Being Archives

 Obviously, we all need love. This post, however, is not about love, but about compassion and its complementary.

Compassion is when you see a person in misery and you begin to feel with her.

Compassion is when you pour your heart out, feel her pain and cry with her.

Compassion is when you you take the time to listen to, console and comfort her.

When does it happen?

It happens when you shift your focus from yourself to the others, when you make the time to stop, pay attention and take care.

Compassion is your empathic ability to respond to the needs of others and join them on their level to help them grow. Yet, compassion, is perhaps a moment too late. It is inspired by an outside event or a call.

What comes before that?

It is the very act of noticing the other person as she is, perhaps even at the peak of her strength.

Acknowledgement is about showing gratitude for her beaming attitude, praising her for diligent work, efforts or smiles.

Acknowledgement is about encouragement when the attitude, energy, mood or performance are still high (or at least not lacking).

Acknowledgement is about approval when things go well, when her will is strong so that she can go bravely through difficulties.

It is very important. 
Why?
Because we all have a basic need to be heard, seen, acknowledged and understood.

A smile or a sign of appreciation can go a long way, much longer than you can imagine. Their actings have a cumulative effect. Gratitude and appreciation leverage support a person receives for her job, learning new skills or going through hardships. It is much easier to fuel the fire of motivation and keep her going than to overcome the inertia when she fails and stops.

Open your eyes and begin to notice.
Express what you value in the efforts of others.
Show appreciation.
Spread kindness.
Not this day only, but every day.
It’s never too much.

In compassion you recognize the sameness, the other person becomes a part of you.
In appreciation you recognize the difference, the individual power and uniqueness of the other.

Compassion is reactive.
Appreciation is proactive.
They make a lovely pair together. A dance between similarity and difference will help you to flourish and grow.

***

Kindness and appreciation. A great book on kindness is Why kindness is good for you, by David Hamilton. Highly recommended.

Compassion. You may listen to a short talk on compassion by Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional intelligence:

***

When you live long enough you begin to realize that pain, loss and disappointment are an integral part of life, sometimes even daily companions. Of course, joy, surprises and blessings are there as well, but often overshadowed by the other polarity.

It is certainly hard to be an optimist when the dark hours come and the challenges are bigger than you could ever imagine.

Perhaps the wind blows in your face and it blows hard.
Perhaps you have to endure an unending stream of losses, including your income, health, pets, family or friends.
Perhaps your patience and physical aptitude are stretched to the limit of what you thought was possible.

Yet…

The call is not necessarily about being an optimist, but about being okay. The latter means that you stay in your center.

There may be no glory in your experiences but also no despair. You accept whatever comes even if you do not welcome it in the first encounter. Whatever comes, however, belongs to your life. Resistance will make things more difficult to experience, while acceptance will help you to go through them.

What you need to realize is that there may be a thin line between being a pessimist and being okay. The difference lies in your focus and expectation. Pessimism focuses on the past and foresees (or is afraid of) bad things happening in the future. Pessimism adds more odds to prove it to be true.

Being okay focuses on living in the now, and the trust that things will ultimately work out to your advantage. Being okay gives you back the power of who you are.

It helps you to become transcendent, vivacious and still.

Sometimes a real victory is a quiet survival from day to day. Sometimes getting out of bed and making a few steps may be the hardest thing under the sun, similarly as working long hours at your job, day by day, or going through a break-up or a series of losses.

In such times there is no need to play an optimist, dancing and rejoicing how great your life is, but simply discovering what can be done, step by step, and attending to it. Even if the doing becomes taking care of the most basic needs.

You are not your problems, neither defined by them.
You are not your difficulties and neither defined by them.
You are also not your challenges, neither defined by them.
While they are there to challenge you, they are not you.
You are a God’s child, an individual consciousness, on the path to become Yourself.

When you focus on the middle path, being okay despite the circumstances, you acknowledge that the external reality doesn’t have a hold on you. You affirm that the circumstances do not control you. You may not be able to control the circumstances, but you set yourself free from them, coming back to your center.

It is an important distinction. You are strong and flexible. At your inner peace.

The incredible consequence of this approach is that you stop being a victim and begin to relax. When you relax and trust, you begin to open up for new possibilities and opportunities to come to your life. Oftentimes the possibilities are there, but it is the tension, the contraction and the ghost of the past that keep your vision limited.

When you relax, you stand up straight and simply look around.

With time, for sure, you will see.

Your biggest challenges draw what is best in you – your incredible ability to grow and love.

***

wu_wei

Remember your golden times of trust

When I was a child I used to spend summer holidays at my aunts, in villages they lived in. I was playing in the meadows, cycling along small paths, walking in forests and picking up berries and mushrooms, helping in the garden or around the animals. Life was simple, yet rich in sensations and experiences. These were the golden times of an enormous growth yet peace. There was trust.

I loved to be an explorer. I used to jump on a bike and cycle as fast as I could over off-beaten tracks until I arrived at a new place: a hidden meadow, a tiny hill, an old tree, or far-away field. I loved to lie on the meadow grass or warm sandy ground in the forest and look at the high grass, trees and clouds. I felt fully alive, in resonance with the vibrating earth.

