#30 Grateful for The Practice of Surrender

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When i first read about the act of surrender I couldn’t get my head around it.  Say if I’m having an argument and I surrender, surly I am giving my power away to the other person by saying ‘sure, you go ahead and do or say whatever it is you want to say or do and I’ll just surrender to whatever you want as I have read this to be a healthy thing to do’.

Firstly, I got the analogy totally wrong as I was lost in the meaning. I was still thinking about myself in relation to other people, thinking about my reaction to them and how my behaviour makes others behave. Letting reaction lead rather than personal action, it’s been a common misplacement of power my whole life and when I first began to understand the concept of ‘waking up’ or living life more consciously I realised just how much I have let the opinions of others guide personal steps.

Now surrender means something entirely different. It means to allow, to relax into the moment and not fight rising sensations. This has been one of the most valuable tools for healing. I have spent a very long time fighting myself. Getting frustrated at the present moment as I’d wanted things to be different. Always different. Like the moment was not quite as I’d wanted it to be. Of course, I now see that everything is exactly as it should be, I had manifested my thoughts perfectly as inside I was fighting. Fight within and without gives you more to fight about. It’s plain and simple, think something and you get more of it. Complain and you get more to moan about. Be dissatisfied and satisfaction doesn’t get a look in, no matter what comes your way, dissatisfaction will take centre stage

“Nope, this is not what I wanted!”

“What did you want?”

“I don’t know, but not this!”

It’s a vicious conversation but one that played over in my head like a badly scripted drama. However it’s never just in the head is it? Every thought, every visual, every feeling is a part of our whole self. Therefore, with each conflicting thought I was having a fist fight under the surface and some part of my body was feeling the brunt. Like I was turning my reality into a boxing match with no end to decide on a winner. Bash, here you go kidneys or thump, take that lower back. You catch my drift.

Surrender eases all this. It releases attachment and that is the medicine right there, letting go. Attachment is illusionary. There really is nothing outside of our being that can satisfy us more than all we are within. Even opinions are formed, usually from words spoken by others. Opinions can feel definite but more often than not opinions will change, they will morph over time and what you once thought to be the absolute truth can eventually feel like a lie. Attachments can be made to a new ideas until a ‘better’ one comes along, one that makes more sense in that moment, until another and then another. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have opinions, I know me too well to know I will continue to have opinions, plenty I’m sure. It’s the attachment that causes the conflict, that you’re right and others are wrong. That is what I am looking out for, the certainty and righteousness that attachment can bring.

To me, surrender is like the balm that moistens the skin before attachment buries into my pores. It has allowed me to observe myself in the moment rather than hold onto feelings and continue the story of ‘My entire being is this feeling I am feeling right now’. That was a crappy story and only had crappy endings. If a feeling arises, my best bet is to surrender to it. I don’t need to fight it as I know it won’t last. It doesn’t need a huge amount of energy invested as it is just that, energy – so therefore I’d be fighting my energy with my energy, investing a whole load of me into the destruction of me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a freaking hard practice. One that I am far from mastering but just making the decision to surrender has been soothing. “Oh yummy, I don’t need to fight anymore”.

Surrendering is not a loss of power. We gain as are able to process in a more calm and centred way, without letting conflict drain our life force (and it drains by the gallon!). To witness the process of being human rather than getting swept up in the drama and stories and confusion is precious. Even if I can only manage a few minutes a day, it’s a gift to myself. To remove tensions and limiting beliefs about who I am, this is what I know to be the best healing tonic. Today I feel incredibly grateful that I am able to practice surrender, to be able to let go of thoughts and habits that no longer serve me. I doubt they ever served me well in the first place. I am grateful for the peace surrender brings.

Most of all I am grateful for the journey, as I do feel like each minute is a journey back to me and it never gets boring as there are new discoveries, always.

#29 Grateful for My New Found Love of Art

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This no-phone week has been delicious, I almost want to turn if off permanently! I feel calmer, I feel less anxious and less afraid to experiment with my art (my newly discovered passion). On a side note, I would seriously recommend turning your phone off for longer than a day. Life will go on and people will find you should they need to. I don’t think we need to be so accessible all the time, we’re just made to think life won’t be full without it. It will… but that is just my opinion 🙂

Today I painted the above. I call it  I see. 

I have zero art experience, well apart from a GCSE in art (taken nearly 20 years ago!!), but I freaking LOVE to paint and draw. It has only been in the past few months that I bothered to pick up a paintbrush and I only started drawing because I wanted to create a visual to match my poems, to jazz ‘um up a little (obviously I didn’t think they were good enough on their own!).

