MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “mindfulness”

Don’t forget to remember

©The Rebel Bear

They say remembering everything is actually a curse. Because it doesn’t let you move on. Because you’re stuck in your memories and find it difficult to create new ones. Fortunate are those who begin every day from scratch, like a clean slate – a tabula rasa – ready for a new start.  Because you have nothing to pull you back; nothing with which to constantly compare things.

But is it better? To not remember?

The truth is we are our memories. Every single one of them has made us who we are. And there is no escaping that. There is no forgetting that either. Because it’s hard to forget something that forged you.

We’re not supposed to forget. Simply to remember less often. To spend more minutes in the present than in the past. Conscious of the experiences that brought us to this very moment. And aware that perhaps our greatest sentiments have not yet been felt.

Chasing a perfect life

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Do you ever wake up after a bad night’s sleep and you’re angry with the world and everything in it? There are certain moments during the day, week or month, when the slightest thing can make us snap and lose control. We need moments to alleviate the tension we’re building up inside by holding everything in so as to be ‘proper’ and sane. Or at least to appear to be calm and, well…’normal’. But what is normal, in a world that so forcefully tries to convince itself it is embracing difference, uniqueness and diversity?

People interpret words and circumstances differently. It is unavoidable. And it all comes down to how each of our minds functions.

We are so used to complaining and moaning about all the problems in our lives, most of which are created by our own negative thoughts. We fear of letting them go, of taking a risk and being happy, because we are unfamiliar with that sentiment. We have clenched such a strong grip on the unpleasantness in our lives that anything else seems too much of a leap into uncertainty.

It’s almost as if we persuade ourselves that this stance of misery is the norm. That this is how it should be and we inflict shame upon ourselves for not being someone else, for not being more or less of what we picture as an ideal, of what society illustrates as how people should be. And that shame brings numbness to every emotion. Because, as we try to block out our feelings of grief and embarrassment and irritation at not being perfect, we also numb those of joy, satisfaction and lightness. We refuse to accept our vulnerability, out of shame, and instead shut ourselves down from the inside, alienating everyone around us in the process.

In searching for meaning and purpose in our lives, we may turn to self-help. We think we can fix ourselves and be happy if we follow certain books of wisdom and guidance on how to live. It’s an industry worth $11 billion, but does it actually help? In her witty, poignant and inspiring book Help Me!, Marianne Power goes through a dozen self-help books in a quest for perfection and happiness. But she also goes through a breakdown – or ‘spiritual awakening’ – as she gets too close with the thoughts in her head. She discovers that humans have an innate need to love, be loved and belong, and rejection hurts because we rely on the approval of the group for our survival since our cave-men days. She notes that self-help creates “unrealistic standards about how great life should be, puts unrealistic pressure on yourself to change, and creates self-obsession”; but the more you try to improve who you are, the more you are aware of the flaws, and the more you chase happiness, the unhappier you become.

In “The Power of Now”, Eckhart Tolle reassures us that we all have a voice in our head, which is usually mean and talks us down. It is one that takes us away from the only thing that is real and will give us peace – being right here, right now. If we can quieten down the voice, we’ll realise we are perfectly happy in this very moment. And like British playwright Dennis Potter said: “We tend to forget that life can only be defined in the present tense”.

In her very inspiring TED speech, Brené Brown explores the depth and source of human connection, understanding vulnerability, feeling empathy and confronting shame. She explains that we’re all constantly afraid of not being good enough, with the underlying fear that we won’t be loved, and so we strive harder to be perfect. But instead of chasing perfection, she says we should be seeking connection, to empathise and understand each other, to talk honestly and openly about our fears, insecurities and doubts. “Healing comes from sharing your story with someone who is worthy of hearing it”, she states. “Connection is why we’re here; it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives”. And it all centres around this. For shame, is the fear of disconnection, of not being worthy enough; the “gremlin who says you’re not good enough”. But for connection to happen, we need to allow ourselves to truly be seen, to expose ourselves and be vulnerable. Those who achieve this are whole-hearted people, ones who are courageous enough to show their authentic selves (‘courage’, after all, derives from the Latin word ‘cor’=heart), who acknowledge they are imperfect and who demonstrate compassion by being kind to themselves first and then to others.

The path for a whole-hearted living, according to Dr. Brown’s research, is to be willing to let go of who we think we should be in order to be who we are. To be willing to plunge into something where there are no guarantees, to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out, to practice gratitude in times of terror, to believe we’re enough, and ultimately to simply stop controlling and predicting life and just…live it. She concludes that “joy comes to us in moments – ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary”.