I was there, present in the moment, feeling the pulse of Life in me and around me. It was magical.

I was observing the gracious movements of flowers or weeds, dance of tree tops, walks of ants or the hard work of bees, or bugs carrying their food. I was listening to the tuk-tuk and cuckoo sounds, grass-hooper’s music, wasps’ melodies and all type of noises and sounds of living nature. I was connected to the plants and creatures. Inseparable, it seemed.

With only little time, my senses used to become sharp. Extra-sensitive, I would say now. I was seeing colorful light bubbles and sun-rays dancing playfully around. I was sensing the heavyneass and tingling of the air. I felt the vibrations of the leaves. I was hearing the sounds of flying butterflies, songs of light zephyrs or heated discussions between insects.  I was both an observer and a participant of the vibrant reality.

I felt an enormous respect for the Order and Structure behind the things and their place. I was blended in to Life around me.

These were perfect times for a busy child, teaching her to be. No problems. No worries. No obligations. Just a healing presence in the magically orchestrated Whole.

I used to spend hours by being a part of these Experiences. I have always had a highed sense of calm and poise when I was returning from my exploration to my daily tasks. I felt strong yet flexible at the same time.

Wu wei

Wu wei is an interesting principle that basically teaches us about active non-doing. When you face a difficult challenge or a problem, your natural inclination is to do something about it. Be it a judgment, a talk, a call, a plan of action or a piece of advice. You want to solve it in one way or the other in order to move forward. 

This comes from the belief that problems are being solved by taking action as if the energy required for the doing can be translated into the final result. While it is necessary at right times, in other times – it is simply not so. Action may become counterproductive.

There are times when doing will not bring the solution you hope for. This is especially true when there is a shock or a big challenge outside your comfort zone. You may educate yourself, read books, take courses, collect advice and imitate successful people to learn which actions to take. And you may take the effort to optimize your actions. Yet, the results are none, poor or mediocre at best. Your frustration is high, hope is gone and there is no solution at a horizon.

Patience, my Dear!

We often believe we need to plan and organize things all the time. Yet, the nature operates in perfect ways without our organization. Perhaps, things do not need to be organized as much as we think, but simply appreciated, given attention to and understood. If you understand them, either you or they will change.

Active non-doing teaches us that Doing originates from Being. Doing for the sake of doing only creates the illusion of progress. You need to be first before you can do. It may sound trivial but … do you practise it?

  • How many times did you jump to conclusions or take action before even understanding what the issue was about?
  • How many times did you give your advice to your kids, spouse, friends, colleagues or neighbors without listening to them with full attention first?
  • How many times were you frustrated because the pattern repeated itself for the Xth time? Say, your kids got strep throat again, you put on weight, you got reprimanded by your boss, your report or article was either neglected or rejected,  you again scored poorly on job interview, and so on.

Perhaps your active doing to improve the situation is totally in vain, even if you educate yourself to the highest level. Perhaps there is the time for wu wei.

Wu wei or active non-doing simply means to stop and pay attention.

Pause.
Look around.
Observe patterns. 
Feel the presence of weeds, shoes, hands, clothes, cars, faces or own thoughts.

When you perceive a problem, blend in to the circumstances surrounding it. Observe the problem. Let it be. Don’t give it names, adjectives or descriptions. Don’t analyze it. Sense it instead.  And in meantime, nourish yourself. There is no need for an immediate solution. Wait!

Stop preaching to and reprimanding your child. Feel as he may be feeling first to understand his issues with the pears.

Stop thinking of strategies to make your boss like you in order to get the rise. Pay attention to his presence: his intonation, voice or face expressions. Be there and observe. Understand his frustrations. Become like him to sense what the issue he has with you.

Feel the frustration of your spouse or friend. Let him/her be loved and understood. They don’t need your advice (unless they deliberately ask for it), but they need your acceptance and love. 

You can think rationally, plan new approaches, discuss strategies of action with experts, follow the best advice, yet everything may just brings confusion. In order to be effective with your doing you have to be present in the moment first.

So…

Be present. In this very moment. Blend in. Pay attention to the details. Participate. Listen.

When you are present, you will be blessed with answers. The answer is already there, in the silence. You only need to wait, notice it and understand.

*** 

Exercises:

1. Presence.

Stop what you are doing. Look around. Notice the details. Even if there is seemingly nothing happening, pay attention. 
What do you hear? What do you notice now that you haven’t had just before a while?
What is the atmosphere around?
How are your hands and feet? Are they fresh or tired? What do they sense?
Look around closely. Notice five elements that you have not noticed before.
Close your eyes. Find another five.

Train your attention and perception. Sense. There are the colors, the temperature, the sounds, the vibrations, the smells ….

2. Active non-doing.

Think of three challenges that solved themselves without your doing and participation. Recall them. Pay attention.

What were the essential ingredients that led to the solution?
How did they contribute to a sequence of events that brought you to the final solution?

What was your active non-doing contribution? 
What did you have to notice, observe and feel to restrain from taking action? 
What was it to have  helped in creating this spontaneous effect (i.e. the problem has solved itself)?

