Tag Archives: Mindfulness

Spirituality Without Fanfare

Once you have been on your spiritual path for a while you will start to realise that it is best to not take yourself too seriously.

There are two types of people who practise spirituality, in my experience. Those who tell others how powerful they are or how enlightened they are or how good their expensive courses are…and those who just get on with it, quietly and without fanfare. Do a course for fun if you think you will get something out of it but do realise that the only thing really worth spending is time itself. Time to learn, time to experiment, time to let things simmer.

Unfortunately being bombarded with all these enlightenment sellers can put some potential newcomers off discovering more about themselves and their possibilities and that’s a shame as there is nothing to be nervous about. Don’t be scared by the hype, don’t be put off by those who dress themselves up as mystical beings who need to be adored. They are selling a service which is the spiritual equivalent of getting your nails painted…it’s fun but it isn’t an essential life choice. You can do what you need to do with a little online research, free resources, reading books and, most importantly, living the life and gaining the experience.

Those who are quietly spiritual know that everyone is an individual who will be spending years on their unique path, no expensive course is going to get anyone there quicker. Sorry. Sometimes it can even slow progress down as you are following someone else’s path not your own. Their way of doing things might not be yours.

Your path is your own and you don’t have to be doing A, B or C to qualify for any award. There is no award. There’s a reward for taking a spiritual path though. Several of them.

If you can successfully meditate you can make your daily life calmer and happier. This can take the edge off the hardest situation. YouTube has some really good meditations. Try Michael Sealey or Jason Stephenson.

Practising mindfulness will give you a better outlook on life and will make those challenges easier to deal with because you stay in the moment, at least long enough to have a break from your mind chatter. Here is a 8 week free course, run by Dave Potter a fully certified MBSR instructor.

Being able to work with the energies to heal yourself and others for free is your way to give back and to do your bit to help change one small part of the world which is suffering…whether that be an individual or a situation.  Learn how to give reiki to yourself with this previous article of mine Reiki For Self Love.  Where you go with it afterwards when it comes to helping others is for you to decide.

Ritual is a way to bring order to chaos as well as engaging in aged practices – whether you just count your morning ritual of shower, tea and toast before work or rituals used with your deity of choice, such as prayers. A good morning ritual sets you up for the day and most of us have several rituals which we enjoy. Perhaps yours is a candlelit bath or a cup of chamomile tea last thing before bed. A ritual is simply something you do at a certain time and, sometimes, for a certain reason. Getting a few rituals of your own in place will bring structure and certainty to your day and you will find you look forward to doing them. They will bring a comfort and a smile, a sense of well-being.

Learning how to work with herbs is another way that you can help yourself. Again there are many online courses out there for the basics but a good book will do you just as well too if money is tight. The work of Susun Weed is a good start if you are in the USA or Herbcraft by Anna Franklin and Susan Lavender is an excellent choice for those in the UK and Europe. Herbcraft gives a broad use for plants including medicinal and magickal as well as a bit of history for interest.

Learning which plants are edible is very important so do take care as there are some deadly ones out there too. 

Knowledge is essential when using herbs in whatever form you choose them. Several good books for cross referencing are essential and you should never rely on just one photo in a book to decide which plant is in front of you in the wild. Several good, clear close up photos are needed. Of course, the company of someone who already knows is ideal but few of us have that and so we must take things gradually and be careful with our choices by being sensible.

Here is a fun video done by someone just starting out using herbs. We all have to start somewhere…

Many of us enjoy a cup of chamomile tea or peppermint tea so why not take it a step further and start learning how to work with the energies of the plants in your vicinity, growing your own or even just in their essential oil form. Pure oils can be used for cleaning and sanitising your home, refreshing the aroma, getting rid of garden pests, used to heal yourself and pets and in a multitude of ways.

I have had no training in essential oils but taught myself gradually over many years and now use them in every part of my life. They are surprisingly versatile, useful and helpful and, of course, chemical free if chosen wisely. There are many articles online which will help you choose a starter arsenal of essential oils. My first three choices would be roman chamomile, lavender and peppermint. I have linked to an article for each to get you started if you are new to essential oils.

If you are starting off on your path and follow the signposts above and in my previous nine articles then together they should give you your first few footsteps. You will be on your way to a spiritual life which allows you to grow, gain confidence, deal with challenges, heal your everyday niggles and give love and strength to those around you. There will be days when it all seems too much and you will want a break. Be kind to yourself on those days and do whatever you need to do. Everyone has a spiritual crisis at some point in their lives…sometimes more than one…but this is good because this is where the biggest shifts happen.

