Pause

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PAUSE….

What is a pause?

A pause is when something ceases just for an instant or two….

Life’s intermission, a stillness between two moments…

When things are calm, quiet, floating, an instant in which we can restore and refresh, a suspension of life’s play

When we allow ourselves to loosen our grip on life and be free, for freedom is our destination

Freedom from all pain, tension, fatigue, worries and sadness

How often do you pause?  Really pause?

Sometimes the most important things in a day are the pauses between your breaths and the spaces between your thoughts.

I invite you to…..

Pause – to take a deep breath

Pause to arrive.

Pause to settle.

Notice the pauses sitting between the breaths

In your imagination, pause to look around you and be aware

What can you see in your imagination.  What can you remember at this moment?

What do you see, hear and sense around you?

Pause to hear the sounds around you. Is it the sound of the breeze, birds chirping, dogs barking, children laughing, distant conversations, walls gently creaking, music softly playing, the puttering of a candle, distant planes, the beating of your own heart or the sound of your own breath….

Or just pause to take a deep, quenching breath….

and to listen o…

The body whispering it’s messages

Does your body need rest?

Sometimes we just sit in the pause awaiting the arrival of the next breath

Sometimes we lengthen the pause just to cherish the moment of stillness

We need to pause to learn, to know, to grow

Pause to be still

Pause to be a ‘human’ just ‘being’

A human being……

x Annemaree x

 

 

‘Pause’ features on the meditation App ‘Insight Timer’.  Insight Timer Pause

Photo by Eunice Stahl on ‘Unsplash’

 

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Being

Being

 

When you are here,

You are there…..  

When you are there

You are here…

In fact, at most times you are everywhere but here!

And yet ‘here’, the ‘now’ is the only moment we truly know.

The only moment that is promised to us.

And the only instance in which we are truly aware……

The mind constantly traipses back into the past or skips off into the future

But what about now?

How do we reach this precious present?

We can learn from little ones, you know.  Observe a child just ‘watching’ and ‘listening’ – a child gazing at a flower in the park or listening to the birds.  The child stops in its tracks; comes to stillness; observes and examines; becomes fascinated; absorbing all that is in this handful of moments; and exists completely in the present.  And to ‘watch’ the child ‘watching’ is so, so peaceful.

The child has tapped into its senses.  Listening, knowing ‘stillness’, watching, feeling,

When you are completely in the ‘now’ this deep, deep peace emerges……you are residing in the universe’s sigh of contentment.

And yes, the mind will frolic about and saunter off on its own…..for that is what minds do.

Reach out and catch it and bring it back to the now, back to the present – draw it back gently to this incredible moment.

When you are fully in the ‘now’, the beauty, mystery and magic of this world are unfurled and its gifts are laid before you.

 

x Annemaree x

‘Being’ features on the meditation App ‘Insight Timer’.  Insight Timer Being

Photo by Lucille Borderioux on ‘Unsplash’

 

Courage…

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“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” William Faulkner

Whether you are feeling weak or courageous today, remember, that there is very little difference between the two states of being.  Both have fear.  It is said that the coward listens to his fears and becomes frozen by them and/or controlled by them.  The courageous person puts them aside and pushes through or meanders around the obstacles and refuses to be ruled by dread.

Courage is strength to face pain, grief and anxiety and to act with valour and unashamed assault.  It doesn’t mean fearlessness, because fearlessness can lead to reckless abandon and therefore real danger, but it means confronting the unknown in spite of fears.  Understand the difference between apprehension and the irrational triggers of fear.  Fear confines us, keeps us ‘stuck in the mud’, and limits our ability to grow and to experience a harmonious life-style.

When we feel threatened, vulnerable, and fragile or weakened, FEAR rises like a powerful, comic-book monster ready to disarm us and carry us off emotionally on a trail of negativity and hopelessness.  Doubt and false assumptions set in – weakening us more and more.  Sometimes we have to face immense fear in our lives especially if we leave the shore of our personal safety and shelter.

However, fear is not tangible nor is it visible, but it does exist in our minds.  We bring it to life and then act upon it and out of it – often to dire consequences for ourselves and those around us.

