Do you go to work and need to park your ethics at the front door? Do any relationships cause you to cringe internally? Do you eat and drink in accord with your values and ethics? Can you recognize some food and drink is ethical and valuable not for its nutritional content necessarily, but purely because you can enjoy it and celebrate it occasionally and that is OK? New Year is definitely an excellent time to review our values and ethics and affirm our commitments.

8. Developing generosity

Holding onto stuff is inhibiting. It feeds the sense of there not being enough, depletes trust, and creates fear and worry. This in turn causes an internal tightness, depletes the immune system, inhibits healing. And it feels mean… 

Generosity is expansive. It creates hope and optimism, builds energy, strengthens the immune system and fosters healing. 

If being generous feels tough, start simply. Give away something you do not need or want; then build slowly. 

9. Maintaining a sense of humour

Let us face it; so much of life is a mystery, people are so curious, really weird stuff is happening all the time; may as well just burst out laughing. As an old friend used to say repeatedly: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. It is all small stuff.” And it may be a cliché, but laughter really is the best medicine; and one of the great things about the internet is it provides so many things to get us laughing!

10. Recognising who you are – with modest pride

As a human being, any human being, you are totally amazing. Totally amazing. No need to say any more except to encourage a gentle, reality based self-pride. You are totally amazing; might as well just accept it – and enjoy the fact! 

Happy New Year to all

May 2022 be a year of blessings, good health and joy, not too much drama – or melodrama; a year of meaning, purpose and flourishing!

13 December 2021

The Contemplation for Christmas

Do you find Christmas to be a joyful time? Personally, I do as the day symbolises the birth of unconditional love. But for others – and no shame in this - it is a time of loneliness, anxiety, grief, even conflict as family groups do, or do not gather; as another year comes to a conclusion and the uncertainty of the coming year sets in.

However it is for you, contemplation can amplify the joy, while at the same time it can be hugely beneficial for stress management and for finding meaning. So this week we explore a simple contemplation on unconditional love and the joy of Christmas, but first

   Thought for the week

       Love is the only reality

       And it is not mere sentiment.

        Love is the ultimate truth 

         That lies at the heart of creation.

              Rabindranath Tagore


Contemplation on unconditional love

1. Take up your meditation posture.

2. Relax into that posture.

3. Remind yourself of your motivation – to invoke unconditional love and to be more loving.

4. Best close your eyes, and then imagine the person in life who has loved you most; the person from whom you came closest to feeling unconditionally loved. If you have trouble bringing a person to mind, maybe a pet; some have even used a favoured tree.

5. Imagine if you were back in the actual presence of the one from whom you felt this unconditional love – and go into the feeling of that as much as possible. If tears do flow, you are in the right territory. Be prepared to be moved by making this heartfelt connection.

6. Aim to feel the love all through your body; and then allow it to flow into your mind. It is like you lose yourself in the feeling. Let go into the feeling. Abandon yourself into the feeling. Unconditional Love.

7. Stay with the feeling. If you become distracted – as is likely – go back to the one who loved you the most and re-connect with the feeling. Repeat as needed.

8. When you feel ready, you might like to imagine someone you care for who you simply like or love, someone who may be going through an easy or a difficult time; someone with whom you would like to share this sense of unconditional love. Imagine this person as if they are in front of you and then direct the feeling of unconditional love from your heart to theirs. More than imagine, feel the love flowing into their heart and then flowing out through their entire body, filling them with the feeling of unconditional love.

9. If adventurous, you may like to repeat step 8 with someone you have difficulty with – someone you dislike, someone who has aggrieved you, someone who has deeply hurt you. If you do this, aim to let go of any expectations and simply repeat the exercise as best you can with the same sense as you would offer a gift to someone – a free offering.

10. Now let go of the sense of needing to do anything; let go of the exercise and simply rest in the feeling
of unconditional love. If it helps, go back to the feeling around the one who loved you most. Rest in the feeling.

11. When you are ready, give thanks for the exercise, maybe stretch a little, a deeper breath or 2 and the quietly move on with your day.

Happy Christmas and may 2022 be a year of good health and full fillment for you and all of those you love and care for…