The other day I was witness to a remarkable though simple ritual of connection. The whole family were at a shopping centre (the Mall to the Americans 🙂 ) – something that happens very rarely as I’m really not a shopping centre kind of person – and we’d stopped for lunch. Our seats were outside the establishment in what I’d guess you could call the hallway outside the shops, and we were right next door to a hairdresser. Our kids couldn’t sit down long and after a short while started to play, coming back for the occasional bites which was alright with us. So it wasn’t long before my 3 year old noticed a pair of sisters sitting bored at the hairdressers waiting for their mother to finish having her hair done. One of the children was a similar age to her. The girls had obviously been told to stay inside the hairdressers at all costs. My daughter on the other hand was reluctant to cross the threshold into the next shop, so the two three year olds faced each other across the open doorway.
I think first they stuck their tongues out. Then they started making faces at each other. Then they started copying each other’s faces. All this was wordlessly, amid the noise and bustle of the shopping centre, almost like a magical little oasis of connection. After that they started to add in various body movements, becoming more and more attuned. One would raise an arm, and the other would copy, one would bop her head and the other would copy. They took turns leading and following. Finally they progressed to full body movements, doing lunges and star jumps. At times they were so in tune with each other that they performed the actions at the same time, and it looked like one was the mirror image of the other. All this went on for a good ten minutes or so. Only then did they progress to a little conversation about brothers and sisters and such like, but by that time they were already friends! After a couple of minutes of that the sisters mother had finished having her hair done, and they trailed off after their mum, my daughter and her friend waving to each other and yelling ‘Bye!’
I was transfixed by the whole thing. There are times when I find this mortal state of humanity limiting, and there are times when I rejoice in it and just love being human! This was one of the latter. Isn’t it fantastic that two little people can build such a connection, without words, just by mirroring each other’s movements? And they had such fun doing it! From a young age it seems we are born to interact and to read and predict each other. NLP will have you intentionally match and mirror the actions of someone you wish to build up rapport with, and if that’s not done carefully it can be very artificial, actually a little creepy and more of a turn off than anything … you might also be so busy matching and mirroring that you neglect to actually listen to what the other person is saying. I personally prefer to pay deep attention to the conscious and unconscious messages the other person is sending my way. You know how you can soften and relax your vision, and then you get to see every little thing that happens even out of the corner of your eye? It’s something to experiment with whilst you’re driving. Rather than having your eyes dart sharply from one target to the next, try looking softly. Defocusing your vision a little. You’ll find you see a lot more. Then you can zoom in on anything that seems incongruent or relevant in some way. Well when I’m having a deep conversation with someone or if I’m working with a client I like to do that with all my senses, with my whole awareness rather than just my vision. I find that the most important things then jump right out at me. And I also find that I match and mirror spontaneously rather than by design. Rather like the two little girls at the shops! See, we have it all inbuilt already, all we have to do is remember…
I had my own mirror experience yesterday … I was having a one to one business meeting with someone I’d met and briefly chatted with several times. We’d previously noted that we had some common interests, and until that point we hadn’t actually talked deeply. To start with, when I came into the room and we greeted each other, I was once again astounded by our physical similarities – both petite frame, shoulder length brown hair left down, glasses. I had even narrowly missed wearing a similar jacket to the one she was wearing that morning! Our conversation quickly progressed from the mundane to life goals and our understanding of life’s deepest concepts. She grew up in Hinduism and I grew up in Judaism, so we had different words for things and a different framework … but many of the concepts were the same. In the course of the conversation we kept finding things we matched on … cue the creepy music! At one point I had to remark to her ‘You’re like my Hindu twin!’ At the end of the meeting it was something of an effort to float back down to earth and pin down some concrete steps we could take action on. At this point no one knows if we will collaborate on anything or what the results will be, but whatever happens it will certainly come from a place of mutual understanding.
When I think about it I’ve had this experience of deep similarity before, with a number of people and each time it has been a friendship that lasts and brings forth great things for both of us. You know when I watched my daughter playing with the little girl at the doorway of the hairdressers and their rapport seemed so effortless and light, and yet so deep, I wondered whether we as adults could still attain that same rapport or whether we had lost something, a certain simplicity and direct connection perhaps, that we needed to regain. Yesterday’s experience reminded me that we still have this vast ability to connect, even as adults – if we are open to it.
Have you had experiences of deep connection? I’m sure you have and we’d love to hear about them… please share!
