Have you ever sat to reflect on your life and come to realise that actually you don’t remember the whole story? What you actually remember are moments, your mind can only recall history in snip its. And then if you go further you come to understand that you have retained particular moments in your life, perhaps traumatic or perhaps joyful, none the less they are just moments in your life.
So if life is made up of moments, can we begin to accept the fundamental importance of being totally present in each moment? Because that moment is where you change your life, that moment is where you make a decision that has a direct impact on your future.
What is The Moment?
But what is this “moment” that everyone keeps talking about? To be able pay attention to your life in each moment you have to understand what “the moment” actually feels like. I would love to be able to describe it for you and perhaps I’ll attempt to do that at some time. But for now here’s a funny response given by the Dalai Lama. He is an example of someone who lives in the now because it’s the only way he knows how to live. His response is open, direct, honest and definitely in the moment. Unlike most of us who would first think it through, what should I say? Who maybe offended?
This Moment is A Significant Moment
Of course every moment is significant, the very fact that you are still breathing, still living is a significant moment. However often we miss significant moments, we don’t pay attention to our thoughts and we make decisions based on the past. As soon as we stop to “think” we are using our past experience to make what we think is a rational decision. To an extent this is absolutely necessary however what we don’t do is stop and feel.
Yes often we miss the moment because we are thinking, that is precisely the reason we go backwards and forwards with our thoughts, missing feeling, missing being and missing tasting the moment.
As soon as we understand how important being present in the moment actually is, we start to make better decisions, we start to be the master of our life because our decisions are aligned to our true self.
This might sound very soft or spiritual to some. To make decisions based on being in the moment is not our natural way. We have been taught to ignore our gut instinct, to listen to the mind more than the heart in favour of what is supposed to be logical. But this is not the case if our thoughts are a collection of moments we have acquired from the past. Simply put if we stop and listen to our heart, otherwise known as our gut instinct or feelings, then often we make far better choices.
Your heart knows things that your mind can’t explain – start listening!
Changing the Course of Your Life
So going back to why I started writing this post, I have a question to ask you. When you reflect on your life, do you see moments where you made decision and where not really present? I certainly see many moments in my life where I just went with the “supposed to do” or “it’s the right thing to do” rather than listening to my gut or feeling what was right.
Because when you listen to your feelings, often they will take of the beaten track and that can be a scary place to go.
Today I live my life very much based on what feels right, I rarely listen to my mind because it has betrayed me too often. Filled with stories from the past, filled with labels that serve to confine us to a limiting life. I’ve learnt to listen only lightly to the mind and much more to the heart. I’m still learning of course but at least now I’m aware.
Perhaps you can start to ask yourself who is running your life?
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We Are All Born Uniquely Different, Not One of Us Like Another.
I believe that is because we are born with an authentic self. I see that even more since my twin granddaughters were born. Watching them grow has shown me that even though they may look almost identical, they are very much two uniquely different people. Even at a year old their authentic self is shining through in different ways.
Finding Our Authentic Self
Our need to fit in, to be part of the wider group makes us cover up the parts we find hard to accept about ourselves. Not many of us are comfortable with being different, even though we are all unique. We fight that uniqueness because it scares us, until one day we don’t even know who are are.
I wrote this (very authentic however in no way polished) a few weeks ago and decided to share it just as it is. I’ve put the work in and come to accept what I call the good, the bad and the ugly about myself. Either way they are all part of me and I’m happy to accept what is.
In My Life I Have Been Many People.
A daughter, sister, mother, teacher, wife, friend, grandmother and even a lover.
Each one of these “people” has a label attached, an expected behaviour and a way of being.
Until eventually these labels become who we think we are.
One day, if we are fortunate, we get a wake up call. When I got mine at first I could not see the gift, it was clouded in sadness.
When the clouds finally evaporated there was a rebirth. So great, so exciting that the death of all those labels released the pain, the sadness to allow the powerful Awakening to happen.
They say for someone to be born another must die. Such is the nature of life – A cycle of birth and death.
To fully appreciate life we must accept the inevitability of death.
Death allows us to detach from what no longer serves us, so we can finally uncover the authentic self.
No Labels Needed – Being is Enough
How Do We Find Our Authentic Self?
Do you wonder why it is that we seem to feel this void in our lives, it doesn’t matter what we do, who we are with or what we have achieved, there is always this feeling that something is missing? That is a disconnect with our authentic self.
To get back to our essence, we must have the courage to let go of what does not serve us.
We must even let go of the people who no longer serve us and yes sometimes that may even be people very close to us.