Fear is an emotion – a distressing one at that.  But it is just an emotion, caused by threat, real or imagined.  And it is felt in many, many forms. Fear of spaces, heights, social situations, commitment, spiders, the future…..and it is so potent at times that it can cause us to become confused, illogical, and anxious.  Acting out of fear can also become habitual and can cause us to spiral downwards whenever we are confronted by something that hurts us or that we don’t understand.

Ironically we can bring our fears to life.  Many times fear is simply a decision.  And courage is the warrior to annihilate it.  The question is how?

Shun your fears by believing in your strength and abilities.  Believe in yourself.  Make peace with your world and those around you, so that you do not create stories in your head and create angst based on false assumptions. Trust your senses, your intuition.  By doing this you will know naturally the path to follow.  Many fears are born of fatigue.  Be Mindful.  Rest.

And know this…..too busy a life can breed fear of failure, because it is simply impossible to achieve all that you want to do immediately.

And do remember, we all possess the trait of courage inherently.  It comes from deep within.  All we have to do is muster it and set it to the wind.

 

x Annemaree x

‘Courage’ features on the meditation App ‘Insight Timer’.  Insight Timer Courage…

Photo by Bryce Evans on ‘Unsplash’

 

 

 

 

Belonging…

Belonging

A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people.  We are biologically, cognitively, physically and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we are meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.
Brene Browne

From the time I was very young my mother would tell me to gather as many friends as possible and to value them deeply.  My friends are my family.  ‘No-one can have too many friends’, she would say.

Those whom I have met suffering from depression and deep sadness are often those who have cut themselves off from those around them.  Often they believe they are a burden to their friends and families because they are ill or low, but in thinking so, they hurt those who love them and isolate themselves so much that loneliness abounds and a sense of hope is often completely lost.  Self-esteem plunges and the meaning to their existence shrinks to bafflement and then ultimately to questioning ‘why exist’? Depression thrives in isolation. I truly believe people die from a lack of love.

In Victor Frankel’s “Man’s Search For Meaning” I recognise this is what he was realising whilst being imprisoned in Auschwitz.

“A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which a man can aspire.
Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. His survival depended upon his belonging”.

It breaks my heart to meet people who breathe without truly ‘living’ and who fail to experience this beautiful world and the fabulous people in it. But…we have to make the effort. Summon up courage and mingle! We cannot blossom without being fed and watered.

When we connect we feel valued, heard, seen and strong, not to mention full of joy and excitement. I generally speak to a friend a day ‘to make sure they are ok’, something I have done since I was 11. Something to the chagrin of my father when, as a teenager, I would hog the telephone all night.  Now of course I have my own phone and connect with someone, somewhere, daily (face-to-face, or voice-to-voice, not through FB). For what is the point of living if I am not connected to other beings? I can talk to myself and laugh at myself (but it is not as much fun as sharing). I also believe we can drive ourselves mad through loneliness.

And I wonder how many people who are about to leave this world, lie back and wish they had spent more time at work, or worked-out harder?  Few I would imagine.  I would be fairly sure they had wished they had spent more time with loved ones and more time playing.

In the end I want to be able to lie back and remember and laugh at my library of sweet memories. When I was barely coming out of toddler-hood, my great aunt taught me ‘never to look back and wish I had’.  I apply that to my friendships all the time. Ring them now not later. Visit them now not next month. Hug them at every given opportunity. Tell them you love them. Hold hands. And play!

We need our beauty reflected back to us….our friends do that. (Make sure your friends are kind to you though, if they are not, then fire them – they are not your friends).

I am not saying that we have to be dependent upon another being, I am saying, we need to belong to something to connect with those who are like-minded. Play groups like – Book clubs, Movie clubs, Yoga schools, Charities, Dance groups, Tennis clubs, Football clubs, Cooking tours, Art tours, Gallery tours, Cafe societies…whatever….oh it goes on and on!

In Emily Esfahani Smith’s book “The Power of Meaning”, she writes: “In our age of isolation, it is more critical than ever to actively seek out social groups and work hard to build close relationships especially because many forms of community are dissolving. Across society, people are spending less time with friends and neighbours and more time in front of T.V., screens, phones “privatising” our leisure time”.

