Mental Health

All posts tagged Mental Health

Living Life in the Present

Published 05/04/2016 by inspiringyourspirit

Paying attention to the present moment, rather than constantly getting lost in ruminative fantasies, that we learn most and can be best prepared for our lives.

Borkovec on the Present

This is a powerful passage and has a great deal of resonance with mindfulness practice.  Part of what we’re trying to do is to learn from life – but to learn, we need to be present. One definition of mindfulness is that it’s a state of mind where we can encode memories.  Mindfulness is a kind of alertness where the attention can actually absorb what is happening, moment-by-moment.

The only influence we have on the future is how well we tend to the present. By tending to what’s here and what’s now, and learning from what’s here and now, we grow in ways that should help us meet the future most effectively.

Imagining the Future: How good are we at predicting our emotional responses?

So much of anxiety is about imagining the future.  But how good are we at imagining our emotional future? How good are our predictions about how a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ event might make us feel? There is a whole body of research dedicated to these types of questions called affective forecasting.  Daniel Gilbert, the Harvard psychologist and author of Stumbling on Happiness, has become famous for this work. As it turns out, while we tend to be accurate guessing whether a particular event is likely to make us feel positive or negative, we tend to make important errors in other aspects of our predictions.  Specifically, we tend to overestimate the impact of particular emotional events.  That is, we believe that a particular event will have both a more intense and enduring effect on our emotional life.  Here is a summary of one of Gilbert’s articles:

Affective Forecasting

What is being suggested here is that we are actually more resilient than we tend to believe. We assume that we’ll have more trouble coping than we tend to have. When faced with a challenging situation, the mind quickly makes meanings and interpretations that help soften the impact and we feel better much faster than we tend to anticipate.  This is important for us to absorb.

All the Forks in All the Roads

The famous poem, The Road Not Taken, from Robert Frost:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

It’s a lovely poem – but we want to make a different point than the one that’s usually made about this poem.  When we pay attention to our minds, it feels like we’re always coming to a fork in the road. Each decision, each uncertainty, each possibility – it seems we’re at a new fork, standing before two roads that diverge. We usually assume that one road is the right way and one road is the wrong way – and if we just think hard enough, we’ll figure out which is which.  But is this true? How many times do we truly come to fork in the road that is truly an important fork? And can we always know which is the “right” path?

Some of what mindfulness practice shows us is that there are actually fewer forks than we think and that even what seemed like a fork, in retrospect, may not be of major importance. We probably have all had that experience where we thought our lives were riding on the outcome of something specific – but later realize that it actually didn’t matter much which way it turned out.  Both roads have joys and sorrows.  Both roads have pleasure and pain and gain and loss.  Sometimes the road that seems less preferable has things to teach us we could never imagine.

Namaste with Love
Always
Mark

 

Observation & Judgement …..Your Mind and The Games We Have To Play

Published 13/08/2015 by inspiringyourspirit

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My Dear Friends,

You have to be quicker than your own mind!

When you see yourself analysing or negatively judging what you observe in yourself, whether it is a thought,emotion, or attitude, be more clever than the one who is judging or analysing. Step back into the observer; observe the judge and don’t judge him. The judge becomes the object of your observation. Remember to make every disturbing element the object of your observation; in this way, the observer goes more deeply into observation each time, whereas if you see what comes as an obstacle to observation, it becomes one.

The more you are in the observer , the less importance the object you observe has. When you are in the state of the observer, , which is not the state of the dreamer, you observe what you decide to observe and are awake to the rest; otherwise this state of concentration leads to emptiness, but to a hollow emptiness. True emptiness is the emptiness of the observer who is detached from the mechanism and capable of taking in everything. Thoughts come and go in your emptiness, and it remains empty because nothing remains attached to it.  The observer sees everything, it remains tranquil, there are no negative emotions . Everything is handles rightly. Things pass, the observer can take them seriously or lightly, it is identified with nothing. Judgment belongs to the world of things that pass.

So keep on observing with no judgment my friends and have some fun with your mind.

