To need and to want

I was reminded today, by someone very close to me, of the many things I had started or tried in the past year, that I ended up abandoning and giving up. One particular example immediately came to mind. Few weeks ago I signed for lessons in Swing dancing, a pursuit that has now come to an end.

Learning to dance is something I had always wanted, having always been a complete klutz on the dance floor, looking like a fool with two left feet. I’ve had a great deal of admiration for those people who can simply glide across the floor, marveling at, and yes envying, the ease with which they spin the most complex steps. It made me want to be like them, to be capable of happily enjoying a dance without embarrassment, and even maybe find myself the subject of admiration and applause.

So I signed up for something I wanted. And almost from the very beginning, I realized it wasn’t for me, it wasn’t who I was. I felt no joy at the mindless jumping up and down, that was anything but beautiful and graceful looked from the side. The constant change of partners in the class left me uncomfortable and unsettled, with a different stranger touching my hand, finding myself unable to find harmony and comfort with the ever changing hands that held mine.

So I gave it up. And today, following the remark about my inconsistency, it got me thinking. Why is it that we always want so many things, yet the moment we get them, we don’t want them anymore?

One of the first things I learned from my meditation teacher more than 15 years ago, was about the eternal battle each of us face, between the pursuit of our wants and the fulfillment of our needs. His words of warning – “We decide we want something and we go after it. And when we get it, we want it no more, now we want something else. So by design and definition, our wants can never be met. Our needs, on the other hand, always will be”.

But where do our wants and needs spring from? Our wants come from our ego, that pushes us to always want more. This is how it makes itself useful, it justifies its existence. We get it in our heads that we want something, we achieve it by will, work or sacrifice, and it brings no happiness or joy. We think we’ve wasted our time. So the ego jumps back up, putting a new batch of thoughts in our heads, making us want the next thing. And off we go… But it’s a losing battle we fight. It’s like building a cabin of straw on a windy beach, and every time we complete it, the tide comes in and washes it away. And we have to start from scratch. Giving into the illusion that the constant ‘building’ gives our life a purpose. Except that it doesn’t. We are wasting time and energy we don’t have, to build something we don’t need, to impress an ego that doesn’t serve us. And where is all of this rooted? Our ego lives in the past. It is the sum of all of our fears, pains and disappointments. We are trying to solve problems that no longer exist, because we have long grown past them. We no longer need the cabin of straw. We now need a castle of stone.

And this is where our needs come in. They come from the soul. From the path we have charted for ourselves for this life, before we even started it. Our soul doesn’t need the pursuit of momentary happiness, fleeting pleasure or instant gratification. It needs no cabin of straw. The soul’s work is to build a castle. Something solid, unshakable, indestructible. A sustainable foundation, on which we can base the next layer of growth and evolution on our path. A home, where we can find shelter from the harshest storms, where we revive and recharge ourselves after each of life’s challenges. It takes time, and the building stones are often heavy, but the reward is greater than we could possibly imagine.

The ego bombards us with thoughts and fears and doubts every minute of every day. That’s all we hear – what we don’t have, what we can’t achieve, how we must get this, do that, be something else. Surrounded by unconcerned faces, deafened by the news on TV and the mindless chatter of social media, manipulated by false admirers and ‘friends’ with hidden agendas, the voice of our soul – quiet, subtle and unobtrusive – is drowned out by the shouts of our ego.It speaks to us through our feelings, but how often do we silence our feelings and our intuition, to follow the voice of ‘common sense and logic’? How often do we convince ourselves that the right choice IS the right choice, even when deep down it feels anything but right?

This is where all of our pain and misery come from. From the conflict of doing what we want, instead of getting what we need. From not living in our truth but putting on a show, for the world and our ego to see. Following the voice of our ego will lead us down a path of emptiness and disappointment. We will find admiration, but not true love. We will find followers, but not partners, we will find success , but not fulfillment. The voice of the soul, however, leads us back to ourselves, to the things that matter the most, the only things that are truly real.

The voice of the soul can only be heard in silence, solitude and stillness. When we disconnect from the world, when we stop looking without, and we start searching within. So find a quiet place, sit down with your eyes closed, and just be. And ask yourself the questions that trouble you the most. Let your thought flow freely. If an answer comes to you and it leaves you feeling unsettled and sad or angry, it’s not the right one, move on. The right answer will leave you feeling happy, balanced, it will leave you feeling ‘right’.