We need to belong!

And if you think you are too old to play, then you have lost the plot!  For the rhythm of life may be unfathomably cruel at times but it is also playful and full of sunshine, delight and adventure.

 

Annemaree x

 

Thank you Jake Corke for this gorgeous photo that you took in Cambodia.  I look at it often and reminisce on the fun we had putting my tour together.

 

 

Why worry?

Thomas & Luke

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

-Corrie Ten Boom

 

I have been ‘looking back’ this week, which is unusual for me.  But I have been looking back reflecting on how much I used to ‘worry’ and drawing to mind exactly what I ‘worried’ about.  Oh, how much we all worry.  I see it written all over the anxious and frown-lined faces of my students. (Nothing that a smile could not break though). What’s the point of worrying?

I, like you (in all probability), used to worry about things like being accepted, being loved, being good enough, being heard, being understood, being different, passing exams, walking in high heels, what I would do when I grow up, which colour lipstick is best, saying ‘no’, being alone, being left behind, being single, being poor, being everything other than in the good nick that I am generally in!  

But what is important?  I have my sanity (although some would question that), I have two good legs on which to walk (take out the ‘good’), I lead the quiet and peaceful life that I aspired to, I travel the world, and I live in a beautiful, safe country and I am not wandering the earth looking for a home.  Plenty of food and a roof over my head. Most importantly I am well.  Most importantly I am WELL!

The above photo shows two of my beloved nephews.  The little one Luke adores his big brother Thomas.  I look back at my challenges (real or imagined) and ask myself again and again, what did worrying resolve?  Little Thomas faces a life of nothing but challenge. He has Cystic Fibrosis.  And I am writing this knowing that once again he is in hospital for treatment, and then home hospital for a while, and through no fault of his own, simply because he was born with a recessive gene. It is a tough little life.   I am not here to speak about his illness, I am here thinking about how beautiful he is, how courageous, how compassionate and how important it is for him not to worry and for me not to worry about him.  The best I can do is be by his side, keeping him calm and laughing a lot. And that entails ‘living in the present’.  Putting all my judgements aside and loving him with every fibre in my being.

Just as we learned he had Cystic Fibrosis, I wrote these words for him.  They still apply, some nine years later, even more so now.  He has them framed by his bed and apparently reads them from time to time.

I send them back out into the universe with all good intention, hope, love and peace.  May they manifest for him into a life of less worry and much mirth …..

A calm spirit and a happy soul….that is what I wish for him! And for you!

 

 

“The first time I held you I felt my heart ignite with joy.

Your dear little face and your big brown eyes delve into the core of my soul.

Each time I gently kiss you on the forehead or the tip of your nose you hold your breath and close your eyes.  It is such a sweet vision, one that I imagine as I wake in the morning and when I think of you throughout the day.

What do I wish for your future?

That you may always view the world in awe; be truly peaceful; seek truth; be kind to yourself and compassionate towards others; take lots of deep breaths; do everything you want to do; live with wonder; treasure each moment; smile at everyone you meet; explore the world; read books; laugh a lot; create memories for others to cherish; open your heart; listen carefully; speak with warmth, learn everything you can; and believe you are beautiful.”

 

Annemaree  x                                                                                                                January 2009

 

For more information on Cystic Fibrosis….www.cysticfibrosis.org.au

The photo of Thomas & Luke was taken by dad.  A very proud dad.

 

 

Dwell in Possibility…

Mother Teresa in Calcutta

‘Dwell in Possibility’ – Emily Dickinson

As I teach more and more yoga I observe more and more behaviours on the mat related to stress, striving, winning, comparing, judging, hurrying, fear, impatience, lack of confidence, grief and I could go on and on.

I know that my students reflect my attitudes and behaviours and thanks to them I have learned more about myself than any personal development book/wise man/guru could teach me!

In doing so, it has taken me many years to understand how much of these behaviours stem from the need/desire to be ‘successful”‘.  What on earth is success? If you ask a Western child today, what do they want to be when they grow up…..often the response now is ‘to be famous’!  Really? That is seen as success to so many. Yes, success wears many cloaks but having thousands of Facebook friends doesn’t cut it for me.

