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Why blogging? Why now?

Having been a language teacher most of my life, it will come as no surprise that words have always been a passion for me. I love reading and have the habit of noting down any striking sentence or paragraph that resonates with me. Usually the quotes are about life and relationships. So could I perhaps come up with cleverly phrased thoughts and reflections which might perhaps inspire someone else? Or just plain words that describe an experience that some reader may relate to and empathise with? So writing could create connections, a sharing of ideas which may also at times be different perspectives and thus all the more thought-provoking.

Then the act of writing is said to be cathartic, healing. Not only that but it can help make sense of events and shed new light. In looking back, it can reflect and mark growth and moving on. Or just clarify what is going on in one’s head and putting pen to paper (or should I say key to monitor)  kind of makes the impression permanent.

Then again my reflections are my take on what I have gleaned from my own life situations as well as snippets from stories or other media. Having read, for many years, not only literary and popular fiction works but also a good number of self-development books, lately I find myself actively examining events and reviewing either what I learnt from them or how I could have responded differently or how I put or could have put some age old principles into practice. Plus I am fascinated when other people relate their life stories and experiences and I have drawn from them (with their permission where necessary)

           Life can only be understood backwards          But it must be lived forwards

Moving forwards, there is this emerging desire to live life even more fully. To finally do the things that got pushed to the back burner. But there is a more profound side to life than just doing. Over time I have also been mulling over the concept of ‘just being’ as opposed to ‘doing’ Perhaps I have more time now to implement the theory but honestly speaking, it is never too early to start. So watch this space for my serialized version of the A-Z of Just Being whereby I take a letter of the alphabet to contemplate and imbibe a quality that I would like to possess or strengthen in myself, for example, being Compassionate and share with you what that actually means and entails to me.

Thus, my blog is about how I am learning to practise what I have read about living a full life, and how I am finding my own answers to so many questions and how even more questions are surfacing. Maybe, just maybe, you might find an answer or two in my sharing my on-going journey with you and if more questions come up for you or if you can share a different idea, all the better. So follow me and leave a comment either way.

Cream teas and flowing rivers

I used to love afternoon teas. But that was way back in the days when I could guzzle umpteen cups of tea and scoff down all the carb-loaded scones and sarnies without them affecting either my waist or my bladder. Today I am not that keen on the afternoon teas anymore for various reasons and I think basically my taste buds have also changed.

But who observes these minute changes in you? Sometimes I think we ourselves are not totally conscious of how much one changes over the years. Not only in tastes but also in personality. Hopefully one is growing and evolving all the time.

I am convinced though that sometimes even close family and friends do not or cannot keep up with these changes. That struck me when a close relative recently treated me to an afternoon tea because she remembered that I liked them and another sent me a link to a themed tea which he thought I might enjoy. As both occurred one after the other, it got me thinking: how well do we really know people? And more importantly how can we keep track of their changing tastes as well as nature?

According to Heraclitus, who reasoned that everything is always changing and that this fact is fundamental to the functioning of the universe, it is not possible to step in the “same river” twice because the river is ever-changing.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

“And he’s not the same man.” That’s the crux. Like the flowing river, people are also ‘flowing’ from one day, one moment to the next. That is why it is suggested that when you meet a person, be so open as to see him with fresh eyes, as if you are meeting him for the first time. This is especially true for people near and dear to you, because one tends to assume and take their traits and proclivities as set in stone and as they are so close, (in proximity as well as relations), one needs to step back a bit and be alert to be able to notice the changes which can sometimes be quite subtle. Easier said than done, I think.

Yet worth keeping in mind, wouldn’t you say?

I am Health

My choice of word for the letter H might come across as unusual as my other words so far like Authenticity, Curiosity, Detachment, Forgiveness… have been more personality qualities or traits. I might have gone with Harmony or Hope, both of which are also important for me. But at this point in my life, Health stands out like a sore thumb.

So why Health?