I’m no master and to be honest, that isn’t my aim –  I won’t be trying to impress anyone with what I create, that’s for sure. Surely the personal benefits of self-expression are more important than how ‘accurate’ or ‘masterful’ the painting is.

Also, what I love about painting is seeing the results of your labour straight away. When I’m writing, it’s a slow process, or it feels slow anyway (especially the novel for obvious reasons). The page can become a blur of words, thoughts can seem scattered but when I paint, it seems to make more immediate sense (to me anyway).

I  feel so lucky that I am able to express myself in this way. In many ways. I truly believe that we find so much peace and healing when we get intimate with ourselves, to begin to understand our soul truth. Self-expression is a grounding practice. It centres us, keeps our hearts open to feel, no matter what feelings arise. Self-expression keeps us wild and alive and in touch with what it means to be human. I’m sure I have written something similar to this in previous posts, I guess it’s been an incredibly important healing tool for me. For a long time I became so obsessed with ‘being spiritual’ I forgot I AM SPIRITUAL, just by being alive. Painting leads me back to me, the real me, the me I am learning to love unconditionally. Honouring my creativity taps deeper into the universal force that dances inside of us all. I feel so strongly that my mental health has improved due to expressing myself, not worrying about what others may think of my work, just expressing who I am. I have noticed that being honest in my work has attracted more honesty into my life and this has been such a gift, one I didn’t even know I wanted.

Within, we have all the magic and pleasures of life. We are the holders of so much love and light (darkness too as without dark we have no understanding of light). We all have much to share and many talents just waiting to be explored.

Let’s get busy exploring 🙂

 

#20 Grateful for Christmas Hangovers

I’m hungover and I don’t drink.

I’m spent and I didn’t over indulge financially this year.

I don’t do cards anymore as the paper waste makes me want to cry and I don’t buy presents for the sake of it as the plastic waste also makes me want to cry. I celebrate with my close family and on Christmas morning we open our gifts and slowly but surely make a nice meal to eat at 3pm, only to end up eating at 5pm. This is the same xmas day formula as most families I’d imagine but this year ours felt low key, intimate and incredibly calm.

Yet, I feel spent. My energies are low and I’m propped up against the pillows on my bed writing this at 1.15 in the afternoon thinking about taking a nap. It took me 30 mins to even open my laptop and even writing this I feel lazy and half arsed about it. Not because I don’t want to write, I just feel zapped (neon pink laser zapped).

I don’t know if this is because 2016 has been a whooper of a year. Personally, politically, emotionally… it’s been a roller coaster. I cannot think of anyone I know who has said to me, ‘wow, 2016 has been such an awesome year!’ I don’t know if any year can be ‘awesome’ throughout but some are certainly more uplifting than others. Thats ok, life isn’t supposed to be peaches and cream all the time. I don’t even like the cream so peaches is enough for me.

I’m spent because although 2016 has been a bitch of a year, it’s been the most powerful too. I’ve felt such a shift… almost like my Saturn return take II. I feel like I’ve spent most of the year crawling across the floor, watching the clock, counting the seconds until I finally stop giving a crap. But this is good! Honestly, what a liberating feeling to suddenly not think about time or discomfort or the slow crawl to places unknown the feel like no-where but really they’re the best places as no-where is everywhere really. Even that makes little sense but I am rolling with the shift right now, even if that means talking gibberish for gibberish sake. Really, what sense do we need to make? That has been the biggest revelation for me this year. That I don’t need to analyse every little thing and that the only moment I need to be in is NOW. No tomorrow, no yesterday, only now.

So now I feel spent and sleepy and I may or may not make it onto the yoga mat after I’ve written this but I am so grateful to be in this moment that feels so reclusive and reflective and makes little sense. This year I have written more than I thought I ever could and have believed in myself enough to share my work. I have taken up drawing and painting, Ok so I’m no master but I smile when I’m drawing and that’s been enough to keep at it.

The new year cycle begins at winter-solstice for me so I don’t celebrate New Year in the traditional sense but due to the holiday season I am able to decompress and meditate as London slows down a little. Breathing feels easier when things around me slow down.

So YES to Christmas emotional hangovers. With contraction comes expansion and I always look forward to how energised I hope to feel tomorrow, or the next day or maybe even next week. I am grateful for the choice to nap, the choice to relax – that I am able to breath through the awkward or crappy feelings, rather than feel I need to do a thousand things at once. Who am I kidding, I could never do a thousand things at once, even thinking about it is making me want to take a nap.

I think I’ll take a nap now 🙂

 

 

#19 Grateful for (More) Confusions

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I pulled the above card three days ago. I’m pulling a card every three or four days to help me with my buddhist studies from the Tibetan Buddhist meditation deck and boy, is it making me think.