What is success to you?

I recently was in the home of a lovely friend who pointed out how successful her husband was because of what he had provided for her and her family.  However, she didn’t seem to see, in any way, her own so-called success.

Apart from the fact that I was sitting in a beautifully designed home; speaking to her charming son; and having just walked through a stunning garden fit to be in Vogue Living (all produced, designed and nourished by her I might add); she saw her husband as successful but not herself. In fact she sees herself as one who lacks ambition, and is without drive or purpose.  However, how I see her is not how she sees herself.  She is simply not aware of how she has dwelled in possibility and potential and has created a magnificent haven/ environment for her husband and her children.  Success?  Surely!

Yes money can certainly be a sign of success if put to good use but so can a garden. For what is more beautiful?

A dollar note or a gardenia?

And how blessed can you be to not feel as though you have to strive every day. Have you considered what it is like just to be aware, to potter, to be present?

Ask someone who has been given 5 years to life, what success is? I did ask this question this week.  And the answer was simply: ‘to live in the present with those I love’.  End of subject.

Sometimes I play a beautiful piece of music in my classes which is interrupted for a split second with these words…..’When our bones turn to dust the two most important things in life will have been how much we loved and how much we gave’.

When I reflect upon the act of ‘giving’, I recall the times I have visited Mother Teresa’s (now St. Teresa’s) homes in Pashupatinath (Nepal) and Pondicherry (India) and have seen first-hand (whilst being humbled to my very core) what she created in her life and what these lively little nuns (yes they all seem little) do for the disabled, poor and abandoned. Giving and loving – in a nutshell.

Surely these are the two greatest qualities of the human race?  Surely what stems from these is happiness. And isn’t being happy – success?

Oh if we all just ‘loved and gave’…..what an idealist I am!

So when you feel you are not ‘being successful’, think again or plant a tree!  That will do it.

Or… simply dwell in possibility and potential for others and watch how your success unfolds.

And remember, a small gift given to the earth can give shade, safety and joy and all it takes is a thought, a seedling and a moment in time.

 

Love   x Annemaree x

 

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Thank you to those who took these photos….whomever you may be….for they are beautiful!

The tender side…

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“No beauty shines brighter than that of a good heart”.

This photograph uplifts me in a way I find difficult to express, shivery in a soft and beautiful way.

It exudes tenderness, warmth, compassion and love. Aren’t these emotions the crux of our humanity?

And then… I turn on the radio and listen to the ‘News’ and want to shoot myself! The more I teach yoga, the more vulnerable and exposed I feel. But I also realise that an open heart leads to greater pleasure and joy and therefore greater pain and sorrow. One cannot have one without the other. Pleasure and pain are inextricably entwined.

Thanks to the media we are constantly exposed to heartache. Heartache over things that we cannot control, help or even identify with. Do I need to be exposed to every murder, flood, landslide, car accident, bashing, bully, terrorist, fire, bombing and shooting?

Could I not just look at the tender side of life?

Perhaps not always… but much of the time?

Recently I listened to an interview with the Australian actor Samuel Johnson.  Sam, with his foibles and gut-wrenching honesty is what I would consider to be a wonderful brother! Lost his mother to suicide; the love of his life also to suicide; and his sanity temporarily to drugs. But always by his sister’s side and she by his. He created ‘Love Your Sister’ charity to help raise funds, as he put it, to annihilate the indiscriminate venom of cancer.  Something which his sister Connie had been fighting for 23 years. And sadly Connie lost her battle with aggressive breast cancer only a few weeks ago. Sam does something to fight back. In his own interminable manner, he attacks that which hurts him most, but with great zest and tenderness.

Is that perhaps one way of recognising our purpose?  By fighting back for something we believe in so deeply?

Is that what we all need to do? Brandish the sword of justice in some personal way? Whether it be to donate our pennies, our time or our organs; to support a cause; walk for peace; offer a helping hand; smile at a passer-by or to offer our service for no apparent reason. Imagine if we could toss the coin of harshness in the air and each time it landed, it landed on an about-face – the face of ‘tenderness’. That means we have to tear open our hearts, be prepared to hurt, give exponentially, let go of having so much, give more than we thought, and be courageous! All of us can display narcissistic traits, but all of us can also be empathetic.