As far back as I can remember, I was a robust child and young adult. My mother would always say with pride to her friends how I was no trouble at all, to the extent that she never had to take me to the doctor’s. Apart from a tonsillitis operation, I breezed through my youth without any health scare or major complaints. I understand today that my mother’s repeated declarations were actually an expression of gratitude.

Youngsters, full of energy and vitality, feel invincible and sometimes overlook the fact that one has to take care of one’s health as it is not guaranteed to last. Though, try telling them that and it will fall on deaf ears.

I only woke up to that realisation myself in the last twenty years when my health issues surfaced and I think on the whole, I have faced my challenges full on and remained strong in spirit, in spite of them. I am also fully aware and grateful that my physical difficulties, though stressful, have never been as debilitating or crippling as for some others.

But I sometimes wonder where that robust young girl disappeared, and on reflection even though I thought I had been very resilient in later years, a certain negative thought pattern had crept in slowly and insidiously. The ‘poor me’ mentality. Why is one thing after another happening to me?

I think I work hard to stay on top of my health issues, having kind of taken the reins in my own hands. Chronic pain does not seem to be a priority for general medicine practitioners and sometimes the sufferers are left to their own devices. There are many modalities out there which help with healing and I have heard and read about many miraculous self-healing stories. So why cannot I do it?

Lately I have been feeling stuck and not having much success, in spite of knowing that I have to address my negative thought patterns which create depressing feelings because “Your body hears everything your mind says.” Naomi Judd. So “To change your body, you must first change your mind.”

Healing with the mind has been around for thousand of years. It is written in the Bible:

“A merry thought is medicine, ill thoughts dry the bones”.

Making this shift from ill thinking (Oh dear! What now?) to my new mantra I am Health, is what I have been focusing on for a while but with not very significant results. Then as synchronicity would have it, just yesterday I listened to an interview with Brandy Gillmore PhD, an expert in mind-body healing which not only reminded me of the science behind the mind-body connection but also reinforced the need to create a radical shift in my feelings and reprogramming my mind at a deeper, subconscious level.

Our thoughts do really create our lives more than we realize and thoughts create feelings. I am aware that I have a tendency to bury my emotions. So it’s been a while that I have been working on identifying specific emotions, like anger, hurt, rejection, resentment… and either tapping on them or meditating with supportive soundtracks to let them go. The complexity arises when there are more than one emotion and one has to work harder.

Gillmore also emphasised the greater importance of accessing positive emotions like feeling loved and being connected which she demonstrated with a visualization exercise that helps you feel lifted. I am familiar with such practices and her pointing out that it is even more important to raise our energy’s vibrational frequency is a reminder for me to do it more often. She also suggested to use music to help you feel good which I also find helpful. As Gopal Gaur Das says:

“Wrong happens. You have to make the right happen.”

What’s more, I was reminded that you have to reinforce the new programme over and over again till it becomes the new norm. Thus my journey in self-healing continues and it just struck me that this path is linked very closely to my endeavours in being more Authentic, Curious, Detached, Grateful, Forgiving, Joyful… because I believe all those attributes can promote wellbeing and Health.

An appeal

I am going a bit off the beaten track this time. But I hope you will indulge me and follow.

One of my earliest blogs (Him and Her) was about feeling invisible in later years and the importance of still valuing oneself. It was perhaps easy for me to suggest that even though I am fully aware of the difficulty of implementing it and feeling that worth as so often our self-esteem is dependent on others and can thus be so easily eroded.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about this as I have been in close contact with elderly people who not only feel helpless and worthless but also very lonely even though they have family because no one seems to have time for them.

The common thread that comes up in talking to them is the dire need for human contact, I would imagine both emotionally and physically. Researchers have found that loneliness is just as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Lonely people are 50% more likely to die prematurely than those with healthy social relationships.

Recently, I was standing in a queue at a supermarket and the lady behind me, who only had a couple of items, was asked if she would like to go the self-service line as it would be quicker. She declined and turned round to explain to me that she came everyday just to buy one or two things so that she could talk to someone and we struck up a short conversation till it was my turn.

So I decided to make an appeal in my blog this time (even though it might be a bit presumptuous of me) and reach out to my dear readers to request them to phone an elderly relative, neighbour or friend, that they know or maybe even make time and visit.  

