Three wishes for Yule

Winter Solstice

Mind is our biggest ‘prison’. There is nothing more our mind wants is to be stuck on the same track over and over, go in one direction. It doesn’t like change, it doesn’t like upgrading, it is in that sense primitive and when questioned will rebel in strong ways. However, we all want to be free, flowing, silent and not-attaching to anything that brings us worries and restlessness. Freeing yourself from thinking patterns is a way towards reclaiming some of our freedom. Thinking also causes our feelings and if you don’t like feeling a certain way and get trapped in a cycle, attend to your thinking. Challenge it, avoid engagement, refuse to listen, give yourself more than just following what the mind says. Remember, the mind doesn’t know any better, only what had been programmed and practiced, it is its familiar territory and until the course is changed, it will continue on the same track. Thoughts and feelings are entwined. If you believe or choose to think something, as it comes, you will feel a certain way every single time as a result of that thought. As you become aware of some of the ways you think, you can then choose how to proceed. Particularly with things that are ‘historical’, i.e. past-created patterns of thinking, you must be careful not to keep repeating the same way of thinking, as it will only bring the same way of feeling.

Ever since I was I was a child I remember wanting nothing more than a peace of mind.  I knew on a physical level that it is my thinking that had been causing a lot of things, yes I had to wait to become an adult to figure it out. As an adult through years of practice and healing I have understood what it does and why and have explored ways of reconciling with it, making it work for me. It has not been easy. The reason why I love Buddhism is because it shows us not just what the mind does, but how to become skilful in working with its patterns through observation and letting it be, choosing not to engage at all times. Read my post of my findings related to this Lessons from today’s meditation

The reason why I love earth-based spirituality is because it involves working and being with ‘the whole’. It includes our physical bodies, emotions and spirit and mind becomes a supportive vessel for all the other parts and vice versa. There is less struggle. Mind is not alone and other senses have great value.

This Yule I am wishing for three things:

  • A peace of mind
  • A clarity of mind
  • A quietude of mind

It is possible to ‘master’ your own thinking and there is a distinct sense of satisfaction and control when it is successful. Even if it might often be temporary the fact that it was once possible provides hope for all future attempts. Practice makes perfect. When a change in thinking is introduced, the edge is taken off patterns and beliefs. They no longer rule over everything. One way of thinking that helps is understanding that some things can’t be controlled and any worry or overthinking is futile and, for me, anything that becomes heavy to carry or be with is pointless, as it only adds to the overall hardship of existence and a state of things life often presents. We must quieten does, lighten the load and connect more often through other senses cultivating a sense of peace. Effort is always met with reward in my experience. Continuous striving is what life is and we must never give up on ourselves. We can always choose what we think and what we focus on remembering not to make it ‘heavy’, but make it easier wherever possible.

I am off to find a Yule log this week and will bear my three wishes in mind when being with the log, decorating it and then burning it for next year.

I hope you too will become aware of things you want to come more into your life during this celebratory time of welcoming back the light and go on to manifest your goals with authenticity, passion and integrity.

Blesses Yule, everyone!

Nature and the present moment

present moment practice

It is raining… It is not ‘it will clear in a few hours’ or ‘yesterday it was sunny’, it is raining here and now, nothing else is happening. Nature is expressing herself through the element of water in this very moment and it is just how it is. It is not that it is wrong or should be something else, it is what it is right now. Our minds create stories about ideal situations and conditions in every moment of the day. Mind perceives things often not as they are, but how they should be, what would be more favourable and wishing for something else, for a change from what is currently. When do we notice the rain that is happening right now? The mind invites us to avoid, to close eyes and let it pass, but not only that wishing for it to pass and fast, the sooner the better. This is suffering and how it is created in the mind. Imagine the freedom of allowing the rain wash over you literary through your senses of vision, touch and sound and allow your body to be in contact with it, that’s even better. I bet it will be somewhat of a shock to realise what rain feels like and the resistance that one would experience from being in that moment. That’s how powerful the mind is and how difficult it is to detach from its constant instructions and interpretations of reality around us.

