It is natural to become attached to the people, places, and things in our lives that provide us with a sense of consistency and stability, but it is important to remember that no matter how reliable they are for a time, they are subject, as all things are, to the law of impermanence. As the world around us changes, one thing we can always count on is our relationship with ourselves.
This may seem obvious, but we often forget to turn to ourselves when we need support and love, looking instead to outside sources. We can feel disappointed when we don't get what we need from the people in our lives. While receiving love and support from outside ourselves is valuable, it is also vital to remember that we carry within us an unlimited source of love and support. We can always turn within and find what we need, taking our rightful seat in the sanctuary of our Selves.
Not everyone has easy access to this inner haven, but have no doubt that it is there. It is often necessary to spend time alone in order to find it. Make a conscious effort to take time to explore your inner space. Even if only for five minutes a day, close your eyes and breathe deeply, tuning into your inner being. Greet yourself as a trusted friend and relax into the experience of just being there. The more time you spend in this space, the more you will understand and trust yourself.
Affirmations can also help return you to the strength and support within. Remind yourself: No matter what happens, I will always love and support myself. No matter who rejects me, I will always be here for myself. I am the source of my own safety and abundance. As you say these powerful words, you will see their truth, and you will know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you are the most reliable friend and the safest haven you could ever want.
Fun isn’t something that is given or done to you, it is something that you allow yourself to experience.
As adults, we often get so caught up in “grown up” business that we can forget how to have pure fun. This isn’t the kind of fun that comes from doing a specific kind of activity or being in a specific mood for fun. Rather, this is the fun born from the state of pure being. You see this kind of fun in small children who are so busy being fully present to their lives and in their own bodies that the glow of fun radiates from them just because they are alive: the delight that flashes across the eyes of a child who discovers that water flows with the turn of the tap knob or the squeal of pleasure from a young baby whose tongue is being tickled by cold ice cream; then there’s the full, infectious laughter of a child watching the same hat trick for the fiftieth time.
Back when we were children, this experience of pure delight didn’t have to come from a heightened, heady event in order for us to feel like our day had been made; and it can be that way for us again - if we are willing to remember and reconnect with that part of ourselves that knows how to be in the flow of fun. You can begin this process by reminiscing on what was fun for you as a child. Think about what caused you to giggle in delight or wriggle in pleasure or burst into endless laughter that you couldn’t sit up straight no matter how much you wanted to. Try to spend a few moments with each memory, and really feel what it was like to be in those experiences – allowing that feeling of pure fun to wash over you. It lives, in you – that feeling. It can’t be bottled, manufactured, or sold. You just have to call it back up in order to experience it again.
Pure fun happens when we are fully engaged with ourselves and our world in each moment. It is the spontaneous delight that bubbles out of us when we let go long enough to bring it through; it is the experience of natural, organic pleasure that springs up from our bellies, through our souls, up through our faces, and down to our toes. We’ve naturally known how to have pure fun since we were babies and the flicker of lights caused us to jump to attention from the sheer enjoyment of being able to see. Approach your life today with the knowledge that pure fun isn’t something that is given or done to you; rather, it is something that you allow yourself to experience.
Having a flexible mind makes navigating life much easier as you are not thrown off course easily.
Flexibility is the capacity to bend without breaking, as well as a continual willingness to change or be changed in order to accommodate new circumstances. People with flexible minds are open to shifting their course when necessary or useful; they are not overly attached to things going the way they had planned. This enables them to take advantage of opportunities that a more rigid person would miss out on. It can also make life a lot more fun. When we are flexible, we allow for situations we could not have planned, and so the world continues to surprise and delight us.
Since reality is in a constant state of flux, it doesn’t make sense to be rigid or to cling to any one idea of what is happening or what is going to happen. We are more in tune with reality when we are flexible. Being in tune enables us to adjust to the external environment and other people as they change and grow. When we are rigid or stuck in our ways, instead of adjusting to the world around us we hunker down, clinging to a concept of reality rather than reality itself. When we do this, we cut ourselves off from life, and we miss out on valuable opportunities, as well as a lot of joy.