I feel it would be the ‘right’ thing for me to insert here… ‘I feel this so deeply. I wish nothing more than to be able to alleviate suffering. To reach lovingly not just to those we hear about on the news but the hidden cries that many shield from even their families. Those who are abused, mentally, physically and sexually behind closed doors. The depressed who carry on with their 9-5 as they’ve children to support and fear what they’d loose if they put their health first. The artist who hasn’t the confidence to support their creative endeavours and therefor represses expression (and believe themselves mad in the process).’

I feel like my whole heart should be invested in ‘extinguishing the pain of others’ and in the words above however, in total honesty, it isn’t.

This is not because I don’t care. I do care, I feel others pain so much so it can cripple me. I’ve done what I believed would help, like working for a charity, I’ve donated, I’ve given all the clothes I’ve ever owned to charity shops. Although I feel the pain of those around me I also know that there is absolutely nothing I can do to neutralise their suffering. I can only offer a soothing balm but it’s their choice to apply and only their skin can do the healing. I know this from my own experience. I spent many years in pain, secretly, with a smile on my face everyday but tears pouring the evening. There was absolutely nothing anyone could do. Support me, yes but to heal… that must come from the individual.

Also, there are many unintended consequences that can arise from wanting to help another. Our intensions can be drawn from a heartfelt place, yet what we see to be medicine, others may perceive as hell. When I was at my worst with anxiety, I know the actions of those close to me grew from love but often decisions they thought to be best, were in fact not. I knew what was right for me and I think as a society we want to fix others, to steer them in the direction we believe to be their healing path. Yet, each one of us has our own journey, our own speed we travel, our own differing energies to work though.

So how can I extinguish the pain of others? Yes, to be of service is a wonderful and priceless gift but can this extinguish pain, or just lighten the load?

I love this study, as I know questions drive discoveries. Discoveries that lead to new questions… oh how life is a long string of questions and this question I may need to sit with for longer. I know it has struck a cord as I felt the need to write about it. Often when things sit uncomfortably, there is a reason. What this reason is, I shall have to wait to discover.

 

 

 

 

#18 Grateful For 10,000 Words

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I’m reading a book about Buddhist meditation at the moment. I’m not far into the book but so far, what’s resonated with me is that we meditate not to change who we are but to become friends with who we are – Being human is to be chaotic and feelings of discomfort will come but they don’t need to dictate our actions. This is a huge teaching for me.

Last night I read a zen reflection called The Four Horses.

‘The buddha told his followers there are four kinds of horses. The first sees merely the form of the whip and runs. The second reacts when the whip taps its hair. The third is aroused when the whip contracts its flesh. The fourth is animated when the whip touches it’s bone.’

The point explained was the first horse is so well bred he sees the whip and knows exactly what to do, whereas the fourth horse has to feel beaten, to be so close to death before he grasps reality. As humans we want to be the first horse but, well let’s face it, we’re more the forth. However, as much as I know it can be hard as hell, it’s through suffering that we learn. We make life-changing choices mainly when we feel beaten to the bone.

Meditation allows us to see all aspects of ourselves. Often the harder we fall and more painful the whack… well voila, the more we learn. The more we learn the more we can begin to understand how complex and chaotic we are and instead of running, we can make friends with ALL aspects of ourselves. This takes time of course, I am a mere beginner. However I can absolutely relate these teachings to writing my book.

When I started out i wanted to be like the first horse. I wanted to be the writer getting it right straight away, to write an exact amount of words everyday and create a masterpiece that will be fit for publication in only a few months. Yeah right! Truth is, all that planning went to shit. I am the fourth horse. I am the writer who has to feel confusion and disillusionment. I am the writer who has no clue which direction I’m going in, the story just seems to be writing itself at the moment which inevitable means, I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m just writing.

However, I am learning so much! This alone is keeping my spirits high. Some days I’ll write 1,000 words, some days not but the point is, the process is a continuous lesson. High expectations before the process begins is a waste of time, well for me anyway. I have so much to learn and I feel incredibly humble on this journey.

I have now hit 10,000 words and the last few thousand have been a labour of love rather than ‘how many words have I written today??’ I write because I love it and the thought of committing to writing a novel has scared the hell out of me for the past four years (which is why I am only committing now). I needed targets in the beginning, not that I’m saying I still don’t, oh boy I still do, but now I don’t feel the need to be so perfect and that has taken a whole heap of pressure off and I can enjoy, rather than beat myself up about word counts. Pressure is so debilitating and when we load so heavily upon ourselves, the result is never healthy, but then maybe I needed to bash the hell outta myself to get to this point. Like the reflection expresses, pain moves us.