Do you see any patterns, or a trend perhaps?

***

Photo copyright by Moyan Brenn. Photo available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

 

You will be judged.

Being judged is annoying at least and excruciating at most.
It is disturbing, perplexing and painful at times.

You will learn about your faults, mistakes and wrong decisions.

You may not like it.

There is one-sidedness.
There is misunderstanding.
There is injustice.

There are also dislikes, prejudices, intolerance or unfairness.

You may not like it either.

Through preconceived notions of others and their filters of reality:

  • You will be looked at, down or upon.
  • You will be reprimanded, scolded and rebuked. 
  • You will be aspersed, deprecated and disapproved.
  • You will be pointed at, criticized and attacked. 
  • You will be backbit too.

You may not like it at all.

The alternative is of course sound and safe.

You will be ignored.

Is it what you will like? 😉

 

being_whole

 

Lines, circles and spirals

Imagine a straight line. It can be used to measure a length or a distance. It is there. It defines a boundary. It divides.

A straight line is about the number 2. Two points, the beginning and the end or moving along from the point A to the point B. It suggests a steady progress.  It is stable. It is predictable. Perhaps, it is an ideal.

Imagine a circle. It is created when you join the two end points of the straight line. It is about the number 12, as we usually divide the circle into 12 equal intervals, each 15 degrees, similarly as we have put the 12 hour measurements on the clock.

The circle is a closed and complete system. It goes around and never dies. There is an endless repetition, a change of hours, months, seasons or patterns.

There is a balance. There is a circular movement of a pendulum, a swing between polarities and everything in between. Perhaps a circle is about perfection because we capture symmetry, balance and the repetition of patterns.

Imagine a spiral. It is created when you attempt to connect the straight line into a circle but you finally don’t. The end becomes a beginning to something new, moving away from a circle. There are 13 points, at least. The 13th point is the step out of the balance and repetition. And then we may extend this spiral to grow bigger and bigger or contract it to make it smaller and smaller.  Alternatively, you may also think about a spiral in which each circle is a similar type of repetition as the one before but on a different level.

The spiral is an open system with the beginning and the end.
It is disturbing, because it is unsure where it leads to. There are new things on the way. Perhaps a spiral is a pattern of reality because we capture both the repetition and the change.

The symbols

The straight line is here a symbol of a stable life, with steady growth and progress. There is a daily routine, a sustained effort which directly translates to appropriate results. Life is perhaps boring but things are under control. The point, however, is that it doesn’t happen this way. And if it does, it is for a short while only.

The circle represents the balance between the polarities and everything in between. It is a symbol of repetition and going through the same stages. It is a symbol of life in balance between qualities and quantities, always the same. There are no or little surprises and this may be comforting for some.  There is however little learning too.

The spiral represents the change, learning and growth. Certainly, a conscious growth.  It is here a symbol of life. Not surprisingly, we find the pattern of spiral in the plant and animal kingdoms, as well as the formation of galaxies. They speak to us about growth!

What do we want to believe?

We want to believe in an illusion of a happy life, with stability and good income, perfect health, great kids, wonderful marriage, joyful friends and little problems. We want things to be predictable. We want to identify life with steady progress, reliability, moving from A to B. We want to think straight line.

It is not so.

We want to believe in the repetition of patterns, maintaining the balance between polarities, moving kindly between our needs and responsibilities, managing compromises, being patient and kind and always in control. We want to believe that when we balance things well, we live our perfect life of a circle.

It is not so.

On being whole

What we need to believe, or in fact accept, is the reality which includes the repetition of patterns for the sake of routine and order, but also unpredictability, chaos and confusion. Every day encompasses the circle of hours twice, yet every day is different. We change, from moment to moment, from day to day or from year to year. Even our solar system moves in the space, so the earth rotating around the sun doesn’t come into the same place ever again. It spirals in the space!

Spiral is about movement, change and evolution.

I think that spiral is a good symbol for life. When we are tired or lost, when we question our difficulties or events, when we dream about control and progress, let us remember that we are changing and growing. We are becoming. We are expanding in our consciousness and understanding. 

Every moment is different. Every moment is new. Every moment is to live it through. 🙂

If we take a spiral as an idea of growth, we become to understand that balance is flexible, being practiced in a moment. When we gracefully accept what comes and look at things with an eye of an enthusiastic learner, we begin to approach wholeness.

The secret is that we don’t need to change or improve or heal or suffer to become whole. We accept ourselves as a whole and start from there.

We then stop dividing and judging ourselves and others (the line approach). We then stop expecting the same movement between polarities and the control of events (the circle approach). Instead, we appreciate surprises, unpredictability and a little confusion. We learn from patterns, yet we choose to live in a moment to the best of what we can.

Confusion and chaos are welcomed as a part of life, similarly as health and diseases, births and deaths, progress and regress or work and rest. We understand that change may be difficult and scary and we are gentle with ourselves. The spiral approach is to accept and nourish ourselves and others. It is simple and effective as we both let go and go with the flow

Let us grow happily!

***

Photo courtesy John McStravick, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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