Wisdom

I have been off the radar for a bit for which I apologise but even though I have been unable to write, I have been following your comments, dear readers.

One of my friend-followers had commented in my I AM… blogs that she resonates with Bruce Lee’s advice “Be like water”, so she went with “I AM Water”. I found that really interesting, first because of the idea itself, to flow like water, but also because she had used a noun, representing a thing (water, in this case), instead of an abstract noun (Curiosity) that can be interchanged with an adjective (curious), like I have been doing.

So for her, W would definitely be I AM Water. What about you?

As for me, I have gone with Wisdom to keep to my pattern. I AM wisdom. I AM wise. Why, you might ask?

I could say that as I enter another milestone decade this year, wisdom automatically comes with age. Or does it? For I was surprised to learn that according to research, overall old age does not seem to be necessary or sufficient for wisdom—what matters more may be the motivation to pursue its development. (I might also add that I know of several millennials who are wise beyond their age).

Thus one of my reasons to choose W for Wisdom—I am “motivated to pursue its development”.

I do think my life experiences have taught me a lot, the pivotal word being ‘taught’ because “wisdom is acquired only by learning from experience”. Wisdom largely emerges from reflection on past experiences. But I am still repeating some mistakes which by now I should have learnt not to, especially in certain areas of my life, and so ‘learning from experience’, and then applying the wisdom is an on-going lesson for me.

I also feel that I have picked up a lot of universal truths through reading and listening to motivational talks. But once again, knowledge is not sufficient for wisdom. I think one needs to experience the truth for oneself and only then can one own it as a personal ‘knowing’. For example, it is a universal truth that the only person one can change is oneself. Some may accept this blindly but others fall into the trap of trying to change others. It is only after you have tried changing others and hit against walls countless times, will you then maybe be more open to and accepting of this ‘truth’, this wisdom. I have a long way to go in taking on board and practising what I read.

Another reason the quality of Wisdom resonates with me is because I understand that wisdom is inherent in us. And the reason I believe it is because I have experienced it for myself. I used to be a very self-reliant youngster, not needing to share my personal dramas with people. But the king of all dramas changed me and I started needing to talk to friends and ask for their advice. Not that that was a problem because when I opened up I became closer to a few friends. But I still did not feel very comfortable. Then many years down the road, when I took up meditation and ‘learnt’ that the answer is within if you only sit in silence and listen, and when I put that into practice and experienced the results for myself did I then truly understand what that meant:

“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” Francis Bacon

So now I need to keep reminding myself to quieten my mind and go within to find my answers.

In some ways it is like going with your gut. I’m sure you can relate to the experience of having butterflies in your stomach, or to a gut-wrenching feeling. How often are we told not to ignore our “gut-instinct” or “gut-feeling” when making a decision. Yet so often when we are not open and do not listen, we ignore our intuition. Today, research shows how closely our gut and brain are connected, so closely that the gut is now called our second brain.

The key is to listen.

“Wisdom is understood by your heart and you learn by listening to it.”

I AM 2

Personally, I think “I AM” is the most powerful command statement there is. For what you put after it, you become. It frees you to be who you desire to become because it is the power of God being spoken into you.
It can be used to either empower you or limit you. So be careful of what you attach to the end of the statement as it will manifest into reality. If you keep saying to yourself “I am weak”, you will likely behave accordingly. Whereas if you change the statement to “I AM strong” the reality will start matching the words. When you go through the day saying : “I am blessed” ….blessings pursue you. 

That is the premise for my book “the A-Z of Just Being” and my own personal journey. I have chosen a state of being beginning with each letter of the alphabet which resonated with me personally; a quality that I wanted to enhance in myself.

I did the first three letters last week and thought I would share three more today.

E   I AM Empowered. What about you?

F   I AM Forgiving. What does F stand for you?

G I AM Grateful. How about you?

Let the power of I AM shape your life in the most magical way and please share how you practice these in the comments.

