Strangers tend to tell me their life stories (and problems) within minutes of meeting me. Friends can do the same and I used to give them advice but a wise person told me, “words don’t teach, life experience does.” So now I listen (sort of) and say I’m sorry to hear that…then I am on my way. As an empath, I can absorb their energy and leave the conversation feeling zapped. while the other person feels better. (The same thing happened when I was a massage therapist. My client felt great and I had their aches and pains. I learned to ground myself before each session and that problem was solved). As for what some call “holding space” I learned that I need to take care of myself first and the best thing for me is to listen and remain detached (Buddhism taught me this). If someone sees me as someone to constantly vent to, I learned to stop spending time with them and not feel guilty. It’s normal to have problems from time to time but there are those whose lives are nothing but continuous drama. I do think drama can become a form of addiction.

Namaste,

Ingebirds

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This morning I woke up grouchy. I’ve done this before but this time I decided to look at my behavior. While doing my morning chores which starts with taking care of and feeding my furbabies, I tried to change my negative energy. It didn’t work very well, so instead I observed my thoughts. They are only thoughts, I told myself. It’s funny how one negative thought will remind me of another and before I know it, I am remembering things that irritated me years ago that have nothingg to do with what’s happening right now.

As the morning progresses, I decided to go with the flow. I’m grumpy, I told myself because its hot…again. It was probably 85 degrees in my house and it was only 9 o’clock. I don’t have air conditioning but I do have a box fan, so I focused on that and was grateful to have it. There are plenty of people living in hotter climates than mine who don’t even have the luxury of a box fan. From there I gave thanks for living in a house that has clean running water and I have two refrigerator/freezers that stores fresh food, I can eat anytime I want. There are people who do not eat everyday because they cannot afford to.

My mood started to change. I listened to one of my guided meditation videos and after a while, I felt my heart soften. My mood was changing and i felt like my old self. I really am a happy person so when I feel negative emotions, I REALLY feel them. I don’t like it and I don’t like my grumpy behavior.

As I write this, I feel better. There isn’t anything I can do about the weather but I can do what I can to stay cool (both physically and mentally).

Today will be a good day and I am grateful to be alive to experience it.

Namaste,

Ingebird

Do You Want to be Right or Kind?

photo credit: rawayurveda.com

Has anyone else noticed how much fighting goes on in social media these days? It got so bad that I turned off my news feed notifications and unfriended a few people who wrote endless angry posts (I did not know them personally so I didn’t feel bad about it). For the most part social media is a good thing. I have learned so much from bloggers and websites about health and Buddhism and spirituality. If it weren’t for social media I would have no idea how many inspiring people are out there.
Before FaceBook I got my information from the library. If i liked an author like, Dr. Wayne Dyer, I would buy the book from a brick-and-mortar bookstore. I still buy books old school but there are online writers who don’t publish and the only way I can follow them is online.
While this is one of the upsides to socia media there is an obvious downside (and I won’t even get into the amount of “misinformation” floating around). I’m talking about the mean stuff that some people post or comment on. Yes, the mainstream media probably plays a big part in creating fear and anger but it is us (me and you) who don’t have to buy into their manipulation. There are over seven billion people on this beautiful planet and there are almost as many different opinions. I believe in free speech, even if I don’t like what’s being said. I have the choice to listen or not. I have a choice to argue or be kind.
Let’s be honest, are we ever in “listening mode” when we are in a heated argument? Does the disagreement ever get resolved when both parties are pissed off? Isn’t it better to take a breath before we speak and ask ourselves “Is what I am about to say (write) kind?” and go from there.

Anxiety

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We have now lived in our new place for 72 days. On day 70, I finally did not feel anxious. I’m not sure why, but since we moved, more often than not, I woke up feeling anxious. On other days the feeling came and went. It wasn’t fun. But recently things turned around. I am back to my happy self. For the most part, I’ve always been a happy person and optimistic, so when I felt bad for so many days, I got a bit worried. I consider myself to be a sleuth when it comes to mysteries. I call myself curious, hubby says I’m nosey. Either way, I like to get to the bottom of why something is happening, especially when it’s happening to me. When I got cancer, the first thing I thought was, How did this happen? I then went to work on finding the answer and how to get well.

This time I did the same thing and after reading different sources, I came to the conclusion, my anxiety was a direct result of my thoughts. Right Thought is one of the Noble Eightfold Path teachings:

Right Thought (Samma sankappa) or Intention, means clear vision leading to clear thinking. Right thought leads to the elimination of harmful thoughts and developing such positive states of mind such as metta (loving-kindness), which is opposed to hatred, ill-will or aversion and developing thoughts of harmlessness or compassion which are opposed to cruelty and callousness.

It took me awhile to figure out that I spent a great deal of my day having arguments (in my head) with people who I believed, were doing me wrong. It was the same thoughts over and over which made me angry and fearful because I believed I couldn’t do anything about these “bad” people. The result of this wrong thinking caused me suffering in the form of anxiety.

