Passion Versus Peace

In the midst of life’s challenges and desires, there is always a subtle pressure to seek and do more whether we are aware of it or not. If people stopped doing things, what would happen to the world? Let me rephrase that – what if people stopped doing negative and destructive things and replaced them with positive acts and deeds? Good news instead of bad news. I think a lot of the choices we have and end up making in life depend on the quality and focus of our intention – what do we intend to happen?

Feeling restless and discontent is something I really don’t like feeling. I am not a person who finds it easy to settle down. I always have to be running around, doing new things and challenging myself. ‘This is too easy, I’ve conquered this, I need a new challenge, what can I do now?’

Is ‘easy’ a bad thing or does it simply mean we are not trying hard enough or pushing ourselves in the way we should? Perhaps we have all learned to fight contentment as it could mean we have nothing left to strive for, no more goals on the horizon. When people ask me what I’m passionate about, I don’t know what to say. I love life, I enjoy learning and exploring everything it has to offer but I don’t have this fervent desire brooding inside of me that seems to be needed to achieve things.

In a world where we all have to be passionate and driven to do well, is it any wonder we all feel restless and constantly worn out? Feeling and experiencing passion is amazing though. It really gives us the determination to succeed at what we do. The only problem is – it burns out very quickly sometimes. Rather than being passionate about what you do, I think it is better to love what you do instead.

Life seldom works out the way you thought it would. Plans and dreams tend to waver off course, just like a meandering river, the journey of life carries us through the choices we make. There is only the destination we choose for ourselves which means – life is in our hands. There is energy behind the flow of the river. If we combine our energy with a focused intention, we find more often than not that we will be able to achieve what we want. But that’s just it – what do we want?

Desire, lust and passion are intensely seductive and they have the power to consume and destroy. You can be enslaved by your desires and ultimately destroyed by them. Look at any addiction. (Watch Star Wars). It is filled with Zen wisdom! I don’t know what I prefer really. To be peaceful and content or to be passionate and driven. All I know is – I cannot have both. Perhaps we all go through phases where we prefer one over the other.

Love stands the test of time. Look at successful relationships for example – if love is the foundation, you will go the distance. Building a relationship on passion in life is like trying to build a house on a stormy sea. It just doesn’t work. The waves are turbulent, volatile and guaranteed to throw you all over the place. In a relationship, it may be exciting for a while but the excitement is eventually overtaken by exhaustion and tiredness as you try desperately to hold on to the passion which is energy – energy cannot be restrained. It changes from moment to moment. You cannot hold onto to it.

If there is anything in life we could say is certain is that nothing ever stays the same for long. Even if it does, eventually things will change. It is the nature of the world we live in. People come and go. Lives change and people grow. Surely to stand still is to stagnate? Like everything in life, it depends on how you look at things. If you feel stuck, perhaps it is all do with luck….

‘I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.’

(Ecclesiastes 9:11)

This says it all. So much in this world is uncertain even if we do plan things. Life can give you a hand that you didn’t expect. Time and chance have their role to play. Chances come and risks can be taken but you can still never know what lies ahead of you if you do take that leap and if you don’t. To me, contentment, happiness and peace are the main goals of life. What you want may not always be what you find. It could be better or worse than you originally intended depending on how you look at things. Are we all simply just ‘putting up’ with things and settling for less than we deserve in life or are we actually happy? Now that is a tricky one…

I’m going to go with peace.

Christina McDonald 2014.

The Healing Heart….

Listening to and following your heart sounds very romantic. Almost like an ideal situation that we have forgotten about and shelved for the time being as it doesn’t seem to get us anywhere. I remember years ago when a friend asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I said ‘I want to be a musician’. She said (actually she laughed) and said ‘That’s all very well, but will it bring money in? I doubt it.’ If I wasn’t stronger in that very moment, I would have listened to her and lost out on some of the best experiences in my life so far.

It is doing what feels right and natural that seems to be the most difficult of all.

Having a goal which involves following your intuitive feelings isn’t always easy especially when nobody else is on your side. I never had thought to myself that I was idealistic in anyway (perhaps in my youth) but I always believed I could achieve anything if I put my mind to it. I had the conviction of faith. I wasn’t particularly religious growing up but I always had a belief in something, that there was a meaning and purpose behind all existence somehow.

“All ideals are dangerous: because they debase and brand the actual; all are poisons, but indispensable as temporary cures.”

(Friedrich Nietzsche).

If we are constantly aspiring to an ideal, we are missing out on living in the moment we have been given. We become a seeker of a false reality instead but in some ways, it keeps us going. We keep moving in the direction of our dreams whilst all along forgetting to actually live out our dreams.

