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.

Namaste.

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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.

Namaste.

Soul bridge

Sometimes you meet a person and it’s like you’ve known them for all of your life. You feel that deep connection as you’ve already met them before, as you’ve already talked and shared something great and special in some past life. Some call it love from first sight, I call it “Welcome back to my life”. You meet them and you start communicating as you already know all there is to know about each other, naturally revealing common interests one after another. It seems like the two of you were friends, members of the same family or even lovers some time before and it’s past question that here and now this connection is fully present and extremely palpable. And it’s obviously strong enough to overcome time and space and cause this déjà-vu you are experiencing, strong enough to remind you that you’ve already been there and done that. It’s like your souls speak a language of their own and none of you needs words to explain or prove or justify it, you just know. Both of you. Because it has happened before. This is the type of soul connection that touches an invisible, yet sensitive part of you and everything just clicks in place. And this bond, this connection, is pure magic revealed.

But how is that even possible? I’ve never asked myself that question. All of my life, I just knew. I didn’t have to ask to know, I felt. And I’ve always felt that there was something huge and special going on. That it was just there, no matter if I could explain it or not. As a young girl, I believed in Prince Charming. As a teenager, I believed in love from first sight. Later on, already a woman, I had my true epiphany on what love really is – unconditional, ever-giving and forgiving – which greatly supported my girlish theory of soul mates. But all along, there was this inner belief inside of me that there was always a greater plan, a greater design, and I somehow formed a decent part of it. That deep inside, I had this almighty tool to connect to other souls in some other dimension on some other, higher level. And yet, the real magic I found to be manifested when the other person remembers that connection too. One look and it’s all so clear. No questions or answers required, you both feel it. When I remember, it’s like a place I’ve already seen. A fragrance I’ve scented before. A feeling I’m familiar with. A person I’ve already loved. Some souls choose to stay with their loved ones always and forever, time after time again, life after life. That reminds me of a commercial I once saw. Of a fragrance, I reckon. A man and a woman together in different lifetimes and the woman always gets killed, different scenes and different times, but all the same outcome. Until the happy ending, of course.

At the end of the day, love is all there is around and that’s where we all originate from. Love is the only thing to survive and conquer it all. This connection between people reminds me of a bridge of hearts. A soul bridge. Some people got me universally interconnected that way. I can feel  them as I’d feel myself. I’d know when they are happy, sad, lost, down, hurting even from a distance. When I open that gate in my heart, that connection becomes a two-way street. Interconnection. I am the sender and the receiver at the same time. I’m on that bridge of thought and emotion. The bridge of energy. No bridge, however, could remain intact. So I’ve noticed. For one reason or another, sometimes we choose to burn it. And the moment you cut off that connection on heart level, it’s all off. No more emotion and energy exchange, it’s almost like a switch off. It happens. But what’s beyond doubt is that everyone you truly cared for and who loved you back, will stay in touch. They will come back to you in this life and the next one and the next one. You’ll find the way to each other again. Because you are interconnected.

So next time when you meet someone who makes you feel like home, know that this is not a fortuitous even. It just can’t be. There’s no way you could know a person ten minutes after meeting them. And there’s only one way you could feel comfortable with a stranger. If this is not a stranger. So greet them with a big smile and tell them: “Welcome back to my life”.

Saint Valentine’s Day: A tradition or a farce?

