Tag Archives: Love

Connection

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Just as a thousand candles can be lit from one flame, all being separate yet connected, so my meditations are all from one source and are separate but connected. I am at all times connected to the moments of gentle peace and powerful insight in all meditations even though the present one is the only moment in existence. Just as these emotions are connected to moments in my life so too are they connected to others. To every person around the planet who is meditating at that moment I am connected. These fine filigrees of spun-gold spirit reach across time to connect with everyone who has ever sat and meditated, to a monk in the mountains of Tibet, to a priest in ancient Egypt, to a graphic designer in New York and everyone, everywhere in between. Even to a man sat under a tree.

At all times emotions are connected, I feel the pull and sway of them like the tides being moved by the moon. Anger, fear excitement but above and below all, love. It both anchors and frees me, I dissolve in to its ocean becoming more and less than myself. Simultaneously crystallizing in to singular existence and dissolving in to all encompassing nothingness. Freedom and freedom. Being and not-being.

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What Do You Do For Life?

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A few years ago I lived near a café owned by an Italian guy who made the most amazing tiramisu I have ever eaten. Unfortunately for him (but fortunately for my waistline) he had to return to Italy so he had a “come and make me an offer sale” on all the fittings from his café. On this day I got chatting to him about what he was going to do with himself and although he had had to sell his business he was very positive. The circumstances around his leaving could have caused him anger and frustration (something to do with greedy landlords and under priced tiramisu I think) but he was very upbeat as, for him, this was just a new chapter with new learnings. He was (and probably still is) a very charismatic guy, one of those that fill you with inspiration just by talking to them. As I was leaving he asked me “and what do you do for life?”.

What do I do for life? I had been asked “what do I do” hundreds of times. This is a commonly used question, often as an ice-breaker and with about as much subtlety you could expect from a giant mega-tonne arctic going ship. We generally reply with our job; this is a common ground for most of us. Most of us have jobs that most of us have heard of and can understand and gives us something to say and speak about. It is an accepted and expected turn of conversation, it passes time and rarely offends anyone. Like sudoku or painting a living room beige.

However, I had been asked what I do for life. I struggled as this was not the expected thing to be asked. Surely he meant what do I do? So I answered with the job I was in at the time. A vague look of disappointment and disinterest came over his face, the conversation petered out and I left. Perhaps the disappointment and disinterest in his face was merely mirroring my own as afterwards I realized I hadn’t wanted to talk about my job. I was not my job. That was not my life! So then I asked the myself the question again, what do I do for life? To answer this I felt it right to think about the things that made me feel alive; singing, dancing, writing, being outside in a storm, the list went on and on. His question became a catalyst for me, I looked at many areas of my life and changed many aspects of it over the next few years often with this question in mind. I also came to see that my job, on balance, was not my calling which was why I had felt uncomfortable identifying it as my life.

Now, whenever I feel stuck or stagnation I ask myself what did I do for life today? And if I didn’t do much to make me feel alive then I vow to change there and then. It has also become a wonderful exercise in appreciating the great things that have happened in a day. Today, for example, I danced with my daughter and she fell asleep in my arms after and I was aware of the moment to fully appreciate it, that this is what I was doing for life. I also dropped yoghurt on my new shoes. I am still trying to come around to being thankful for the reminder from the universe not to be attached to physical objects and I’m not sure yet if it made me feel alive but I was pretty annoyed.

So now to you. What do you do for life? What makes you feel alive and are you doing these things? If not, why not? If you are not doing these things it is generally because you are choosing not to do them. In an interview with Dizzie Gillespie, a famous trumpeter, the interviewer said “Oh, I’d love to play the trumpet”. Dizzie turned and looked at him “No, you wouldn’t. If you did you would be playing the trumpet.” So when you are getting a feel for what you do for life, let go of any notions of what you should be doing. It’s fine if there are things that you just don’t want to do.

If you are a list person, write a list of the things you want to do. If you are a visual person, draw or paint a picture of the things you like to do. Create a vision board. Or just go and do them and appreciate what you already do to feel alive.

If you dropped dead right now (this is a long post so some of you may have) the life you led would have been the one you were leading when you died. So is your life fulfilling? Are you true to yourself? What do you do for life? Feel free to post below, you may inspire someone.

 

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Breathe and let go

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You can live for about three weeks without food, three days without water and three minutes without breathing. Appreciate each breath as it fills you with life.

Like many things in life, you can borrow this breath but it is not to keep but to give back. You have to let it go. Don’t worry though, this letting go allows for new life to flow in.

Practice now. Be still for three minutes and listen to your breath as it flows in and out. Each in breath is a new beginning and each out breath is a complete letting go. Now, where else in your life could this be applied?

