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Archive for October, 2008
Garlands, sacred words and spiraling thinking; how are they all connected?
This time is continuing to challenge all of us and the free-fall of the press does nothing to give us perspective on where we are in the grand scheme of things. I suppose we could be seen as spoilt kids loosing our toys and not knowing how to amuse ourselves in this new reality. Of course we all still have the shiny cars and whiz-bang phones but their perceived value has diminished.
The mind is king right now. For most of us, our fears are more important than almost any other aspect of life. The projections of doom and gloom that we make for ourselves veer us all far away from our actual reality and this creates an umbrella of unease that seems to arc over everything, bringing an edgy, angry feel to a lot of daily interactions and responses to situations that would normally float past unnoticed.
When the mind is in charge there is no distance, no perspective. Everything turns inwards and spirals downwards. Negativity and fear become the dominant thought paths leading to a profound loss of faith and trust in the Universe. The ground feels as though it is unstable and melting and we are lost.
Can we change all of this? We can, but an important thing to be aware of is our love of trauma and drama. Do we want to move beyond this mind-game? Do we want to step out of the spiral and sit back to watch? If the answer is yes, if you are bored of the drama and intensity then there are clearly defined tools that work.
At first the steps are faltering and require great remembrance and persistence, but little by little the peace is more alluring than the drama and slowly the state of acceptance and stillness is preferable to the whirling rule of the mind.
This is where the malas and mantras step up.
A mala is a garland of beads or flowers. It can be made of anything from jasmine flowers to precious stones. Traditionally the flower malas are for showing a high level of respect for another being or deity and the bead malas are for showing a high level of respect for the mind.
Malas can be from 8 to 152 beads and essentially they are counting mechanisms. The most usual numbers are 26, 27, 54 and 108. All sacred numbers. The mala is made of simple beads of glass, wood or stone with empowered malas using semi-precious beads, stones, gold, silver and silk. They are held in the right hand and the beads are slowly rolled over the Saturn or longest finger without touching the Jupiter or first finger. This is because Saturn burns our karma (which is what we want), and Jupiter is quite often the finger of blame (which we do not want).
The purpose of a mala is to still the mind. It is the same as worry beads or a rosary, and it works buy focusing the thoughts away from trauma and negativity. This is achieved by the use of a mantra.
Mantras are traditionally sacred words. It can be one word or a string of words or a verse of a prayer or a complete prayer. Affirmations can also be considered a mantra. So if you are Catholic, then the Hail Mary would be appropriate or the Lord’s Prayer. If Sikh, then the Mool Mantra or a shabad from the Guru Granth Sahiib, if Hindhu then a prayer to your chosen Deity, but a mantra can also just be a simple phrase like “I am enough”. It does not have to link to any religion or God.
The mental processes are halted by the focus on the mantra. 3 minutes is a good start, but as you refine your practice you can extend endlessly and bit by bit, peace will come. The time spent with the mind focused on the mantra allows perspective on reality and some conquering of the mind. Continued practice leads to increased power over thoughts and the ultimate goal is the ability to use the mind for thinking and working out solutions but not to give it the power to dominate our feelings. It is a bold ambition but achievable ambition. Frankly, I am not there, but have results that show me that it is a truth.
You can also turn mantras in the mind without using a mala. This is my preferred practice and I do it whenever I am involved in repetitive actions like running, swimming, walking, chopping etc. It is said that the highest practice is to see the mantra written in the mind’s eye. This is good for seated, eyes closed practice. Try a version of the above and see how it feels. It will certainly be a change from the current experiences and may bring solace. Let me know.
It swirls and whirls and settles for a while before taking flight again like a terrified nocturnal creature. My mind is a tricky thing. I know I am not alone, but I was talking to a journalist yesterday about rehab and could see that over time I have learned to express myself in a way that is not normal.
What is Normal? Good question. It depends largely on who is asking, but normal seems to be a big cover up. Recovery speak, based on years of peeling by therapists and much time spent opening one’s heart in 12 step meetings, means that the honesty can be somewhat startling if speaking to a “normal” person.
Time has been kind, it has. I am lucky that the ravages of alcoholism are not obvious upon my person. My mind is another matter. Was it always like this and I had not really met it? Or is this awareness part of the joys of long-term sobriety? Hard to tell, but the tips, tricks and techniques learned over the last 17 years are really coming into their own now. My quiver of tools is fully loaded and I use all that I can remember, all the time. Especially in the middle of the night, when the beats take flight and pound their thorny wings around my deepest fears, stirring them to screaming spirals down into the depths of my worst nightmares. This, I do not like.