And like Marianne Power eventually realizes – happiness depends on getting up in the morning and being a decent person. Or like her Irish mother, eloquently put it, just “do no harm”.

In the end, there is a truth that when we stop pursuing happiness and the ‘perfect’ life, we will encounter all that matters and we need.

Those mornings

©Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

It was mornings like those that made all the difference.

Laying out the table looking into the garden. Feeling the calmness infuse inside you. Happily joining forces to cook up breakfast and willingly decorating and serving it as if you’re up for a Michelin star at a world-renowned restaurant.

Sitting down for a meal as if it’s the most important thing you’ll do all day. Savouring every moment of it. Because you know what matters is here and now. Being in that precise moment and nowhere else.

Preparing for the rest of the day with a simple process as this.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

The quiet friend

©MCD_Bruno

He sat there quietly. Always on the same spot on the couch where she paused for a rest from her tiring and incessant schedule.

She lightened up every time she saw him. And when they hugged, she would inhale deeply letting out a faint sigh with that exhale.

He had a way of easing the tension she inexplicably carried on her shoulders. She burdened herself with too much stress for her own good. Even he could see it.

But it was enough for him that he made her smile. And that, even if just for a little while, she would let her troubles slip away from her mind. For those few seconds she could empty her head. She found comfort in him and was grateful for his presence.

Even if he didn’t say much. Or anything at all for that matter.

It would be a little strange if he did.

After all, he was just a fluffy teddy bear.

But the person who gifted it to her knew he was much more.

Endless chatter

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There is a difference between saying too much and not enough. Just as there is a difference in knowing when to speak and when not.

It is Plato who said it best: “wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something”.

In an age where self-promotion is the norm, people speak more than ever. The problem though, is that they do not know when to pause.

A Zen saying goes “do not speak unless you can improve the silence”. Unfortunately, nowadays few can do that.

We observe it daily: in the ride to and from work, people are stuck in trafficking and feel the constant need to talk to someone – co-passengers, on the phone, to random strangers, salespersons, anyone they bump into – simply to consume the words they cannot suppress inside.

It may be seen as an insecurity, wanting to constantly draw attention onto oneself by speaking endlessly. But people need to realise when this becomes tiresome for others more than for themselves.

Those who speak limitlessly also tend to be those who are not comfortable in their own silence, and who subsequently try to find ways to avoid it. As such, though, they lose out on the healing process some minutes of quiet offers not only to others but to their own soul as well.

Avoiding the silence

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Many people start their day with the sound of the alarm clock buzzing in their ears. From that moment, our entire day is filled with noise – running water, the kettle singing, the phone ringing, email alerts, cars honking, doors slamming, music, trains on rails, voices of all pitches and intensities and so much more.

If you just sit still for a minute and breathe, you may even hear your own heart beat. Had it not been for all those noises that constantly surround us.

If you’re a person who easily gets lost in your thoughts, who drifts off in daydream or allows their mind to wander, every once in a while – perhaps more often than most people – you need the silence. You want to be able to enter public transportation without the hubbub, the clamour, the commotion. You don’t understand why people feel the constant urge to talk all the time. Some simply talk for the sake of talking. They are not really saying anything of substance; sometimes even nothing that makes sense. Perhaps sitting on the bus and talking on the phone to someone during the entire duration of your trip makes you feel important, that you’re not ‘wasting time’, or it is a way of keeping others astray. Because, yes, there are those types of people too, who want to talk so much that they will approach you and try to start a conversation out of nowhere, without your consent. Even if you kindly try to avoid it, it will turn into a monologue on their part, which you are obliged to listen. Unless you want to get off on the next stop and risk facing a worse situation on the next public transport you board.

People don’t appreciate the silence enough. It is as though they are avoiding their own thoughts. As if they are afraid of staying alone with themselves for a while. Of emptying their minds. Of discovering what their own perceptions on life are. Of even listening to the sound of their own heartbeat.

It is a shame. Because if we learned to be more mindful of our own well-being, of the rhythm of our breaths, of the ticking of our hearts, we wouldn’t be so agitated and stressed all the time, complaining about the world and everything in it.

May you always…

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There are certain things you (can) do to get your mind off certain circumstances. Especially when those thoughts cause a change in mood, dishearten you and bring you down. One of the most recommended one is to clean the house. It is the best way to keep yourself occupied. Plus you get the added bonus of having a clean lodging afterwards.

When Marie put on her rubber gloves and took to general cleaning, she never expected the surprise she found wedged between the living room wall and the bookcase.

It was a note folded in four. It appeared worn in the sands of time.

It was handwritten in a blue pen with calligraphic lettering that revealed sentiment in the script.