Your life is not a business deal, you are not running a corporation. Your job is not to ‘do the right thing’. Your job is to be blissfully happy, fulfilled, and to feel at home, no matter where you are. So go on, sit in silence and find your home.



Expand your RAS

Recently I got invited to join two very different, in fact opposite in nature, Facebook groups. The one has an objective of sharing with its members uplifting and inspiring stories, good news and motivating experiences. The other is an outlet for people to moan and complain, a place to share all the ugliness we come into contact with in everyday life. Naturally, all day long I am bombarded with notifications from both sides – sometimes funny, occasionally heartwarming, and in many instances outright ridiculous. Turns out if you give people an outlet for a particular emotion, they will always somehow find what to pour out of it.

As hilarious at times it is, to scan through the posts, I am struck every day how few the posts in the ‘good news’ group are, and how numerous and elaborate the complaints and the bitching on the other side. For some reason, perhaps influenced by the general negativity of our corner of the world, we find it easier to notice and comment on the ugly, offensive and unpleasant happenings in our daily lives. It’s as if we go out there deliberately looking for something to gossip about or be offended by, having made it our daily mission to expose stupidity, rudeness and total lack of manners of some members of our society.

I think however, it is our own negativity that makes the dark and ugly around us stand out. We can only notice in others that which we already recognise in ourselves. And looking at the world around us is nothing but looking into a mirror, where our own ideas and emotions are reflected and shown back at us. That is, if that’s what we are determined to see.

Because, you see, there is another way. There’s this phenomenon, a rather complex function of our brains call Reticular Activating System. I won’t go into the details of its medical complexity since I don’t understand exactly how it works anatomically anyway. A lookup in Wikipedia will tell us that “The reticular activating system helps mediate transitions from relaxed wakefulness to periods of high attention”. Or as it’s most commonly know as ‘the red car phenomenon’. Like, when you buy a red car, and suddenly there are red cars everywhere, so many more than you even noticed before. And that’s something that, I’m sure, we have all experienced, more often that we’re actually aware of.

Say, for instance, you take up a new hobby. Like fly-fishing. It’s totally new to you, you’ve never thought about it or paid any attention to the fact that it’s practiced by millions of people. Before, in your world, fly-fishing didn’t even exist. But for one reason or another, perhaps encouraged or persuaded by a friend, you decide to give it a go. And suddenly something strange, yet wonderful starts to happen. You walk into a bookstore or go to a magazine kiosk, and for the first time ever you notice the dozens of books and magazines on fishing. You open your daily paper, the one you’ve been reading for years, or go to your favourite news site and there are articles on the subject everywhere. Turn on the TV? Yup, apparently there’s an entire channel dedicated to your new pastime. What happened? Did the world suddenly discover fly-fishing? Did everyone just like that decide to engage in the same activity as you?

No. The answer is much simpler. There is no world-wide conspiracy to flood every media outlet with news and information about it. You simply expanded your awareness to include something that was always there, you just never noticed it before. You ”transitioned from relaxed wakefulness to a state of high attention”. Or as my meditation teacher used to put it, so simply and elegantly, “where your attention goes, your energy flows”.

Whatever you choose to focus your attention on, it leads to an expansion of your awareness and growth of your consciousness. Whether you choose to expand your knowledge on a subject, engage in a new activity, search for something in life or simply buy a red car – where your attention goes, your energy flows. You will start noticing it everywhere around you.  

Which takes me back to my Facebook group – the optimists and the pessimists, as I call them.

Whatever we are intent on finding in life, it’s already out there. The question here really is – what do we want to fill our days, and our minds and hearts with. Should we go out in the morning, taking notice of all the ugliness around us? If we did, we would find it. But how about we start our days, firmly intended to look for beauty and light? No, not live in denial of that which is less than perfect or desired, but simply make a small effort to find something to smile about, something which, when shared with others, would brighten their day. And when we find something to smile about, let’s share it with our little world.

It’s up to us to choose what we focus on. And whatever we bring our attention to, the more we seek it, the more we would find it. For the Universe is kind and generous in this way. We each create our reality with every thought, word and action we put forth. And at the end of the day, the question that matters is, what kind of a world do we want to live in.