I have spent years perfecting the “I refuse to think about this” routine and it works, most of the time. Strangely empowering, the words No, I refuse to think about this now. But they are potent. I turn over and begin the slow climb to hundreds of repetitions of the chosen mantra for the present fear and finally fall asleep again, waking refreshed and able to deal with the beast in the cold light of day.
I say cold because I refuse to put the heating on until November. How mean is that? Is it mean? It is not actually that cold, and we have loads of blankets to wrap up in, so I think and feel ecological and empowered. Long may it last.
Are there really quick fixes?
The speed of change right now is awe-inspiring. One minute we are up, the Bang! All gone, we are down again.
We is the Royal We, pf course my personal reality is mercurial in the extreme and I am fine with that on a good day, but our collective reality seems to be totally controlled by the behaviour of Bankers and Politicians. I am not convinced that it should be so.
I know that my self esteem is directly linked to my finances and that is a personal failing that I am trying to address as it clearly is leading to less than amusing consequences on a daily basis, but that we should all be suffering this way seem needless and unkind.
We are suddenly on the up because ever so quickly the Banks were nationalised and now we are down because trading in Asia was not all it should have been last night. I do not like my reality being quite so fickle. Louise Hay wrote that the moment of Power is Now. Any decision that one makes to change can be implemented Right Now. In an ideal world this is possible and one could then go on to say that the world of banking and politics must be ideal because they are making ever such snappy choices. But on a personal level change can take time. Our minds want us to stay in suffering and fear because it then has control. All efforts to change, set personal boundaries or make changes for good are always times where we are sorely tested by our will. Think about deciding to diet, or give something up… it is always challenging and we are endlessly tested in our resolve. But change is important and all that is happening now is not over. There is further to go.
Step carefully. Breathe deeply and think about how to adjust to the new world order. We are now being asked to really be ourselves; To shine as individuals without all the trappings of excess building up our radiance.
We are living in interesting times.
As the Banks, the Markets and the press all spiral madly around each other there is little any of us can do but watch and feel.
The overwhelming feeling for a lot of us is fear. There is not anyone I have yet met who is finding any of this exciting and fun.
The fear is mainly generated by the collapse of all that we have based our society upon over the years; the banking system, mortgages, credit cards, money upon demand. And as this whole thing unravels itself we are all left on very uncertain ground. All kinds of fears are given free reign by our minds as well the press. There is nothing known and certain.
The history behind all of this, from an altered perspective, but one that gives a lot of view, is that we are at the end of the Piscean Age. A major part of this time cycle, about 2000 years, was characterised by hierarchical systems like Parliament, money, the Law, Religion etc. As we move more completely into the Age of Aquarius all of these system, where knowledge is power, break down and the transfer is that the power becomes the strength of our individual consciousness. The Internet started the process of it all breaking down with any information becoming free and accessible to all. Parliament has been falling open for a while. The Banking System is crumbling now, the Church has been struggling for a few years. It is easy to look around and see it happening everywhere.
This could be said to be an anarchists dream, but of course, as it gets more dramatic the squeeze gets tighter and we fear all that we know falling apart. We feel on unstable ground and all that we thought was our due and our right is now whipped away. Over time, days for some, this will settle into an acceptance of the changes but there is more to come. It is not over yet. We will be truly in the Aquarian Age in 2012.
What can you do? There is so much that can help right now. The list is long, but it all means taking responsibility for yourself which our society has discouraged. We are profoundly led towards numbness and ant-like behaviours through phones, ipods, alcohol and the media in all its’ forms. To move into your strength to be able to take life as it comes requires things like yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, breath work, running without an ipod or MTV, and learning to separate from the mind, to control the fearful thoughts.
If you are already engages in any of the above pursuits to strengthen the nervous system then increase your practice. Otherwise see what you are drawn to and start now. It will make such a difference to how you approach life on a daily basis.
Tra-La-La, it is such a trip trying to do anything with Mercury when it is gaily sliding backwards through the Universe, as it is right now.
I made an appointment to have cable installed, Virgin Cable, before checking what was going on in the ethers and it is all my fault, my own doing. I have landed in a pile hideousness.