We must have the courage to look deep within to understand, accept and embrace all that we are. Then we can begin to reconnect with our authentic self.
I’ve made a conscious decision to stop ignoring my inner voice, now I’m paying attention. This has sometimes taken me into unfamiliar territory and often out of my comfort zone.
I recently signed up to a memoir writing course in London, following my inner voice. It’s been challenging, pushing myself to open up and to share my story a bit more than I am used to.
This short story is my latest piece. Time to let go of any fear of being judged and just get it out. Hope you enjoy.
The boy in the photo
I don’t know his name; these visits to children’s homes are impersonal. I guess it’s a way of staying on track with the work that has to be done.
I look at this photograph from time to time and remember the day I met this little boy. We were told not to get too close to the children at the home, they were likely to be carrying lice, flees and whatever else is out there when you live in these conditions. We were warned that the conditions here were worse than the other homes we had visited.
It was my intention to just go with the group; stay focused on the plan and then move onto the next visit. I’m in Nepal dealing with the turmoil in my life and none of what is happening now was in the plan. One thing I have learnt recently is that not much in life goes according to plan and sometimes this is a gift in disguise. So here I am thousands of miles away from home, with a group of people I’ve just met going to another children’s home.
Today we are there to check the quality of the water and to check the overall health of the children. We are also here to teach the children about personal hygiene and to give them each a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap.
As we get closer to the home, I notice it has no windows, no doors, no lights and nothing but concrete floors and walls. The most memorable moment was the smell, it hit me as I walked in and then I realised that this time the home maybe just a little more shocking.
We walk up the stairs to be greeted by the “staff”. Same story, they are really happy to see us and willing to impress. But it’s important to not be distracted by the story they present and stay focused on the children because their eyes tell the real story.
The children are even more excited to see us. They spend their lives going unnoticed, who are they anyway? Most don’t even know their own name, let alone their date of birth. They have been prepped that’s for sure, I instantly noticed their uneasiness.
Then I see this beautiful little boy his hair shining from the dirt and grease. His clothes stained and in need of a wash. I can but see how perfect he is, those big dark eyes and smile showing his innocence. Although I don’t speak his language I approach him to give him his toothbrush, toothpaste and soap. I demonstrate how he should use them to wash, hoping he won’t try to eat the soap and toothpaste. We spend a few minutes in some kind of communication, I think he is happy that someone has given him some attention and probably even more excited about the free gifts he has been given.
I’m almost certain that this little boy has not been cuddled for a long time, if ever. The only thing I can give him is my attention to make him feel he is worthy of human affection. So I ignore the warnings and I cuddle him, hold him close like a mother should and give him just a little of what our children take for granted. He doesn’t pull back, he just accepts the cuddle as any child would and his eyes light up.
Right there and then I thought, “if I could take him home, give him a bath, some good food, clean clothes and a warm, safe bed to sleep in, that would change his life” and for a while I contemplated doing just that. But it’s never so straightforward.
As our day comes to an end I feel sad at leaving him behind, no idea what his life will turn out like, no idea if he will end up back on the streets.
What this little boy doesn’t know is that he gave me far more than I could have given him. My own problems seemed so insignificant. My struggles are so much easier to overcome now I see real suffering.
Yet when I look into his eyes all I see is the joy he got from the simple things he experienced on that day, in that moment. In the context of his life that’s the only way he can live, moment to moment. Perhaps that the lesson we should all learn.
Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory
We tend to live our lives according to the stories we tell ourselves. These stories become ingrained in us as children, starting from our parents and then our teachers, our peers, our siblings and others close to us.
I’ve just enrolled onto a writing course because I really want to improve my writing skills. Years ago I would never have thought it even possible to write, let alone share my writing with others. As a child I was always told by my teachers that I wasn’t bright enough. I avoided reading at school and wasn’t allowed to use a pen until a lot later than most of the children in my class.
The most damaging comment from a teacher was in my last year at school. He wrote “Anna should not go to university, she should consider an admin job!!”. I still have this report, actually it’s served it’s purpose, it has been in the back of my mind pushing me to do better. The sad truth is that this teacher never knew me, he always slept through our classes. How irresponsible. Oh and the fact that I was bilingual didn’t even figure in their assessment.
I went to university in my late thirties and achieved a first class honours degree, post graduate and a Masters. I read my first full book after leaving school, I think I was around 18 at the time. This was no simple book, “The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance”. I’d say it takes a pretty intelligent young person to read this book.
Then there were the comments from my parents “oh you are the clever one and your sister is the pretty one!” Wow how ignorant was that? So here you are a young child being told at school that you are not clever enough and then at home being told you are not pretty enough. Lucky for me, I used most of these negative comments to create a new voice for myself and I told myself a different story.