Make it a great week 🙂
The sky is suitably overcast as we meet at the graveyard. My great uncle has died, and here we all are for the funeral. People are gathered in clumps, as if being part of a group will protect them from death. I’m no different – I stick with my mother and brother. I never really know what to say on these occasions. What is there to say when the person lost is much loved, and has been there forever. Words can’t be enough. My presence will have to suffice. Though we children didn’t spend as much time as we should have with him, to me my great uncle was one of those people who was just a given. You know, someone who holds up part of the edge of your world just by being there. It’s strange that he is dead. It feels weird. One more of the old guard is gone and the rest of us move one step closer to becoming the old guard ourselves.
It feels disrespectful to walk amongst the gravestones, so I stand with some others a little back as the coffin is lowered and the prayers are said. I stand there remembering how not that many years ago despite his frailty he was part of the party that accompanied my granny, his sister to her final resting place, even though he didn’t have his coat and it was freezing. As we all watch the young lad with the digger fill in the grave, my eye roves over the nearby gravestones, and I read so many peoples’ final words to each other. I allow the words on the nearest gravestone to dissolve and envision my name there, and I ponder what I’d want my gravestone to say. Don’t you find these things make you value your life? If there’s one thing each of us can be sure of it’s that we will eventually die. I’m grateful to still be in the game.
After the funeral it’s back to the craziness of Passover preparations. Passover is really an all consuming festival. It celebrates the survival and rescue of the Jewish people from generations of slavery in ancient Egypt. The celebration involves a lot of symbolism, to help the participants feel like they too have been rescued from that same slavery. As part of the preparation involves removing even the tiniest amount of leavened grain product (bread, cake, pasta, biscuits etc) from your home, i.e. a massive and intense spring cleaning operation, by the time you get to the festival you really do feel like you’ve emerged from slavery! I’m a busy woman, being a wife and mother of three, and serving my clients too. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done, so you have to prioritise. What usually falls off the list is the domestic stuff, so when Passover comes, there’s a lot to do. My kids bless them are like three little tornados of chaos leaving a tumult of disorder in their wake. So it’s pointless trying to remove said grain products more than a week before the event. And the clean up process when it does happen has to be a deep one – you find bits of pasta in the strangest places! All of which explains why you didn’t get your blog last week. Usually if I don’t manage to sit here and write about life it’s because I’m too busy living it!
As with a lot of religious practices, Passover is all about ‘as without, so within’. I found an interesting reference to this regarding spring cleaning. Written by David Ault, one of my personal development heroes, it’s a piece suggesting that you do some internal spring cleaning whilst you spring clean your house and really that’s part of what Passover is about – removing the leavened ‘puffed up’ ego, so that you can get to the real stuff underneath. It’s about leaving behind the past so that you can embrace the present and ever renewing life.
Which brings me to my final point. Has this been happening to anyone else, or is it just me? Things that you wouldn’t usually expect to have been springing to life around me. It all started with the chow chow. If you’ve never encountered one, a chow chow is a bright green hand sized vegetable, with paler green flesh inside, and a soft white seed in the middle. As I understand it, it’s native to places like the Philippines. It’s mild and slightly sweet in flavour and great as a steamed vegetable side dish. Well I had one of these chow chows sitting on my kitchen window ledge for a while and due to the other clutter there, if I’m honest I completely forgot about it. When I did eventually remember it and decide to cook it, an astonishing thing had happened. It had sprouted a shoot and was growing a plant straight out of the vegetable itself. Little roots were patiently waiting under the shoot for such a time when they would encounter some soil. Now I’m a sucker for a sprouting plant. If it has a root, I’ll plant it. Over the years I have loved many avocado plants, cobnut trees, and bulls eye seedlings. I currently have a 4 year old jackfruit sapling growing in my office. Don’t ask me why. Being a tropical plant it will never bear fruit in this country. If it asks for soil I provide. So I planted the chow chow. It has subsequently shot up, like Jack’s beanstalk, and I have it on good authority that if I take care of it, it will provide us with chow chows all summer.
Then the dead stick on the orchid started flowering again – never seen that before. Then I found sprouting ginger in the fridge – which I have since planted. And you know what I found this morning? We have a weekend treat in this house, for those who wake up early enough. We have a ‘fruit party’, which consists of a variety of the usual and some more exotic fruit. So I was about to crack this coconut, and I took off part of the hair at the top, and the coconut had sprouted! Now this was not something that had been sitting around in my kitchen, I’d only just bought it. Of course I’m going to plant it … so it looks like we’ll be hosting a baby coconut palm too 🙂 Now all we need is sunshine!
So, what with bidding a sad and grateful farewell to a stalwart of the past, cleaning out our house and hearts of the old us to make way for the new us, and new life emerging in all directions, it seems spring is really taking hold at this end of the world.
How is spring manifesting in your life?
I’d love to hear about it!