Namaste with Love

Always

mark

Loneliness

Published 26/06/2015 by inspiringyourspirit

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Sometimes I just sit alone and think, often thinking too much about my life, the people around me, my family, my friends, my work colleagues, spending too much time overthinking and allowing my ego mind to have it’s way with me!

Our days are filled with wasted time, hour after hour our mind ticks over, relentlessly sending us it’s opinions based upon our thoughts on the things we see, hear and fell, judging this and judging that, telling us to hate this person, stay away from that person, beware and fear this or that and holding us back from living our lives to the full.

Somedays our hearts are totally controlled by our mind, we feel lost and alone, its like something is missing from our heart, like a lost loved one, something is missing and causing us pain, we become tearful, agitated, anxious and sometimes so down that we just don’t want to get up or go out, the feeling is so strong that it controls our very being and stops us from moving forward with our lives.

Loneliness and the lack of love for ourselves feeds our ego mind, it fuels its fire and allows damaging thoughts to be generated at a rapid speed, negativity reigns supreme when the ego mind is at play, controlling our very being.

When your feeling down and lonely, its hard to pick yourself up when the ego mind is holding you down , twisting your mind with its negativity, pumping your body full of non-productive, suppressing ideas as to how you should live your life, it’s in total control…but how do we break free from the clutches of our ego mind?

Well, in my case, meditation is the key, it brings me peace and allows me to break free of the chains that my ego mind has wrapped around my soul, meditation takes me to a place of peace, to a solitude of silence where I can connect with my soul, with my Divine Self and where I can take back my life from the clutches of this egotistic mind that is at play with me.

If you suffer from any form of loneliness, unhappiness, anxiety in your life then please try meditation, seek out someone to help you, to guide you in the early stages of your practice……feel free once again and regain your happiness, then start living your life of joy 🙂

Namaste with Love

Always

Mark

He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands

Published 19/12/2014 by inspiringyourspirit

Naomi Feil, founder of Validation Therapy, shares a breakthrough moment of communication with Gladys Wilson, a woman who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2000 and is virtually non-verbal. Learn more at http://www.memorybridge.org.

The wonders of faith, kindness, compassion and the healing powers of music and touch that Naomi uses connect with these Alzheimers patients right to their very soul, a wonderful and lovely thing to see.

My dear friends, this short video will bring tears to your eyes and hopefully open your mind to the thought that we ARE all connected through love.

Namaste with Love

Always

Mark

Turning Your Fears Into Actions For Good

Published 10/12/2014 by inspiringyourspirit

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Fear of failure, fear of loosing face, the fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, the fear of success….Whatever fears you face in your life it’s now time for you to face them.

FEARS best

There are literally millions of labels we can place on words and call them fears, as in the image above, the list is endless and different fears attack each and every one of us, and we react to these fears in different ways.

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Every time we turn our backs on a fear and try to fight it, it becomes a pointless exercise and waste of our time, because fighting our fears places us in a ‘battle’ with that fear forever, whilst facing these fears will give us ‘freedom’ forever.

Our minds play tricks on us all the time, ‘the devil in our head’, ‘our sub conscious mind’, our Ego’s’ constantly chatter to us laying doubts on our ability to achieve, playing reference to things that have gone wrong in the past, and nagging us to stop right there and give up!…”Don’t be stupid, you know you will fail”, “It’s no point you doing that because no one will listen to you”, “Ah, they are just begging because they are too lazy to work so don’t give them your money”, “It’s not your problem, don’t get involved or it will end in tears, “Leave your job, are you stupid”, “Your not smart enough or worthy enough to do or go somewhere”……..How many of you have had these thoughts go through your head?

