Differing but the Same

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One day I was walking with a friend, and as we passed a man living on the street, she exclaimed ‘what a loser’.  She shocked me and it saddened me deeply….that anyone, anyone on this earth, would consider this term for someone whose path had taken an unfortunate, or in fact, a different direction than ours.  I believe that the majority (if not all) of these people do not choose to sleep on a park bench, in the freezing cold or in the stifling heat, without shelter, food or a friend to talk to.

We are all different on the outside and come in different exteriors, different packages so to speak.  But when one looks inside the box we are the same. We have the same essence and for that essence to thrive we need to be able to connect with the essence in others.  Rather than thinking outside the box, perhaps we can consider there is no box. It is through that flow, that essence, that we learn about one another and in turn we learn about ourselves.  The action is called tolerance.

Just like a plant that is not watered, if you do not nurture it, and it becomes disconnected from the elements, it becomes starved of life.  It dies inside and out. To me that is what happens to those referred to as the ‘down and out’, those you see sitting against walls in street sidewalks, begging to be noticed. They were once someone’s child and now have no home, emotional, or otherwise.  They are the world’s ‘home-less’. They have lost their home.  They have lost their place.

Human kindness from others allows their essence, their nectar to flow, even if just for seconds. As my father taught me, ‘buy those on the street a meal or a coffee’. Something to nurture their body and soul.  Yes, a coin is fine too, of course.  So what if that coin is spent on a cigarette?  I don’t know what it is like not to have a roof over my head, let alone sleep out in the cold! So I am not in a position to judge.  I have learned to look into their eyes as I pass them by.  Let them know they are part of my world too!

Often I reflect upon the question – Am I connecting in my own world?

We need to remember that when we are gone, no one will remember what we wore at their party; how many honours we obtained at school; how many languages we mastered; what car we drove; how many houses we owned; or what our title was at work; they will only remember how we made them feel.  They will remember the kindness we bestowed upon them. However some will also remember being hurt or bullied, controlled or cut down by us too.  There is a choice!

There is a wonderful Arabic proverb which says: ‘The Axe forgets, but the tree remembers’.

Isn’t the greatest wealth in any being  found in their ability to connect, to offer kindness and compassion?

All of us have the ability to nurture the essence in others and in by doing so we nurture ourselves. When we feel fear, anger, hatred, envy or in some way believe we are superior to those whom we meet, there can be little, if any connection.  And not only does our own energy deplete by transmuting these emotions, we deplete the energy in others and soon they will move away.

For so long, we have valued knowledge as being the most important element in our lives, but in fact isn’t it understanding?  Is it not understanding and acting upon that understanding? Knowledge is just a commodity.  Understanding is the key in turning knowledge into something valuable.

Doesn’t this apply to how we treat others in every aspect of our lives?  Knowledge or understanding?

If we think that by behaving as though we know better, are smarter, wealthier, faster, happier, more valuable, then we are being foolish and show up our own stagnant thinking and lack of understanding and compassion.

Acquire knowledge. Understand it. Act upon it.  When our thoughts, understanding, speech and action are in line going forth……then we are in harmony.

It also takes courage to find the ‘heart’ in things. And where does the word ‘Courage’ come from?  The French word ‘Coeur’ – heart.

Do we have the courage never to cut down or look down upon another? Do we have the compassion to bestow upon those who are hurting?

If so, then we will truly thrive, simply by connecting…..

Heart…to…heart!

 

P.S.  I would like to honour whoever took this photograph.  It came to me, I don’t remember how, nor can I recognise who took it. But I thank you, whoever you are.  It says it all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Yoga Journal: The “C” Word

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A friend of ours at Cool, Calm & Collected teaches meditation to children. Part of her teaching asks children to name all the words they can think of, starting with “C”, that make them feel better when they are sad, or lonely, or feeling unloved or bad about themselves. So they reel off “C”hips, “C”hocolate, “C”olouring in…. which got me thinking – because we love the letter “C” at Cool, Calm and Collected – what are our adult equivalents?

Personally, my favourite “C”rutches to keep me hanging in there had always been “C”igarettes, “C”hardonnay and “C”redit “C”ards. Back then, whilst filling the gaping hole in my soul with these “C”orks, I felt like a “C”elebrity! But when the hangovers and bills arrived, it just felt “C”rap.