I AM

“I AM” is the most powerful command statement there is. For what you put after it, you become. It frees you to be who you desire to become because it is the power of God being spoken into you.
It can be used to either empower you or limit you. So be careful of what you attach to the end of the statement as it will manifest into reality. If you keep saying to yourself “I am weak”, you will likely behave accordingly. Whereas if you change the statement to “I AM strong” the reality will start matching the words. When you go through the day saying : “I am blessed” ….blessings pursue you. 

That is the premise for my book “the A-Z of Just Being” and my own personal journey. I have chosen a state of being beginning with each letter of the alphabet which resonated with me personally; a quality that I wanted to enhance in myself.

For example:

A for Authenticity. I AM Authentic. There could be so many other qualities you could choose: Awareness; Abundance; Acceptance…..What would you choose for the letter A?

C   I AM Curious.  There is Confidence; Courage; Calm; Compassion; Cheerful……

D  I AM Detached. How about Daring? Determined? Dependable?….

Let the power of I AM shape your life in the most magical way and please share how you practice these.

Busting Beliefs (Re-Cap)

In the preamble to the A-Z of Just Being, I first introduced the importance and relevance of Just Being, then covered the Bane of Being Busy which illustrated how busyness affects our lives and does not allow us to pause and actually be. Next, the Bliss in our Breath highlighted some ways to use our breath to help us sit in silence, quieten the mind to go within where we can access our true being. Before we finally get into the A-Z itself, I would like to shine a torch on our limiting beliefs because we first have to be aware of them and then get past them to be able to move forward.

Till the age of six to seven, children are sponges. They learn and absorb the attitudes and behaviours from the people closest to them. And the startling truth is that they become so programmed by those beliefs and habits that in their adult lives they run on auto-pilot, living by the conditioning of the sub-conscious mind for more than 90% of the time, downloading copies of other people’s behaviours. 70% of these programmes are disempowering and self-sabotaging and very often they are not even aware that they are doing that.

Furthermore, even if they want to consciously change their habit or behaviour, it is not that simple because the subconscious programming always has the upper hand. Thus, the importance of connecting with our sub-conscious through meditation and other practices, which also help us in becoming aware of our habitual patterns that stem from acquired beliefs before we can work on changing the belief itself.

Beliefs are a form of hypnosis and they are not necessarily true. Perhaps the mother of all limiting beliefs is “I am not good enough”. This belief comes in different guises: I am not smart enough, not young enough, not rich enough etc. And people’s habits, views and behaviours are conditioned by these beliefs. So to change the outer we have to get to the inner.

We are so much more than our limited mind and our object is to change our view of the world and ourselves. We see life through the filter of our beliefs, get stuck in freeze mode and even look for evidence that our beliefs are true. The irony is that we experience what we believe. What is reality? Is what I think true? Question your existing thought patterns: Are my beliefs true for me today? Are they serving me in the right way? ((Because beliefs always serve in some way, say for protection, which you may no longer need.)

A very simplistic example: I grew up believing I was hopeless at maths. So for most of my life my mind would go blank at the mention of numbers. But thinking about it, I realise that nothing extra was done at that point in time to address my poor performance. So now I keep my mind open and give it a go at least. And going back to “I am not good enough”, that goes totally against the grain of our true essence. We are all whole beings, loved unconditionally by a Supreme Being. We are totally worthy and do not need anyone to validate us. Just that over time, acquiring various labels and roles, being shrouded by limiting beliefs we have shrunk, hidden and ignored our inherent magnificent identity.

So healing and growth start with self-love and acceptance. Growth means becoming more of who we are; not trying to change per se but growing. In order to be whole we must accept all of ourselves, warts and all The first relationship then, is really with yourself.