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Strategies for Overcoming Fear

  1. Acknowledge the fear. Whether it’s imagined or real, the first step in overcoming fear is to admit that it exists. We all have fears; it’s human nature. Denying or ignoring them doesn’t make them go away.
  1. Analyze it. Where does it come from? Is it real or imagined? Can it be put in a different context? For instance if you think it through to its logical conclusion, what’s the worst that can happen to you? Once you’ve determined what that might be, ask yourself if you can deal with, or overcome it. More often than not, once you go through the process of analyzing it, the fear isn’t as scary as you originally imagined.
  1. Face it. Allow yourself to feel it, and then do it anyway. Act in spite of your fear and treat is as a challenge for personal growth and an opportunity to become stronger.
  1. Be persistent. Do the thing you fear over and over again. By doing it repeatedly it loses its power over you and you become less vulnerable to it.
  1. Develop courage. Sometimes the answer may not be to conquer a particular fear; it may be to develop courage. If you focus too much on any one fear instead of trying to build courage, you may in fact, intensify it. By developing courage you build self-confidence and resilience. You also build a healthy approach towards facing all fear.

Our fears of failure can limit us and keep us from living the life we want to. When we inevitably experience rejection or disappointment, we have to be hardy in our way of coping with these struggles. Overcoming our critical inner voice can be a vital step in becoming more emotionally resilient. We can learn skills to become hardier, and we can face challenges with fewer internal setbacks. Yet, the first step in taking on this new confidence is shedding the baggage of our past, the critical inner voices that falsely feed our fears of failure.

If you have chance look at a child, an elderly person or someone who is really poor, observe their behaviours and take note of how they live their lives.

And like Derek says

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Do You Feel Lonely Some Days? Loneliness: a silent plague that is hurting young people most

Published 23/07/2014 by inspiringyourspirit

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Loneliness: a silent plague that is hurting young people most

For young Britons, loneliness is an epidemic – and they are even more likely to fall victim to its insidious dangers than the elderly.
Loneliness has finally become a hot topic – last month, the Office for National Statistics found Britain to be the loneliness capital of Europe. We’re less likely to have strong friendships or know our neighbours than residents anywhere else in the EU, and a relatively high proportion of us have no one to rely on in a crisis. Meanwhile, earlier this year, research by Professor John Cacioppo at the University of Chicago found loneliness to be twice as bad for older people’s health as obesity and almost as great a cause of death as poverty.

But shocking as this is, such studies overlook the loneliness epidemic among younger adults. In 2010 the Mental Health Foundation found loneliness to be a greater concern among young people than the elderly. The 18 to 34-year-olds surveyed were more likely to feel lonely often, to worry about feeling alone and to feel depressed because of loneliness than the over-55s.

“Loneliness is a recognised problem among the elderly – there are day centres and charities to help them,” says Sam Challis, an information manager at the mental health charity Mind, “but when young people reach 21 they’re too old for youth services.” This is problematic because of the close relationship between loneliness and mental health – it is linked to increased stress, depression, paranoia, anxiety, addiction, cognitive decline and is a known factor in suicide. In a new essay, Paul Farmer, the chief executive of Mind, and Jenny Edwards, the chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, say it can be both a cause and effect of mental health problems.

But what can young people do to combat loneliness? Dr Grant Blank, a survey research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, points out that social media and the internet can be a boon and a problem. They are beneficial when they enable us to communicate with distant loved ones, but not when they replace face-to-face contact. “People present an idealised version of themselves online and we expect to have social lives like those portrayed in the media,” says Challis. Comparing friends’ seemingly perfect lives with ours can lead us to withdraw socially.

While meditation techniques such as mindfulness and apps such as Headspace are trendy solutions frequently recommended for a range of mental health problems, they’re not necessarily helpful for loneliness, as they actively encourage us to dwell alone on our thoughts. “You’d be better off addressing the underlying causes of being lonely first – what’s stopping you going out and seeing people?” asks Challis.

Indeed, a study of social media at the University of Michigan last year found that while Facebook reduces life satisfaction, using technology to help you meet new people can be beneficial. And if for whatever reason you are unable to venture outside, the internet can bring solace. Mumsnet has been “an absolute godsend” for Maddy Matthews, 19, a student with a two-month-old daughter. Since the birth, she rarely sees her university friends and her partner works most evenings. “In the first few days, I was up late at night feeding her and I was worried I was doing something wrong. Being able to post on Mumsnet has helped me feel less alone”.