May you live each day as if it is a wonder. May you revel at each new experience. May you never cease to learn, to read, to live. May you always be inspired by everything around you so that you too may be the inspiration for those around you. May you acknowledge your worth even when others don’t.  May you never stop caring for others, no matter who they are, small or big, two-legged or four-legged, bigger or smaller. May you dream, aspire, struggle, accomplish. May you comprehend that we achieve something even in our failures. May you be brave enough to survive the hardships, take the tough choices and be courageous enough to change things when it is time. May you always smile. May you never stop believing in magic.

It was signed ten years ago. Love, mum.

Admitting to the problem

https://img.fotocommunity.com/sehnsucht-nach-meer-e5071e7c-1c5a-4ce7-88e1-8e87a1f6e2ce.jpg?height=400They say that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. In fact, it is true that more people would learn from them mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them. In the same light, in order to begin to find some peace of mind, we need to acknowledge that we have none.

In our modern age, being (too) busy is a problem. But the thing is, we think that it is a privilege, an asset, or even something to be proud of – we actually boast of being busy. Of not having time for anything, not even of living.

We have lost touch of the things that matter. Instead of talking to each other and trying to help one another, to learn from each other and mutually improve, we have become so competitive that what dominates our relationships is hypocrisy and shallowness.

What is more, we don’t know how to relax anymore. We have become so obsessed about constantly having something on our minds and in our hands that we turn into inexplicably nervous freaks when we are faced with “doing nothing”. Keeping calm is not a concept the modern world understands. Yet, we so love to cant about it everywhere, we have drawn numerous gifs and images and posters and anything you can imagine, that begin with “keep calm and…”.

Let’s face it. We have become a troublesome kind. We are so afraid of being left out of pretty much anything that we create trouble where there is none, do things we don’t really want to do, and adopt styles that don’t fit us simply because they are the current trend. In the process, we choose to follow the crowd than stand out in our own unique way. And, like everyone else, we criticise or adore whoever and whatever is ‘in fashion’ at the time.

We don’t think anymore. And that is perhaps the most pitiful and severe problem of us all.

The trouble with being busy

http://az616578.vo.msecnd.net/files/2015/11/23/635838488040088008-2069932616_businessbusy.jpg“We humans are in trouble… Never before in human history have we had such conveniences and such knowledge, yet never before have our lives been so stressed and unhealthy”.

It’s true. Because we constantly live in a state of paradox. Where we want to be busy, but at the same time not. We want to be prosperous and financially comfortable, yet we don’t want to work hard to accomplish this. We want to realise our dreams and ambitions, but with the least amount of effort possible.

This amazing TedX talk discusses exactly that. And the way I fell across it reveals precisely how inspiration can come when you least look for it.

The truth is, however, that “we have made sleep deprivation a symbol of ambition and rested a symbol of laziness. We have made being too busy a symbol of importance.”

We spend our working days doing exactly that – working – sometimes even overworking ourselves, racing against time, trying to fit everything in those 24 hours that sometimes never feel enough, forcing ourselves to rush to be prompt for our appointments, meetings, errands and classes. Often even forgetting to eat or drink, let alone breathe. We have become so accustomed to this lifestyle that we have truly forgotten the very basics of it. Of what it is like to be human, and just… live.

Remember how when we were kids – without all the digital technology – we used to laugh endlessly for no reason, being carefree, happy, and most of all stressfree? Learning was a joy. As was socializing and relaxing. Naptime was a chore, but now… now we long for an extra hour (or half) of sleep whenever possible.

http://www.factslides.com/imgs/Dolphin2.jpgThe aforementioned talk refers to those amazing animals we all at some point or other wished we were: dolphins. They are cheerful, playful, sociable and intelligent. Who wouldn’t want to be like them?

But above all, they teach us three fundamental things that in our hectic lives we’ve lost touch of: how to play – with no rules, no limitations, and find new passion through creativity; how to socialize with others – make real connections and bonds and through that find new purpose; and how to find “downtime” – to relax and rest, to slow down and pay attention, to find this much needed balance that will bring about life satisfaction. “We are so on-the-go that stress has become the number one health epidemic of the 21st century, wreaking havoc in our bodies and minds”. It is a fact that even large companies nowadays introduce mindfulness exercises as a means of demonstrating that “breaks are the moments of breakthrough”; it is where we find inspiration and innovation. And it is how we can adapt to our constantly evolving world and thrive.

We need that moment of rest – even if it does mean that you have to fight the “withdrawal symptoms” of constantly being busy, feeling more tired when you’re doing nothing. You need that time precisely to discover all the new things you can do, which you never thought you had the time or energy for.

You need to stop, before you can start again, stronger and better.

“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Pleasure

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