If you’ve been following this blog you will know that through yoga and meditation I have eliminated many of my “C”rutches, having sated my inner “C”rater with “C”alming thoughts and actions. Last time we met I had just given up sugar – which doesn’t start with “C” but makes up a lot of the filling things that do! – and, this time, I am in the middle of another fandangled “self as guinea pig” project. I am doing the HCG diet.

I know, I know!  I said I could never subscribe to a strict diet whilst catering for my family. Turns out, that was a “C”op out and I “C”an! Having lain down my “C”rutches and with growing self-“C”onfidence, I can now put myself at the top of my “To Do” list; and with a bit of planning, preparation and organization, I have been able to stick to my strict diet and still feed my family.

This exercise has thrown down a whole new set of challenges though, having forced me to face up to some of my biggest fears (one of which is starving to death).  I thought giving up sugar was going to be tough.  This diet eliminates EVERYTHING.  I was truly nervous about starting.  I mean, THERE IS NO BOOZE FOR THREE WEEKS PEOPLE!

In her book, “I Quit Sugar”, on page 18, Sarah Wilson warns that by around Week 4 “…other people will try to sabotage you.  Even get angry with you.  It’s funny.  Everyone I know who’s quit sugar has commented on the rough time they get from others. Their efforts are criticized as being misguided.” Look, I don’t know who Sarah hangs out with, but no-one really took issue with my decision to cut out cake and cookies – but walking into a room and telling my people I’m not drinking?  Welcome to Siberia, baby.

That’s what I feared, anyway.  I was actually really, really scared of not being able to have a drink.  How would I relax?  What would I be like?  What would I do?  How will my husband react?  How will my friends react?  Who will I be?  Yes, okay – some mild “C”atastrophising went on.  For someone who has come so far, this undertaking made me realize just how far I still have to go.  DOUBLY scary is that not only couldn’t I drink and living on 500 calories a day, I couldn’t replace it with anything either!  This is how jumping out of a plane without a parachute must feel.

So, last Monday, I jumped.

The first week took a bit of adjustment and I had a couple of “emotionally challenging” moments to test my resolve (my mother can still rattle my chakras); but I was able to ease my tension with a quick double-shot….of ESPRESSO and deep breathing.

I am not all alone in this thank goodness; I still have some “C”rutches, just positive ones.  Fortunately my diet program comes with a “C”oach.  Her name is “C”indy and she is “C”onstantly “C”heering me on from the sidelines which has prevented me from “C”hucking it in!

“C”indy and I had a tense moment early on. I had excitedly discovered that as well as being a tension breaker, a quick shot of espresso killed hunger pangs. “C”indy warned me, in her eternally upbeat manner “Be careful mate. Doc says no more than 2-3 coffees a day” to which I replied, “LISTEN TOOTS! I GOT NO “C”IGARETTES, I GOT NO “C”HARDONNAY, I GOT NO “C”HOCOLATE, “C”HIPS, “C”USTARD OR “C”ARBS – I BARELY GOT ANY “C”ALORIES AT ALL!  DON’T BE TAKIN’ MY “C”AFFEINE!”  At least I think that’s what I said.  It sounds a lot like a Blues number by Muddy Waters.

So here I am, 13 days into my 21 day program, completely alcohol free, six kilos lighter and 11cm smaller around the waist, feeling spectacular, and as ever, seeking the lesson in my learning. Here’s what I’ve found:

  • I can put myself first with no impact on my family; in fact, nurturing myself makes me more willing and able to nurture my family.
  • Life is calmer, gentler, more organised, more whole and happier – yes, it’s Cool, Calm & Collected.
  • My yoga practise has improved and feels infinitely better minus the muffin-top.
  • My skin is as smooth as a baby’s bum.
  • How much mindless eating I used to do!
  • I can live without drinking – I’m so distracted “C”ounting “C”alories I can’t even think about “C”hardonnay!
  • I am unshakably resilient without the undermining effects of alcohol.
  • I am present, aware, involved and engaged in each interaction and situation.
  • I like who I am with no “C”rutches, I can face up to, and cope with, anything without them.
  • Turns out, my “C”rutches were false all along – they actually made things worse in the end.

Until next time we meet,

Om & out.

AQA xxx

This article has been contributed by Cool, Calm & Collected’s student, writer & eternal work-in-progress, Anita Quigley Atherton.