The Power To Move Mountains

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When I was little my absolute favourite movie was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I could quote great tracts of it (much to my sister’s annoyance) and I was fairly certain that if my X-Wing ever got stuck in a swamp I would be able to lift it out using the power of my intention. Now that I am a little older I have found that although I don’t have a lightsaber (much to MY annoyance) that in some ways the power of intention to affect the physical world around us is very real. Thought becomes belief, belief becomes action and action is manifested in what we do. As Esther Hicks often says, a belief is just a thought we keep having. So changing our thoughts changes our reality. But where do these thoughts come from? What depths do they bubble up from to continuously disturb what we’d like to be the placid pool of our waking mind? For some people it is a constant struggle to “keep a lid” on their thoughts, some people are more like some Joycean stream of consciousness. I went to see a comedian once, Jason Byrne, who seems to be of the latter persuasion. He told us how every time he and his exasperated and pre-embarrassed wife go out she gives him a bag of words and tells him “Here, this is what your allowed to talk about tonight, if it isn’t in the bag of words, you can’t talk about it!” But where does this need for constant talking come from? I think it comes from fear.

Fear is a multi-faceted diamond. It may have some beautiful faces but may also have come at a heavy cost. For some of us fear is an inspiration to try harder, to push ourselves beyond what we perceive to be our limits, or love more passionately. Some people are afraid to admit that they have any fears, a contradiction really when as a human being it is our nature to have fear. We are born with two fears, loud noises and falling. All the rest are learned, some sensibly. I have learned not to grab hold of an iron to see if it is hot just after you switch it off. It is, by the way. Some fears are not so sensible or rational. The fear of silence, for example. Many people speak to fill this silence, asking how the weather is even when standing in it, or having the radio on so as to not feel lonely. Why would you feel lonely when you have your own incredible imagination to keep you company? The philosopher Pascal once said “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” So many of us are filled with anxiety when we have nothing to do. We may feel shame at being “lazy” or “stupid” or any number of labels we attach to ourselves. But where have these labels, these fears, come from?

Next time you call yourself a negative name, or admonish yourself for something ask yourself this. Do I really believe that about myself? Is it really me that is calling me that name? Close your eyes and listen, whose voice is it? Someone else’s thought that I have inherited. By continuing to have that thought, it may have become a belief. Are you stupid? No, of course not. But someone who was threatened by your intelligence when you were young could have called you that and it may have been during a formative period in your development. Just because it is someone’s opinion doesn’t mean it is true. I happen to believe that Orange and Lime Tic Tacs are the vilest “food” I have ever has the misfortune to taste. tic_tac_line_orange-1It doesn’t mean that I’m correct. Although I am. But it also doesn’t mean that my belief you are a lunatic for liking them is true. Although you are.

The point of all this is that although our fears are a natural part of us. We don’t have to believe them although we do need to understand them. As Yoda (Star Wars again) says “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” While this is not always a pleasant path to tread it is the other foot of the path of light that we also walk down. We all have a shadow side, a dark side. Fear, anger, jealousy, hate, Tic Tacs. To deny it is to deny a part of ourselves. As James Ray says “to damn a part of ourselves is to dam a part of our existence”.

Understanding where our motivation comes from is a powerful tool and it is through practicing awareness that this can be achieved. Constantly looking at whether our motivation is fear or love, pleasure or pain. The light and shadow are two sides of the same mountain, when one is is sunshine the other is in darkness. As ever, balance between the two is where peace will be found. mountain-landscape-wallpapers-640x400Anyone who has tried the “just think happy thoughts and you’ll be happy!!” approach will probably have found it to be flawed. Our shadow side rears up to smack us in the face, belittling us for not having the will power to be happy. Also dwelling in the shadow side for too long is unbalancing and challenging too. But it’s all fine. All of it is an opportunity to learn about yourself. Try to remain aware of which side of the mountain you are on, and which side you maybe need to sit on for a while.

A very wise man once told me in order for roses to flourish you sometimes have to work through the shite at their roots. Life healing is a process so it takes all of your life. Let go of the conditioning that tells you to avoid your shadow side, to deny its existence. We will always move between shadow and light, that is what being human is about.

Meditate or procrastinate

ImageWe know there are many benefits to meditation; improved sleep, lower blood pressure, increased immunity and fertility, emotional balance and calmness to name but a few. But there is a misconception that meditation needs to be done in a place of perfect tranquility; in full lotus up a majestic mountain or by a river surrounded by flowers and sunlight. Or at least in a quiet room with no noise or disturbances. It is the excuse of not being able to find the time or the perfect place that stops many people meditating. The reality is there is no perfect place, or rather every place is the perfect place. Meditation is, as Sogyal Rinpoche puts it, the process of “bringing the mind home”, of taming the mind and finding the peace that exists within us all. We look to create this peace externally but it is found internally.