We need to look at the gentle side of life….seek the beautiful stories….mix with sensitive beings…….cut off from that which we cannot cure, help what and when we can. Do something no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

Don’t you think?

Every kind action will manifest a karmic ally somewhere, somehow, even if we never recognise it’s unfolding.

Let’s face it…..the tender side is always more digestible!

 

…as I keep reminding myself.

x Annemaree x

 

P.S. This photo found its way to me.  I am not sure how or when.  I have pasted it on my wall in the room where I am writing this and I frequently just sit and look at it.  I honour the person who captured this moment. Thank you.  Thank you.

 

‘Now’

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As I look back, I realized that even as young as 7 years of age, I would crave to find a place where I could be ‘quiet’ so that I could be still and listen to the waves rolling into shore, watch the sun sparkling on the ocean and surrender into the arms of nature.

During my childhood nothing gave me more pleasure than escaping from the Rowley brood (I was the eldest of five) with my pencils, books and music (transistor in those days) and ‘just sit’ and ‘watch’ or ‘draw’ and ‘create’ amidst a soundscape of sea-gulls, summer breeze and dulcet melodies.

It was the state of ‘being’ that kept me calm and centered, just as it does now.  ‘Being’ is such a powerful and healing quality of humanity that is so often neglected.  Yes, it means ‘to stop’!

Doing next to nothing you may ask?  Really?  It was probably a ‘sin’ at school.

And I can still hear the words: ‘don’t just sit there, do something’.

Ironically one of my most loved expressions is by the Vietnamese monk and Pacifist, Thich Nhat Hanh, who wrote ‘don’t just do something, sit there’.  Upon reflection, the latter words and practice are far more useful to me!

Perhaps you will find one of these practices useful too…they are not difficult to remember:

When the eyes are unmoving, so is the mind.  Focus upon an image, real or imagined.  The mind calms, stillness comes.

Take one deep breath, then another.  There is much to be said about just stopping to take a deep breath.  Breathe in deeply.  Breathe out slowly.

Make each breath longer than the last.  To slow down, imagine each breath is fuller, more nourishing than the last one.

Make your out-breath longer than the in-breath.  Yes, it is the same amount of air!  But it is the in-breath that energises and the out-breath that soothes.  Slow the out-breath down and feel its soothing quality.

Observe beauty.  Don’t glimpse it…..absorb it!  I took this photo of a friend of mine on a Burmese shore.  She stood there for a long, long time….what does it say to you?

Be ‘aimless’.  Sit and plan to do nothing.  In this very moment, ‘achieving ‘ is not the pre-requisite – things are just as they are meant to be.

Be ‘mindful’.  Observe the apple that you are eating, the tea that you are sipping, and the sounds that you are hearing.  You are in the present. .

Visit the ‘gap’.  In between our thoughts there is a ‘gap’.  Rest there.  Peace is present.

Retreat within:  Find your outer haven:  a room, a beach, a park.  Then enter your inner sanctuary to find your quiet place.

 

Will this help?  A free Mindfulness Timer App?

http://www.thichnhathanhfoundation.org/#!mindful-bell-sounds/c14kg

Remember……

“When you are fully in the ‘now’, the beauty, mystery and magic of this world are unfurled and its gifts are laid before you”.  

Annemaree

Creating an Innovation Mindset

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I have just returned from three weeks in India. There is nothing like travel, a new environment and a break from normal routine to challenge our thinking and create a mindset. India assailed my senses and my preconceived ideas. What struck me was that the Indian people I encountered emanated a sense of energy and excitement about the future and what they believed was possible. Despite all the challenges, I saw that ordinary people are indeed capable of extraordinary innovations and novel solutions.

So for those of us who are looking towards making 2014 an exceptional year adopting an innovation mindset could make all the difference.