Helplines can also reduce loneliness, at least in the short term. One in four men who call the Samaritans mention loneliness or isolation, and Get Connected is a free confidential helpline for young people, where they can seek help with emotional and mental health issues often linked to loneliness. There are also support services on websites such as Mind’s that can remind you you’re not alone.

At work, it can be beneficial to tell your employer how you’re feeling. John Binns, a Mind trustee and former Deloitte partner who advises businesses on mental health and wellbeing, was admitted to hospital for stress-related depression in 2007 and took two months off work. He felt as if there was no one to talk to and wasn’t close enough with colleagues for them to notice change in his behaviour. Greater openness with his employer and colleagues made his return to work easier. “Often people find that colleagues are more supportive than they’d expected. Mine started to reach out, asking me to lunch and reassuring me that the world hadn’t moved on that much since I’d left.”

Office chitchat may seem like a waste of time, but it helps to cushion us from the emotional and psychological effects of work strain. “If you form connections with your team, you might be stressed, but not isolated,” says Rick Hughes, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy’s (BACP) lead adviser for workplace.

“We treat the networks we have as incidental, but they’re fundamental to our wellbeing,” says Nicky Forsythe, a psychotherapist and the founder of Talk for Health, a social enterprise that trains people to give and receive peer support in groups. “The most important thing is to have a regular time and place to reflect on your life and to have an empathic listener.”

For developing personal skills such as empathy, counselling can help. “A problem aired is a problem shared and sometimes you need to talk to someone impartial and independent of your friends and family,” says Hughes. Most universities offer students such counselling and many run group sessions that specifically address loneliness.

If recent research is to be believed, loneliness is killing the elderly and, with an ageing population, we should aim to reduce our isolation before it is too late. “Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting lonelier,” says Ruth Sutherland, the chief executive of Relate, in a new report. “But much of this rests on laying the foundations to good-quality relationships earlier in life.”

Article written by Natalie Gil
The Guardian, Sunday 20 July 2014 16.00 BST

So What can we do to combat loneliness when it enters our lives?

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This is a very important thing to remember, we don’t need to worry about what other people think about us, all that matters is what we think about ourselves!

We are driven to believe that all in the world is rosy, that money and things bring us happiness and if you are rich and famous your life is full of friends and therefore happiness, however reality tells us that this is simply not true! Happiness starts within, so please don’t fool yourself and keep looking outside for that miracle cure to your unhappiness, start by going inside, meditate and connect with your inner self, get to know and love yourself, be happy and grateful for what you are, who you are and what you have in your life right now. Once you have done this you will raise your own levels of self-esteem and energy automatically, you will feel better in your own skin and you will start living your life in happiness and that happiness will raise the happiness of others you come into contact with and their happiness will increase your happiness and the circle of life continues.

So; my dear friends, don’t allow loneliness to control your life, stand up to it, fight it off with all your strength, look at the little things in your life that bring a smile to your face and use those moments of joy to bring further joy to your heart.

If you would like any help, I’m always here for you, if you need someone to talk to, I’m always here for you. If you would like a chat via Skype, I’m always here for you and remember; we are never alone unless we allow ourselves to be alone!

Namaste with Love
Always
Mark

Validate Your Life and Smile

Published 13/03/2014 by inspiringyourspirit

Many of you may have seen this short video before; I had not, so I felt it worthy of posting here on my humble blog. How many of us feel like the people in this video? Walking around each and everyday feeling down, depressed and not worthy! Well, for all of us who need a lift with our spirits, then please watch and enjoy, and remember…You are Worthy, You are Awesome and You are Loved.

Namaste with Love my dear friends
Always
Mark

Words can make you Happy or Sad…Which would you Prefer?

Published 18/10/2013 by inspiringyourspirit

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Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones But Words Will Never Hurt Me……

We we taught this rime when we were young children, back in the day, long before computers and social media…and how Wrong these words are!….