So start tomorrow. Take one good, positive thing, and make sure you find it, again and again. And the next day find two. Then three. Do not let a day go by without this. And soon you will notice a shift deep within. And your world will be better. All it took was for you to expand your RAS.


Kai-zen or the art of making it happen

We’ve all had those moments, every once in awhile. We sit down, we start thinking and we take stock of our lives. And the conclusion we get to, is that it’s not going so great. We haven’t accomplished any of our goals, our dreams seem as distant as the day we conjured them up, we never lost that holiday weight, changed our diet, quit smoking and on and on and on… We start to feel like a failure, we get depressed, and that of course, demotivates us even more. So now, having taken a harsh look at our reality, we have even less desire or energy to do anything about it. We surrender to doom and gloom, we tell ourselves that nothing matters, nothing is worth the effort, why make plans and have dreams if nothing ever comes to be. And we go back to living day in and day out, telling ourselves that there’s no point to it all anyway, so why bother.

This time of the year is particularly bad. We’ve started the new year just a couple of months ago, filled with hopes and dreams and lofty ideas of the better life we’re going to live and the better person we are going to become. The slate has been wiped clean, we have a fresh start, and this time we are going to make those New Year’s resolutions stick. Except that life continues to happen the way it’s always happened. We work, we pay the bills, we take care of mundane everyday chores, and before you know it, it’s already March. And we’ve done nothing. We’ve changed nothing. Said taking of stock takes place and we conclude that we have failed, miserably, yet once again. And doom and gloom and depression set in.

But is it really so? Is it really that hard to make positive changes happen, to make dreams come true, to achieve goals and to reach new levels of knowing, being, doing, having? The sad truth is that we are our own worst enemies. We aim so high, that when we fall, we hurt like hell. And it is emotional hell where we find ourselves. It’s a vicious cycle. We have a negative experience, this hurts our confidence, this in turn lowers our self-esteem feeding the belief that we are good for nothing, which in turns stops us from realizing our full potential. Which leads to even worse results…and the cycle starts all over again, a downward spiral. Until one day when, if we are lucky to get there, we realize that life is not doing this to us, the universe is not punishing us, our deity is not squashing us down. Our lack of faith and optimism and courage have turned our worst fears into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The less we get from life, the less we want, and the less we want, the less we get. So we dig deep into that well of light, which by the way never dried up in the first place, and we shake off the blues, we pull ourselves up and we say to ourselves “No more will I be a victim of my own worst fears. No more will I let myself think of or want for myself less than I deserve”. We do that, and we get up and we march forth. If we’re lucky. Others get stuck in this bottomless pit for years, some even for life. For that’s what it does to you. It takes away your life. You’ve given yourself a life sentence.

So how do we get out? How do we change what appears to be almost unchangeable? Do we make a list of all the things we want to accomplish and throw ourselves at it, changing everything at once, turning our lives upside down overnight? Personally, I think that’s the surest way to fail at everything. Putting yourself on a different diet while hitting the gym five times a week might seem like the right way to go, but your body needs time to adjust to such major changes. And physical changes are not the only ones this applies to. Developing productive habits, changing our way of thinking, letting go of fears and painful memories – all of this takes time. It took you years to get yourself to where you are. And you cannot change overnight. Your body will cry, but worse than that, your mind will rebel. Your ego wants to run the show and it is not happy when you take control in your own hands. So you miss the gym once and then you miss it again and before you know it you stop going at all. What the heck, you’re not getting any thinner, are you? After all those weeks sweating and working out, no results to speak of. You slip in a burger or a doughnut, and soon you’re back to living on junk, since, let’s face it, you’re so miserable eating healthy. You sneak in a cigarette or two, telling yourself that you just need one now, because you’re having a bad day. And soon you’re back to a pack a day, because, let’s be honest, you gotta die someday anyway. And that dream that you know will take you six months to accomplish, three weeks later you’re not any closer, so why bother, nothing good ever happens to you anyway.