It is like rain on a wedding day, which was mine, e.g. It rained like I never experienced in my life before with days previously and the day after being glorious warm and sunny. I despaired, I suffered in the mind’s realisation it is actually raining heavily on my wedding day. “Why, or why, it is not fair, how is this even possible, it shouldn’t be this way”, etc. This is the voice that my mind used with me. It was all about me in that moment (we are terribly self-centred creatures, humans). It was not about anything or anyone else, but about me being upset with the rain for ruining my day, but was it ruined? A wise woman pulled me out of my mind’s cruel narrative and brought me back to a moment of ‘nothing is different, nothing is affecting anything, but my mind’. I was still going to marry a man I loved, the intention was still there, all guests were still there, everything prepared and ready, why would rain take that away from me. It wasn’t rain, it was my own mind that was trying to convince me that ‘it should not rain on a wedding day’.

Nature does what it does in every moment, it is changing all the time. It lives, it blooms and it dies without attachments or regrets. It is just how things are. I am yet to find a greater teacher than what is all around us all year round. It is there, in front of us manifesting lessons in every moment and if observant on a daily basis we can take those teachings into our daily lives and drop the struggle, which is not what we ultimately want, yet mind creates scenarios for us to attach and hold on to. This is why a simple breath meditation is so useful when one simply observes their breath and notices how, when and where their mind drifts off to. Simply noticing what the mind does in any given moment, acknowledge it and let it go and come back to the breath.

Lessons from today’s meditation

image

Today I had a pleasure of being taught meditation again in a Buddhist Monastery. I love the variety of monks that take sessions. Each one is very individual with unique personalities and I can’t help but smile most of the time I am there. There’s this sweet calmness about the place that is really relaxing. It also feels authentic rather than constructed or forced. It is there naturally. Simplistic and clean environment is so inviting and conducive to a practice of meditation.

Today’s lesson was to be curious, wonder about your mind and allow it to be whatever it wants to be. Another aspect is to recognise it as a part of you, hence being self-loving means not judging your own thoughts but let them be. Everything is impermanent. Thoughts come and go and we don’t need to attach ourselves to any of them. We are observing and being curious about our mind’s nature.

I really understood this today and it opened my eyes to a possibility of actually being able to implement this into my practice and my life on a wider scale. I do think Buddhist meditation is a very intelligent system at regulating our thoughts and emotional responses. I am curious to know more on outside and within. Today was all about getting to know our minds through being inwardly aware.

What I observed was that my mind is often very obliging. One might say it is trying too hard and there’s a lot of energy spent, often unnecessary, on creating thought patterns that are not needed. It also gets confused by its own ‘trying hard’ and runs away with it, so to speak. It felt amazing to be able to obtain that information through meditation.

I also observed that I do well in meditation and succeed in calming my mind when focusing on an object (It was caramel cake today. No idea why) or a word (again it was cake) and repeating it over and over. Image and word today were spontaneous, but I imagine it can also easily be chosen specifically for a meditation. I also realised that I do best with guidance rather than on my own, i.e. guiding meditations help me.

I am yet to master the right posture and position when meditating. I am too uncomfortable but when I am not focusing on my legs or engage with thinning about how uncomfortable it feels I am able to sit still and be calm. That is a good demonstration of how it IS possible not to get attached to a thought that a mind is trying to focus on and as a result to remain calm.

I also noticed quite clearly how my mind naturally wants to grab onto negative thoughts rather than positive. That was great to realise and I feel I might sort of understand a way of changing that too going forward with a lot more practice. It does explain my nature very well and wanting to attach to something positive naturally is going to take some time. Once I try that the aim is not to attach to any forms of thought and simply remain in curious observation.

I am thrilled to be able to continue with my learning in such a beautiful and peaceful place.