Todays Meditation word: When?

When?

 

If nothing changes, nothing changes.

I was talking to someone about honesty recently – I can see that this person is a wonderful and kind human being, full of fun and with a lot of love to give. Through our talks I believe they have become to recognize that too, and yet – to their own disbelief – they continue to do destructive things that only harm themselves.

There are certainly lots of things we learn by doing over and over, and these things become habit.

Just think how it is when we go to another country, and need to drive on the other side of the road – we can approach a junction knowing the right way to go, but our habit comes to the fore, and we go the wrong way.

And again, there are things that we do that appear self-destructive, but started out as a way to cope with a bad situation – for example, we were feeling ill at ease in  a social function, and found that by taking a drink we got along better. And it worked….. until it didn’t anymore, and we found that we had to drink to get through the morning.

Or, as my friend had found, a way of maintaining “control” had backfired on her, and now she could not stop her destructive cycle of behavior.

Sometimes changing a way of behavior is hard because we don’t want to be honest about it.

We want to have stopped, but are unwilling to go through the pain of stopping.

Or we simply do not know how, and so we lie – to others and to ourselves – about what the true situation is

But we don’t get to be honest by lying; we get to be honest by being honest.

We don’t get to be well and then take the actions of a well person –we need to take the actions first, and then we can become well.

A habit is a hard thing to break, an addiction is a hard thing to get over – but both start with a first time.

And a new habit, a life affirming, well habit can start the same way, by doing it once, and then a second time, and then over and over, until it just becomes who we are and what we do.

But it has to start with a first time. And if not now, when?

Todays Meditation word: Enough

Enough

 

Is enough ever enough?

There is a part in all of us that wants more. We look for more enjoyment, more satisfaction, more food, booze, sex – more of whatever it is that brings us pleasure.

Because if we enjoy something, wouldn’t more of it be even better?

But the truth is more paradoxical, because it often seems there is never enough.

Let’s say that we enjoy eating seafood. Our instincts may be to stop when we feel full, but our craving for the taste has not gone away, so we look next time for more and better flavors.

But that still does not stop our craving, and we go in search of more exotic stimulus. And when we find it, it is still not “enough” – there is still something else we can find, another way of serving it, one more recipe to try.

So it is with everything that we seek to satisfy our craving for pleasure.

There will always be one more thing to try, one more thing to experience. When will we find enough?

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

But it doesn’t have to be like that – we can also recognize that what we have now is enough, and make room for abundance in our lives.

When we give up trying to manage the outcomes, and just look after the here and now, our life opens up and we get to appreciate all the great things that we have, right here, right now.

You may not be where you want to be forever, but it is where you are right now, and it is enough. That doesn’t mean that nothing will ever change, or that we should stop looking for better things – but it does mean that we can live each day to the full, by knowing that we have enough for today.

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

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 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, let’s 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 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: Quiet

Quiet

 

If one looks up the meaning of quiet, it is said to be the same as silence, but to me there is a great difference.

Both of these are rare commodities, as actual silence – as in the absence of any sound – is increasingly difficult to find.

Quiet, however, is not the mere absence of all noise, but the sounds we hear do not disturb us.

Quiet may be found on a gentle stroll across a grass-covered field on a summer day – full of noises of the wind on the grass, birds cheeping in the distance, insects rustling in the undergrowth. But whilst surrounded by noise, we would feel the quiet in these comfortable sounds.

On the other hand, were we to find ourselves needing to cross that same field in the middle of a dark night, the level of sound would be minimal, maybe nonexistent. However, we might then find it not quiet, but disturbing trying to find our way across this expanse of nothingness.

Quiet then is as much a state of mind as an observable external fact.

It has to do with our state of mind, how calm and serene we are. And some sounds make us become quiet, become calm.

For me, I know that whatever my state of mind, walking along a beach calm quiet my inner turmoil. Not that this is silent – there is the wind, the sounds of water breaking on the shore,  bird sound – even the sounds of other people here and there.

But my soul begins to settle down as I absorb the openness and majesty of nature – it calms me.

For others, the forest has the same effect, or a riverbank, or being at home in a favorite chair.

Since this quietness of the soul is an internal thing, the location or activity is essentially unimportant. We can find quiet in the middle of a busy city street, if we seek it there.

Quiet is essential to our inner life, and it can be found where we look for it.

Todays Meditation word: Control

Control

 

There is a struggle with the idea of “control”: what can we truly control and what have we no control over?  What should we try to control and what should we simple accept.

It is often easy to give up trying to control the world for our own selfish reasons – to give up the pretence that we can control others to give us what we think we need. It is less easy to give up trying to make people see things our way, when they are so obviously wrong.

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.

We often fall into this way of thinking – maybe we see someone slowly destroying themselves through their own actions. We want to control them out of their self-destructive behaviors and make them well – what is wrong with that?

The answer is that there is nothing wrong with wanting to help others, to be a place where they can share in safely, even to offer suggestions of things that might help them.

But we cannot make him take our advice, no matter how good it is. We cannot stop them hurting themselves, no matter how obvious the harm is.

Not we “should not”, but we “cannot”. We have no direct control over any one else’s thoughts or actions.

In the end, no matter why I want to exercise control, it seems that they only one I can really control is myself.

Todays 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 be happy. And sometimes we should be sad. A death of a loved one or the ending of a relationship – even the loss of some object that we valued – any of these can and 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 everything is just the way it is. 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 we get contentment in our lives?

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 we have done something as well as we could, or that we have helped someone or been or service to them.

Contentment keeps us balanced and cantered – it is there in spite of pleasure or pain – happiness or sadness – rain or shine.

If we can promote our contentment, then we can see a way through the bad times, and not worry that the good times will fail us.

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 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.