But there’s another way of doing things, a better way, tested and proven over centuries. The Japanese call it Kai-zen. Translated elaborately, it means ‘Constant daily incremental improvement’. It means taking one small thing about your life and doing it just a little better every day. And after a week or two, when this new way of doing it has become part of your daily life, take something else. And change it just a tiny bit, every day. And then tweak another, and another. On a daily basis it will feel like you’re changing nothing or at least not much. There will be no shock to the system, no turning your life upside down. But slowly, as the weeks and months pass by, you will have changed yourself and your life for the better. Because quantitative accumulations lead to quality improvements. Reducing a bad habit by 1% a day will see you be rid of it in a few months. Changing one ingredient of your daily meals every week will turn into healthier eating habits over time. Increasing your meditation time by one minute every few days will turn you into a Zen master in no time. Ok, maybe not. But you get my point. 😉

And above all, most of all, practice gratitude. If you are alive, even moderately healthy, if you have food on the table and a warm bed to sleep in, you are already wealthier than millions of people out there. Every day, take few minutes to go outside. Touch a tree, pick a flower, stand on your balcony for few minutes in the morning and listen to the birds in the trees. Watch the dance of the clouds across the sky. Find one thing, each day, to be grateful for. Realize how blessed you are to have been given the opportunity to experience this magic called Life. Cheer someone up and it will make YOU feel better. Give something away and it will make YOU feel abundant. Whatever you want or crave, give it away. And give yourself a pat on the back. You have made it this far. You have overcome obstacles, solved problems, found solutions. You have surmounted challenges and defeated pain. You have fought, and you have won, many times. You can, and you will, do and be and have anything you want. The trick is to want. To want it badly. To quote Napoleon Hill, “you have to have a burning desire” for anything you want. And you have to believe. Little by little, one day at the time, step into the light and make constant daily incremental improvements.


Of life and how we live it

From the moment we are born, we are subjected to endless and persistent ‘education’. Schools, families, media – all bombard us with tons of information. We are told…everything. And we are taught nothing. What this so called education does, is shape us and fit us into a mould, that defines for us what is and isn’t acceptable, what we should and shouldn’t do, say, eat, wear, what dreams to dream, what goals to chase. It defines for us success and failure, happiness and unhappiness. And we are brainwashed into thinking that there are things we have to do/have/possess, in order to feel the way we want to feel and see our lives the way we want to, so we can be who we should be. This way of thinking and living creates nothing but misery. We try our entire lives to obtain that which we are told we need, we strive to change or control our physical environment. And we foolishly believe, that if we can control everything around us, we will feel better about ourselves and we will become the person we are supposed to be. But we can’t control it all. We will never have it all figured out or put together as we want it. So we spend our lives fighting life itself, and then we wonder why we’re unhappy, unfulfilled and downright depressed. Something is missing.

Now here’s a thought, that some of you might find…well, ridiculous. What if life is supposed to be lived the other way around? What if we change who we are, so we think a different thought, so we can feel about life in a different way, and as a result experience life differently? Thoughts leading to feelings leading to actions leading to changes.

Nah, I hear you say. How am I supposed to think differently, when everything around me prompts a completely different response? The answer is simple, yet profound. And it’s not the first time you come across it. Do not react, rather create. Easier said than done? Think of it this way. Whenever exposed to or confronted by something, do you react instinctively, do you do or say the first thing that comes into your head? Most of us do exactly that. The response is formed without us even being aware of it. It is calculated and created by our subconscious mind based on everything it holds – memories, past experiences, hopes, doubts, fears, ‘education’. It takes shape, it comes to the surface et voilà, the reaction is unleashed upon the world. Sometimes followed by satisfaction, but quite often by regret. We’ve all been there – “I shouldn’t have done that, I could have reacted differently, Now why did I do or say that instead of something else….”.

What it really comes down to is choice. Choice to speak, act and choose differently. And that begins with deciding, first and foremost, who we are, and more importantly – who we want to be. To decide what kind of life we want to live, what kind of world we want to see around us. And then make the choice as if we already are that person. Decide to be kind and act out of kindness, decide you are generous and display generosity, decide you are at peace and shine that peace onto others. For we all carry within us a spark of divine light, a grain of the universal goodness. It is ingrained in us, in fact, it makes us us. Years and years of fear-based ‘education’ will make us think of us and them, dividing us from the world around us and closing us off to all the goodness we could experience. We choose to act out of fear, where we are here to express and experience nothing but unconditional love. It is within that duality, that contradiction, that all of life’s choices arise. Do you live your life from a place of fear, or do you live it from a place of love? All other thoughts and emotions are a byproduct of these two.

