Choose love not fear

Fear

This post follows a theme in a previous post about finding answers amidst our darkest fears rather than in the light, ie being courageous and going into the darkness in order to discover who we really are. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler address this theme in Life Lessons. “Our fears don’t stop death, they stop life”. More than we even know, our lives are devoted to dealing with fear and its effects. Most of what we fear will never happen, but insurance companies, the media, the news, all put us in a state where we are so afraid of dying that we don’t live. EKR and DK assert that what really lies beneath all fear is a fear of dying, if you peel the layers away.

Rejection

Ironically, when people are on the point of death they realise how much their fear has stopped them doing what they really wanted to do. Then it’s often too late to accomplish long dreamed-of adventures, but it’s never too late to tell people you love them. A lot of fear is around rejection and not being loved. Often it’s easier not to try rather than to be rejected or deal with the feelings underneath. “If we did the things we’re longing to do, we would still be old and ill one day but we would not be filled with regrets.”

The Choice Between Fear and Love

“At the core, there are only 2 emotions: Fear and Love. You cannot have both at the same time. So if you live in love, you will not be fearful. We must continually choose love in order to nourish our souls and drive away fear. All of our invented fears involve either the past or the future. Only love is in the present. Now is the only real moment we have and love is the only real emotion because it’s the only one in the present moment. Fear is always based on something that happened in the past and causes us to be afraid of something we think may happen in the future. To live in the present then is to live in love. We can work towards that goal by learning to love ourselves.”

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That’s all easily said, but I know from my own experience it’s not so easy to do. However, I often return to what I wrote in my earlier post quoting Jack Kornfield’s exercise about spending a week being kind in thought, speech and action to everyone. Kindness is a good starting point if the idea of loving everyone is a bit beyond you right now! Have a great week!

Live life to the fullest

Life Lessons

Like a lot of what I’m reading, “Life Lessons” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler is about finding our true potential now, rather than realising on our death bed that we wish we’d done things differently. Something I read recently asked the question, “If you were dying, what would you wish you’d done more or less of?” It made me stop and think – actually, when you take away all the material things, the important thing is that you’ve shown love to people. Whether that is your family or friends, or strangers through voluntary work. Having an open heart. We will never wish we’d worked harder, or had more cars when we’re dying.

Lessons for now

So “Life Lessons” teaches us to think about this now: rather than wait until it’s too late to do anything about it. What is your passion? What would you really like to do if money/time/what people think was no issue? How much of what you do is because you think you ought to do it, or because you think your loved ones want you to do it?
“Once in a while give in to an urge you would usually suppress, try doing something “odd” or new.
By not doing the things that feed your soul, you are becoming someone who is squashed and won’t find their true potential. Life Lessons asks the questions:

“Ask yourself what you would do if no-one was looking?”
If you could do anything without consequences, what would it be?

EKR says your answer reveals a lot about who you are, or at least what is in your way. It may point to a negative belief or a lesson to work on before you can discover your essence.

“If you say you would steal, you probably fear that you do not have enough. If you say you would love someone who you are not loving now, you may fear love.”

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Next steps in finding your soul work

Maybe for you, starting to do the voluntary work you’ve always meant to do is one thing to initiate that will make you feel better – it will also make the world a whole lot better. Maybe ask yourself the question with things you choose to do now, “Will I be happy I did this when I’m dying?” I know myself that I would much rather look back and be able to say that I’d helped lots of people in my life than that I lived a very safe, boring life without much contact with society at large. Having been housebound has made me see how small our lives can become through illness and age and how much we need other people. So now I plan to give something back – I’ve volunteered to befriend a local elderly person through Linkage. I also plan to change my job when I am able to and do something which gives more back to my community. So watch this space! Let me know if you have any ideas.

And on that note, I’ve just seen this on Facebook

(Thanks to “Life Lessons” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler for the quotes in green.)

 

Random acts of kindness

Pay it forward

Another theme I am trying to foster in my life is generosity. I know a few people who are always generous, mainly with time and energy rather than money, and never expect anything in return. For most of us, this is a challenging concept. I myself know that if I am generous and consistently don’t get recognition for it, I will then close down and say I’m not doing it again. So part of the learning is to keep my heart open and give without expectation. The ultimate is to carry out an act of generosity and not tell the person so it is entirely without recognition to you. However, you will still feel a warm glow when you think about it.