When we got married one of the gifts I was given was a beautiful pair of crystal candlesticks. They were quite obviously valuable, and they caught the light from every angle, to produce rainbows on the table. When I received them I even polished them up and held them admiringly, imagining what they would look like each with a burning candle atop. But I’ve never used them. I use my Grandma’s candle-holder. It’s a simple metal holder, dark grey in colour, with space for three candles, so that one is usually left empty. It doesn’t shine or glow. The wax collects and catches in various bits, mostly where it isn’t meant to. And every week when I light my candles, Grandma stands over my shoulder.
Yesterday, Grandma stood with me as I made my daughters breakfast. I was making semolina pudding, something I often stood by and watched her make as a child. As I pressed the hot pudding into the bowl with my flat oiled hand, as she used to do, for a moment I saw her old weathered hands instead of mine.
Granny puts in an appearance more often. In fact it’s usually her who arrives when I’m cooking. “Stir it or it will burn” she tells me. “Put a little water … put, put, don’t be a miser!” She’s always right of course. My mind turns to Granny when I hit one of life’s little snags/opportunities and I wish I could tell her. She has a way of approaching anything with calm, wisdom and a little mischievous humour. Once when she was staying over at our house, she slept in my room and on my table was a large jar of caterpillars that I had kept since their ailing mother moth laid their eggs in my shoe box. I must have left the lid partially open, because when my mother went upstairs to give my granny a cup of tea she quickly came back down with the message “Granny says to tell you your soldiers are marching!” I got up there to find that a good quarter of the 64 caterpillars had escaped and were heading for the hills … one had even made it half way up the bookcase, and was hanging off a large file! As I gathered them back into their jar Granny watched in amusement, sitting up in bed and drinking her tea. See what I mean? Cool, calm and collected … most other grannies would have screamed the house down.
Sadly neither of my grandmothers are still alive and every now and then I miss them terribly. I miss the story telling, the humour, the person who always made you feel like they had nothing else in the world to do than to spend their time with you. I learnt a lot from them, both about the serious things in life and the fun things too.
I like to talk about visualising what you want for your future and of course we all need to focus on mindfulness and being fully alive in the present … and doesn’t it make sense sometimes to also look back and acknowledge where we came from?
Of course everybody has had bumps and lumps in their past and some of our pasts are lumpier than others! Yet no matter what brought us to where we are now, we ARE here, and have our past to be thankful to for that. Sometimes it was loving, caring and enjoyable, and sometimes it was … well, at least you could say it was educational!
Did you get to spend time with your grandmothers? If you’re lucky enough to still have one or both, why not give them a call and let them know how much you love them. Or maybe you’re a grandmother (or even a grandfather) yourself … you know your memory lives on well after you’re gone, and your voice will be heard long after you’re there to project it. Each of us has multiple opportunities to leave our mark behind us as we progress through life, wherever we go and even when we go. Whether we touch the world community or even if our sphere of influence extends purely to our immediate family, we get to leave so many gems or grenades hidden in the sand ready to be discovered. What will you leave? The cool thing is, you get to choose!
Would you believe it? It’s almost the end of March and I’m embarrassed to say I’ve only just completed my year’s goals!!! Better late than never. I started as I meant to go on of course, in fact I started before January was even upon us. To do your goals properly, really you need a concentrated amount of time when you switch off the phone, put on some music to inspire you, and then you let your imagination and desires run free and see where they take you. Hmmm. Couldn’t have been more different this year.
For a start, being a life coach, I like to make sure I’m using the best system so that I can teach it to my clients and workshop attendees, so this year I tampered with the systems I usually use and ended up using an amalgamation of both! Then, being a mother of 3 active young kids, of course I didn’t get to do it all in one sitting – not by a long shot. So whilst the first sit down session was one with the phone off and music, by the time I got round to the last (yesterday) I was sitting in the hubbub of Costa, in between one errand and another, just getting it done.
Tell you what though there is something to be said for the ‘spaced repetition’ method. Over the course of the 3 months or so it has taken me, I’ve had to look over my desired outcomes and really think about them a number of times. You know what I realised yesterday? That just in reminding myself of them regularly, I’ve actually done quite a few of them already 🙂 I was able to cross a number of things off before they even made it onto my official list for the year.
I’ve also learned two things about the methods I use. Years ago I used to use the method a brilliant coach, Phillip Humbert http://www.philiphumbert.com/ made available to download. But I’ve also vacillated between that and the Wheel of Life method taught by Tony Robbins. This year I’ve decided for once and for all that I actually like the wheel of life method (with my adaptations to it) better. What I’ve learnt from PH though is the addition of the category of ‘Environment’ which I’m now going to add to the other categories I use: Family, Finances, Professional, Fun, Health, Spiritual, Relationship, Friendships, Contribution and Growing. And something else I’ve realised is that while every year your goal setting method invariably asks you to write down all your most farfetched and long term dreams in each area, you then only pick the most short term ones to work on. Now some of those farfetched long term things I really want, so I’m adding another category: ‘Plans’.
