Wednesday, February 11, 2009

surrendering thought

Think lovingly, speak lovingly, act lovingly, and every need shall be supplied.~~James Allan

Spending time with yourself is a creative act of healing and regeneration.

Even when I take the time for solitude, however, that time often becomes a cycling of emotions, up and down, as the story I'm telling myself goes through it's dramas. Why is this happening to me? How will I get through this? I remember something I forgot to do. Wouldn't it be fun if...? And so off goes the mind, back in its driver's seat again, taking me through a thoroughly entertaining ramble, but totally out of myself.

Sometimes I catch myself, and try to be present, now. And then I start thinking about how I might handle things once I have settled down, once I'm beyond now...right back into the non-existent future.

That is not the only technique the mind and ego have for asserting the dominance. It gets uglier. Something happens that I wasn't expecting or wanting, or my wandering thoughts return to a sore spot, a tender place of hurt and pain -- and bam! I start telling myself the all too familiar story of how I never get anything right, or never succeed, or bad stuff always happens to me, and I am always in pain. It doesn't matter that it's all negative stuff; my ego is just getting bigger and bigger in this completely made-up scenario and has made itself the tragic hero of the piece!

And what happened to myself during all this time? I am forgotten. How quickly I was drawn away from being with myself, spending time with myself, and followed the mind skittering off this way and that, frenetic, restless, searching, busy, busy, busy. What a relief it would be to have some silence from my mind for a time. I start to realize I am not my mind, but my mind tortures me with thoughts!

How interesting it would be to really create space for yourself for a change, to really be with yourself, to offer yourself some gentleness, some loving kindness.

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.

Remind yourself that you have allowed your mind and ego to be in control for a long, long time. Your mind is not accustomed to letting go and being quiet. You need to be gentle with yourself before you can be gentle with anybody else. Each fragment of a split second in which there is a gap between thoughts is good enough, a resting place. It may not be a long period time, but it is a space, it is deep and it is enough. Be loving with yourself. Speak lovingly to yourself. Peace and regeneration of your spirit will come.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009


"We can learn to meet whatever arises with curiosity and not make it such a
big deal. Instead of struggling against the force of confusion, we could met it
and relax. When we do that, we gradually discover that clarity is always
there."~~ Pema Chödron

Recently I discovered Christine Kane's blog and she immediately became one of my favorite bloggers. I check in with her blog daily and often find the exact thought that I need to carry me through my day. It seems whatever I am struggling with in this moment, I can find words of wisdom on Christine's blog that help me gain perspective.

Yes, I'm still struggling and finding it very hard to relax into this reality in which I find myself.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

the happiness formula

Is there a way to find happiness? To come up with the recipe, surely one must first know what happiness is. This BBC site has some interesting information on everything from scientific explanations to political solutions!

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self-reflection

The New Year is a time for self-reflection and if you're thinking you should have landed on Day 1 with a plan ready to go, Sez Who?

I think it will be very beneficial for me right now to stop a moment and do some self-reflection and a site I found that you might enjoy too is the University of Pennsylvania's Authentic Happiness site, where you can do some personality tests that cover all sorts of topics such as general happiness, your strengths, optimism, compassionate love, close relationships, meaning in life, and your satisfaction with life.

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the second commandment

(Mark 12: 31)

When asked which commandment was most important, Jesus replied that there were two which were equal. The first, "love the Lord thy God..." and the second to "love thy neighbour as thyself."

I've often thought about the second as being a commandment in two parts, and realized that just as loving myself does not mean being self-indulgent, it also protects me from allowing my neighbour to walk all over me.

However, recently, being in a bad place where I was castigating myself for another year of unfulfilled resolutions, I mercifully stumbled upon these words on what loving myself might look like. See if they don't make you feel like being just a little kinder to yourself too.

-To be patient with yourself
-To be kind to yourself
-To not be envious
-To not let yourself become prideful
-To not be rude to yourself
-To be considerate and look out for yourself
-To not be easily angered with yourself
-To think good things of yourself and be happy with the truth
-To not keep a record of your flaws
-To always protect yourself
-To always trust yourself
-To always hope for and seek the best for yourself
-To never give up on yourself
-To never fail yourself
Taken from 1 Corinthians 13!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

heaven

"My kingdom is not of this world." John 18:36.

Lately, I have been disturbed by the tendency in many major religious camps to make of the Universal Source an earthly and temporal kingdom, nation, or state. They think to make God or Allah or the Divine Poodle rule their world through laws and courts, hijabs and wars. To be perfectly clear, I am tarring nearly every nation today, every religion, with the same brush because I feel they are, sometimes unconsciously, acting as if they, through human design and acts, can construct the Kingdom of God on earth. They presume to enforce what they regard as the laws of God or Allah (or the Divine Poodle) and designate themselves to be the sole interpreters of God's will, the only ones to act under His/Her authority. And by doing so they dare to put themselves above God!

And yet, all the time, within and around us is The Invisible World. When you are born into this world, it's as if you have arrived at the threshold between the visible and invisible. Everything you experience seems to happen in some specific place and at some definite time. But you know your real life is happening in your thoughts, in the way you experience your world through the perceptions of your mind, the way your mind interprets the input of your senses. You start to wonder about the nature of things, the reality hidden deep within them, inaccessible to your senses. You realize you often touch on Reality with only your heart and your mind. Therein lies the tension of human existence, the desire to know what is invisible, the dissatisfaction with the concrete world of our senses. Thus, the longing of the human heart for The Kingdom of God is perhaps an expression of our desire to bridge the tension we feel between the visible and the invisible, to experience Heaven on earth.