This sweet video on you Tube exemplifies this perfectly: The boy who has the least to give, gives everything:

Video

I once went to see the film Pay It Forward at the Buddhist centre. This takes this idea and moves it forward again. This is a clip from the film:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pCtXRP1edo

It’s well worth watching, and has great actors in it – Kevin Spacey etc. It’s all about every time someone does you a favour you pass it on to someone else, then we start creating a huge chain of consciousness of giving. So if you carry out random acts of kindness, the idea is that the person doesn’t necessarily know who did it for them, but you could leave a note saying “Please carry out an act of kindness yourself”. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could get the whole world doing this? Or at the very least, feeling more kindly towards other people. Then we don’t just keep our generosity for our nearest and dearest but for all of humanity.

Visualisation

The Power of Visualisation

Anyone who knows me well, will know I love visualisation. I particularly loved teaching it in my yoga classes as I saw the dramatic effect it could have on people. As usual, though, I found it harder to do for myself. But I am now visualising love and kindness flowing into me when I meditate every day.

Bernie Siegel describes in “Love, Medicine and Miracles” how his cancer patients would have their own personal visualisation for white blood cells destroying their tumour: for some it was like a Space Invaders game, for others something more gentle – one child saw his cancer as cat food and the white blood cells as white pussycats. This is obviously quite a dramatic use of visualisation, but all of us can use it it create a life we love.

You may wish to start the day visualising all of the things you know you are going to do and imagining them going really well. Visualising in bright colour, with sunshine and positive outcomes really helps. So rather than waking up grumpy and then having a bad day, you can choose to have a great day. Or you can incorporate it into your daily life: if you suffer from anxiety then when you go for a walk, imagine the breeze blowing it away. When you are washing up, imagine it being washed away. You can try this  with anything and be creative!

Finding healing in the darkness

There are so many words of wisdom in Bernie Siegel’s books about self healing, and finding hope and love in your darkest moments. Something I read recently by him seems particularly apt to me today. I am learning in my healing process how, understandably, I avoid looking at my darkest emotions. As I’ve realised, we can avoid them, but they don’t go away – they lurk and cause all sorts of difficulties in our lives and relationships. So in order to heal them, we need to go into the darkness and face them. I’ve avoided this for so long, hoping to heal myself with the least amount of pain. Now I am learning to embrace the pain and seeing that the fear of the pain is worse than actually facing it! I’ll come back to this theme in more detail in future. For now, here’s Bernie Siegel (in relation to the cancer patients he treats):

“The mind can cure cancer, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. The paradox is wonderfully expressed by an old Sufi story.

A stranger comes upon a man on his hands and knees under a street lamp in front of his house. He’s looking for his keys and the stranger gets down on all fours to help him. After a time, the stranger asks, “Where exactly did you drop them?” “In my house,” comes the reply. Exasperated, the stranger asks, “Then why are you looking out here?” “Because it’s dark in the house”.

The light is better in our conscious minds but we must look for healing in the dark unconscious. The doctor works in the light. He is verbal and logical. The patient’s world may be dark, but there are sources of illumination. Within each of us is a spark. Call it a divine spark if you wiill, but it is there and can light the way to health. There are no incurable diseases, only incurably people.”

This is work in progress for me so I certainly don’t have all the answers, but do share your thoughts. ♥

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Yoga

Enhance gentle yoga practice with mudras

Your gentle yoga practice need only be sitting cross legged and concentrating on rhythmic breathing. Or you could add an extra dimension by using a mudra – the most well known is Chin Mudra, where you hold the index finger and thumb together and keep the other 3 fingers stretched out. This is how you see the hands in the traditional meditation posture. Rest the backs of your hand on your knees.

chin mudra

One of my favourite mudras is Apan Mudra, or “rabbit ears” as I call it. You may see this mudra used in a variety of yoga postures, particularly those based on the Hindu gods, such as Krishna playing his flute in Natavarasana.

apan mudra

Apan mudra relates to springtime, cleansing the body: it helps to detox the liver. It also calms the mind. It helps visualise new goals/beginnings. Use it if there is something you’d like to change in your life. Sit for 10 minutes with your hands in apan mudra and do the following visualisation (add as much of your own detail to the visualisation as you can: colour, plants etc)

Imagine sitting in a beautiful garden. Enjoy the various plants. Observe the mystery of nature: how a plant grows and blooms. In an empty bed, plant something that will bear rich fruit for you: a conversation, relationship etc. Imagine how it sprouts, blossoms and bears fruit. Who will benefit from these fruits? End with a big thank you.

Affirmation: I plant my seeds, care for them and receive a rich harvest that I thankfully accept.

(Special thanks to Gertrud Hirschi for her fab book “Mudras” which has been invaluable to me.)