So who wants to know what I’m focusing on this year (now that I finally know!!!)? Here’s a short selection: Create an amazing summer, full of mountains and lakes etc, Make monthly inspirational hangout at my house, Read an enlightening book a month, Run a weekly personal development class, Write to change the world, Build my internet presence, Lovingly give each child their hour a week, Get 6-8 hours sleep a night, Put all birthdays on outlook and synchronise to phone, Grow my enlightened presence within my marriage. There are more of course – too many to list here! I know you’re supposed to emerge with three or four desired outcomes to focus on … but I don’t like to do things by halves…
So now let me ask you … I’m sure you’ve been far more organised than me and got your goals done in January – so the end of March is the end of the First Quarter of the year…. how are your goals going … come on now – I want answers! And for those of you that got delayed, like me, and haven’t finished, or even haven’t started, well are you going to wait till next January, or are you going to get going NOW? How are you supposed to have the life you want, if you haven’t even defined what you want? I want to hear some goals and desired outcomes, people!!! For those who are scared to comment in WordPress, if you comment in Facebook I will bring your comments over to WP – how’s that for an offer? And by the way, why do you think I told you some of my desired outcomes? So you could hold me to them! If you tell everyone what you want to achieve, you’re far more likely to achieve it – it’s people power!
Now is the time either to be re-evaluating your goals and how far you’ve got on them, or at least stating them before another year goes by. I’m not going to go into a full on goal setting session now – I’ll save that for the New Year. Just remember, ask for your heart’s desires – if you don’t ask you don’t get, be careful what you ask for, and make sure they’re things that you can bring about yourself – ie: that don’t rely on anyone else.
Here’s to persisting and getting things done (eventually 😮 ), and here’s to the life of your desires!
How do you relate to Native Americans? If your upbringing was anything like mine, we grew up thinking of them as almost mythical characters that ran around hollering in feathered headdresses! Whereas of course they’re actually the original Americans, before the English came over and made themselves at home … and they’re very much alive and well and living in their own areas of the US.
The more I learn about traditional Native American philosophy, the more I warm to it. Check this link http://home.earthlink.net/~tessia/Native.html for some Native American thinking … like this for example:
American Indian Commandments
Sacred Instructions Given By The Creator To Native People At The Time Of Creation
Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
Remain close to the Great Spirit.
Show great respect for your fellow beings.
Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.
Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
Do what you know to be right.
Look after the well being of mind and body.
Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
Be truthful and honest at all times.
Take full responsibility for your actions.
If all of humanity were to follow such a line of thought, the world would be a very different place, don’t you think? I also really recommend the book “The Wind is My Mother” by Bear Heart and Molly Larkin.
Guess what I was doing when I should have been writing your blog last week… I was partying! To be more precise two of my kids and I were attending various fancy dress parties in honour of the Jewish festival of Purim dressed as … Native Americans 🙂 – you see I was coming to a point!
One of the themes of Purim is to get your head around the idea that the world isn’t always as you see it. That there is a reality hidden under what you might think is reality. Hence the fancy dress part, which I embrace wholeheartedly, much to the bemusement of the more staid fellow adults around me … to whom I say: Chickens!
In the pre-party scramble for costumes I ended up picking the Native American theme almost by chance, but as we were driving down, I realised that I actually felt very at home in my costume – (despite the blazing red feather tucked into my headband … and suspect wig – I’m guessing not that authentic!)
Any other grownups out there who love fancy dress? I love it because it gives you a chance to see life and be life in a different way. You get to ask yourself the question “Who would l I be if I was a witch, scarecrow, elephant, fish, rock star etc ” and then you get to answer the question. I once dressed up as a very dishevelled tramp for the day of Purim, and it was an interesting experience. People didn’t want to go near me (ok, I was sitting at a bus stop, my bags scattered around me, eating out of a can at the time, but still), even people who knew I was in costume answered the door in an edgy manner, and one woman stopped her car and tried to take me into a shelter! So fancy dress can teach you something … and it’s not just a knowledge download, it’s experiential.
As well as just learning what it feels like to be another being for the day, I think you can choose to absorb something too. Just like you are what you eat, I think you also are (or you become) how you continuously present yourself. Want to feel like a professional? Dress like a professional. Want to be true to who you are? Dress and behave like yourself – even if it doesn’t always align with the whims of society. Want to be confident? Act confident and the feeling will come. What’s on the outside can come to be what’s on the inside. Though beware of being inauthentic – because what’s on the inside also inevitably leaks to the outside too.