“The paradox of personal growth is that it begins with self-acceptance.” Carl Rogers

Three exercises/tools I have found to be useful are:

1/ The first exercise is in two parts.

a/ Become a witness to your thoughts, feelings, emotions and perceptions. Learn how to witness your inner world. Make a list of your beliefs around yourself, relationships, health, work, money. Examine them one by one, honestly asking why you hold the beliefs that you do and how relevant or true they are today. See if you can make a shift. Do you think you have to work hard to make a living? Why is there evidence now that when you are in flow, work can be easy and abundance follows?

b/ Reframe that negative belief into something that feels true to you. Change “I am not good enough” to “I am Ok” Even if you cannot go as far as “I am more than enough”. But take a leap of faith. The ideal would be to be independent of this conditioning so that you can go and experience a deeper part of yourself which is a field of pure potential. The key word here is “to experience”. If you go within on a consistent basis you will discover experientially that you are whole and more than enough.

2/ Make an appreciation list of who you are now. I found this difficult to start with but slowly the more I dwelled on it the more positive qualities I came up with and it transported me to a better place. You can even ask close family and friends to tell you what your strong points are. Why wait for a eulogy which you will never hear, I say? (And as an aside, keep pointing out what you appreciate about the same people closest to you because what you give out comes back to you.)

“As you think thoughts that feel good to you, you will be in harmony with who you really are.” Abraham Hicks

3/ The third is actually a tool I discovered some 15 years ago and recently I have become a student practitioner of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or tapping. I find tapping very soothing because it reduces stress and anxiety levels very quickly and as it involves tapping on several meridian points, it shifts blocked energy more easily than talking or thinking things through. You can actually tap on your limiting beliefs to try and shift them and you can also tap on enhancing self-love and self-acceptance. Many You Tube videos are out there for you to give it a try. (For deeper issues working with a qualified practitioner is always advisable)

Connecting with your true self and having a loving relationship with yourself is an on-going process. It takes time, patience and commitment. “When you work on your inner sense of worthiness and value, your energy levels go up. your insights, creativity and your belief in yourself all increase” David Hamilton PhD. That is perhaps when we can take our personal growth to the next level. Enter A-Z.

The Bliss In Our Breath (Re-Cap)

I really do believe that the one vital thing we really take for granted is our breath. Perhaps in the last year we have come to treasure it more with the increasing incidences of Covid and being under lockdown for so long. This one story being circulated recently drives the point home. It was about a man somewhere who had contracted the virus and had to pay for a ventilator. It brought tears to his eyes and the doctors presumed that he could not afford the fee. Whereas he answered that he was crying because when his breath was free he did not cherish it and now it had come to him having to pay for it.

It is a sad truth that we often only appreciate something or someone when it or s/he have been taken from us. Our breath actually keeps us alive yet on a daily basis we are so oblivious to it and moreover, we only use 10-15 per cent of our lung capacity at any given moment.

Yet it has often been cited that the best medicine of all is the breath. The in-breath heals you, filling your lungs with oxygen to support cell respiration and energy metabolism. (Did you know that the human body is about two-thirds oxygen?) The out-breath rids the body of toxins and calms the nervous system, instantly releasing any tension held in the body.

There is more and more evidence as to how breathing practices like the yogic pranayamas or mindful breathing are beneficial to combat stress in our busy lives as well as having a host of other benefits to our well-being. The same goes for meditation. And many of you must already already have some sort of daily ritual of your own. Plus there are also a lot of guided practices that can accessed on the media for anyone who wants to start. My personal favourite is Insight Timer on which the right meditation for me always presents itself when I need it.

What I would like to share with you though, is how mindful breathing and mediation as well as prayers have helped me personally on my journey in Just Being, being a little more of myself each day.

Once upon a time, constantly beset by racing thoughts, overwhelmed by unmanageable negative emotions, breathlessly spinning on the hamster wheel, that was my life before I experienced the bliss of my breath. They grew to such a crescendo during a period of personal trauma, that I felt my internal mindless chatter and my overpowering emotions had swallowed me whole.

I had to get off the wheel. So what did I do? Over the years I have experimented with a repertoire of practices but what I still find the most useful when I am under pressure of any sort, is simply to take time out and breathe. As simple as that. Sometimes I find counting the inhales and exhales focuses my mind but just removing myself to a quiet corner and breathing slowly and more deeply almost immediately unties the knots in my stomach and lifts the fog in my brain. According to Tchich Nhat Hahn , this basic mindful breathing, concentrating on the in-breath and out-breath consciously synchronizes body and mind in the present moment and it is “your appointment with life”.