My final suggestions are to enjoy life, love who you are and do what you have to do to make your life your own. Never be dictated by those who surround you or even those in your area of choice spiritually. Always trust your instincts and if you aren’t sure what they are saying then meditate and wait. The answer is there.

This article is part of Your Spiritual Life series. Other articles in the series can be found in the top menu.

The Spiritual Way

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I find myself at a crossroads of sorts with my spirituality. I have a great deal of knowledge on various spiritual subjects and now is the time for me to decide what to do with it. I am thinking of having a free series on this very blog in the future, once I have written it and fine tuned it, which will help beginners self-realise their own spiritual potential. There is no ulterior motive to this, just a desire to share what I have learnt in the hope it will help someone else.

On a practical level I am working with the universal energies via Reiki to send free distance healing to those who ask for it and those whom I offer it to. I do this up to three times a week. I am finding this very satisfying as one of my beliefs is that the universal energy is there for all of us to tap into, not just those with enough money to pay for it. I know Reiki helps and I like to get stuck in there and walk the walk as often as time will allow. You can learn how to work with Reiki yourself by reading a previous article of mine here.

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It is really important to remember as you start on your path into the spiritual and metaphysical worlds that being humble is one of the most important things you can learn to be. Learning how to send healing or exercising your psychic muscle isn’t like an episode of Charmed and you won’t be banishing demons next. It is all about self-improvement and learning to help others. It is about listening. Feeling the emotions of other people and recognising them for what they are. It’s about taking responsibility for your thoughts and your actions and realising how those thoughts and actions make their mark in the collective consciousness.

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At the very least you can learn to become much more aware of what is going on around you and more appreciative of the little things in life that you might have otherwise rushed past. Mindfulness is an excellent example of a technique which will help you be more in the moment. There is a completely free online 8 week course in Mindfulness which you can access here. Trust me, it is well worth the effort.

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Being spiritually aware isn’t about just sitting bolt upright, cross-legged and meditating. Where the humbleness also comes in is admitting that sometimes you can cock-up being all Zen and in fact get just as mad, irrationally or otherwise, as the next person. Nobody is perfect. The stoppage is having the control to think about what you will do next before instinctively just going for the primal option and acting without thought, potentially doing great harm to yourself as well as others. Guilt and remorse tend to stick around in their black gooey state, particularly in those quieter moments, and can be very difficult to rid yourself of. Why have the bother?

Having faith in whatever deity or truth you choose to believe in can be very empowering. When you have that sort of faith on your side it will give you the strength to walk away from toxic people or those who would harm you. It gives you the backbone to say ‘Enough!’ and leave. There is nothing fluffy about true faith and belief. It gives you the courage and feeling that you are never alone and that you are heard.

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One final thing I will put at the end of this blog – every religion is the right religion for the person who chose it as their own, as long as it harms no other. Faith gives us strength but we should never assume it will give that same strength to another, their needs may be different to ours.

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Now, more than ever, we must try to live in harmony and embrace other people’s differences and unique ways. We are all equal. We must learn to share what we have with each other, freely and with love, for the betterment of us all.

Self Help Books?

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I have come to the conclusion that when one reaches a certain age one starts to reach instinctively towards a self-help book. There’s a whole market of the things out there. Whatever your primary outlook in life there is a book or ten out there for you. All written so you can nod your head so vigorously at the contents you either get dizzy or need actually physio.

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I reached that certain age around 9pm last Tuesday (it might have been 10am the Sunday before…I can’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday sometimes) and I found myself book shopping. I bought Caroline Myss’s Sacred Contracts, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and F*ck Feelings by Dr Michael Bennett and his daughter Sarah Bennett.

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Sacred Contracts has been around since 2001 so I am a bit behind with reading this one. I also bought the card deck which Myss has done which goes with the book. The card deck is simply a printed set of all the different archetypes which are said to make up our personalities, the idea being that you go through them and pick another eight to go with the four we all have already. The four we all have, apparently, are Child (various sorts, pick one card), Prostitute (yes, my thoughts exactly but it isn’t that sort of prostitute!), Saboteur and Victim. I admit at first glance I wasn’t keen on making the Victim or Prostitute cards part of my package but there are much deeper meanings than a mere word can put over at first glance. There are light and shadow attributes with the light attribute being the positive one which, in the case of the Victim, “prevents you from letting yourself be victimised or victimising others”. After much wrangling I managed to find my other eight cards, at least for now, but it was much harder than I thought it would be and I am not settled on them until I have read the book and the more expanded explanations of each archetype contained therein. I shall see how it all goes 🙂