As I started exploring this concept of an innovation, I discovered that quite a few change experts and entrepreneurs are focusing on this idea as a way to manage the high speed, rapidly changing business and social environment in which we live. I believe in making things simple. In order to achieve this I needed to research, clarify my ideas and look at what practical steps I could take to create this mindset.  This is a work in progress so I will share my thoughts and discoveries so far.

Starting a new year is symbolic and most of us start the year with good intentions. The fact is it is easy to fall back into old habits and predictable futures.  So I ask the question “What amount of your day is surprising?” If your answer is that basically you know what your day or week is going to look like, then you may be living a predictable future. Surprises and not knowing are prerequisites of innovation and creative thinking.

An innovation mindset requires using your imagination, trying out new ideas, introducing new or improved ways of doing things; being bold, courageous and daring!

As I read my words there is part of me that wants to run for cover. If I write these thoughts I am committed to put these ideas into action. So this process is not for the faint hearted. It requires permitting the possibility of failure, facing fear and going into the unknown.

Like all successful processes, innovation requires one step at a time. For me the first step is to imagine what I would like to happen in 2014. What is possible? What is impossible? What do I really want to accomplish and why? What would be a breakthrough? What would it look and feel like? I know from working with clients and my own experience that setting your goals or targets too soon limits thinking and possibility. It is valuable to have a variety of people involved in this process. Those who are integral to making things happen as well as people from other industries, fields or perspectives.

The next step is to explore the gaps and the chasms you may encounter.  Often this necessitates uncovering what we don’t want to see. It involves considering the things we need to improve, remove or refresh. Innovation requires action. What steps will I take to bridge the gaps? What hypotheses and assumptions will I need to test? Innovation requires resourcefulness to power through the obstacles.

The essence of the innovation mindset is an open mind, one that challenges convention, embraces diversity and explores the inconceivable.

Here’s to an exceptional 2014 and a mindset to match!

Melinda Spry – Transitions Coaching Solutions    www.transitionscoaching.com.au

Melinda is a friend, mentor and a beautiful being.  She showed me this article and I asked her permission to offer it to you.  A truly yogic perspective – one of courage, power, exploration and embracement.  Thank you Melinda.

Annemaree

Think brightly

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
and trouble will follow you
as the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.
Speak or act with a pure mind
and happiness will follow you
as your shadow, unshakeable.

Dhammapada, The Buddha

There is one thing about which I am certain and that is we create who we are by how we think!

We are what we think and the person we become over time is simply a summation of our thoughts.

Have you ever noticed that kind people always speak kindly of others and are generous by nature?  Inspirational people are positive and curious?  Interesting people are inquisitive and lively?  All actions are born from thought.  All that is created comes about through thought.

Faces are sculpted by thought.  Anger, anxiety, contempt, jealousy, sadness are clearly identifiable on many faces that surround us. If these emotions, that are sourced from thought, are clutched on to for long enough, they become ‘set in concrete’, defined by frown lines and clenched jaws.

What is the antithesis?  Well, a smile of course.  And smiles come about through a beautiful thought.

One of the greatest influences in my life is a book called ‘As a Man Thinketh’.  It is my bible. Written in 1902 by John Allen, it has sold in the millions. A tiny book with enormous impact, it has been one of the greatest influences for authors and philosophers alike, such as Napolean Hill and his contemporary Anthony Robbins.

John Allen was probably very much influenced by the Buddhist scriptures too.  Philosophers simply pass these thoughts along……

The following excerpt from this tiny treasure could be deemed as my personal mantra:

“A calm, strong man is loved and revered. For when he is calm he ceases to fuss, and fume and worry and grieve, and instead remains poised, steadfast and serene. The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater his success, his influence, his power for good”.

Yes, thoughts drive us nuts at times, particularly the very annoying negative ones!  If I observe a negative one appearing, I create the image of kicking it out my head like a footballer kicking a ball. Off you go into oblivion so you don’t annoy me anymore!

What can we do when the shadow takes over?  Smile; be with those who are bright and light; create a project with a great cause; seek more knowledge; read something gorgeous; watch something entertaining or simply do a good deed for someone else – that will soon make you feel better!

Mind is the Master-power that moulds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills:-
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Enivornment is but his looking-glass.

John Allen