Therefore, for those who say they do not have time for meditation, this pause can be the first baby step to just being with your breath, using it consciously.

The next step I sometimes incorporate is going further within, in silence, and repeating a suitable declaration or intention for that specific time, say “I AM peace”, remembering to breathe deeply at the same time. First of all, as I wrote earlier, peace is your natural and inherent state, It is already there inside you. As also Love, Joy, Wisdom etc. They are just overshadowed by a turbulent mind. So it is important to realize that you are not the mind. If you observe the mind with detachment, and become the witness, the observer, you will remember the truth of who you really are and grow to become more of who you are with practice.

“If we still ourselves we can mirror the Divine perfectly” Sarah Blondin

Secondly, the words I AM are incredibly powerful. They precede the subconscious limiting beliefs you have been programmed with and literally instruct you how to feel in your body and mind. They also command the Greater Mind-the Universe- to create an outer reality to match whatever you choose to say after the words I AM. Thus the use of these words can be applied not only to your true nature if you want to connect with that (I AM Love), but also to any other attribute you might want to acquire or enhance (I AM Bold) as we will explore later in the series.

“Think the thought until you believe it. Once you believe it, it is.” Abraham Hicks

I would like to add it is not about ignoring your emotions or your present reality. They have to be acknowledged and honoured to allow for transformation. And also one has to choose wisely what one says after I AM. If you say things like “I am an angry person” that is what will continue to manifest itself.

Finally, the game changer for me was that in silence, with my breath, in the moment, I, the patient had become my own counsellor. That is quoted as being one of the results of meditation. As a child, I had been shy and a total introvert. I would never share my thoughts and feelings with anyone and managed my emotions by stuffing them down. But during my testing times, all of a sudden, I felt the need to pour out all my hurt and anger and confusion. Luckily I found some listening ears. Yet I had never felt quite comfortable being so open as it went against the grain of what I used to be. I will admit, though, that making myself vulnerable by opening up and asking for help, allowed me to develop some strong friendships. But as I also developed the habit of going inwards I slowly began to experience the fact that I had all the answers myself within. Without fail, in prayer or in an aha moment, the solution I need always pops up out of the blue and brings a smile to my face every time.

“In quietness are all things answered.”

So I am ever grateful for my breath. It reminds me to appreciate the fact that I am alive and well. It guides me to be aware of my thoughts and feeling at all times so that I can change my energy if that is what is required and it awakens me to live my truth.

Just Being (Re-Cap)

In this blog, I thought I would re-cap one of my previous blog posts which was an introduction to the idea of Just Being.

In my very first blog (Why Blogging? Why now?), I mentioned wanting to write a mini-series on the A-Z of Just Being. What better time to start than the New Year, when many are making resolutions? About one third of Britons make New Year resolutions, generally health-based, but the NHS reckons that only one in ten will be successful.

My reservation with resolutions is that usually they are about doing things…, diet or eating healthier losing weight, exercising, saving. These were the top 5 in one survey for 2021. Wanting to be physically healthy is definitely a goal worth pursuing but it overlooks a critical component of our being: our mind and spirit. Though this year during the pandemic there has been a surge in the use of meditation apps which suggests that many are also going inwards.

In fact the Covid crisis which has imprisoned us for well nigh a year now, must have made a lot of people take stock. Ways of doing things have changed. Productivity, which is a result of doing, has decreased in many sectors but surely people have become more creative in their search for answers. And many people have risen to the challenge in also being different…more compassionate, generous, tolerant. Though we cannot ignore the negative side of ‘being’ also prevalent with the increase in domestic violence due to the current situation.

The point is we are human beings. The ‘human’ part encompasses our physical body and revolves around doing, getting and having. In the race for better and best, one forgets ‘just being’. It is important to understand that stress is not natural. Our inherent nature is of peace. Even the frenzy around gyming and exercising is sometimes more about ‘having’ a beautiful body, and not so much about being healthy. And beautiful in whose eyes? Very often an externally imposed ideal glamourized by the media and advertising. We are so busy doing. Are we actually living life to the full?

