Todays meditation word: Enough

Enough

 

I recently got hold of some of my old clothes that I’d left behind in my old house, including a large number of socks. When I moved to where I am now, I only had a suitcase of clothes, and it was summer, so I only had a few pairs. In a way, that was a liberation too – I decided that I didn’t *have* to wear socks all the time!

But then winter came, and I got a job standing up for long periods of time in work shoes, so I needed to buy socks. And now I had all these old ones too and I thought, well I’ll keep them because socks wear out, and it’ll save me having to buy any for years. There was not enough room in my underwear drawer, so I moved things and had a whole drawer full of socks. Actually, a whole drawer STUFFED with socks. When I opened the drawer, it was difficult to shut it again.

Then I was talking to someone about abundance.

So yesterday morning I emptied out that drawer of socks, and looked at them – what message to the universe am I giving by having all these? The message is that I don’t trust that I’ll be able to afford to buy new ones when I need them.  The message is that I am insecure, and need to surround myself with things to protect me.

So I organized them, and now I have sufficient socks for my current needs, and the rest – and there are a LOT of them – are being given away: someone else may benefit from the excess that I don’t need.

And this seems to me to be emblematic of the way I can, and have, lived my life. I can try to control everything and make sure that “I have enough”. I can try to ensure that every eventuality is covered, that all my plans are in place. But I know what happens when I live like this – I end up discontented.

The thing is, there is NEVER enough; not enough money, enough food, enough booze – not enough anything. Things don’t work out like I plan and so I try to make better plans. The things I have don’t make me happy, so I need to get more things.

I also know what it’s like when I make room for abundance in my life. When I give up trying to manage the outcomes, and just look after the here and now, my life opens up and I get to appreciate all the great things in it.

Where I am right now is an absolutely wonderful place, but it’s not where I want to be forever. No, I’ll re-phrase that – where I am right now is an absolutely wonderful place, AND it’s not where I want to be forever. Yesterday, I threw out some things, and now have space in my wardrobe: every day I can throw out old ideas, and leave space in my life for the abundance that life gives me.

When I live each day as it comes, I can enjoy life as it happens, and every moment can be magical.

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Todays meditation word: Defeat

Defeat

 

We are brought up in a society that doesn’t like to admit defeat. We learn from an early age that we have to strive to succeed, that we can if we try. And when we see something that we can’t control, that has us defeated, there seem to be only two alternatives.

One approach is to re-double our efforts – to keep on trying to do the impossible. This way leads to broken health and bitterness as time after time we are defeated. Often, it leads to demoralization, a feeling that we have no self-worth. Occasionally it does lead to success, but this often only means that we move on to another obstacle, even harder to overcome.

Another approach is to give up – to say, that is just how it is, and not even try anymore. Whilst on the face of it this seems easier, it can also mean we give up on our dreams and live a life without meaning, a life without hope. While living like this can appear to be unruffled, it is also much too often unfulfilled too.

But there is an alternative approach when we find an obstacle that we can’t overcome. And that is to admit defeat and seek help.

It’s important that we do both – first, we have to admit defeat. We have to acknowledge in ourselves that we can’t do this particular thing, or that we have a problem in this particular area. It is a truism that the first step in recovery from any form of addiction is the acknowledgment that we have a problem. So it is with any issue – we have to admit that we are defeated before we can start to win.

Many will say that admitting defeat just means that we are being negative – but on the contrary, if we admit defeat and look for help, then we are being nothing but positive. We are acknowledging the truth, and from that place of truth we can move on to discover the way through.

Maybe the help we need is practical – I, for example, am no good with engines, so when my car isn’t working, it is no good me pretending that I am able to fix it – I have to admit that I don’t know how, and take the car to the garage to be fixed.

Sometimes, the help we need is emotional. When going through a divorce we need not just practical help from legal professionals, but also support from our family and friends to get over the emotional scares

And sometimes the help we need is spiritual. When my mother died, for example, I could do all the practical things like organizing the funeral, and dealing with the estate, and friends were there for me. But I had to admit I was powerless over my feelings of loss and abandonment. For this there were no words from friends that would help, no practical assistance that a professional could supply. I needed to rely on prayer and meditation to provide me with a measure of acceptance.

But in all of these, the first step is admitting defeat.