You probably know when Saint Valentine’s Day is celebrated, as you probably know what tradition says on the matter. Tradition demands, you buy flowers. Tradition demands, you buy a Valentine’s card. Tradition demands, you give your love candies. And a teddy bear. Or any other stuffed animal with a heart. The bigger, the better. As tradition demands, you need to prove your love to your significant one, by spending a good deal of money to that end. It’s supposed to be romantic and it’s supposed to be original. You just have to make it memorable: organize a trip to Paris, send a love message in the sky, propose. And if you happen to be the lady, just do your best to make yourself look glamorous and let your loved one… well, love you. Don’t forget to make a good surprise face. And give him a biiig kiss for the effort he invested. And the money. Have a good time at the restaurant and enjoy the dinner, if any. And the gift, if any. But don’t get too disappointed, however, if you don’t get to Paris, have pizza in Italy, or you don’t see your name in lights in the night sky. Or if he doesn’t propose. Disappointment is a part of every relationship. After all, Buddha taught that the direct causes of suffering are desire or craving. Well, he knew better, no doubt about it. Expectations of how a date, a holiday, or a particular event would go form a great part of our disappointment. We make plans, we have expectations, mainly in terms of others, and we feel somewhat betrayed if things don’t go as (we) planned. And when we get something else instead, that results in frustration and sometimes we don’t even know why we suddenly feel so disappointed. Expectations. Expecting something to happen in a certain way eventually spoils the pleasure of getting it. Because it’s not how we saw it. It’s not how we imagined it or how we wanted it in the first place. So, as in any other situation in life, remain flexible. And start by opening your eyes, like wide open.

Saint Valentine’s Day is nothing but a farce, it’s a business institution. It didn’t take long before companies realized that it’s a real money-making machine. And the same applies for Christmas or any other public holiday that requires spending money. In a particular way. For a particular reason. You take something pure and sacred, whether love or God, and you make a business out of it. A profitable business. That’s why florists make their monthly wages on the first school day with all parents and students buying flowers for teachers, no matter the price. That’s why people spend millions on Christmas every year. Technically speaking, this is the greatest revenue-generating tool of them all and companies know that. Sadly enough, most people don’t. Or just prefer to ignore the facts. They buy like there would be no tomorrow, like the world would end after Christmas. And the same goes for Valentine’s Day. But when you think about it, why celebrate your love on one particular day and in one particular way?

Love in essence is a great reason to celebrate life and vice versa. The greatest reason. So why would one need to be told exactly when and how to love and express that love? I say, express it every day, every second. Celebrate every single day shared, every moment of beauty you had with your significant one and show your feelings on a daily basis. Why would you buy a Valentine’s card on February 14th, when you could write a love note with a few sweet words coming right out of the very depth of your soul? Why would you make a reservation for that fancy restaurant three months ahead, when you could cook the dinner yourself? That would make it much more private and intimate. And a great impression, mind you.

That being said, you don’t need a specific reason to celebrate love. But that implies, doing so all days of your life. So try doing that. Everywhere, anytime. Make a nice surprise and bring a smile on your loved one’s face. Of course, it’s much more easier when you have enough money to treat your partner well, but is it really necessary? No. Leave a little note on the fridge or send a sweet SMS. Take your partner hiking in the mountains or on a walk on the seaside, depending on what’s applicable in your case. Take the time to re-connect with nature and with each other. Go cycling or swimming. And if your partner is not much of the nature type, you could always find another way of amusement indoors. Have a shower together and leave a message on the foggy bathroom mirror afterwards. Bring them coffee and breakfast in bed. Find their favorite book, music, or movie and read, listen, or watch it together. Take the time for some quality time. Be creative. Make a paper heart and leave it on the windshield (but don’t forget to sign it :)). Draw like a child. Use your own hands. Make a love card on your own just like that, without a special occasion. You don’t need a birthday or a special day to express the light they bring into your life. Just say how they make you feel and how much they mean to you. That’s priceless. But if that kind of art is not your thing, you have quite a few alternatives. Play cards, give them a massage, surprise them naked, be wild and free. Why not even use your own body to send that message of love? Now, that’s what I call surprise. Later, take them out for a night walk under the stars and I’m pretty sure it would be romantic enough to kiss in the dark like teenagers. Whatever the case, your effort would be well worth it. Live. Love. Make any day Saint Valentine’s Day and you’ll see how the flower of love in your hearts blossoms every day more. Enjoy it.

Commitment – is it a myth, or is it just rare?