If we don’t listen to the heart, we don’t grow. We cease to live. We exist only in some kind of detached reality whereby we feel constantly unhappy and unfulfilled. We then make poor decisions instead that bring about a feeling of consolation for removing ourselves from the needs of our heart. I have always been a great advocate of personal growth and asking questions. Don’t just accept things about yourself at face value unless you understand ‘why’ you make the decisions you do. Every instance I wanted an insight into my behaviour, I asked myself why did I do this, why did I feel like this, why did I make this decision? Being completely honest with yourself is the way to living a life from your heart.

We are so very cynical I feel when it comes to taking the heart’s advice. Why would it put you wrong anyway? It is keeping you alive after all. If we ever allowed ourselves to stop very briefly, to sit down and have a rest for five minutes, we would become aware of the beating of our heart in the midst of a peaceful silence. Everyday, our hearts keep us alive. We know the heart is beating. We have night and day, the sun, the moon, the stars….we know what to expect. There is a force at work and everything seems to have a rightful place. A miracle of life that sustains all living things in existence. We know it through the mind. Do we feel it and experience it through the heart though?

We are surely understanding more in relation to the actual fabric of existence. The ability to learn about and analyse our surroundings is fantastic for sure. For example, the news that scientists had discovered the existence of light that originated from the the birth of the universe over 13 billion years ago is quite simply – amazing. We can learn more about the natural environment, ecosystems and wildlife. There are no limits to the possibilities within science. That’s what makes it so fascinating – pushing the boundaries of what is currently known and possible.

We are now fully aware of what is happening to the natural world. Our climate is changing rapidly and irreversibly. It is a reflection of how our individuals needs and desires are changing everything we see. Whether we could have avoided this situation or not will be debatable in years to come. Now, all we can do is hopefully adapt and overcome to survive the changes we are facing.

We can expand and increase our knowledge and understanding of the world and indeed, the universe we live in. The quest for knowledge and fact is the search for truth but if it is not tempered by the intuitive wisdom and guidance of the heart, I doubt that science will be able to stand fully on its own. Where is truth also to be found? In the human heart. Consciousness is a way of being. A way of living in the world with an awareness of the interconnectedness of all things. If you don’t believe me, then search your heart.

Within nowhere, is everything. The essence of spirit (or the possible key that science is continually searching for). I believe this can only be understood and experienced through consciousness. A realisation of the aliveness and being of everything in existence. What is consciousness? That mystical force that is behind all existence.

Science is the quest for factual truth. If we can see it and touch it, then it is real. Living in reality means looking at the facts of our existence. Evolution is a fact. Climate change is a fact. Facts are important and crucial to our understanding of the world we inhabit. There is however, another hidden aspect to our individual and collective existence on earth. Consciousness itself. We are not an abstract entity in relation to the world we inhabit. We are the world we inhabit. The same atoms, made of the same ‘stuff’.

Whatever this force is, this energy, I believe it is a natural part of our evolutionary process. We are part of it. We are energy. As a species, we are yet to accept this truth within us. There lies one possible direction we could take. Is this the key we are looking for? This simple key with which we need to unlock the eternal mysteries? A mystery that cannot be analysed, seen or touched but felt only through experience? I do not believe science can unite every aspect of existence simply by looking at facts. Facts can be misleading after all….

These are just my feelings and beliefs. We are all searching for clues to the answers we seek and making sense of it all requires us to embrace, consider and to accept all the possibilities. Rule nothing out, keep an open mind and where possible, look at the facts.

What is a fact? A fact is an element of truth. And what is truth? From the perspective of science, if you can see and touch it, so it is real. How can it be proven otherwise? Can’t truth also be an awareness of something? An intuitive feeling? Something that only you could be aware of without anyone else understanding? If only a specific individual can be aware of this truth in their own way and in their own time, is it then possible to evolve together as a species if truth is only part of a subjective experience?

Define truth? We could debate that one for centuries to come…

So, we are all part of this strange mystical energy but all of us seem to be travelling through it in our own way. When we finally learn to live in harmony with ourselves, we are falling in line in accordance with the natural law – simplicity. From our perspective as human beings, there is nothing complex about existence. It is not our struggle to understand the theory and meaning behind existence but our inability to feel that we are also a living part of that existence. As soon as we all experience this simple truth, the world will change. Our inner world will change…

When I say ‘travelling through it in our own way’, I mean to say that personal growth depends on the individual in question. Most of us are too stressed and busy getting through life to slow down and ask ourselves the most meaningful and significant questions life holds in trust for us. When we are ready to approach it (in other words, when we have suffered enough), then we consciously choose to change our life situation for the better. As soon as we do that, things begin to change for the better. Life and the choices we make begin to make sense when we truly listen to ourselves.