The true nature of the mind (and by mind I don’t mean my brain but more my whole awareness of being) is like the eternal blue sky. Thoughts and emotions are like the clouds that are ever changing and flit across this sky, I peacefully acknowledge them and let them pass. There are certainly situations that make it easier to meditate; a quiet room, setting an intention, surrounding oneself with inspiring objects or pictures but there will always be a distraction. I remember at a meditation retreat (which you can read about here) a Buddhist nun was speaking about how she had set up her room perfectly, taken the phone off the hook, locked the door, closed the windows etc but after a while she could hear a clicking. As she was meditating with her eyes open she had a quick look but couldn’t see anything that might be causing the sound. After a short while the clicking returned and she suddenly realised it she could hear herself blinking. The point of this is there are distractions everywhere and it is the skilled meditator that can use these distractions as a means of returning to a meditative state by allowing them to bring us back to present. A technique I use is to always wear odd socks. Whenever I notice the different colours, or when someone points it out to me, I use it to become aware of whether I am off in thoughts of the future or the past and if so to try and be present instead.

Every moment is an opportunity to meditate. I’m not suggesting it is easy but it is simple. You can try it now as you sit and read this. Straighten your back (especially if you are curled like a prawn), relax your jaw so it is slightly open and breathe naturally. Now just feel your breath as it enters and leaves the body (easier if you stick with the sensation in just one place, maybe the nostrils or the belly) and that’s it. If thoughts come, let them come then bring your awareness back to your breath and begin again each time. Each breath in is a new beginning, each breath out is a complete letting go. This can be done when you are sitting at traffic lights, as you are doing the dishes, during the adverts of your TV show, anywhere! We cannot force a baby to fall asleep, we can only create the conditions in which sleep can happen. Similarly, you cannot force yourself in to a meditative state, but you can create the conditions in which meditation can happen.

Knowing or being

Knowledge or wisdom

Knowledge or wisdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My name is Drew Mahler and I am a workshopaholic. Or at least, I used to be. For several years I went through a period of near addiction to doing self-development workshops. I went to healing workshops, retreats, courses and coaching; getting all sorts of certificates, knowledge and training. However, the day after one of these workshops I found myself thinking about what I was going to do next. Which new modality could I learn? What other teacher could I listen to to deepen my knowledge of myself and the world around me? And then it struck me, I had just spent the previous four days learning how to be a more grounded and balanced human being yet I was looking to rush off and read the next book or do the next course to try and learn how to be a more balanced human being. I had developed a pattern of frantically looking for external fixes to my internal need to feel calmer, happier and more at peace whilst denying myself the opportunity to do so! This is like a hungry man sellotaping sandwiches to himself. This will never sate his hunger until he learns to internalize and transform this for himself, otherwise he will be eternally hungry. I had been running around collecting a lot of knowledge without taking the time to reflect and transform this in to wisdom. The ability to stop, breath and create space for our minds is essential to this process and meditation can help hugely with this.

Sogyal Rinpoche once told a story of staying at a friend’s house that had a huge library of books (I suppose it wouldn’t be a library of anything else). Many famous titles on healing, spirituality, love and so on. He wondered why someone would need so many books, as it implied that there was a lot of knowledge but not necessarily much wisdom. He then told us it is like a tomato, knowledge teaches us that it is a fruit while wisdom teaches us never to put it in a fruit salad. My take on this is that unless we transform this knowledge it is of little practical use to us. Many of us have books on spirituality or positive thinking or law of attraction or have been to courses on the same. But why so many? If we really embodied what was being taught and took the effort to use this we probably wouldn’t need more than one book, or to do one course. And this is where a problem arises for many of us because, if we are truthful with ourselves, the effort of changing ourselves is more than the effort of looking for another book/course in the hope that it will do the work for us. Sellotaping more sandwiches. It is the difference between knowing it in your head and embracing it in your heart.

Ironically it was on a workshop where this all really crystallized for me. I was doing a coaching workshop with a wonderful man called Marcus McKeown (link here), an inspiring teacher and generally awesome guy. The first thing he told us was “I will teach you nothing you don’t already know”. He taught us how to listen compassionately and pointed out it was something we could all already do. It is just about parking your own stuff rather than barely listening to someone while you wait for your turn to speak, be present and trust intuition. These lessons really sank in, along with some other powerful realizations, and I have really tried to embody these changes.