We’ve all been part of, or witnesses to, this conversation. We are in a relationship and it’s going well, but we are contemplating putting an end to it, because the other person “just won’t commit”. We go on and on about everything we have invested in this endeavour, how we have spent time, energy, effort and emotions on this person, but at the end of the day “what’s the point of going on if we don’t know where it’s all going”. Why try and stay in there, if we don’t have any guarantees that they just won’t up and leave some day. And it’s not just relationships that face this spell of doubt from time to time. We apply this way of thinking to almost any aspect of our lives. Why go to gym every day, when it’s almost impossible to get into shape? Why save up, when the taxman or inflation will take it all away? Why work hard, when no one knows who that promotion will go to? Why commit to anything, when we know it can be lost in a blink of an eye? But on the other hand, we want commitment. We expect it. And it’s the job of those closest to us to deliver it.

The more I think about it though, the more I realize – we don’t control what others do or want or aspire to. We can’t demand something from another, if they are not willing to surrender it freely. We can’t expect or get attached to future outcomes. The future does not exist. What exists is the present. And the only thing we can control, is ourselves. Extracting a promise of ‘forever’ might sound appealing and comforting now, but ‘forever’ is a myth, a chimera for those who sit and wait for things to happen to them instead of making it happen for them. So we demand promises for the future, we expect the person next to us to bend at our will and construct their life upon the blueprint of ours, and inevitably, we set ourselves up for disappointment.

Commitment however, is not a myth. It’s just not something we can find out there. Because it can only exist within. It’s about having a clear vision of who we are, our values, principles, character, and acting out of them consistently and without compromise. It’s about having a vision for our future, and who and where we want to be. And committing to make improvements and take action every day to make that future happen. In love, it’s about being the best partner you can be and, without sacrificing your integrity or your own happiness, to bring light, peace and joy to the one you love. It’s about committing, every day, one day at the time, to give your best, to be your best, given what life you want to live and what kind of a person you aspire to be. Today. Relationships that last a lifetime were not built on a once-off promise or vow. They last a lifetime made up of one day at the time after the other. The commitment, made every morning, that today I will love you and no one else, that today I will be faithful, that today I’m by your side in sickness and in health… And that’s how days turn into months, and months turn into years, the years into a lifetime.

My partner and I have a little ritual. Every morning we say to each other “Happy so-many-months-and-days together, my love. Today I love you, today I’m yours”. We congratulate ourselves for having made it so far and we promise ourselves to each other, today. And for that day, we are as committed as two people can be.

So don’t wait for promises and assurances. Nothing is certain in life, everything changes. Decide what you are committed to and pursue it. Passionately, relentlessly and with burning desire not to get it all but to give it all. You might not always get what you wanted or hoped for, but at least, looking back at it one day, you will be able to say “I gave it all I had and I made the best of it”.

Behind the scenes: Online dating

In a globally connected world, it’s no mystery that the Internet is… well, connecting people. People all over the world, all age groups, all kinds of personalities, a variety of interests. The virtual land of unlimited opportunity. The genuine realm of communication. The place to find new friends and accomplices, to share the same passion or discover a new one. A world of options on a 24’’ screen. Internet is the place for business and of course, to date.

In an environment where we make payments, earn a living, and order food online, it seems pretty natural that we seek to find love online, too. And why not? Why not try finding our soul mate on the Internet, since we are given so many options to do so? And the bunch of dating sites available make it seem quite easy, too.

So, this is how it basically goes.

Day 1. You finally decide to give online dating a shot. You pick a site and create an account. Put a profile photo, fill in some info about yourself here and there, and you start waiting impatiently for the One to come get you. But they wouldn’t. The darn bastard is horribly quiet. As if to compensate and provided that you’ve picked one of the coolest and hottest among your pics, you get a number of “hey sexy” messages and a few direct sex offers. You’re still full of hope and somewhat feeling adventurous, so you decide to check up on the relevant profile just to make sure. Well, at the end of the day, it seems you’re not that adventurous as you previously thought, so you run away scared, closing the browser.

Day 2. Your phone app joyfully informs you that you’ve got @ new messages! “Wow, cool!”, you think, so you go check them. Some Turkish guy asks you to go visit. Some Indian looking 15 finds you lovely. Somebody without a profile picture insists on you giving them your phone number. Nothing from the love of your life. You sigh on the inside and tell yourself that love takes time. You politely reply to the Indian to say thanks (after all, it was so nice of him!) and ignore the sender with no pic.  Consider if you should reply to the Turkish guy, then decide it’s a waste of time.