In my case over the course of the day I really started to feel that Native American vibe! When evening came and I had to go back to being me, it was with reluctance. In getting my kids to bed various bits of the costume had to come off out of necessity. Finally when everyone was asleep I just had on my headband with feather, plaited wig and my ceremonial paint. I looked in the mirror. “You know” I thought to myself “I still look like a Native American”. I looked into my eyes. There was a love of nature there, a certain steely resolve, respect for the world, confidence, and pride. “Good” I thought, “it’s still there”. Slowly I took off my headband and feather. Checked my face and eyes again. Yep, it was still there. I took off the wig and finally I wiped off the face paint. Again I looked deeply into my own face in the mirror. And then I smiled … I still looked and felt a little bit Native American.
Have you ever dressed up like someone or something else for the day? How did you feel? And what did you learn? Any full time Native Americans want to comment?
I am soooo excited!!!! My good friend has just gone into labour 🙂 This will be a friend’s birth with a difference though, because she’s asked me to be there … crumbs! I’ve never been at anyone else’s birth except my own 3 children … and myself of course, though I can’t remember very much about that … childcare has been suitably rearranged, clients put on hold and I’ve made sure to have a good healthy lunch – anyone would think I was preparing to give birth myself! Now I’m sitting here ‘on call’, and whilst waiting what else would I be doing but blathering away at the keyboard – I guess I’m a true blogger at heart.
Now anyone who knows me well will know that I could go on forever about my beliefs regarding the intricate details of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding etc etc but never fear, I will hold off, for the sake of those who have a problem with anything blood or bodily fluid related, and of course for any gentlemen reading this, a percentage of whom would scurry quickly in a different direction or faint gallantly at the thought – you’re safe! You may read on indignantly and then put me right in the comments section below with your incredible stories of the fastest drive of your life to the hospital delivery room, or how you videoed the whole thing from up close right until the moment you got kicked in the face, ok? (I know, I know, I’ve set myself up for it now )
Now where was I … ah yes, birth. You know, in the personal development field we tend to make a big deal out of the idea that each of us needs to be in charge of our lives. Oft repeated phrases come to mind such as- ‘If you don’t make a plan for your life, someone else will’ or of course ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’. As a life coach I routinely encourage my clients (and anyone else who will listen) to live with forethought and act with deliberation. Somewhat like James Bond to take calculated risks as opposed to irrational ones. To ‘begin with the end in mind’. To do yearly planning and weekly planning, and to take time to decide on three things you want to achieve each morning. And I strive to do each of these things myself. So it may come as a surprise when I wholeheartedly suggest there are occasions when you might be best off chucking your planning in the nearest river and going with the flow. Giving birth can be one of them. A wise woman friend of mine, Chamutal – and I’m giving her a shout-out here because I think she’s brilliant – see below – has often said to me that “you give birth how you live life”. I think that is true on many levels. I think that in both it is important to plan for what you want, to point yourself in the right direction for getting what you want, and to make sure you set up your environment so that what you want is possible and can get to you. After that there comes a point where you just have to let go.
Control freaks will be tearing their hair out at the thought … ‘What?’ you might say ‘You mean I can’t control every little detail all the way to the end?’ Nope. You see life is rather like giving birth, too. You can plan till the cows come home but at the end of the day you can’t control the weather, or other people, or chance itself. You can maybe guide life, funnel or magnetise it along a certain route, to a certain degree, but at the end of the day the world around you is going to do its thing, and blow you off course on occasion. At that point you could waste your energy yelling at the wind or you could just get back on course. Sometimes you do your best, and you still can’t go in the direction you think you need to. Sometimes the only thing left in your control is your decision as to how you are going to react and what meaning you are going to give events.
It all sounds a bit ominous, doesn’t it. So let me tell you a little secret … sometimes letting go of what you think needs to happen is the one key that unlocks progress again. For example if you want to get into a certain training course and you fail to get in every time you apply, the point at which you eventually let go and say ‘you know what I’ll do that other course instead’ might be the defining moment of your life. Maybe you wanted to be a teacher, and you ended up being a plumber … you could find that you’re a jolly good plumber, get amazing job satisfaction, very little homework, and will almost certainly be richer too!
Sometimes you might not even have a plan B. Sometimes you just need to let go and forget about the thing entirely. Not even wait for it. Sometimes, dare I say it, I think you need to give up. Give up trying to direct the course of events at all, and just surrender to chance or a force bigger than yourself. Let’s be clear, I’m not advocating this as a general attitude to life. I mean once you’ve done all you can and can go no further under your own steam, once you’ve really, deeply and completely exhausted all your options, I think in those cases it is not only ok to give up, I would say it is required. And then something incredible happens. It’s as though existence steps in saying ‘Phew! She finally got out of the way! Now let’s give her what she really needed all along.’ And you suddenly find that things start working again. Like a creaky old cartwheel that has finally got some grease, life starts to move forward again, and you get everything you ever needed, almost effortlessly.