Words can be extremely hurtful and cause great pain and often lead to self harm and in the worst cases even suicide.

Words my friends have the power to hurt and to cure so we must learn to use our words carefully and to surround ourselves with words of joy, of happiness, of love, and compassion because these words were created for a reason, to raise our energy, to raise our spirits, to raise our awareness for good and to help us live lives filled with joy.

My Love, My Smile and My Positive Energy goes out to each and everyone of you today 🙂

Namaste

Mark

Transforming Panic Into Peace: 3 Steps to Relieve Anxiety

Published 21/08/2013 by inspiringyourspirit

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By Alex Keats

“No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again.” ~Buddha

Growing up, I was one of those people much more concerned about what you thought of me than what I thought of me.

With my focus being on how I was being perceived by those around me, it left me feeling extremely unsettled.

I was desperate to be liked and accepted.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” was a nice idea for the fortunate, but certainly not for me.

I was convinced that Dr. Seuss was living in fantasyland!

This social anxiety spread to my work life, too. I wondered why I was never truly happy or successful. I wondered why I didn’t enjoy the rich relationships that so many around me seemed to enjoy.

Then I discovered Zen.

I read that Zen means awareness, and being with what is, as it is.

What I loved most about Zen is its utter simplicity in recognizing what is really true. Not what is partially or sometimes true, but what’s always true.

It didn’t compromise.

I liked that. I wanted that ability to recognize what was always true. That sounded like real emotional freedom to me.

Zen kept telling me truth was simple, so simple that it was often overlooked by the mind that loved to judge, condemn, compare, and resist.

Zen meant to be in alignment with reality as it actually unfolded, not as I wished it would unfold.

Simple indeed!

I saw how my mind loved to complicate things. I saw how my mind resisted so much of what was actually happening.

And I was miserable and stressed out.

I failed to see the inseparable connection between panic and peace—and how resisting one would never reveal the other.

However, as I began to incorporate what I was learning, I found that when I met the anxiety symptoms without running from or avoiding them, my experience began to change, too.

They no longer had control of me.

I had new life.

And I wanted more of it.

Here are the 3 things that dramatically reduced or eliminated the anxiety and panic I had been experiencing. Consider implementing the following and see if it brings you more peace.

1. Meet your panic and anxiety head on.

Zen is essentially about who we’re being in relation to something or someone, and this includes needless anxiety. It also includes this very moment. In fact, especially this very moment, as it shows up, and not as I wish it would show up.

Inherent in anxiety and panic attacks is the belief that it shouldn’t be happening. But this is never true.

No amount of wishing a particular moment to be different than it is can ever change that moment. Many actually think it’s a good strategy, but it rarely ever works out.

Upon closer examination, I saw that whenever I ran from anything, that thing chased me. This included thoughts and feelings.

I found that whenever I faced and embraced anything, it eventually dissolved and left my experience. I was encouraged because I knew I was onto something significant.

I walked around with a new mantra: “What I run from must chase me.”

It served as a great reminder and often snapped me back into being in alignment with what was actually occurring.

Whatever I met head on lost its power, every time. Resistance would often magically drop away. And it was palpable.

I learned that I can either live with the laws that govern me (and all of life) or I can resist them and suffer.

Seeing that I couldn’t escape the consequences of how I met anything, I began to face what was facing me. And that insight, I found, was the difference between living a life of peace versus a living a life of stress.

I began to consciously choose peace.

In fact, any challenging situation (or emotion) that arose wanted to be met by my loving attention.

Stress manifested only if I avoided the negative thoughts and feelings.

If I shined the light of gentle awareness on what wasn’t at peace within me, it had to come out of hiding and release me—because I met it.

2. Allow it to be as it is.

Notice how your mind in its infinite wisdom will tell you that any particular thought, feeling, or experience should or could be different than it presently is.

Is it ever true? Can it ever be true? As much as the mind will try to use logic and reason, it’s never true.