Day 3. The app says your profile has been checked @ times! You’re delighted. Seems like there’s some hope. Logging in, you receive an angry message from the Turkish. He saw you online and apparently finds the lack of a reply insulting and girls like you unworthy of his attention in general. You ignore him. The Indian is trying hard to start some conversation asking you about your interests. This time you don’t bother replying. Ten minutes online and you’re offered a threesome. Thrilling… but no.

Day 4. You decide to take matters into your own hands or at least give fate a helping kick in the arse, by looking for the love of your life yourself. You start browsing profiles. If the app allows so, you specify a few criteria to limit search results based on what exactly you’re looking for. Taking the initiative, you message a few people that you find kinda cute. In the meantime, you receive a message from a person having a strong BDSM reference as a profile picture, a dog lover, and by someone who tends to display their six pack. On all six pictures.

Day 5. You have a message from one of your objects of interest and the Turkish is back, insisting that you must pay him some attention! He’s a good guy after all! That’s when you discover the block option. Full of hope, you read the important message, just to find out that the guy is married and he’s only looking for some fun (such honesty is quite rare, by the way, as you find out later on). A few other insignificant messages in your inbox, but nothing special. The hunt is on.

The next few days you spend browsing random profiles, replying to random messages and occasionally blocking a few profiles. At that point, your faith in finding love online is a bit shaken. So you find one or more online dating sites, where the story follows more or less the same pattern. You spend hours of your life revealing your interests in detail, trying to get to know the other person and eventually you might find new acquaintances or even go on a date. And maybe, just maybe, your blind date might end up into something pretty nice. If you get very lucky.

The general truth of online dating is that people lie. They might lie about their age, their interests, preferences, marital status, and even put someone else’s picture as their own. The Internet gives you the freedom to be anyone, anywhere, and that’s why it’s so hard to find what you’re looking for. Regardless of the numerous opportunities it provides, you should always keep in mind that most often than not, things are not what they might seem. As a rule, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. In rare cases, however, it is possible to find a person that just “fits you like a glove”. History knows cases when people meet online (on a dating site or not), they start communicating and it all just clicks. They start chatting, calling each other, exchanging pictures, sharing opinions on various subjects and discovering they have a lot in common. It seems they always have something more to say to each other, so it goes on and on and finally, hoping for the best expecting the worst, they meet. And when they do, they both realize that it was meant to happen. That this encounter was not accidental, that there was a deeper meaning to it, so they start revealing it, gradually and enjoying each step of the way.

To conclude, it is for a fact that the Internet has never connected so many people worldwide, but at the same time it disconnects them more than ever. Beyond all question, tête-à-tête contact remains the best way to get to know to a person, but finding your soul mate online is not that ridiculous as it might seem. It has worked for many people and keeps working. So go and give it a try (but bear all of the above in mind) and who knows what might happen? After all, life is unpredictable.

Life is suffering

The first noble truth of Buddhism states that Life is suffering. One reads this and goes: Huh? Really? That’s what life’s about? But delving deeper into this simple phrase, there are layers of wisdom to be found.

Suffering, the wise man goes, is caused first and foremost by attachment. Attachment to people, to things, to memories, to desires, and worst of all to results. We all know the last one, we all fall in its trap day in and day out. It’s called Having expectations. You see, at the core of everything we feel, think, do or choose, sit two primal forces – love and fear. And when we get attached to something or someone, we begin acting out of fear. Fear of losing that which we have. Fear of going without that which we have obtained. All the while ignorant of the simple fact, that nothing we “have” is truly ours. Everything that enters our lives at one point or another, is simply passing through. Experiences come along to teach us something about ourselves, people stop by for a while to show us a different perspective, challenges appear to help us grow. And things, well, things don’t last anyway. Fearing the loss of that we think we have causes us to worry about a future without it, instead of enjoying a present with it. So we spend time and energy and money building walls around our “possessions”, physical or otherwise. We don’t share the abundant gifts of life out of fear that there won’t be enough left for us. We limit the freedom of those we claim to love out of fear that they will leave us and love us no more.