Without quite getting on my soapbox, birth-wise, I can tell you that I think a lot of the work of Michel Odent, a well known voice in the natural childbirth movement. I heard him speak once, well before I gave birth to any of my children, and remember him saying something to the effect that childbirth is something the animal body does pretty much by itself if you give it half a chance. His suggestion was to surrender to the animal side of things, and let your body do what it needs to do, and whatever it needs to do, without letting your mind get in the way.
I think life is the same – sometimes you just have to surrender and let things happen. Sometimes you have to get out of your own way. When you let go, a beautiful healthy baby pops out!
So this week, here’s to surrender and letting go –
Now I’m off to go give birth with my friend – wish us luck!
Update: … and we have a lovely baby boy, Thank Gd! My inspirational friend made light work of the whole thing. It was a privilege to be by her side, and I am profoundly grateful for the experience.
Quick event plug: www.dashofsparkle.com/cocktails_and_consciousness.html
If you are considering joining us for our inspirational ‘girls night out’ event, Cocktails and Consciousness on Thursday evening 9th February- there’s no time like the present! Please follow the link above for more information and to book. Tickets are £15 each, and include one cocktail. If you let me know you have booked as a result of reading this blog, you can claim your complementary life coaching session with me too – 30 mins by phone or skype.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Odent – about Michel Odent
Chamutal Isaacs – is a seasoned doula, teaches natural fertility awareness, natural gender selection and provides coaching sessions on all things fertility, birth and breastfeeding related. She is a well-spring of knowledge in my very personal opinion and you can reach her on 0044 (0)7903 268 551 or at email@example.com .
This week my nephew becomes a man. At the tender age of 13, his reading of a portion of the Torah marks the beginning of his responsibility as an adult in the Jewish religion. You might think 13 is quite young to suddenly be considered an adult, but some youngsters are out there making babies at that age, so perhaps it’s appropriate after all! “What’s the point?” You might ask? So there will be a great hoo-hah, everyone will be looking even more young and beautiful than usual, you know who you are ;-), and we’ll all mark the occasion with the solemnity it deserves and then party on afterwards, but so what?
Actually I think these things are really important, and I’ll tell you why. You know in the old days when pretty much everyone had some form of religion or at least some form of superstition, don’t you think that life’s events were marked a little better? Important occasions in a person’s life were always communal occasions- be they births, marriages, deaths or anywhere in between. You had some form of support and acknowledgement as you passed from one stage to another – and you had living proof around you that other people had done the same and survived it. Except death of course – and even then many traditions had it that your deceased relatives would come out and accompany you to heaven, if you were lucky enough to get there. So what could potentially be a scary event if you did it alone became a celebration of moving on and moving up. A celebration of becoming more than you were. Religion has done harm as well as good of course and hence been ditched by many, but sadly I think a number of bathing babies have been thrown out with the bath water, one of them being that we don’t have the same sense of community as we used to and sometimes have to navigate life’s passages alone.
I’m glad my nephew has his loving family around him as he begins to move away from being a child and starts to take more responsibility for his world – I wish him Mazal Tov (congratulations) and would like to reassure him that whilst adulthood brings responsibility, it also brings you the power and resources to do all the things you’ve always wanted to do. Just as having power gives you responsibility, taking responsibility gives you power … use it wisely!
Ritual isn’t only found in religion of course. When you think of ritual as something you oblige yourself to make a habit out of, or something you engage in ‘religiously’ until it becomes an action you almost can’t stop yourself doing, in it’s looser sense we engage in ritual quite a lot. There are global rituals e.g. taking a bath every now and then and personal rituals – e.g. the time you choose to wake up each day. I have a road ritual, to do with what I think is called ‘lane discipline’. I make sure I ALWAYS stay cleanly in whatever road lane I’m in, or if I’m changing lanes that I do so tidily and having indicated, instead of making free with the road as some drivers do when there are no other cars around. I do that because I want it to be such an ingrained habit that I’ll drive safely even if I’m exhausted, or if my concentration is low that day.
That particular ritual has served me well (so far at least!). Which brings me to my point. Rituals are there to serve us. What you do repeatedly and with focus becomes who you are. What you practice when you have energy to spare can save you when you are low on gumption. So here are my questions to you:
*What rituals do you have that serve you? Do you regularly get enough sleep and wake up at a sensible hour? Do you make a ritual out of regular exercise? Do you have a group of positive people that you regularly spend time with. so much so that you’re almost obliged to touch base with inspiration, no matter what mood you’re in?