The environment of our planet reflects what is going on in our minds. If we have toxic thoughts, that will have a negative impact on the world around us. There is no way we can create a harmonious external environment when the environment in our own mind is in turmoil. We need to be in touch with ourselves on the very deepest levels of consciousness to ensure we are dwelling in a state equanimity. Every feeling and thought you have and everything you do in life will influence someone else.

Just like nature, human beings have the capacity to grow…if we allow the process to happen through our continued awareness of our thoughts and emotions. If we stop feeling, we stop living. The natural world is alive but we do not realise that we are such an intricate part of that aliveness. Living from a holistic perspective means dwelling in harmony with the world and when we do this, we find ourselves living peacefully with ourselves and others in turn. When we end the conflict within ourselves, we end the conflict with the rest of the world.

The question is – when (if ever) will our collective suffering reach a point where that change is an inevitability? Suffering is simply a signature of living in disharmony with oneself. If we look at the natural environment, we can see just how pronounced these changes are. War, poverty, hunger and disease are becoming more prevalent in the world as time goes on but they have no rightful place in the human heart. They are just illusory shadows of the mind caused by fear and isolation.

When we heal ourselves, we heal the world in turn. Listen to your heart.

© Christina McDonald 2014

Apathy and the environment…is it too little too late?

Feeling slightly annoyed this morning and a little bit fed-up…

At least the sun is shining!

As I was having a cup of coffee still bleary eyed this morning, I heard a story being discussed on the news in regards to a UN report describing an urgent need to treble our use of renewable energy or face a massive and dramatic increase in dangerous levels of global warming. Not good news – at all. Living in Central London, I have become fed-up recently of breathing in so much cigarette smoke, smelling pollution and feeling as though my chest is getting tighter by the minute when I’m going to buy a loaf of bread. It has got worse in recent years and I have been here nearly a decade now.

That isn’t the only thing I’m annoyed with though.

My husband recently bought an ‘e-go’ electric bike which I think is brilliant. I wish everyone thought the same. Hopefully some people do. As he has had a lot of health problems and enjoys cycling, it seems to work better for him as a way of getting around the city. It isn’t as hard on his body and he has more energy to do other things. Not only that, there are no carbon emissions and he isn’t putting an extra strain on the environment and people’s health.

Sensible yes? You would think.

He came home and told me that a car driver had slowed down, rolled down his window and literally laughed at the fact he was riding the bike. It looked ‘gay’ apparently. ‘You need number plates for that mate!’ Ah no, it is classified as a bicycle. As long as it meets the EAPC rules, it doesn’t need to be registered and taxed. It doesn’t go more than 15 mph and he has a licence anyway (even though he doesn’t need it in this instance). This guy didn’t even know what it was! My partner explained exactly what it was and why it was good to use. Blank expression in response. If that is the case, how are we going to change our collective attitude towards global warming then? That is depressing and quite unbelievable.

If this is the kind of prejudice and hostility you meet when you are actually trying to improve not just your own life, but the life of other people around you, I am deeply concerned for the environmental future of the planet. We need to wake up and smell the fossil fuels. It is reaching crisis point as scientists are pointing out. Do we even have the time we need to sort this? If by ‘time’, we mean reforming people’s attitudes towards alternative energy, that is going to be a challenge and a half considering the level of severity. A lot more needs to be done to get it into people’s heads that we need to change the way we live in order to survive.

Instead of starting wars with other countries and hating and killing each other, why not (maybe) start dealing with real problems? Slagging someone off on the street on a busy Saturday afternoon for riding an electric bike is doing nobody any favours.

Being an individual doesn’t mean standing out from the crowd as a celebrity. Of course, as a nation, we are all so obsessed with that one and doing selfies is so important isn’t it? The perfect picture. (Don’t get me started on that one either). Being an individual means making a choice that exempts you from what is regarded as ‘the norm’. Here’s another picture – soon we won’t be able to breathe and eat properly if we don’t wake up soon. If you want to do something different in life, be prepared to feel very alone, even if it is the right thing to do.

(Apparently). Rant over.

© Christina McDonald 2014.

Here are the EAPC rules:
Sources:
https://www.gov.uk/electric-bike-rules

BBC News
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27007486

Forgiveness…learning to let it go.

Sometimes when we have been badly hurt and let down, we feel as though we want to lash out, blame and accuse those who we feel have done us wrong. Feelings are those of anger, frustration and pain. ‘Why me?’ Holding a grudge is not going to make everything better. It doesn’t justify anything. Will it make you happy? Not a chance! Anger and bitterness only serves to make you unhappy, twisted and miserable.

Who needs that?

It is so much simpler to allow yourself to see the truth…it is not your problem! The only thing that is your responsibility is how you choose to react to the experience. That is within your power and control.