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The Power of Now is another one I am slow to discover, which to be fair is hardly surprising when I wasn’t looking for it. Written by Eckhart Tolle way back in 1999, it was a book which found its way by word of mouth to start with and then, after Oprah Winfrey got her paws on it and acclaimed it a sensation, the whole of America read it. Well, that’s sort of what happened. I may have embellished a bit there but Oprah certainly read it because it says so on the cover. As I write this I am on page 32 so I can’t give a fair review. There have been a few raised eyebrow moments for me so far but those moments are what keeps life interesting and I am completely open minded to begin with about anything I read. I don’t dismiss the ridiculous, I ponder it a bit first. It is funny the nuggets of truth which reveal themselves when this stance is taken.

F*ck Feelings is a more modern self help book and came out about a year ago. It promises to be humorous as the co-author Sarah Bennett is a comedian. I rather like that. I do appreciate a self help author who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. It is on my shelf in third position to read and is quite a chunky book so I am reading that last.

I think the reasons all this has come up for me as suddenly important are obvious in some ways. Here I am, a grandmother now, having had five children and a varied and interesting life so far. Some of that life has been difficult and has left the odd scar which now needs healing. Now is my older and wiser time. A time to, perhaps, look more closely at some of the things which have brought me to this point but which I had mentally boxed up because I had too much going on to deal with them. It might be painful, it might be comforting, it will be difficult. I am not sure which of these will rear its head first or if they will all be there together in the mix. What I do know is that it is like finally deciding to get up the ladder and clean the attic…one is not overly enthused at the thought but it needs doing and can’t be put off any longer.

Time to get the gloves on and reach for the duster…

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When The Mirror Growls

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Sometimes it’s just hard to get in front of the mirror and see anything good about our reflection. As we get older things tend to go southwards and with it our self confidence. Now there may be those of you who are gym or yoga bunnies and haven’t a scrap of fat on your lean torsos and for that I congratulate you! For the rest of us who, for various reasons, can’t do that sort of regime it can be a difficult reflection to make friends with.

What I do every day is write down the things I am grateful for in my life and say it out loud in a prayer to my Goddess and the universe itself. I also give thanks for my fabulous legs, sky blue eyes and still firm boobs. Not bad after five kids either…take a seat Sam Fox. There are numerous parts of my body which are not how I would wish them to be but, due to circumstances, there is not a great deal I can do about it. I eat as healthily as hormones will allow, do my stretching exercises twice a day and try to keep as supple as possible. On my confident days my baby belly is a proud statement. It’s a reminder I managed to bring into the world five fabulous human beings who are out there making their mark on the world. Why view something so special in a bad way?

I also try to make up for the less than perfect outside by making sure the inside is well cared for. That old grey matter. Although I do have what might be called ‘a bit of a brain fug’ sometimes, I constantly fight back with meditation, mindfulness, aromatherapy, memory exercises, reiki and other methods to make sure my brain and memory are kept in tip top (for me!) condition. It’s no good having a beautiful outside if the inside is vacant, ignorant or unbalanced. This also has the knock on effect of making sure the flaws I do see on the outside are shrugged off more easily as they become much less important when my mind is occupied by more meaningful questions and pursuits.

However we choose to look after our own bodies we should always do so in a way which is right for us. A way which makes us feel good and confident. A way in which our self esteem is increased and not decreased. So I am going to take my size 14 figure, give it a shake and a wiggle and saunter off with my head held high.

Guilty feelings on eating a small piece of chocolate cake? Move along, folks, nothing like that to see here!

The Road To Happiness

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Scientists are now saying they believe we all have a certain level of happiness which is unique to each of us. Our happiness may increase from that level if we win the lottery or decrease from it if something negative happens to us or we get depressed but, they say, eventually we find our way back to the particular level we were born with.

We would all save ourselves time and money if we realised the level of happiness comes from within us and can’t be bought for cash. Instead it is all about finding ways to lessen negative thinking, giving and feeling genuine gratitude for the things we already have, forgiving ourselves for ‘lesson learnt’ past mistakes, finding an appreciation for the small things in life or connecting with nature by getting ourselves out there in it more often.