*Are there any rituals you have that don’t serve you? Destructive eating habits? Smoking? Watching the same TV programme each week that you know is going to annoy you, just because everyone else is? Renewed awareness is the first step to making a change!
*And finally, what rituals can you install? Remember, what you do repeatedly becomes who you are. So who are you now, and who do you want to be?
Want to be healthy and fit? Get thee to a gym, or find what else works for you. Make a habit of buying the right foods. Make time to prepare the right foods – very few healthy things come plopping out of a tin, so if you want healthy food you’re going to have to make time for that. Want to be inspired and inspiring? Hang out with those kinds of people regularly, and read and watch things that inspire you … on a regular basis. Want to be a giving person? Sign up for volunteer work, or perhaps set regular charity payments on your account even if it’s only a small amount of money a month. Maybe make a habit of considering the well being of strangers around you to be your partial responsibility. This is something I’m personally working on at the moment. To be honest it doesn’t come naturally to pick up other people’s litter when I’m walking out in nature, or stop my car in the middle of the road to move the stray road cone out of other people’s way, instead of just driving round it. I’m doing those sorts of things anyway when I can – because that is the kind of person I want to be.
I find a diary helps with installing regular habits, and if you can set alerts on your phone and actually schedule in time for the habits you want to take on, you’re on to a winner. You can also use NLP to install triggers that remind you to do a certain action, when a particular event occurs – ask me how – it’s a pet subject! However you do it, make sure you do it – and you WILL change your life for the better, guaranteed.
Take on great rituals and celebrate the great rituals you already have … in fact why not go forth, get your rain dance on (or whatever those guys in that fantastic picture are doing) and have a ritualistic week!
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Ghandi
March 12th 1930. An unassuming man sets out on a 240 mile march that takes 24 days. He is heading for the sea near the village of Dandi in India. He is going there to break the law. As he walks growing numbers of people join him and walk peacefully with him, so that by the time they get there the group is big enough to be drawing serious attention. At 6.30am on April 6th, the man takes sea water and dries it to make salt, in direct contravention to the laws of the British colonists who insist on taxing all salt production. This one act sparks off large scale civil disobedience against the British Raj Salt Laws by millions of India’s poor, who are tired of being taxed to death. The man and his group continue south along the coast, making salt along the way until he is at last arrested at midnight on May 4th. The nationwide civil disobedience results in the jailing of another 80 000 citizens. Although the action does not result in major concessions immediately, it becomes a big part of India’s break for independence from the British, and teaches the world that ‘passive resistance’, in this case in the form of civil disobedience, is a powerful method for bringing about change.
The man of course was Mahatma Gandhi, who, according to Wikipedia “was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement. A pioneer of resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience—a philosophy firmly founded upon total nonviolence—Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. He is internationally esteemed for his doctrine of nonviolent protest to achieve political and social progress.” Gandhi was definitely one of my heroes. Regardless of his political importance he chose a simple life existing with no more than he needed, and focusing on the important things. You might have passed him in the street and not even seen him. Despite his simplistic lifestyle, he taught the world a lot about standing up to the ‘big guy’ in a peaceful manner … and yet winning.
Here’s another ‘simple person’. Mother Teresa. Again according to Wikipedia, Mother Teresa “was a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship, who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, in 1950. For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries.” Another person who lived sparsely and dedicated themselves to a higher mission, helping the disadvantaged even though in the end her efforts probably cost her her health and her life. I remember that she died a day after Princess Diana, and you barely heard anything about her death because of all the hype over Diana. Probably just the way she would have wanted it.
Then there was the David and Goliath story, and if you look for them there are a hundred and one examples of the smallest, simplest person having a massive effect on the world around them. How is that? Is it possible that the smallest and simplest person isn’t always the weakest competitor?
I think the little people in this world, physically and lifestyle-wise have the edge. For a start others often don’t expect anything much from them, so they’re taken by surprise. You don’t expect the smallest mountain to produce the biggest volcanic eruption. Then there’s the idea that ‘still waters run deep’. In other words, quiet people often have a lot of gumption within that isn’t always visible on the outside. Just think, if someone isn’t spending all their energy waving a stick about and looking big, what are they spending their energy on? Sometimes they’re spending it on actually getting bigger – on the inside. They are often focussing on the important stuff instead of wasting time with external appearances. Not that I’m advocating physical violence or anything but this video on YouTube – in which a school girl defends herself against a would-be mugger – made me smile: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuHHB-uF-UEn why don’t you pick on someone your own size, buddy?
Additionally, I remember reading in Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’ or it might have been ‘A New Earth’ something to the effect that the most spiritually or metaphysically effective people are very often those that you would pass in the street and not notice, due to their unassuming nature. And that if you are a more metaphysically/spiritually aware person you’re more likely to see them and appreciate their degree of connection, whereas those of us more physical and wrapped up in life’s irrelevancies won’t even notice them, or would probably dismiss them as unworthy of attention.