Workshops and books offer an amazing opportunity for awakening, awareness and personal growth. The paradox is that until you have read the books or done the  workshops and really brought in to your way of being, that you realize you didn’t need the book or workshop in the first place. It was something you knew inside anyway, maybe the path to get there needed a bit of illuminating by someone who has trodden those steps before.

The workshops and books are the means to an end, however, not the end itself. Not that there is an end of course, life is a kick and a kiss, a hit and a hug and a constant shifting maelstrom of thoughts and emotion that will continually challenge us to reach new levels of awareness. We may as well enjoy the ride but bring a good book with you just in case.

Spring has sprung!!

Ahh Spring, the smell of fresh cut grass, the bursting yellow of daffodils and stinging horizontal banshee hailstone winds. This is a strange time of year all right. The changing of seasons of brings with it the opportunity to look at ourselves and see how we too are changing. After all, the only thing that is constant in life is change. Nothing remains the same and all is transformed, “this too shall pass” is a handy motto to live our lives by.

Spring is a particularly transformative season. Just as life around us is starting to reemerge, we too can often feel as though we are reemerging from our winter hibernation. This is, of course, nonsense. We ascribe certain days or times as good times to start something new, whether that is Mondays or New Year’s Day or next week. We are led to believe that life is linear, that there is an inexorable marching of time from when we are born until when we die. It is, according to quantum physics, much more complicated and wonderful than that although that is a post for another day. Change is the topic for today.

Change happens in every moment of our lives. Right now in your body millions of cells are dying and new ones are emerging. The skin cells that you can see on the surface are already dead, this is why they flake off as dust. You are, physically, a completely different person to who you were seven years ago. Every single one of your cells have changed. Change, death and rebirth are natural processes of life. There cannot be life without death. However, for many of us change and be scary. Change reminds us on a subconscious level that we are approaching death, which could explain why many people try to keep their lives as regular as possible. Same TV shows, same holidays, same friends, same conversations.  Yet change is an incredible opportunity to grow; to grow emotionally,mentally and spiritually.

However, change can be painful and it is easy to understand that this can be a reason people fear it. Some of our most transformative moments can come during our most challenging times. This could be the death of a loved one, the break-up of a relationship, failing during sport, acknowledging an addiction or anything that is personally challenging. Big changes can mean the breakdown of our old sense of self, our concepts of the world may no longer fit with our reality and it can place huge stress on our carefully constructed views of “how things work”. Sometimes during these moments we can feel our sense of Self shatter like glass. It can hurt even more to try and pick up the pieces as we may cut our Selves on the sharp edges in this raw state. But that’s OK. It is alright for things to hurt sometimes. We can rebuild this image in to an even better one if we are prepared to be brave enough and admit we want to be different, that we want to change.

I remember when I was young I had a Lego castle. To make it better sometimes I had to only add a couple of little bits to make it more brilliant (usually more dragons to be honest) but sometimes I had to completely dismantle it and start again. Sometimes there was pain too. Unless you have experienced it yourself, I am unable to convey the blindingly annoying agony that comes from standing barefoot on a piece of Lego. This applies to us too, sometimes we only need to change a little bit, sometimes we need a complete overhaul.

As this can sometimes be a big, even daunting, process at time, it may be necessary to see a therapist or counselor. For many years there has been a bit of stigma around this which I don’t really understand. If my washing machine was broken I don’t possess the skills to fix it so I would find someone who did and ask them to help me. If my mind is, for want of a better word, broken then surely it is pretty obvious to get someone to help me with that too? So if you have been thinking that you would like to talk to someone about an issue, maybe a big one, maybe a small one, just do it. Don’t fear change, embrace it as a natural part of life.

An exercise you can try right now. Find a blank wall somewhere quiet. On this wall project a picture of your life one year from now (or week, or day, whichever appeals to you most) as you want it to be. Not how you expect it to be, how you want it to be. It is like going to watch the movie of your life except now you get to write the script. Looking at this picture in full Techincolor, what three things would you need to change in order for that to happen? Learn to drive? Move country? Break up with your partner? Tell that person no? Stop eating cakes? Write down these three things, don’t judge them, put them down or censor yourself. Now, next to these write down when they will be done by and do it. If you want your life to move in a certain direction, you have to embrace the change that will bring that about.  

A friend of mine once asked me if I would have a bath in the same water I bathed in ten years ago. Of course not! Then why would you reuse energy and patterns of belief that you held ten years ago if you want to grow and transform? Spring is springing. Cast off the winter shackles and embrace the budding new season, the new life, the new you. Be thankful for the challenging moments, for the painful moments and choose to see them as the opportunities they are as you use them to build the person you always wanted to be.