To live fully, mind, body and soul have to be nurtured together and in my view, if the soul or spirit or consciousness (whichever term you are comfortable with) is prioritised, the rest is taken care of more easily because that is where real transformation happens. The world is a reflection of our own consciousness. Spiritual and mental health goals will impact health, relationships, finances/career. So if you want to be happy, you have to access that happiness in yourself, rather than look for it outside. That is another reason why ‘just being’ is so important. All everyone wants at the end of the day is to feel good, to feel happy, to feel at peace. The problem is that we look for all these feelings outside of ourselves, in achievements, in possession, in relationships with others and these are not only temporary but also once we reach our goal we jump on to the next. The point of life is not to get anywhere. It is to enjoy the journey and to create who and what we are and experience that doing is being. It’s the person you become in pursuit of your goals that really matters.

“The way to use life is to do nothing through acting. The way to use life is to do everything through being.” Lao Tzu (6th C BC)

We identify with our roles and we put on so many masks that we have forgotten who we really are. Another reason to ‘just be’. It is not about learning but about remembering your innate nature of love, peace, joy, wisdom, truth. As the Course in Miracles puts it: “You need to hear the truth about yourself as frequently as possible because your mind is so preoccupied with false images.”

It is also not about thinking that something is wrong with you, that you need to fix yourself. Self-actualization does not involve perfection, or holding yourself to impossible standards or things always going smoothly. It is a process; not an end game. You grow and evolve as you go through life and try to be “the best version of yourself.”

So two questions come to mind: 1/ Who are you inherently? and 2/ Who do you want to be?

Your vision becomes clear when you look inside your heart.. The power’s on the inside. The heart of the “being” is meant to be silent. If you take the time to sit quietly with yourself (and that is where meditation, prayers and other mindfulness practices come into play), you will re-discover the gems of love, peace, joy, truth which are your birth-right. At our core, we are like new-born babies with all these innate qualities but we have forgotten that with our doing mentality and our attachment to our roles. Be more. Do less. Listen to your inner wisdom to live a life of truth. Infuse your doing with the scent of your true self. Losing awareness of this consciousness, makes your behaviour reactive. Whereas if you operate from that higher consciousness, your energies are elevated and that is reflected in your response to life. Soul-consciousness reinforces the dignity of the human being. Moreover, “In quietness are all things answered.” Allow yourself to gain many in-sights between the spaces of your thoughts.

Thus the first relationship is always with yourself. Only when you value yourself and are free from insecurities, not ‘wanting’ anything from the other because you are whole on your own, can any other relationship be strong. It does not happen overnight. It takes work and commitment. But “no amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.” Robert Holden PhD

The first journey, therefore, is inwards to recognise the truth about yourself.

What can be added is the second question: Who do you want to be? In recent years, universities and employers are asking candidates this question about themselves. They also put greater emphasis on EQ (Emotional Quotient) rather than IQ, intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use and manage your own emotions in positive ways so that you can respond better in relationships and challenges. Personality profiling is also being done for employees to help them see their strengths as well as areas for improvement.

My point then is “just being” is relevant to both youngsters and more mature people as well. Young people, busy in making a living, climbing up the ladder, maybe raising a family can be heard to say they have no time for sitting around and going within. They will take up spirituality when they retire…maybe! Yet more and more people are experiencing burnout and when they hit rock bottom there is nowhere else to go. So instead of taking on stressors and working on autopilot, stop, because:

“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates (5th C BC)

Join me on my journey as I explore some positive attributes from A-Z that I admire and want to emulate. I too am a work in progress; my art is by no means complete. For as long as I AM, I know I am peace and love but still have to stay with that inner power on a daily basis. It takes practice and more practice. I falter and fall and pick myself up again. And I also want to think about what I AM means to me and how I can aspire to be a better version of myself. Maybe more Courageous? Maybe Playful? It may not be the same for everyone. But we can have a think about it together and have some fun at the same time.