Things are often different than they were, but they are never different than they are!

This may seem counterintuitive, but the reality is we must first accept our present lot if we wish to experience something different in the next moment. We can’t expect to resist our current situation and simultaneously be at peace.

It won’t happen.

The essence of Zen is about being with whatever arises without offering any resistance whatsoever. It’s about being neutral emotionally so that we are in a position to respond appropriately.

Alternatively, resistance is the energy that gives life to what we don’t want.

If we simply allow our symptoms of anxiety to be as they are, we find that they don’t hang around long enough to torture us.

By taking the backward step (as they say in Zen) into this present moment, we discover that peace never left us in the first place.

It just seemed that way.

Allow your anxiety to be as it is, as you look to overcome it.

3. Be compassionate with yourself.

Sure, you’ve heard it before. Be nice to yourself! Get off your back! Stop blaming yourself! The key to effective transformation—turning panic into peace—is to stop beating yourself up and to make yourself the most important person in your life.

Wouldn’t you treat someone who really needed support with kindness and compassion?

Why are you any different?

Perhaps the greatest quality of spirit that the Buddha spoke most about was compassion, not only towards oneself, but to others as well. Compassion is the great neutralizer that has a way of dissolving old wounds, as well as new ones.

The truth is you’re not to blame for your anxiety, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t responsible for it.

You aren’t “crazy” or “weak”—and you’re no less worthy a human being for experiencing it, either. Your mind may tell you different, and even sound very convincing, but is it really true?

No, it isn’t. Not even a little bit.

Work with yourself, not against yourself, if you truly desire to transform your panic into peace. It’s all in how you relate to your current condition. Self-condemnation only gets you more of what you don’t want.

The truth is, you are much more than any thought or feeling that arises. Within you is the power to transform your panic into peace.

As the Buddha said, “Be a light unto yourself.”

Transcending anything never involves rejection, but it always involves acceptance.

About Alex Keats

Alex Keats suffered from extreme anxiety for over five years and now helps people overcome it in all its forms. He is the author of “Born To Be Happy” and “The Dance of Imperfection.” To learn why you stay anxious, and to find out what mistakes to avoid, visit http://www.cure-anxiety-now.com.

Naikan

Published 12/08/2013 by inspiringyourspirit

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Imagine yourself enclosed by a small space within traditional Japanese screens. In complete silence and isolation you examine in minute detail your entire life, especially important relationships like mother, father and siblings within the boundaries of the three strategic Naikan questions. Gradually over seven days of silence and deep introspection interrupted only by the Naikan therapist entering your space, bowing giving you food and drink and asking the three questions to the portion of your life you have been examining, piece by steady piece the meditator dismantles the ego that have hovered like dark clouds blocking the blue sky. Like awakening from a dream the meditator opens his/her eyes to the light of day. This is Naikan.

Naikan( From the Japanese Nai = Inner Kan= looking) is a therapy developed in Japan by Yoshimoto Ishin (1916 -1988). It was adapted from a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist practice of a meditation of deep introspection and self examination. Although the basic structure remains the same it has been further developed to be used in modern therapeutic settings.

There is emerging a palpable curiosity towards the Eastern and Buddhist psychology. With the emergence of the now evidenced based “Mindfulness” therapies (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapies etc) Naikan stands to be re-examined with energetic curiosity.

I must add a note of caution here. It is easy to confine the Mindfulness based therapies, of which Naikan belongs, to the therapist’s clinic. This would be a huge mistake. Naikan is essentially a way of life for everyone who wishes to live a more fulfilling and happy life.

Naikan is essentially a method of deep introspection. It is a way of examining one’s life from a different angle by asking strategic questions and arriving at a deep appreciation of life the way it is. The big mistake most people make with Mindfulness based processes is to expect the process to eliminate life’s problems. This is not the aim. After all, none of us are immune from life’s struggles or to put it in plain language: “shit happens”. What Naikan does is to help us look at life’s sufferings from a different angle – one of deep gratitude. It does this by radically placing us in front of our self-centeredness. When we do this a new energy begins to flow and we become better equipped to face life’s issues.