I often wonder if prior civilizations, spiritual adepts, mystics and great sages were more easily able to bridge that gap. That is perhaps why the following story delighted me so much. It comes from my friend, Dr. Arvid, so I'll let him tell the story:
I need to tell you a short story that pastor Turneh Woldeselassie shared in the
surmon on Sabbath in Addis Abeba. He just finished 4 weeks of meetings and 23
people were baptized. They have started to translate the surmons into English
because there are so many members from other African countries that need it.
Pastor Turneh felt it a little difficult to av an 'interruptor' as they
somethime call a interpreter. So he told the following story. 'In olden days
many missionaries came from abroad to preach the gospel in Ethiopia. (Now they
need missionaries from us in Europe and America, he said) But one time there was
an American missionary. The Ethiopian translator was not so very well versed in
English and struggled some. After a while the missionary started to preach about
stars. And when he mentioned gallaxies and stuff, the translator got lost. So he
said to the congregation: Now the missionary has gone to heaven, but if you just
sit quietly and patiently and wait, I will tell you what he has said when he
returns to earth.' We all had a good laugh.
It is the naiveté, the childlike innocence of the remark that makes us laugh. But don't be fooled, for Jesus said, "of such is the kingdom of God."

We tend to believe that our age, our society, our science and our wisdom is very great, and we arrogantly and foolishly depreciate the understanding and wisdom of other cultures, past and present. We tend to have a poverty of a deeply felt connection between our spiritual values and the natural world. What we depreciate in those we call "primitive" or "pagan" cultures, is often that close relationship of their spiritual life with their lived presence in close contact to the natural world.

Most of us live in cities so flooded with light-pollution at night that we have never experienced the night sky so brilliant with stars it feels as if one could reach out and touch them! To us, how empty of richness are the words of God to Job when He asked: "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Peiades, or loose the bands of Orion?" We are unable to perceive the invisible in the mountains and forests around us, living as we do quite divorced from the natural world, literally and spiritually. And we, in our misguided pride, think to impose our impoverished spiritual understanding on the world around us! Heaven forbid!

Perhaps our spiritual lives would be juicier and more joyful if we could frankly appreciate and believe that our preacher has momentarily gone to heaven and will return to us if we sit quietly and patiently and wait!

I think we should just shut up, sit quietly and wait!

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focus

The other day, somebody commented on photos of me, saying that this one taken recently in Africa was much more flattering than one taken about 10 months ago. I had noticed that too, but unfortunately, I understood that the flattery came from the photographer's technique.

You see, it was not that I was incredibly happy or in love or thinking happy thoughts -- none of those things would have been true. It was not even that I was in a wonderful and beautiful place, a place reached after a long and difficult journey -- this I was!

No, alas. The real reason I appear more appealing is due to photographic technique. My travelling companions and I had conscripted a road construction worker in the mountains of Ethiopia to take that photo of us. He certainly wasn't used to handling my camera and might have even never actually handled a camera at all ever before. But he was willing and the result was a slightly askew, slightly out-of-focus photo which flattered me immensely. (see below)

So, I got to thinking. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone that sees us could always be looking at us through the slightly askew and out-of-focus lens that blurs our flaws and wrinkles and renders us glowing, younger and looking like we're in love all the time?

Now, isn't that a good idea?
I notice all the time when I talk to people that their focus tends to be so often on the negative. It seems to suck the life right out of the room and I often feel drained after listening to such negative conversations. Why not focus on the positive? At least if it makes me look younger and happier, eh?

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Santa Claus

This has made the rounds before but it is such a heart warming story it should be seen every Christmas. This is too good not to share...

THE SANTA CLAUS STORY

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb:

"There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me.

"No Santa Claus?" she snorted.... "Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second World Famous cinnamon bun.

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.

"Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car."

Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat.

I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

"Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby."

The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge.

"All right, Santa Claus," she whispered. "Get going."

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were, ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team. I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Pastor's A...

This is one of the hard-working little donkeys found everywhere in Ethiopia. Such a part of my earliest childhood memories, donkeys have a special place in my heart.

The story below was sent to me this morning by my wise and thoughtful friend, running-buddy and pacer, David G. It gave me such a lift (I laughed my ass off!) and it was a little reminder that I needed, especially today...


The
Pastor's Ass



The pastor entered his donkey in a race and
it won.

The pastor was so pleased with the donkey
that he entered it in the
race
again, and it won again.


The local paper read:


PASTOR'S
ASS OUT FRONT.

The Bishop was so upset with this kind of
publicity that he ordered
the
pastor not to enter the donkey in another race.



The next day, the local paper headline
read:



BISHOP
SCRATCHES
PASTOR'S
ASS.

This was too much for the bishop, so he
ordered the pastor to get
rid
of the donkey.


The pastor decided to give it to a nun in a
nearby convent.

The local paper, hearing of the news, posted
the following headline
the
next day:


NUN HAS BEST ASS IN TOWN.

The bishop fainted.

He informed the nun that she would have to

get rid of the donkey, so she

sold it to a farmer for $10.




The next day the paper read:

NUN
SELLS ASS FOR $10.

This was too much for the bishop, so he
ordered the nun to buy back
the
donkey and lead it to the plains where it could run
wild.



The next day the headlines read:

NUN ANNOUNCES HER ASS IS WILD AND FREE.


The bishop was buried the next day.


The moral of the story is . . being
concerned about public opinion
can bring you much grief and misery . .
even shorten your life.


So be yourself and enjoy life.


Stop worrying about everyone else's ass and
you'll be a lot happier
and
live longer!

Have a great day!

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

mantra

om namah shivaya