Todays meditation word: Silence

Silence

 

A while ago I went on the bus to a little seaside village just about 30 minutes from me. It was market day here in town, and the streets were bustling. The bus station was busy with shoppers coming and going. When my bus arrived there were a few of us getting on, and it set off through the busy traffic. It went through 3 villages before turning down the lane to my destination, and made a couple of stops before I rang the bell to get off. One other person got off at the same stop, and they turned left, whilst I turned right and started walking towards a small lake that is here that is normally teaming with birds.

The bus drew away, and disappeared round a corner, and I stopped to take a picture when suddenly it hit me. Silence.

Silence is a very rare commodity. Quiet I find often – it is quiet in my room as I type this. But even here, I can hear the sound of the keys being touched and the PC fan turning on and off. Often I hear wind blowing over my chimney pots and birds – particularly sea gulls – calling outside. But generally I would call this room quiet – but not silent.

Quiet to me means not the absence of all sound, but that the sounds I hear do not disturb me. As I sit here, sometimes an RAF aircraft flies past and disturbs the peace, but that only serves to accentuate the normal quiet of the place.

So as I was standing there in the village street, suddenly there was no detectable sound at all – no traffic, no wind, no people or bird noises, not even the sound of my own feet on the roadway.

This only lasted for a short time, as another vehicle came round the corner, and then I started walking and the birds came into earshot.

I walked around the village for a while and then down onto the sea front, and along the promenade. It was mid January, so not many people on the beach, and there was plenty of quiet there – but no silence to speak of. There were the sounds of the waves and the wind, the birds calling and people walking – no real noise, bit no silence either.

I’m not sure how I feel about silence – the quiet of this room or the quiet of an almost empty sea front are welcoming and warm, but total silence is something that is so unusual it sometimes feel threatening. It is something difficult to find either in the natural world or in our sprawling cities. And when we do find it, we don’t know how to handle it.

Todays meditation word; Control

Control

I still struggle with issues around “control” – what I can control and what I can’t – what should I try to control and what should I just accept.

It is oddly easy to give up trying to control the world for my own selfish reasons – to give up the pretence that I could control others to give me what I thought I wanted. It is less easy to give up trying to make people see things my way, when they are so obviously wrong (in my eyes!)

A while ago I had correspondence with someone who was sure that I was a radical atheist, hell-bent on oppressing religious views everywhere I saw them. As someone who considers themselves a Christian, it’s disturbing to me when other people who call themselves Christians have such a fundamentalist view that any suggestion that there is any other view is jumped on as an example of anti-Christian bias.

What I really wanted to do was change them, make them realize that far from helping people see “the truth”, they were only alienating people. And I only wanted it for them for their own good – or did I?

The truth is that even in this there was ego involved – I want everyone that professes the same faith as me to be nice, so that I don’t need to feel bad. I don’t want to be associated with that sort of “hit them over the head till they admit they are wrong” sort of rhetoric.

But I can’t control them. No matter how “right” I am, or how “wrong” they are, I can’t control them.

Another person I know is slowly self-destructing – I can see it, and the sad thing is, so can they. And so I want to control them out of their self-destructive behaviors and make them well – what is wrong with that?

Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to help him, to be a place he can share in safely, even to offer suggestions of things he might try. But I cannot make him take my advice, no matter how good it is. I can’t control his actions and his thoughts.

In the end, it’s all summed up in this version of the Serenity Prayer that I heard a while ago:

God grant me the serenity

to accept the people I cannot change,

courage to change the one I can,

and wisdom to know it’s me.

Today meditation word: Content

Content

 

Being content may sound like choosing second best. We strive to be happy and to see the best in everything, but sometimes even our best decisions don’t help us keep to being happy. And sometimes we should be sad. A death of a loved one or the ending of a relationship – even the loss of something that we valued like a well liked picture – any of these can and probably should make us sad.

But being content is something that can happen outside of our current state of happiness. Being content can mean that we know that all is just the way it should be today. That even our sadness is a right and proper way to grieve, and that underneath that, we know that all is well.

Contentment may seem a placid thing – something that comes along on us without our knowledge. And sometimes we can just be content because we are happy enough with where we are right now. But also, contentment can be worked for – and it is worth working for it.

If we are basically content with ourselves, we can still endeavor to be better, but we will not beat ourselves up if we don’t win out at the first attempt. If we rely just on happiness to keep us going, then at the first sign that we are failing, that happiness will leave us, and we may decide just to give up.