It may feel like you have acquired some strength momentarily but it is actually a thief of what energy you have. The ego feels good for a moment (albeit briefly). If I feel angry and upset, I feel so distracted. I cannot concentrate on anything and I am not living in the present moment. I might as well stay in bed for the good I feel I am to anyone when I’m in such a state! Chocolate, angry music and punching pillows for me… oh wait no..that’s p.m.t 😉

Why is letting it all go so difficult sometimes especially when you feel someone has done you a wrong? You naturally want to feel that wrong righted and no matter how angry you feel, it is justified in your mind somehow. Playing over the events, the words spoken, what you said, what they said, what you would love to say had you the chance to go back…what would be the most hurtful thing to do and say in order to make them feel the pain you have felt?

All of this mulling and brooding is actually causing you pain. Nobody else is being affected. Your own mind is actually crucifying you slowly. Yes, perhaps you have been betrayed. Perhaps someone did something very bad to you and yes, you feel pain. Of course you would. It is only natural to feel upset to a point – you do have a choice though and that is what we can all forget.

‘Don’t let negative and toxic people rent space in your head. Raise the rent and kick them out!’ (Robert Tew).

Don’t let someone mess with your mind and your feelings. You are in control at all times and can decide how you deal with everything. We give and abuser power when we allow them ‘in’ as it were, into our personal space. As soon as that happens, we not only lose a sense of perspective but we also lose ourselves eventually. Emotion takes over completely and before we know it, we are reacting to emotions that have no grounding in the true reality of things.

It isn’t actually your pain you are feeling though. It is their own pain and negative emotional state you are seeing reflected right back at you. Whether we choose to react to and continue that cycle of pain in our own mind is our choice alone.

When someone treats you badly, it is a reflection on how they have behaved. You may feel that person deserved punishment for what they have done. If they seem to get away with everything, it only seems to make everything worse. We are not judge and jury though. (Even though sometimes we feel we should and wish we could be, it is not our place).

Do people really get their karma in the end? They do. It isn’t a desire to see them suffer in turn. I personally want to see those who have caused me pain learn and eventually understand why their actions have caused so much disharmony. I don’t like to think of anyone suffering. They have a chance to grow in their experience of pain. It isn’t about watching another person suffer and enjoying the fact that they are. Far from it…

It is hoping that someday, that individual will see the error of their ways and karma is a transformative vehicle for that change. It may take a very long time (perhaps another lifetime even if you believe in reincarnation) but time is a matter of perspective only….from my experience, things happen when they are meant to do so.

Have faith in natural justice. We are all learning. What goes around, comes around…for all of us.

© Christina McDonald 2014

Want success? Don’t stress out – chill out! 6 simple ways to work productively

“Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive.”
― Joanne Harris, Chocolat

Life is busy, stressful and chaotic. Tell me something I don’t know right? Sure it is. We fight constantly to get our heads above water. That promotion, that property, more this, more that, whatever dream we aspire to.

If I told you success was all about simplicity, perseverance and application, would you believe me?

It isn’t about slacking off. It isn’t about killing yourself in the process either. Not at all. It is all about applying energy and focus in the right way.

Be proactive:

The goal of success is a dream. A dream that needs your attention and focus to materialise. Doing something everyday, no matter how small you think it is, will take you one step closer to realising your goals.

Be realistic in your outlook:

Make sure your goals are actually obtainable. Biting off more than you can chew creates a lot of needless stress which is of course, a waste of energy. You need your energy to do things that are within your grasp and capability. It doesn’t mean you don’t aim high…just aim to do what you can.

Keep it simple:

The most fundamental and powerful rule of all. Don’t complicate things needlessly. Other people will do that for you most of the time. Have one main goal, find a way to achieve it within reach and most importantly, believe in it!

Be positive:

Even on the days where everything sucks (you’ll have some weeks like that too), keep going. Things usually get better and more postive in time. Just keep going and remember what Winston Churchill said:

‘When you’re going though hell, keep going.’

Don’t quit. Or if you do quit more often than not, quit quitting!

Take things in your stride:

Don’t beat yourself up when things don’t happen quickly. Nothing happens instantly. Good things, great ideas and grand plans take time to come to fruition. Small steps all the way will lead to the completion of the journey in the end. Before you realise it, you will have found the success you were looking for. Just be patient….

Relax:

If you feel wound up, tense and frustrated, you will not be in the right mindset. You will be negative and then you will start attracting the wrong energy. If you’ve ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed, you’ll easily relate to what I’m saying! There is no reason for it, you just feel ‘off’ for no apparent reason. Clear your mind, get rid of any negative thoughts and replace them with postive ones. Basically, positive things will happen when you feel positive and vice versa. Smile at someone and you may just get a smile back!

Don't be a grumpy cat....

Don’t be a sour puss….

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Smile! – simple and effective….

© Christina McDonald 2014