The Bane Of Being Busy

Have you ever wondered what people must be doing when they put on their What’s app status: Busy or Can’t talk or Urgent calls only?

Being busy has become a fashion statement. It is equated with success and worthiness and being in demand . John Hopkins researchers call this ‘the cult of busy’. But with no pause button to reset the mind and body, stress and burnout have been on the increase. In fact, stress is the leading cause of many of the physical, mental and relational issues that come from the constant state of busy-ness. Stress, has been defined as pressure (that is the situation) over resilience or inner strength. Today, with the pressure of both work and home life, the denominator (resilience) is very often ignored. In our busy-ness we live outside-in, rather than inside-out, which is the ultimate way to create the strength to tackle pressure.

Work, both in the workplace and in the house can consume our lives if we let it. On the one hand, it is both necessary and healthy. It allows us to be productive… and pays the bills. On the other hand, when we forget the work-life balance, things go awry. We have 24 hours in a day. In the schedule of a 9-5 work-day, people work 8 hours, should have 8 hours for family, play, recreation, and 8 hours for sleep. Are you mad? Who has that luxury today?

Partly it boils down to unsound prioritization and to poor time management skills and maybe also to the fact that success is very often determined by externals like making it to the top or acquisition of one’s dream house. We have confused our roles and professions with our ultimate purpose in life which is related to our ‘being’, to experience our inherent qualities of peace and joy. That is a constant, whereas goals are forever changing. We are always in search of a new destination, forgetting to enjoy the journey in the process, waiting for happiness when we have attained a certain goal, then latching on to the next, never quite content on the way, not understanding that if the being is healthy, the doing will automatically follow.

Being too busy is also very often used as an excuse to get out of doing things, like doing exercise or meditation, or even meeting people. It can be a form of distraction, an escape from not facing issues in your life. Sometimes it is a form of procrastination when you submerge yourself in not very significant work, avoiding the very thing that needs the most attention.

But for many busy-ness has become an addiction and addiction supresses the conscious mind. We are rarely in the moment, in the now, tossing between the past and the future, unable to smell the roses. Sometimes we aren’t present, even when we are physically present, because even our minds are consumed by busy-ness.

Therein lies the crux of the matter. Running on a frantic and relentless timetable all day, constantly on adrenaline, not only are we depleting the body but also the mind. Even our leisure time is very often regimented. The irony is that, out of idle reflection comes inspiration. Remember how Archimedes had his Eureka moment in the bath! Creativity and wise decision-making is only possible with clarity. But most of the time our minds are blurred and out of focus, (like the photograph below), as we zoom from one activity and thought to another. Stress is created by repetitive fearful thoughts. We are beset with worries and this leads to over-thinking which in turn reduces soul power. When you are faced with hurdles you need energy to jump and negative thoughts deplete energy. Resting the mind creates peace and silence is intuitive power. That is the antidote to busy-ness.

This busy syndrome is unfortunately, also passed on to children. Most unwittingly, ‘tiger mums’ who push their children towards being the best at everything, taxiing them in their 4x4s from one activity to another, are laying down the roots for another generation who will believe that you are only good enough when you are doing something and when you have achieved excellence.

Moreover, there is another irony. Some people can be busy doing nothing. Then there are others…and these are the really successful ones… can be doing a lot yet always have time for one thing more. It is a mind-set. If the auto-response of my mind is standard: ” I am busy. I don’t have time.”, this starts making me unavailable to myself as well as to those around me. I confess to once having a favourite auto-response myself: “I am tired”. Till I learnt that each time I used those words I was creating and reinforcing that same reality. So why not use a positive mantra instead? Sister Shivani of the Brahma Kumaris, inspired by her mentor, suggests using the words “I am easy” instead of “I am busy“. Just changing our vocabulary can have an effect on our consciousness and thus our experience of life. “I am busy” can create clutter in the mind and blockages in the body whereas “I am easy” can shift the energy and create lightness. Try it for yourself (and leave a comment to share how you get on).