Being Mindful – Creating Change

I have just finished reading “The Art of Happiness – A Handbook for Living” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.   Dr. Cutler is a Doctor and Psychiatrist and he raises many psychological issues afflicting the modern western culture in his discourses with the Dalai Lama, with awesome results.  It is written clearly in easy language for anyone to pick up and read.

I highly recommend it – to everyone – particularly anyone suffering any sort of anxiety – and aren’t we all.  It is not a “religious tome”.  It is a genuine discussion/series of conversations with a wonderful learned man of great wisdom and charm.

This was a borrowed copy which I must return.  But I think I will buy my own copy as it has so many pages which I just want to re-visit, re-read and absorb.  I am not a Buddhist, but topics in these discussions – particularly in relation to training the mind – seem strikingly similar to the “newly-discovered-in-the-West” mind-body connection.  This mind-body connection is an area of great interest to me and I have several books on my shelves that I am working my way through on mind-body connection, the mind-heart connection and Mindfullness in general.

There is no quick fix.  Change takes time, patience, commitment, practice and persistence, and more time.  The Dalai Lama has been studying and training and practising since he was a child, so he has a significant advantage; but we too can become mindful of what we think and do  – and so begins the change.

I find the Dalai Lama’s conversations show a warmth, humour, and a down-to-earth approach, to issues which beleaguer us especially in our western world.  I would like to share some of his insights with you, as a result of these in-depth discussions between the Dalai Lama and Dr. Cutler over a period of many years, in some forthcoming posts.  Better still, read the book.

His intrinsic philosophies, including compassion, are based on the fact that each one of us is a human being – no more, no less.    Each person feels he deserves the right to be happy.  Once you grasp this, then a feeling of compassion for your fellow man – whoever he is – begins to flourish.  ( see “Self Love” ).  This compassion is an important key to releasing many of our own anxieties.  

Each one of us, and each sentient being on this earth, has basic needs:  food and water; shelter; safety from harm; to feel loved.  High on the wants list include: good health; a sense of satisfaction/achievement/legacy;  a sense of being part of a community or several communities (this could include family, friends, cultural ties, religious ties, employment community, town, state, nationality, et al) – whatever you think gives you a sense of identity;  and a connection to something bigger than our human selves (there are no atheists in foxholes).

All mothers want their children to be healthy and happy; all fathers want their children to be strong – a good combination for each new human being.  Human Beings want the very best for their children and those they love – even under the worst of circumstances.   In this respect we are all the same – not different.  To quote a song – “the Russians love their children too”.   This can apply to any “enemy” we perceive in our world today.

A favourite quote of mine from another song: – from “South Pacific”

You’ve got to be taught, before it’s too late,
Before you are six, or seven or eight –
To hate all the people your relatives hate.
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

We are often indoctrinated without rational thought, on issues that are no longer valid, like many outdated family feuds of generations past, that have no relevance on or to the current generation.

The wars and tragedies of the world are in our faces every day thanks to the incredible technology available to us.  We cry out : “This issue is so big”,  “It is so far away”;  “What can we do”; “This is not right”; “someone should do something”,  etc.  and also “it’s not relevant to me”  “it’s someone else’s problem”;  “they are the problem” etc.

But before we can attempt to solve the rest of the world’s problems of fear, hatred, greed, persecution, prejudice, war, etc.  perhaps we need to start with ourselves, then our close relationships and then move out in ever increasing circles into our various “communities” and ultimately to all sentient beings.

To enable individuals to connect and communities to function we each need to practise genuine Compassion, Patience, Tolerance; Understanding and teach our children these attitudes – by example.    Sometimes we need to shift our focus  -“to walk a mile in their shoes”.  We do need to be carefully taught these co-existence sustaining attitudes.

What are we teaching our children – by our example – not just our words?

Let’s be aware of what and how we think – and change our thinking – for the better, and watch the ripples.


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Self Love

I have always had a problem with “Self Love”  or “Love Thyself”.  I am quite comfortable with saying to my daughter, my husband, close friends and family “I Love You”, and mean it.  But to look into a mirror and say to myself (or even to my reflection because I wanted a bit of distance)  “I love you”,   my immediate response is bordering on horrific.

I squirm,  I look away, and my brain goes static, I cannot face the reflection in the mirror.  Love myself?  How do I love myself?  how can I love myself?  What does this mean – love oneself?  .

I have been doing a lot of reading on interconnectedness with the Universe, Soul-Body connection etc. etc…  I have recently come to appreciate that the body is just a physical vibration of the “soul”, that my true being is actually the “inner soul” – an integral and integrated part of the great cosmos.  A vibration among many;  a drop of water in a pond;  a grain of sand on a beach – singular and unique yet part of a greater singularity.  Yet I still had trouble telling myself “I love you”.  My ego kept getting in the way saying things like “who do you think you are?”‘  “Ha” “you don’t really believe that little insignificant you is important enough to love”  “why would you love yourself”?  how could you possibly love  yourself”?  “Do you really think anybody really loves you?”

The Ego, the mind driven false identity we live with, wanting all the attention, not caring if it is hurtful, keeps standing in front of the heart driven soul, blocking the deeper definition of love.  Not the romantic kind of love, nor or the narcisstic “aren’t I great”, but the love that touches the very root of our being, the love that calls to our true identity.

Recently reading the Dalai Lama’s “The Art of Happiness” (with Howard C. Cutler, M.D.), I gained a better understanding of that pure kind of love.

He suggests that a definition of love  – the truly pure kind of love, is an utter, absolute, and unqualified wish for the happiness of another individual – and deep down, in the very root of our being, beneath all the crap we layer ourselves with, doesn’t each and every one of us wish for his or her own happiness and peace and safe harbour?  Then if so, each of us does in fact love himself or herself.  We need to cherish this part of us that has this driving need to be happy and safe and loved and remember it is still there trying to get our attention.

So because all I truly wish for myself is the best that life can offer, ipsofacto I must love myself.!  With that perspective, I need to go and challenge the mirror again.


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Just beginning

I have a head full of the snuffles, the weather is overcast, the sky is grey and getting darker by the minute.  Not that any of this is a real problem, but probably not a good time to start a writing career.  I do think better when my head is somewhat clearer.  However, on the plus side, there is not a lot else that I can do – except housework – and that is just not an option today.  So onward …

My amazing daughter has a wonderful blog    and this has encouraged me to start my own.  I have many things on which I hold opinions and enjoy sharing.

More good news – I have a new laptop – and it works !!! and faster than the snail pace of the older one.   It even has a name “skullcandy” but I don’t think that suits.  More brain power needed to  select a better name.  This is my second day on my new computer so I am still figuring it out.  Windows 8.1 is a whole new ballgame for me.

As I usually have 2 speeds – flat out and stop – so now I have a machine that can keep up with me.  I might even manage to master Facebook.

Alzheimer’s will just have to wait – I have too much to see and do and learn.

So now I will put another log on the fire, and curl up with my cat on my lap and  chill out in front of the television with some crochet so I don’t feel completely indolent.




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