But if we are content that we are doing our best, we can carry on and push through temporary failure, and look for the greater success in the future.

So how do I get contentment in my life? One way is through thankfulness. A task I sometimes set myself is to write a list of 100 things that I am grateful for. This may sound like a pointless – or too hard! – exercise but there are so many things that I can be grateful for, even in the worst of times.

Another source of contentment is to do worthwhile things – to know that I have done something as well as I can, or that I have helped someone or been or service to them.

Contentment keeps me balanced and cantered – it is there in spite of pleasure or pain – happiness or sadness – rain or shine. If I can promote my contentment, then I can see myself through the bad times, and not worry that the good times will fail me.

Todays meditation word: Unique

Unique

 

There is an old saying: “remember you’re unique – just like everyone else”. Whilst this is supposed to be amusing, it also covers a very important point.

I am unique – there is only one person who is exactly like me. There is no one else that has had just this set of life experiences. Not only are my fingerprints unique, so is everything else about my physical and emotional make up.

At the same time, I’m just like everyone else – I need to breathe, eat and sleep just like everyone else. I’m very similar to anyone else brought up in a suburb of a major capital city: I’ve listened to the same music, watched the same TV programs, and lived through the same events.

So how do we resolve this unique/same issue?

Well, in my life I’ve made the same mistakes that other people have made – only I did them in my way. I’ve found joy in the same sort of things that others do – but I found my own joy in them, and did not experience other people’s feeling.

To a casual observer, my life and relationships will look the same as countless other people who share my gender and general physical make up. But that is only superficially true, because all of the assumptions you might make about my life are based on your experience of living your life.

An example of this is the medium I’m using here – the written word. If you are reading this you and I share the same basic language, we can both read and write English. But we bring our own personalities to the written word – I write this in one way, and you would write the self-same thing in different words.

Even more interesting, you and I can read the same thing and get different meanings from it, depending on our own experience with a certain word, or a certain meaning. My understanding of any word will be shaped by my experience of that word in the past, which will be different from anyone else’s experiences of it.

This is the great thing we need to remember – we don’t really live in an objective reality – the world we live in is experienced through a filter – the filter of our own experiences and assumptions.

And this is the real reason we are all unique – because we all live in our own universe – a world that we have created from the sum total of our experiences.

Todays meditation word: Self-worth

Self-worth

Some mornings – like this morning – I wake up feeling totally useless and pointless. What have I contributed to the sum of human happiness in the world? What have I contributed to the happiness of me? How do even justify my existence?

There is nothing that anyone can say to me that will get this feeling off of my soul. There is no self-talk or inspirational book I can read that will make it better.

There is nothing that I can eat, drink, smoke or inject that will make it go away. Although some of those will remove the pain for a moment, they won’t change the feeling. And when they wear off, the feeling of uselessness will be a whole lot worse.

On days like these I have a number of options of what to do.

I can decide that there is no point, and stay in bed all morning, then get up and mope and feel miserable. I can write a few e-mails telling anyone that will listen – and even those who don’t want to – how miserable I am. I can look for validation in others telling me that I am worthwhile – but reject that validation when it comes, because I know, deep inside that I’m worthless – if they really knew me they’d agree that I was worthless too.

But whilst my body might not be moving much, my mind would be working overtime, going over and over all the mistakes I’d ever made, and how nothing would ever get any better.

At the end of the day I’d go back to bed totally exhausted, wake sometime early the next morning, and repeat the cycle.

Or, I can choose to do something different.

What I choose to do today is “Act as if”. I can feel self-respect if I do things that respect myself. I can feel self-worth if I do worthwhile things. There is an old saying that I can’t think my way out of negative actions, but I can act my way out of negative thinking.

So today I got up, showered, shaved and dressed. I put out some food and water for the wild birds that I love to see in my garden. I put a load of laundry on, washed the dishes and made fresh coffee. And I came to my computer to write.

Has anything changed? Not in what people call the real world, no. But in the world I live in – the world as experienced inside my head – there is a chink of light.

Maybe I’m not useless, if I can do all that when I don’t feel like doing anything. Maybe the point is just to live life on life’s terms, one day at a time. Maybe I’m not worthless, just for today.