Fear makes us hate, control, envy, imprison. Love sets us free, inspires, motivates and expands our souls. To live out of love is to live the highest life of all. But how do we learn to live that way? It’s nearly impossible to consciously condition ourselves to do that. The solution, as always, lies within. We must make the expression of love – towards ourselves and towards others – our highest priority. And to do that, we have to open not just our minds but before all our hearts, to pure unconditional love. And the best way to do that is through meditation.

When we close our eyes and sit in silence, when we shut off the world and go within, we open ourselves up to the very source of love, and of life itself – our divine nature. We let in the light, energy and unconditional love of the universe and allow it to settle deep within us. The more we do that, the more of it we have to give. And the more of it we give, the more of it there is in our world.

So start your every day with a pat on the back, congratulate yourself for making it to another day. And looking at your reflection in the mirror, declare to yourself and to the world who you are today. Not tomorrow, not a year from now. Today. Smile at strangers, help an old lady cross the road, give small change to a homeless person. Say Thank you and Please. Do this and you will have a totally different experience of your world. And you will feel happier. Because you are not here to please anybody, to impress the crowd, to win it all. You are here to become, each day and one moment at the time, the best version of the highest vision you can possibly have of yourself. The most important thing you can give yourself and the world is that, which you have always had and what you always were – unconditional love and light.

Get up, go forth and shine…


Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow…

I’m sitting down, determined to write tonight. And I’m scratching my head, trying to think of a topic to write on, and words to express it in. Nothing’s coming to mind. And that suddenly takes me back in time. Back to when I was a young student and I had to prepare for, and write, dozens of exams every year. And it always went the same way….

I would study for weeks, reading thick books, full of information that was neither interesting nor easy to remember. I would go through the material, take notes, try to soak up the knowledge on the pages. Only to forget it all, as soon as the leaf was turned. Days later, in the exam room, I would stare at the question in front of me, without the slightest idea as to what the answer is. Drawing a blank, I think they call it, yes?

Yet, I always got myself out of it, doing something that I neither understood nor could explain. I would sit back in my chair, close my eyes for a few minutes and not think of anything. No desperate searching for the right words, no frantic attempt to remember what I had read just days ago. Just sit, in silence, eyes closed. And then I’d let my imagination go back. Back to the day when I read the exact passages and pages I need to remember right now. Seeing myself in my mind’s eye with book in hand, paging through, reading those exact sentences. And I’d let my mind wander and think freely, starting a silent discussion in my head, as if I’m in a hall full of students and I’m the one lecturing them on the subject at hand.And then I would open my eyes, and put pen to paper, and pour out everything that comes back to me. No strain, no hesitation. It’s like I’m taking dictation in my head and all I have to do is transcribe it.

I did this every time, and every time I passed with highest marks. And even stranger than that, I would read my paper again and realise I had written things I didn’t even know I knew, things I couldn’t remember reading to begin with.Later on, when I started dabbling in the world of metaphysics, mysticism, meditation and even quantum physics, I found the explanation for this wondrous phenomenon. I understand now how and why it was possible to do the things I did.

You see, our mind is a phenomenal thing. On conscious level we can be a complete klutz, failing to remember where we put our keys five minutes ago or what we had for lunch yesterday. But our subconscious never sleeps, never stops soaking up and recording everything we ever see, hear, touch, smell, taste or feel. It knows everything, because it remembers everything. It can remind us how we felt on that Sunday morning when mom made us that breakfast, and how the kitchen smelled and how warm the plate of food in from of us was. Or where we saw a book in a shop window years ago, while on a trip abroad. Or how to breathe, how to walk, what songs make us cry. We don’t think for a minute how to do these things. They just happen.

When we close our eyes, take few deep breaths and let go of our thoughts, we let in, or let through, something entirely different. A force, an energy that sparks the creation of music and books, of paintings and sculptures. It helps us make decisions, otherwise impossible to figure out. It guides us to do and be more than we ever were before. There are many names for it. Many attempts to define it and describe it. We are in the zone, Things flow, Divine inspiration, Intuition, Inner voice, Guiding light – it doesn’t matter the name you attach to it. We all know what it is, when it comes and how it makes us feel.