So how do you see yourself? Do you ever quietly feel that you’re nothing much? You might be bigger than you allow yourself to realise. What hidden skills do you have? Who are you really? You may be small fry on the outside, but as long as you’re mighty big on the inside … well that’s what matters isn’t it? If you’ve ever day-dreamed of changing the world for the better, now’s your time!
There’s a fantastic quote from Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
When would now be a good time to shine out, and do the things you’ve always dreamed of doing? You don’t need to get a fancy shmancy sports car or wear big brand labels to change the world, though if those things give you a kick and you can have them, that’s good too! Why waste energy trying to be what other people want, when you are amazing just the way you are? Be yourself. All of yourself, undiluted. Big or little, it’s time each of us found our own personal brilliance and set it free to soar.
I’m going forth to have a brilliant week – you have one too!
Doesn’t life sometimes feel like one long course in self improvement? I might be a life coach/hypnotherapist (and a jolly good one too- wink, wink) but that doesn’t mean I have all the answers, just that I’m good at finding answers 🙂
This week I’m learning … to stay with myself. Some people are naturally good at this. They always know who they are, what they stand for, what they want. They’re always able to work in their own best interest, or according to their own moral standards. They begin with the premise ‘This is my stance. I may change my mind if I think it’s appropriate, but only if it makes sense to me. Now how can I help you?’
For those who have to work hard to stay with themselves, it can be very easy to forget who you are and your highest priorities and unintentionally fall into someone else’s agenda. You start seeing yourself as the other person sees you, and even being as the other person sees you. It’s a way of losing yourself. Some people are so lost, they always see themselves as other people see them. If they had to look through their own eyes at themselves or better yet feel what it’s like to be themselves from inside, they wouldn’t know where to start.
Do you know who you really are? And once you’ve found yourself, do you know what it means to stay with yourself?
As far as knowing who you are, it helps a great deal to sit down for a little while with pen and paper, think about all the different things you do in your life and ask yourself who you are in each context. So for example one of the things I do is mothering. Who am I as a mother? Who am I as a professional? Etc etc. You might not have done this before, and some of the answers might not come easily – that’s ok, nothing’s set in stone, you can always go back and change it later, just write down what you get. That process gives you who you are in a physical sense. Then if you like, you can do a hypnotic or meditative process to discover who you are in a deeper metaphysical sense. You’ll find that’s harder to capture in words – it’s a more experiential thing, and it’s something everyone should do, as a way of connecting to their source of power. I might run a workshop on this one day – it’s something I frequently do with clients and they find it very transformative.
I think part of life’s lesson is to find that source of power – that inner light if you will – and then learn to stick with it and to bring it through into our everyday living.
So to stay with yourself find your inner light and connect to it. You will feel a sense of peace and coming home. You will feel a sense of empowerment, as though you’re a light bulb and electricity is finally flowing through you, and you can light up and shine out to the world. You will feel a sense of rightness. Then all you have to do is maintain those feelings. Carry on through life, and if those feelings start to lessen, connect again. The tension falls away and you feel at peace again.
The same is true in a physical sense too. If you’re starting to lose yourself, you can remind yourself of who you are and what you stand for in each part of your life.
Why bother to connect back to yourself each time? Because then your every thought and every action will come from a place of integrity. You will be acting on your morals and your principals, and not dancing to someone else’s tune or to the general world hypnosis. I think it’s worth the effort, don’t you?
It’s -Very Important- in this process to have people to support you, people who know who you really are, people who are on the same path themselves. Your circle of support will help you to stay with yourself when you are temporarily weaker. They know who you are, even when you forget. If you lose your way they help you come back to yourself, and you can often do the same for them, in their times of weakness. With them you can be yourself. The more often you are yourself, the stronger yourself becomes. The stronger you get connected to yourself, the less likely you are to lose yourself in the tough times.
Then an interesting thing happens. When you are truly with yourself, and you ain’t budging, people who were working intentionally or unintentionally to draw you into their agenda are often drawn into your agenda instead! You don’t have to misuse this. Your agenda can be to help them regain their self respect or help them see a better path. And you know those people or situations that keep popping up in your life in one guise or another? Being with yourself gives you another perspective. It’s like you suddenly zoom out and you can see the patterns that you keep getting sucked into. Then you have the option to change your approach and do something different.
Most importantly, as I’ve said above, you then get to carry out your life from your own perspective and according to your own standards. You start to get much more of what you want, and you get to create your world as you want it. And you get to be truly, madly and deeply … happy!
This week find yourself and stay with yourself!