Showing compassion and empathy for those in need 

Our happiness level can also be helped along with an increase in tolerance for the differences in our fellow humans. Empathy, kindness and compassion. It is all well and good surrounding ourselves only with positive people but we miss out experiencing human interaction with those less fortunate than ourselves or who are going through a hard time and who can teach us the lesson of gratitude for what we ourselves already have in abundance. Sometimes reaching out to a stranger with a helping hand or giving some change or a cup of coffee and a sandwich to a homeless person can be the best thing we have done all day. After all, it could have been you or I sitting there, cold and hungry, if our lives had taken a different path. Can we really avert our eyes and walk on by with a clear conscience or is the averting of our eyes the bit where we pretend we just haven’t seen so had no chance to act?

Learning to think for ourselves 

We need to open our eyes and see what is actually around us and not just rely on the daily newspaper or the news on the television to form our views on the world. You may ask me how this makes a difference to our own personal happiness and I would reply by asking you how you feel after you have watched the news or read the headline stories of a newspaper?

Being less eager to judge and fear one another

We are too quick to judge one another and far keener than we ought to be to accept what we are told so we don’t have to think about it ourselves and come to our own conclusions. We are all unique individuals with something to offer whatever our religion, skin colour, gender or adult consensual sexual preferences. It is time to put those prejudices aside and take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions rather than following the local pack in our community and letting others decide for us what is acceptable and what isn’t. Or what is to be feared for being different to how we live our lives.

We must find more tolerance and stop judging whole groups/societies/countries on the actions of a few of their people. We are scaring ourselves unnecessarily if we continue to do this. This starts with us as individuals, not by waiting until enough people we know decide they feel the same thing. This will increase our happiness by giving us back the right to choose what we feel.

Living in the here and now 

Real happiness is found in simpler, non-materialistic things and that sort of happiness is longer lasting and more fulfilling as we add to it minute by minute, drop by drop, without the guilt or fleeting satisfaction material purchases have to offer. We also have to accept that there will be the odd bad day and we are allowed to wallow for a bit sometimes. Nobody is perfect! Too much time is spent by all of us on our outside image to others.

Mindfulness and meditation can both help you to achieve inner peace and increase your level of happiness. If you didn’t see my post on the free online Mindfulness course I recommended in a previous post then the link is here. If you click on the word ‘meditation’ above it will show you my previous posts and hopefully give you some ideas too.

These things make up the secret to a happier, more fulfilled life for us as individuals. Together they make a safer, more tolerant world. It also sets the bar for a better future for our children by showing them the example of what ‘having it all’ should really mean.

ASMR Singing Bowl and Positive Affirmations Video

This is a very relaxing singing bowl and positive affirmation meditation by Dmitri from MassageASMR.

Dmitri is from Queensland, Australia and does all sorts of ASMR on his YouTube channel. Find out more about him on his YouTube ‘About’ page.

You will need headphones to listen to this video.

Fabulous! Enjoy!

Finding Your Life’s Purpose Meditation

 

I tried this hypnosis-type meditation by Michael Seeley this evening and was really impressed by it so thought I would share it here for you all 🙂

More about Michael Seeley and his excellent hypnosis and guided meditations can be found in the drop down description on his videos on YouTube. He has something for everyone and his channel is where I tend to go when I want a guided meditation.

Enjoy!

 

Alone With My Thoughts?! You Must Be Joking!

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So there you are. You are having a particularly bad week and you just want to kick something. So you scout about online for something to distract you and what do you find? Smug hippy types talking about meditation and mindfulness! Pfft! Flower power, is it? Yoga positions? Give me a break, you cry!

You read about mindfulness. Scoffing loudly at some mad woman who suggests eating a biscuit mindfully. Mindfully? A biscuit? Biscuits are to nosh at whilst ruminating about that conversation you had last week and going over every detail whilst kicking yourself for it…and for finishing the packet once you come out of your gloom and realise there are only crumbs left.

Next you read some article on meditation written by a bloke who swears he can sit for an hour bolt upright whilst he finds himself spiritually. All you can think about is what it will do to your back pain and, anyway, you want to get away from your thoughts, not sit and have a romantic meal with them! What IS all this baloney?!

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Let me help you out here. I have been like you. So stressed out day in, day out that I wondered how I would cope when the final straw found me and settled comfortably on my spine. When I first started trying to meditate I found my thoughts overwhelmed me. Round and round they went, faster and faster until I opened my eyes, jumped up and said ‘No thanks!’and went to find coffee. This went on for quite some time. I would try it, it would seem impossible, I would get despondent.