 

Naikan does this by asking three strategic questions:

 

 What have I received from person (or event) x?

 What have I given to person (or event) x?

 What troubles and difficulties have I caused to person (or event) x?

 

In Naikan we examine our entire life in minute detail from the time we were born to the present moment. We focus primarily or relationships rather than events as we are formed by our early childhood relationships and relationships in general. It is a Naikan principle that our mental health is based almost entirely upon how we relate with one another and our environment.

 

In Classical Naikan the client spends an intense seven day period in meditation on one’s entire life guided at regular intervals by the Naikan therapist. There are shorter versions of this process to suit the client’s schedule. It is often said that one of the “down sides” of Naikan is its intense seven day meditation. However, we must ask ourselves, what is seven days in what often has been a lifetime of struggle with certain issues?

Ideally Naikan is done with a “Naikan Guide” or therapist. However it can also be performed by oneself on a regular basis.

Gratitude in Naikan

The concept of “gratitude” plays a crucial part in Naikan. In Chinese the word for gratitude is “gan ji gan en”. The English word “gratitude” does not do justice to the Chinese words which convey a different concept. In our daily speech we can say we are “thankful” for something but still inwardly hold resentment or grudges. I can say “thank you” to someone for something even if that someone has annoyed me greatly. I do it out of politeness. The Gratitude in Naikan goes far beyond the concept of thankfulness. It is a realization of the “gift” of life and a sense of deep contentment with the way things “are”. . . an acceptance of the “is-ness” in all things. When we have this sense of deep gratitude we are free. Many say after Naikan they experience a feeling like a ton of bricks lifted off their shoulders. This is a happiness which goes beyond what “happens” to us.

Personal Responsibility

Naikan is a therapy and process that places responsibility squarely upon the individual challenged with their issues. Throughout the Naikan process the therapist will not give “advice” but guide the client to take responsibility for their own healing. In this process there is tremendous empowerment.

 

Much more

There is much more to Naikan than these few words can give justice to. Like all Mindfulness studies – they need to be experienced rather than didactically analyzed.

Please Listen.

Published 10/08/2013 by inspiringyourspirit

 

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Because of my all embracing hearing my name Kuan Yin is known everywhere.  Since I myself do not meditate on sound but on the meditator.  I cause all suffering beings to look into the sound of their voices to obtain liberation. Surangama Sutra

Two of the greatest tragedies which face us on a global proportion as we turn into this next millennium are poverty and human mass slaughter.

The poverty of which I speak is not the material poverty which we are so used to hearing about. It is another kind of poverty, far, far worse and more destructive to the fabric of society than economic poverty. This is the poverty of isolation and loneliness.

It is a kind of poverty which is extremely insidious and continues to increase and underscore our family life and social order. The symptoms of this social sickness are many – broken relationships and divorce, crime, emotional and physical violence, war between communities, mental illness, and addictions; it is a poverty which strips millions of self-esteem. A person is left dry of any value or worth and is rendered powerless.

The tragedy is that although we live in densely populated cities and chat over countless cups of tea and coffee, the sense of isolation is ever increasing within our communities, within our work places, within our schools and even within our churches.

The second great tragedy is that we have witnessed more human carnage this last century in war and murder than in any other time of world history. This is due in part to the greater destructive potential of modern weapons. In early days of world history one spear may have killed one person in war. Now one missile has the capability of destroying a whole nation.

It thoroughly astounds me that with all our sophisticated technology the world has not advanced very far at all in terms of peace and the sanctity of human life. We are able to send a space probe to the outermost limits of our universe, but we are thoroughly unable (or unwilling) to work toward a peaceful society.

I would boldly suggest that the reason for this is that we are building societies with the predisposition to instant self-gratification. We seek personal power and material possessions and we want it right now. War is a multi million-dollar business and it grants personal empowerment – for the winners that is. Peace on the other hand requires community effort and its fruits though plentiful, even financially, are not seen immediately. You can’t make a quick buck on peace.