We chase careers and success, thinking that we will be happy when we reach the next promotion, get the next pay raise. All the while having no time to enjoy life because we are too busy slaving away. We have substituted our happiness with one or other form of success, thus placing its source where it is not – outside ourselves. How often do you hear yourself or someone around you say “I have to go and get this, I have to go and buy that, I have to do, I have to get, I have to be….”. The list goes on. Truth is, there is nothing we have to do. There is nothing we have to ‘achieve’. There is nobody we have to become. All we have to do is be. Right here, right now, fully present in the only moment we actually have. Instead of being afraid about the things we cannot get, or losing the stuff we already do, love ourselves for who we are and love each moment of every day, as if it’s the only one. Because it is.

But let me back-track a little. That short phrase I mentioned before, attachment to results? Oh yeah, we don’t really notice that one too well, do we. But it’s the worst of them all. Expecting outcomes not rooted in reality, wishful thinking without foundation or reason. Placing expectations on people is as unfair as it gets. Denying someone the right to be themselves and expecting them to be who you wish them to be. And then bitterly complaining about the disappointment. We do it all the time. And we do it to ourselves, too. Worst, we do it to ourselves. We create pressure to work hard, to do the right thing, always. To deliver what in turn is expected of us. To compete, to achieve, to accomplish, to obtain. The world has set the standard and we feel like failures every time we don’t manage to meet it. That is the bad news. The good news is that we can make a different choice. We can substitute attachment and desire with acceptance, appreciation and gratitude. Because the moment you feel grateful for what you have, you stop worrying about that which you don’t. The moment you share it all with another, you declare that you have enough. The moment you let go of everything, you get it all back. You are rich not when you don’t lack anything, but when you don’t need anything.

So be grateful for every breath of fresh air. Appreciate the smile of a stranger in the street. Accept the flaws of those who care about you. Leave the job you hate, and find your true calling instead. Show kindness, to yourself and to all around you. Tell fear to take a hike, and give love a chance. Because you are perfect, and beautiful, and wonderful. In all your flaws and imperfections, you are exactly who you’re supposed to be, right here and right now. Give thanks, send out light and just be.

Namaste.

A tribute to love

On this memorable day I celebrate love. Love that heals and love that comforts. Love that knows no boundaries and love that breaks them all. This is a tribute to love, a tribute to life itself.

On this day I acknowledge the power of love and the variety of all its forms and reincarnations. Love in the helping hand when you most need it. Love in the eyes of a mother looking at her child with both pride and kindness. Love in the heart of a child hugging a pet. Love in the first beam of sunlight. Love in the peace of forest and in the calming sound of waves. Love in the touch of wind, gently caressing your face. Love in the air you breathe. Love all around. Because it’s all one and the same feeling. One and the same nourishing, replenishing, and reviving energy.

On this day I commemorate this universal healer. The healer that has the power to chase all your pain away and kiss your wound just like a caring mother would do. The healer that helps you forget about all that was, drawing the line between “now” and “then”, “before” and “after”.

Paradoxically, while constantly looking for love on the outside, we tend to forget that we are its original source. That all love we need is already inside of us, hidden and covered with dust and sorrow. But to be able to reach for that never failing source, we must love ourselves first. Unconditionally. Know that you are worth it, know that you deserve to be loved, and that you are good enough. For that is the case. Most of us, however, find it hard to believe. Some of us feel doomed to a life without love. It might be originating from your childhood and the manner you have been raised. Or maybe life circumstances forced you to lose faith in yourself and universal wisdom. But let me tell you this: you are worth it. You are precious. You deserve it. And no matter how many times you have failed (even though there’s no such thing as failure) so far, this is not the end and you deserve the best you can get. There’s not a single human being on earth who doesn’t deserve to breathe love and live through love. So allow yourself to believe it, feel it, and live your life by it.