Then one fine day I decided I really needed to apply myself after reading of yet more on the benefits of meditation, so I decided on a plan of action. I found an app with a guided meditation and every night before going to sleep I listened and did as instructed. After a while I discovered a change. I was able to follow my breath and see it visually in my mind as it travelled in and out of my lungs. I saw my heart pumping much needed oxygen around my body, giving me life. I put my all into that visualisation; I really felt it and saw it. And, guess what, my mind stilled. Thoughts would come but I would not allow them to fester anymore. I acknowledged them then let them go as I went back to concentrating on following my breath. You could say I gave them no air time.

You can do this too. The key is to be comfortable. You don’t have to sit up bolt straight like someone has shoved a…well, you get it…you can lay down and let your body be at ease. If you fall asleep then don’t worry, people do. At least you were relaxed enough to do so, that’s a start! Why not have a browse around YouTube and find a voice you like first, one which soothes. Then get yourself a plan of action and stick to it. Give yourself time. Expect the odd setback. Even a seasoned meditator can find it tough sometimes. Nobody is perfect. Ommmm!

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Mindfulness is all about paying complete attention to what you are doing, whatever that may be, and not letting your mind drift to what’s next, what happened last week, what’s that noise, what’s for dinner?! It will help you to stop ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. It is all about the now and is of enormous help to those who suffer anxiety, stress or depression but it is worth trying for everybody and allows you to taste the essence of everyday tasks which you might normally do on autopilot. It allows you to see the joy in little things, the beauty and magnificence of a sunset and even helping you with your diet as you pay complete attention to what you are eating whilst you are eating it.

Don’t just crunch your biscuit up whilst reaching for the next one – have a look at it. Feel the texture, notice the consistency and components. (Yep, I am suggesting you play with your food…you did it before with the vegetables on your plate when you were a child so we know the skill is in there somewhere *smiles*). Take a small bite, notice the texture, the taste, pay complete attention to it and chew slowly. Notice how you feel. See, feel and concentrate on nothing but the food. Do the same for the next bite.

Try washing the dishes mindfully. Do it slowly. Considerately. Be aware. Feel the sensation of the bubbles between your fingers. The texture of the cloth in your hand. Take your time to see the rainbows in the bubbles. And yes, its okay to blow some off your hand and watch them drift…nobody need know 😉

Mindfulness is stopping to experience your experiences and appreciating the unexpected joys and sensations therein. This, over time, will train your mind to keep you in the present moment.

You can find out more online about either of these techniques. Both have become a way of life for me and have made a huge difference to my quality of life and appreciation.

Meditation and mindfulness take practice and willpower to master but you don’t have to be a master in anything to benefit from either. Eventually both become second nature. Baby steps, often.

 

The Sweetness Of Doing Nothing

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Yesterday afternoon a rare thing happened – everyone was out and I was alone. Instead of using that time to catch up on all the things which always need doing I decided to take my own advice and do a spot of cloud watching.

I took a peppermint tea out in to the garden and left my mobile phone indoors…*gasp*…yep, I know, incommunicado! Rebel! I found my favourite chair, got myself comfy in the shade and sat back  – sky watching, bird watching and listening to nature sounds.

In that time I saw a bird take its first flight encouraged by its mother, blue tits scoffing on the bird feeder, pigeons getting friendly (don’t ask…my thoughts of ‘get a room’ went unheeded), bees making the rounds of the garden flowers and cats at play on the shed roof. Most importantly for the task at hand I saw a dragon turn into a snake turn into a black hole, turn into a nebula, turn into a butterfly, turn into a…ah, you get it.

I took the time to really look at the flowers up close and appreciate their beauty, textures and colours. Take a look at this velvety star burst…

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The header photo is the very slow moving cloud I observed. Fortunately its pace allowed me to enjoy the rest of the garden and its inhabitants with mindfulness and joy too.

My hound however had other ideas. When it was clear he wasn’t going to get a biscuit (oh, I forgot to mention the mindfully eaten biscuits…cranberry and white chocolate from Aldi…highly recommended!) and neither was a walk on the cards, he did this –

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And simply ignored his beloved human whilst smirking to himself because I had yet to realise at that point he had been in the greenhouse again…

I thoroughly enjoyed my time immersed in the busy and cosmopolitan world of nature which goes on in my little garden.

Get yourselves out there, rediscover your own patch of soil and experience the sweetness of doing nothing! Ooh and take biscuits with you…although that bit shouldn’t need highlighting 😉