In the end, it’s the story you tell yourself that matters.
Of course as a child you don’t understand and take everything your parents say as the truth. As adults it’s our job to tell our children stories about how wonderful they are, how their lives can be wonderful and how you as their parent will always be there for them whatever happens. They are not naughty, they are children, they are not bad, they are children.
But somewhere along the line we must create our own stories, we must drop the stories others have been telling us and see the truth of who we are and who we are capable of being. We do not need to be limited by the limitations others have of us. Not even those of our parents and definitely not those of our teachers.
So here I go embarking on a writing course, Miss who wasn’t clever enough! Let’s see where that takes me.
I wanted to share a poem that has inspired me through the difficult times. It has a powerful message, it acts as a reminder that this journey we call life is our journey. Nobody else can live our life just as we can not live anybody else’s. (more…)
If you are anything like me I bet you are always pushing aside your own needs for the sake of others. Today I had a lazy day, not much writing, not great with my mindfulness practice, no exercise and think I may even have over done the food thing.
Normally I would be feeling guilty right now, be having a very negative conversation with myself and being very harsh. But not anymore, fortunately mindfulness has taught me how to be kind to myself and how to give myself what I need.
Being aware of your feelings and moods helps you to connect with yourself and give yourself what you need. Only you can really know what you need on a specific day or at a specific time, what is the point of waiting for your needs to be filled by external things or other people?
Connecting with yourself – Being aware of your thoughts and feelings.
If you’ve been through a tough patch or going through one right now, then putting yourself first is essential for survival. There can be a tendency after a while to just think you are ok, the worst is over and everything is just normal. Then out of the blue you’ll have a day that makes you feel like your back to square one. There is nothing wrong with that, don’t dwell on it just accept it for what it is, a down day; who doesn’t have those?
I know that people who have lost a loved one often say that after a while people assume that everything is forgotten, you know that somehow your loss is over because time has healed it. But that’s never the case, people don’t just get over losing someone close, they just learn how to live with it until it becomes who they are.
A divorce, breakup or separation is a bit different in that you have a whole different line of thoughts to deal with and yes over time they start to go away but sometimes you will be reminded of things, then bang here we go again. For me it’s usually to do with all the hard work I have to put in to recreate my life, as I want it. Sometimes I just want the easy way out and then I get a little resentful. You know the “why me?” story.
So when you have one of those days when you just feel like you can’t do very much, then give yourself a break, be lazy if you want to, do nothing if you want to. If you need it then it’s what you need and that’s perfect for you right now.
Do I feel bad that I had an unproductive day? No because I just spent a bit of a lazy day with my family, enjoyed their company and got a lot out of it. That’s what I needed today and I gave myself permission to do it!
The biggest problem with most of us is our inability to stop and listen to our inner voice. What does that mean? What is our inner voice?
We go about our lives in a constant sleep most of the time, until something happens to shock us and wake us up. But through the course of our lives there’s this feeling that sometimes arises. For all of us it will be different, it will feel different but it’s there and mostly we ignore it.
The thing is that this inner voice is what guides us to what is our purpose, to the things that will really make us happy. The more we ignore it, the more uncomfortable we feel about our lives. The more we ignore our inner voice, the more life will throw up lessons for us to learn from, until we actually listen deeply.
We ignore our inner voice because of our conditioning, the way society has worked it’s magic on us and taken away our ability to stay with our true feelings. We have become accustomed to being in autopilot, doing things that we are supposed to do because that’s how we fit in.
Listening to your inner voice can also cause you a certain amount of turmoil because it will challenge you to make changes that can be completely out of your comfort zone. But because something is challenging doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be followed through, quite the opposite I would say. Here’s a few tips to help you start listening to your inner voice:
Remember that your inner voice is authentic, it’s the one voice that really knows you. Ignoring it won’t make it go away, it will only make you feel more uncomfortable. You know that feeling that something is not quite right? That’s your inner voice talking.
Does your inner voice scare you? Mine certainly does, it’s pushed me to do things that were at times very uncomfortable but the end result is so worth it.
The greatest rewards in life come through the greatest challenges. Your inner voice might be pushing you to do things that you prefer to ignore but for how long can you really ignore this without losing yourself on the way?
Remember that the more you listen to your inner voice the more you will become best friends with it. Over time you will have hard evidence that actually your inner voice was right all along.
Meditate every day. In meditation we get to connect directly with our inner voice.
Don’t ignore your inner voice – it’s your most dearly trusted friend.