No matter how many times you’ve stumbled and fallen, remember that each moment is a new moment when life is being reborn. Through you and your reality. Take this moment to accept it, take this moment to change anything that doesn’t serve you, anything that might hold you back. And look no further, because you are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. You are special. You are unique. Hardships in life come and go and challenges will always be there, but take them as experience, which helps you to move forward. Love yourself in all your uniqueness and charm. Love yourself in all your good and bad choices. Love yourself for who you are and for who you aim to be. Because loving others starts with loving yourself. Respect yourself and always demand the most of the situation. For in essence, you are love. Love in its purest form. With every cell of your body and each breath you take, you are nothing but love. Just acknowledge that fact and let love guide you on every step of the way. How? Just look inside of you. Think of something that makes you happy. Recall that person or situation that brought out the best in you, made you smile, brought happy tears in your eyes. That moment when you felt blessed. That moment when you finally felt deeply connected with your true self and with all there is around. Now feel that love and gratitude fill your heart, allow them to revive you, allow them to heal your wounds. Let them spread all over your body and shine through you. Put those sacred feelings into words and actions, express yourself. Now, every day. Be the person you want to be. Be the best you can be at this point and know that it can only get better. Namaste.

(In this short article I managed to mention love 30 times. Next time, I’ll try harder. :))

A quick guide to meditation – Part III

When starting out with meditation, the hardest part is to control the flow of our thoughts. They keep popping into our heads, distracting us and making our minds wander. This active mental state also keeps our brains in a conscious and alert state, preventing us from going deeper within and lessening the benefit of the meditation itself. The practice is, after all, about going deeper within and disconnecting from the physical world, so the incessant chatter of the conscious mind tends to get in the way of that. Our physical bodies, including our conscious minds, are energy vibrating at a level low enough, so it can take a physical form and shape and allow us to experience life in the relative way of physical reality. Whereas the purpose of meditation is to raise our vibration, elevate above the constraints of the matter and into the realm of ‘ultimate reality’, outside the bonds of time and space. And when we go deep within, our brains also change their wave output, getting us closer to the same state we experience when in deep sleep, but with the benefit of being awake and aware.

Just as the brain begins to output electromagnetic waves at lower frequencies when we reach a state of deep meditation, so can external input of those frequencies bring us quicker to a meditative state. There are many useful tools out there, that will help you with the task of quieting your mind and putting your brain in the right ‘wavelength’. I find it useful to use an app (search for Binaural beats or sounds), that generates low Delta frequencies which put me in the desired state and saves me the time it usually takes to bring myself ‘down’.

In the last post on the subject I described a way to do a cleansing meditation, where we get to let go of negativity and mental and emotional burdens. This meditation is particularly beneficial at the end of the day, before we go to sleep. Apart from generally cleansing ourselves of negative thoughts and emotions, we can also visualize the process of letting go of specific events, experiences and emotions from the past day. Since everything we experience throughout the day is processed and stored by our subconscious during sleep, it helps to let go of anything painful, negative and counterproductive, so it’s not kept inside the long-term storage of the mind, where it will influence future decisions and choices and the experience of life itself.

A useful technique I find to work very well, is to picture yourself on a beach, ankle-deep in the water (some waves background music comes in very handy to set the scene). As you breathe and watch the waves come in and out, ‘see’ your daily events that you wish to get rid of and watch the waves come in, grab them and drag them away, as if they were large pebbles or rocks. Repeat that for as long as you can, until every unpleasant word, thought, action or feeling of the past day has been washed away by the waves. Then slowly walk into the water, lie floating on your back, and feel it washing you clean, scrubbing away all your worries and troubles. Invite in a feeling of peace, happiness and contentment. And after a while, now completely at peace, swim or walk back to the shore, feel the sand between your toes, feel the lightness in your step, breath in the fresh ocean air. And after three deep breaths, open your eyes and be here.

Make this evening meditation part of your daily routine and soon you will notice how the stresses of yesterday no longer disturb the peace of today. Having let go of the past worries means no longer wasting time over what has been and focusing instead on what is now. It helps you stay in the present and enjoy the moment without the fear, guilt or regret that comes from looking at the past.

Until next time, love and light.

Namaste.

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…

Namaste.