Heart meditation #1

The Heart of the Universe

First of all, bring your focus to your heart. Imagine breathing deeply in and out of your heart. This takes the focus down from the mind/intellect, into the body. (If you have suppressed emotions you may find them coming to the surface as you do this – if so, stay with them and allow them to release with love, it might feel difficult at the time but you will feel better for it afterwards. I am often surprised at what emotions come up during these meditations)

Focus on whatever you see as the divine source – God, the Universe, divine energy. Visualise divine love flowing from the source to your heart, filling your heart with joy.

bliss yoga

I found a lovely image for this meditation recently on a website. After focusing on your heart, imagine the night sky, and take a leisurely tour around the heavens: the stars, other planets, comets etc. Use your imagination. Then imagine coming upon the Heart of the Universe – visualise this as you wish. Visualise love and healing energy flowing from the Heart of the Universe to you.

Ahh, bliss!

The healing power of love and creativity

Find your inner creativity and love for life!

If you want a heart-warming, inspiring read try Bernie Siegel’s Love, Medicine and Miracles. All of his books are deeply moving as well, so expect to cry a little! He tells how he made the journey from being a traditionally trained medical doctor and surgeon in the US, with little empathy for his patients and deeply unhappy with his job, to becoming a dream doctor who hugs his patients and teaches them how to take control of their health and life.

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He witnessed “miraculous” cures in his cancer patients and began studying what made the difference in those patients who coped well with illness and those who just gave up. He realised that in his role as physician he could be really important in this healing journey, as he could give his patients hope, rather than bare statistics about how long they had to live, and most importantly, be a human face, treating them like human beings rather than “cancer patient in room 2″. One of the things he noticed about the patients who coped well was that they felt they had something to live for, passion and love in their lives or an outlet for creativity. Dr Siegel encouraged his patients to express their creativity through writing, art, whatever made them feel happy, or through reaching out to people.This alleviates stress and releases the body’s own healing mechanisms.

Like everything I’m reading about, it’s all about how a positive state of mind can have an amazing effect on our health. Hence this week I have started painting…very badly! But it’s not about the finished product, it’s the process ;-)

Reflections for this week 24th Feb

Positive energy

I’m keeping in mind one of the Buddhist precepts outlined in “Discovering the Heart of Meditation” by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield this week. JK puts them into a lovely accessible form. The precept is Refraining from killing: reverence for life. What he says is:

“Undertake for one week to purposefully bring no harm in thought, word or deed to any living creature. Particularly become aware of any living beings in your world (people, animals, even plants) whom you ignore and cultivate a sense of care and reverence for them too. “

I particularly like the “no harm in thought, word or deed”. It’s easy to congratulate ourselves for not having actively harmed anyone but in this sense even thinking negatively about someone or ignoring them is harmful. And more than that, it is harmful to ourselves – if we want to be at peace we must first create a peaceful, positive mental environment in our own minds which will then send out positive energy to others. Ever wondered why you constantly attract bad energy from others? Think about what thoughts are in your own mind.

This can be a living meditation: no need to sit and meditate on it, just have it in mind as you live your daily life and see how it opens your heart.

The first post…

It’s quite daunting starting a new blog. But one of the main reasons I’ve started it is that I’ve been like a big sponge the last 2 months reading books about healing and changing your life. Partly I want to record what I’m learning so I don’t forget things, but also to have it on record for other people to access. This has been a big journey of knowledge for me and I’ve been lucky that I’ve had the time to immerse myself in it. Each book has referenced other books, which I’ve then read, and as I’ve done so my understanding has deepened. I’ve also discovered an interest in such things as quantum healing and epigenetics that I would never have imagined myself being fascinated by before. But if all of the references help someone else to find new ways of looking at life, as I have, then I will feel that this blog has achieved what I set out to do. At the very least I can give you pointers for where to find the information for yourself.

Sometimes we just need one inspiration to set us on our way. For me, that was Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. I’d had it on my bookshelf for years and never read it and eventually took it to a charity shop a year or so ago. Then someone recommended it to me before Christmas. I ordered it from Amazon and before it arrived I discovered a talk by Louise Hay on YouTube of her basic principles of life and positive thinking. Her philosophy and affirmations pretty much saved me from going mad over Christmas when I was housebound for the second time in a year with a back problem. I have probably read the book 3 times now, in bits and pieces. A lot of people think her philosophy is a little bit simplistic or overly head-based when you want to be living more from your heart, but I can only thank her for being there when I needed some hope. The affirmations helped me remain positive when last year I was in the depths of despair. And along the way she referenced other compassionate writers such as Dr Bernie Siegel, who have inspired her, more of whom anon…

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