Athletes will tell you, they go out onto the field and let the force flowing through them guide them to make that jump, run that fast or make that shot. Writers will say, it feels like their hand is gliding across the paper, scribbling the words without even managing to read them. I think it was Johann Sebastian Bach who once said “The music arrives in my head, already fully composed. And it flows so fast, my hand barely manages to write it down”.

We tend to think it’s only the great creators of things that get divinely inspired. We, mere mortals, we have to be humble and acknowledge our shortcomings. And achieve everything through effort and hard work. Forgive me, but that is nothing but a meme. We all have the potential to tap into that infinite source of inspiration and let it flow through us and guide us to be more than we could ever dream of being. Our cultural conditioning is the only thing that stops us. In mystery schools they have a term, from Greek – skotomas. The blocks and bricks that make up the wall that we put around ourselves. Within that wall is everything we think we know, everything we’re comfortable and familiar with. It keeps us safe, we don’t have to think what’s out there. But as safe as we are, we are keeping our minds in a prison. For out there, there exists the endless, boundless, eternal light. The energy that makes and shapes and moves everything. And if we want to break the mould and fly, we need to take those bricks down, one by one. Challenge ourselves, think the unthinkable, do the impossible. And open up more and more to that light.

I’m not a religious person in the conventional sense of the word, but I do believe wisdom comes in many forms and from many sources. Paging through the Bible once, I found these words “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

That knock on the door, it’s for each and everyone of us. We don’t need to toil to find the light, it is always there. All we have to do is answer and open the door. And let it in.

Until next time, love and light!


A quick guide to meditation – Part II

‘Meditation’ seems to have become a buzzword of sorts lately. Countless apps, blogs, articles, pages upon pages talk and teach about how to meditate, why meditate. We are overwhelmed with information on the subject. It’s only logical that one should take a closer look at all this information, trying to find a unified truth, a simple guide that would shows us, in words plain and simple to follow, how and why we should engage in this practice, as old as humanity itself.

I’m not going to list the countless benefits of daily meditation, I leave that to you to explore. But what I’ll try to do, is give you something useful, something you can take and use on a daily basis, together with a brief explanation of what meditation really is and why it works.

Looking at all the available information out there, I can’t help but notice something that, well… quite frankly bugs me. There seem to be two very different ideas about meditation floating around. A lot of people see it as a tool for relaxation, something to do at the end of a long stressful day so they can take the edge off and calm down just a bit. Or sleep better. Or even brag about, using it as a tool in a competition for ‘most enlightened in the neighbourhood’. And while any reason to get a person to meditate is in itself a good thing, this way of thinking gets people to miss what meditation is really all about.

Which is the second way of seeing it – the purpose of meditation is to bring awakening, awareness, enlightenment and spiritual growth. And that, my dear friends, is a life’s work. It’s not a quick fix, not a pill you can take whenever life gets a bit tougher. It’s a way of life, a way of seeing life, a way of being in life. And like all lifelong pursuits, it’s done one day at a time. One meditation at a time. One breath at a time.

So at this point I can almost hear you asking – Yeah, yeah, enough with the theory. How do we actually do it? The answer is “Be still and be quiet”. It is in stillness and in silence that we let go of the world around us, and we turn inward, where peace and light exist. Meditation will not help you find inner peace, for you never lost it in the first place. It will rather help you remember that you’ve had it in you all along. All you have to do is let it shine. And that you do in stillness and silence.

Noise exists everywhere. In the room or home around us, but also in our own heads. The endless stream of thoughts that never seems to quiet down is just as distracting as the neighbour upstairs, playing with his power drill on Sunday morning. Learning to quiet one’s own mind is probably the biggest challenge you will face. That is the bad news. The good news is that with time and practice, you can become the master of your mind. Believe me, it’s possible. And once you do, you gonna take this whole game to a totally new level.

Begin small, and let it build up in duration and depth. Choose a time when you won’t be disturbed. Go to the quietest room in the house. Switch off your phone, TV, stereo. Create a bubble of silence. Wear loose, comfortable clothes. Sit with your spine straight, your hands in your lap, palms on top of each other facing up. Close your eyes. Notice all noises and distractions around you. Acknowledge them, then mark them irrelevant and let them go. And bring your focus to yourself.