Now that I knew what the problem was, I decided to take action.

  • I began to write three pages everyday of all the things I appreciate and used to take for granted. I wrote anything down that popped into my head. I still do that.
  • I watched my thoughts while I meditated and reminded myself that what ever came up were only thoughts, not reality.
  • I observed my thoughts through the day. When the arguments in my head started, I quickly reminded myself they were only thoughts and wouldn’t it be more fun to think about what I wanted to manifest; in other words, keep my eyes on the prize, which is our animal sanctuary.
  • I watched the video featuring Michael A. Singer, who wrote the book, The Untethered Soul. He gives a lecture on living a mindful life. (You can find the video at the end of this post).
  • I watched lots of Abraham Hicks videos. If you don’t know who they are, they talk about the law of attraction and how we manifest our life experiences by the vibrations we send out. They remind me that a belief (about anything) is just a thought I keep thinking over and over, and how thoughts create feelings… like anxiety.

It actually didn’t take me that long to come to my senses; maybe because I was learning this stuff for a while. The thing is I was learning it intellectually but not applying it to my day-to-day life. It looked good on paper but if I wasn’t living the teachings, I wasn’t benefiting from the lessons. Buddhism and law of attraction are very similar; they both teach us that controlling, or at least observing our thoughts, help us to respond not react to life situations.

Now I wake up giving thanks. I appreciate my environment (the trees, the birds, the clean smelling air) when I take the dogs out for a morning walk.

I practice living in the moment. If a judgment thought enters my mind, I look at it and remind myself that its only my monkey mind. Thoughts are not reality, and they are usually false assumptions.

It feels good to feel good again.

Namaste,

ingebird

Here’s Michael Singer’s video:

This is the Abraham video I start my day with. I listen to it while I eat breakfast:

How I Got into Buddhism and a Spiritual Life

Indigo-Meditation

We all have a story about how we took our spiritual path seriously, whether it’s traditional Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hindu, Wicca or whatever. Sure, there are plenty of us walking around going through the motions and celebrating holidays of religions that were passed down to us by our parents and even society. I grew up in a household that never mentioned religion. We never went to church. I was around nine years old when I decided to go to church a few times, to see what went on inside. Seen through the eyes of a nine-year old girl, I can say, not much was happening. It was boring.

Off and on from my teenage years through my adult life, I dabbled in astrology and read spiritual writings from authors I can’t remember. I never took my spiritual life seriously…until I was diagnosed with stage four cancer. That day my life changed forever. It wasn’t that I thought I was going to die, I never believed that. Something deep inside me said, I would survive. I just knew there was something more than the day-to-day bullshit, I called my life.

While I was looking up other cancer survivors on the Internet, I ran across many who wrote about spirituality and suggested books to help other cancer patients get through their ordeal. Louise Hay seemed to be a favorite, so I found her books in the library and started reading. Hay is a cancer survivor and lives a rich spiritual life, dedicated to helping others. I wanted to be like her (and Oprah)spiritual life. Her books led me to other writers and eventually to Buddhist teachings.

I don’t call myself a Buddhist but I strive to be Buddha like, or at least not to be an asshole. I don’t like labels, especially religious ones; there’s too many problems that come from saying, “I believe this or I believe that.” There are too many people who like to argue that your belief is wrong and theirs is right. If you ask me, we’re all right. Even atheists. We all believe in something that resonates with us. There might be some who say, I can’t follow Buddhism AND some other spiritual belief. That’s their opinion.

I read that the Dali Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh both say Buddhism doesn’t care if one follows another religion as well. Buddhism is not jealous of other religious beliefs. Thich Nhat Hanh said Buddha and Jesus said the same thing… “don’t be an asshole”. OK, they didn’t say that but they did say to get along with each other.

I was watching Davidji give an interview on You Tube about stress management the other day and he mentioned how he found his spiritual life. He was working in “mergers and acquisitions” in New York for many years and then…911 happened. His life changed drastically after that and he quit his lucrative job… I suggest watching his interview to find out more. It’s really good and he’s a funny guy!

After watching the video, I got to thinking how many others have a similar story, maybe not as drastic as Davidji’s and mine but something that happened in their lives that made them “examine” their life choices? According to Abraham Maslow, only 3% of the population ever look at their life critically and wonder why they made the choices they did, or as he puts it, “become self-actualized”.

I am far from being self-actualized. I still have too many knee jerk reactions to situations. I still put my foot in my mouth and I allow my buttons to get pushed. I am working on it though and Buddhist teachings, along with other spiritual practices help me. I’m definitely much better than before cancer.

I know you, dear reader have a story to tell and feel free to share it by leaving a comment. I enjoy hearing people’s stories, not only about spiritual things but their lives in general. We are all on our personal journeys but we also share space on a huge rock spinning thousands of miles an hour through space. Now that’s some mind-blowing shit!

Namaste,

ingebird