I’m am grateful for being in the place I’m at right now, achieving no more or no less. I am looking to turn the tables from pressure to personal understanding, this seems to motivate me so much more and if times of turmoil lay ahead, I’ll keep the faith that empowering movements arise from suppression, even if my suppression is inflicted by me.

 

#16 Grateful for Not Achieving 1,600 Words per day

So yea, as the title explains, I am wayyyy off my 1,600 words per day to write my novel in the month of November.

I have two options, I beat myself up about it, cursing the fact that I haven’t done what I set out to do when I signed up for National Novel Writing Month, or I can accept that I although I am not on course to write a novel in a short space of time, I have at least started the novel and also written some poems that I think are pretty good (self-expression is self-expression and I’m happy that at least I’m doing it). I’m going with option No.2 because nobody likes a bruised body from internal battering so hold fire personal attack and welcome to the creative process of writing.

Creating is a strange process. You plan, you plan to stick to the plan (or so you hope) but the planned form of expression turns into something completely different and you end up with something that is most probably more true to you than the original plan. This has been my whole creative life. I began as a dancer, then went to drama school then ended up at university specialising in Playwriting and now I am here, still writing but not plays. The twists and turns in life are what make it so… well a combo of so fucked up and so glorious all rolled into one.

The controller in me wants everything to go according to how I’ve rolled my time-line out in my head. I’ve done this ever since I was small, pretending I know what the outcome is most likely going to be, saying ‘oh I know, I have this feeling’ and although I consider myself an intuitive person, we can never know what is going to happen on every path we venture down. LET GO OF THE WHEEL. I write that in capitols for me, not to preach. I am the giver of advice and the worst receiver. My own advice comes from a place within that I know I need to listen too. I’m pretty much advising myself with the advice that I give when I’m asked to give it (as listening is most often the best help we can give) because I only ever know my perspectives, my own interpretations of my reality.

I am grateful that I am not on track with NaNoWriMo because it’s making me look at myself, hard… Through those truth lenses that I like to keep in my pocket and pretend I’ve lost them when pretending seems like the most fun game in life when truth is hard to accept. I’ve also realised that maybe this book isn’t a long winded intricate novel. I’m writing a teenage fiction book, it’s the diary of a girl who has been made to live with her difficult aunt after loosing her parents and coming to terms with this, if she ever does. It’s character driven and now, the more I write, it seems to be crossing into fantasy too. So I’ll keep going and see what happens but I’m relieving the pressure of 1,600 words a day as this was stressful rather than encouraging. We all work differently and part of the process is finding your own way.

Writing is so enjoyable yet so challenging all at once. I guess like life, the perfect combination of contradictions. As you ride the wave you get wet, so you get out of the water, dry off, then get back in the water again.

 

 

#15 Grateful for Soul Sharing

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My dad is in mourning today, Leonard Cohen was his man, his inspiration, his soul brother. I grew up listening to Leonard in the car, at home… basically whenever my dad had control over the sound system (it was the 90’s!), Leonard (or The Beatles) was playing.

We’ve lost some incredible artists this year (my god, what a year!), many have shaped my early poetic experiences, I remember writing down David Bowie lyrics as a kid, to read over and over as the mystery settled me, helping me to to make sense of my own confusions. Not that any sense was ever made, there is often no sense, but Bowie and Prince shared a part of themselves that allowed others to feel… to feel raw, to feel sexy, to feel human.

I am so grateful that people share their soul with the world. A life without creative expression would be… oh I dunno, shit. It would be dark and dismal and controlled and rotten and stagnant.. yep, just really really shit. It is sad when people depart the physical world but thank god for their existence! Today I want to praise Leonard Cohen, to thank him for the passion he still brings out in my dad and the millions of others he’s consoled, ignited and inspired. I want to rejoice in the courage that people have to bare themselves in such open and heartfelt ways. To go against the grain, to believe that their voice is worthy and deserves to be heard.

Being an artist can be risky and challenging and some days you feel like ‘what is the fucking point’ but today I feel, now more than ever, the world needs more artists and sharers of their soul. I am SO GRATEFUL to myself for the guts to pursue my love of writing and no longer listening to the voice of ‘No you can’t’ that rang so loud for so many years. I am SO GRATEFUL for the risk takers who fought so hard to dismantle barriers that silenced so many creative voices. I am SO GRATEFUL for anyone who reads this and is expressing their passions, creating art in their way, whatever that may be as the world needs your magic… to create is magic.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.