Just as we create flexibility in our bodies by stretching physically, we can create limberness in our minds by stretching mentally. Every day we have the opportunity to exercise our flexibility. We can do this in small ways such as taking a different route home from work or changing our exercise routine. On a larger scale, we can rearrange the furniture or redo a room in our house. If these are things we already do regularly, we can stretch our minds by imagining several different possibilities for how the next year will unfold. As we do this, our minds become more supple and open, and when changes come our way, we are able to accommodate and flow with the new reality.
Looks like we have an opportunity in "Exercising Flexibility" very soon as "Belief" shuts it's forums down. They may be shutting down, but I know each of us as an individual will adjust and adapt to the change.
In the top-of-this-page community-closing announcement, be sure to click on the word "here" to see the larger message from Beliefnet, containing some details.
Prairy and/or I will post our future goals or locations between now and the closing.
January 7, 2005
Rainy Day, Sunny Day
A Change In Perspective
Long ago, there lived an old woman whose tears never ceased because her worries were never-ending. She had two daughters. The eldest had married an umbrella merchant. On days filled with sunshine, the old woman would glance upward and think, "The weather is too nice! No one is going to want to buy any umbrellas and the shop may need to be closed!" Overcome with worry, she would cry and cry. Her younger daughter had married a noodle vendor and the old woman knew that when the rains came, the noodles would not dry and there would be no noodles to sell. On rainy days, the old woman would again be consumed with worry and her tears would pour. Thus, ever grieving for one of her daughters, she lived in constant sorrow. Her well-meaning neighbors, unable to console the old woman, began to call her 'the crying woman.'
One day, she crossed paths with a monk. He had heard of the crying woman and was very curious as to why she never stopped crying. The old woman explained the source of her sadness. The monk, who was very kind, smiled and said, "You won't need to worry any more because I can show you the way to find happiness."
The old woman became very excited and quickly asked the monk to tell her what to do. He replied that the answer was simple. "You only need to change your perspective," he said. "On sunny days, think not of your elder daughter and her umbrellas, but of your younger daughter finding the warmth to dry her noodles. When the sunlight is brightest, she will be able to make mountains of noodles and her business will prosper. When the rains come, think not of your younger daughter and her noodles, but of the many customers who will come to your elder daughter in order to buy umbrellas. The more forceful the rain, the more she will sell."
The old woman knew the monk was speaking wisdom and did as he said. After a time, her tears became smiles, and her smiles grew as the days progressed. From that day forward, she was known to all as 'the smiling woman.'
A personal outdoor sanctuary is an important part of feeling connected to all of life.
Each of us has been blessed with an innate need to celebrate and glorify life. At a most basic level, we honor the forces that came together to bring us into being by caring for our bodies and our souls. To truly rejoice in existence, we must also learn to cultivate loveliness in those special places that replenish the soul. When we create a garden sanctuary, we are reminded that we are a part of both nature's essence and something more. An outdoor retreat is a place we can surround ourselves in nature, beauty, and the life force. It is not difficult to create a sanctuary—we should endeavor, however, to create sanctuaries that speak to us as individuals.
Whether we have a yard, a grassy corner, a patio, or a porch at our disposal, our creative potential is infinite. Any of these spaces can become a magnificent garden. When we feel drawn to specific themes such as Zen, angels, paradise, or the ethereal, we should explore them. Décor and furniture crafted from natural materials like wood and stone blend seamlessly into nature. Yet we can also augment the natural world by filling our garden sanctuaries with statues, bells or gongs, or colorful flags. Running water, like that in a created stream or fountain, helps energy flow smoothly. If space is a concern, crystals and mirrors can fulfill the same function. Hidden features like concealed swings and reflecting pools veiled in shadow can surprise and delight. As your garden sanctuary evolves, remember to invite the elemental spirits of nature to assist you in your efforts to create a small pocket of harmony, beauty, and peace in your own backyard. If you have not already felt their presence, sit quietly in your garden and reach out to them. You will feel these earthly guides at your side as you continue to develop your sanctuary.
In the refuge of brilliant color, sweet scents, and stillness you create in your garden, the burdens imposed upon you by a sometimes hectic world will melt away. The splendor and tranquility of what you have brought into being will entrance you, allowing you to forget the constraints of time and space. No matter how large or small your garden sanctuary, the time you spend reveling in its pleasures will refresh your spirit and provide you with innumerable opportunities to celebrate life.