At first all you need is to relax. Start at the top of your body, with your face muscles, jaw, neck. Focus on each body part and feel it relax, one after the other. Shoulders, arms, down to the fingertips. Chest, abdomen, legs, toes. Visualise all the tension and discomfort in your body draining out of you into a puddle on the floor. And for a few moments just sit there and breathe. Bring all your attention and awareness to your breath. Watch it, don’t force it or try to control it. Just observe your body moving with your breath, your chest going up and down, the feeling of air at the tip of your nostrils.

Now see inside your body, in the centre of your chest, a cloud of dark smoke. It’s the sum of everything negative and out-of-balance in you – anger, sadness, fear, doubts, stress, worry, illness and pain. See it coming out of every cell of your body and concentrating into that cloud around your heart. Feel the weight and the pressure it puts on your chest.

And now, one breath at the time, watch yourself slowly exhaling that dark smoke. Let yourself draw a breath, and as you let it out, see a small puff of dark smoke leave your body. And as it does, see the cloud in your chest become just a touch smaller. Without strain or tension, continue to breathe, and count your breaths on their way out. Until all the black smoke has left your chest, until you are left clean and fresh. And feel the lightness on your chest, feel the energy in your body flowing freely, now that you have freed it from this heavy burden. Smile at yourself, congratulate yourself.

When you first start out, your mind will wander. You will get distracted, thoughts will pop into your head. Don’t stress, it’s quite normal. With more practice it will happen less and less. Just notice that thought, mark it irrelevant, and let it go saying to yourself – I see you, and I will deal with you later. For your first meditation commit to a certain number of breaths, say 50 or 70. And make sure that at the last breath you count, you’ve let go of all the smoke. As you progress with the practice, let the count go higher. Increase by 5 or 10 every day. Soon you will get to a point where the smoke is all gone, but you can’t bring yourself to stop, that’s how peaceful and quiet it is here.

After you’re done, do not jump off your seat. Gently open your eyes and slowly bring your awareness to the world around you. Get up slowly, stay quiet if it feels ok. And take that feeling of peace into your day, or sleep. Until the next time.

Take this as a starting point and try to do it every morning and every evening. It’s ok if you miss a session, do not feel guilty that you’ve ‘broken the chain’. Just  make an effort next time. Soon it will stop being something you make yourself do, but it will rather become something that is part of your life and part of who you are.

In upcoming post I will write about different meditation techniques that you can use to keep the practice more varied. But I will also spend a little more time on the subject of why it’s good to meditate, how it works in the long run and what’s the purpose of it all anyway.

Until then, happy meditating!



A little talk about inspiration

… and where to find it?

Have you ever felt the need of inspiration? To write, exercise, or just do something. Anything. What I know from experience is that inspiration rarely comes upon request. Most often than not, it responds not to summoning and it’s nowhere to be found, when really required. On the other hand, one can expect it emerging out of the blue. And yes, it goes without saying, at the wrong time.

Let’s say you have to write something. Your homework, a work report, or anything that requires you to just sit down and focus. So, that’s what you do. You sit down and try to do it, but words just would’t come out. Or maybe you’re trying to motivate yourself to finally get to the gym. Same story. Your mind says yes. Your body, however, says no. And with a tone of finality. Result: you are sitting in front of the TV with that popcorn, promising yourself that you’ll really hit the gym tomorrow. Sounds familiar?

What you need in any of the situations described above, is inspiration. Or motivation, if you will. You somehow need to find the proper inspiration to get you do what you need to do (or at least, finish what you started). That inspiration trigger, for instance, may come from art. And when I say art, I mean art in any form. Visiting an art gallery, listening to the right music, reading a meaningful book, or having a deep conversation with a partner in crime – all these have the potential to do the job. In addition, nature is a natural inspiration booster. (I bet you didn’t know that, did you? :))

So, what you need to do, is just go out and let the energy flow through you. Before you know it, you’ll feel ready to face anything, even to make that selfish body of yours actually listen to you. As odd as it might seem, in most cases only a spark of inspiration is enough. One small spark is enough to light the fire in your heart. The fire of creativity, purposefulness, and determination. Enough to get you in the mood, enough to get you moving, enough to do anything planned. Just go with the flow and let that spark shine through you, through everything that you do and everything you create. Because at the end of the day, it won’t be long before you are contented enough to pat yourself on the back for doing such an amazing job and that feels wonderful, doesn’t it?