It is quite fun this morning as 24 hours after installation I am calling to have it disconnected. The man is tying himself in knots trying to find a way around the fact that they do not say they don’t support Mac until it is all in and the Mac would like to be connected. I find 45 minutes on the phone to India totally unacceptable and now want the whole thing gone, much to the children’s annoyance because they loved the shape of the remote control.
Thank God for a practice right now. By that I mean I am really grateful that I do have a quiver of tools to turn to when it gets overwhelming. It, being this strange cloud of fear that has enveloped everything like a thick, warm fog. I do not think that I have used all the teachings as much as I do right now. And if you are struggling in any way, take up running, yoga, deep breathing, mantra or Tai Chi so that you can build up your nervous system and have some defences against the dark arts of the mind.
I was talking with a customer yesterday about how to separate from the endless drama going on inside. She was getting overwhelmed by her thinking and the discussion turned to the myriad of ways available now. My best suggestion was some kind of repetitive action like swimming or walking and a mantra.
Mantras do not have to be infinitely holy words. They can be positive affirmations like “ I am fine” , “The Universe is abundant”, “I am doing well’. Just the focus and the repetition will give you peace from the endless clattering till roll that we allow our minds to become.
So I took some time away and breathed deeply as I did my usual OCD session of changing everything around in the shop. I breathed deeply, started the mantra turning and tidied up the chaos I had run away from yesterday. By the end I felt clearer and rang Virgin Media again. Now, twenty minutes later, they can sort it all out, we are best friends, the kids get to keep the remote control and the Universe is a benevolent and abundant place despite Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and the man who earned $300,000,000 at Lehman Brothers over the past few years.
I am trying to find Lapsang Souchong tea by Marriages Freres. Can I find it in the UK? Not so far.
I have a tea thing. It is not compulsive or life-threatening, but I do love good tea. Of course there are many who think that only a total idiot would drink Lapsang and that it was invented after a fire at a Chinese tea factory. But trust me, I do not c are what they think. The Marriage Freres tea is Divine and my internet trawling is pulling up nothing.
I even went so far as to ring the tea shop I buy from in Montpelier. They refused to send it because the postage would be more than the tea. He thought he was being kind but I am sulking. These days it is hard to say **** it, send it anyway. I am on a siege economy, as we all are. I will just pine.
Talking of siege economy, which I know most of us do all the time, where is all the money? Someone must have it, somewhere. But who? Whom? It is puzzling me as surely it did not just vanish? It was made money, no? Or has it all just been usury and speculation on a promise? All sins against mankind, I learned today.
Where is it all? Has it run out? Faded? Been stolen? What has actually happened that means there is no excess? Maybe I am completely misreading things, but it looks a lot like the Emperors New Clothes from here. There must be a great swathe of people or institutions absolutely raking it in.
The energies that are flying around right now, in the ethers, on the news, in the media and around groups of people are quite intense. I was talking with someone today and this aspect of the current experience came up. Driving past a newsagent with stacks of drama on papers outside, getting damp in the rain, I thought that if I were in charge I would put a stop to the newspapers creating such hysteria. I am not convinced that I would have all journalists reading the Secret, but I would put a stop to the whipping-up that is currently totally acceptable writing. It is all so endlessly hysterical and all flying past so fast, that grasping the reality seems profoundly challenging.
So there it is. Tea and reality are proving somewhat elusive.
We have had another successful birthday party. This time it was for Louis, who was 10 yesterday.
30 children, all dressed up in their chosen characters, dancing, swinging, playing, screaming and apple-bobbing around the house and garden. The joys of paper cups and plates become highly visible at these times, and the large poodles’ clearing-up sequence when no one is looking.
The great thing about an event like that is that it is totally all consuming. It is impossible to think about anything else, to do anything else. All day was spent in preparation, the cake, sandwiches, prizes, wrapping presents, preparing the room and then all of a sudden it is happening. The gate opens and kids are running towards the house and expanding into every available space, laughing and running, jumping and shouting for 4 hours. At the end there is just the odd empty crisp packet and twisted paper cup floating along the floor in the breeze.
I like the parties. I really do. I will happily do them every year. But I also like the total distraction from me and my head. Running has become the other time when I really do not think at all. Unfortunately I cannot yet run for more than an hour, so it is all the space I get away from the endless thinking, sorting out, working out, reworking out that seems to endlessly turn, day and night.
I have got so much from the running that I am now bringing the tools back into my early mornings at work, too. Long deep breathing to calm the mind, mantra to stimulate hormone flow and lots of calming thoughts.
It is working.