Our love affair with technology has enhanced our need for instant self-gratification. The Internet enables us to connect instantly with others at the opposite end of the globe. We can have cyber-relationships, even cyber-sex. The iPod has fast become the ‘mePod’ as millions of people absorb themselves within their invisible cone of silence. Here is the real danger. We are drawn into the illusion of being part of a ‘global community’. This is nothing more than a fraud. Hugh Mackay, Australian Psychologist and social commentator observes in his book Why Don’t People Listen? :”When the emphasis is on information transfer rather than relationships, the life of the (global) village becomes meaningless: shared data is no substitute for the sense of shared identity and mutual obligation which come from shared experience.” People are beginning now to isolate themselves from real community. The result will be an ever-increasing sense of isolation.

Listening is a communication experience which has within it the power to break the grip of isolation and to plant and nurture a new community. Listening shared from the level of the human heart. No other communication technology is able to do this.

Several years ago I began to notice the importance of Empathy and  how deep listening (listening with the intent to understand) can affect individuals and be the catalyst for positive change both personally and as a community. As a society we have forgotten how to listen. This has been gravely injurious to our corporate journey as a society as well as to our personal growth and well-being. We have lost our prophetic foundations, as when we don’t listen we miss vital information. Listening and vision go hand in hand. When we don’t listen we don’t see the problem ahead – we fail to see the big picture sand we move blindly into the future.

I have observed what ‘real’ Listening can do. I have seen it heal people, turn enemies into friends, I have seen it change people – dramatically, and I have seen it close sales deals worth millions of dollars where no other ‘strategy’ had worked. It is powerful beyond all measure.

In speaking to many people about their recovery from difficult circumstances or emotional illness, I have heard people talk about that thing which really made the difference to them – the turning point, if you like – was that some one took the time to really listen to them. This intrigued me as this phrase kept coming up time and time again: “really listened”. What was it in this act of “really listening’ which was able to turn a person’s life around?

But we don’t have time any more. We have systems to attend to, reports to write, deadlines to meet, meetings to go to. Furthermore, the things we listen to is mainly information shuffling as this is what our technology has taught us to do. Emails are quick and precise. Text messaging is even briefer couched in texting language for rapid application. We are fast becoming shallow beings forgetting how to plummet the depth of our souls. Information has become our God.

I will never forget the words of a potential client when I was young and green who once said to me “I don’t care what you know. I just want to know that you care. You listened to me. That is enough and that is all.”

Namaste
Mark

My Spiritual Journey: Part 2.

Published 24/12/2012 by inspiringyourspirit

My Spiritual Journey: Part 2.

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This is part 2 of my spiritual journey so far, I feel the need to talk about what has been happening to me in my life, to try and share these experiences with others In the hope that in sharing; it will bring greater clarity to me and help me focus on my journey.

I will also add this to my page ‘My Spiritual Journey so you can read through parts 1 and 2 together…I will also do my best to continue writing the updates and bring you all up to the present day, maybe two or three more parts will get us to that point in time.

I hope you enjoy?

Namaste

Mark
My Spiritual Journey Part 2.
My new found freedom was amazing and I felt so much more at ease alone in my own body and since Noriko helped me remove my ‘Hitchhikers’ I could now think for myself once again without the influence of my ‘house guests’ onboard! So what could I do with all this new found freedom? Well, I started to notice changes in me, changes I think for the better, I actually felt different, I started to smile more, my wife noticed these changes, she said I had been carrying some aggression for the past few years, maybe it was due to the pain I was carrying on behalf of my ‘hitchhikers’, and from all the accidents I had experienced; who knows!
I started to meditate more often and I felt really very different, my sense of awareness was starting to change, I became very acute to changes, I could feel absolutely everything, I mean, feel change, my senses were becoming finely tuned, a slight change of air quality and I knew about it, I would start sneezing and coughing and it would continue until the air quality changed, my throat was sore all the time and I had cold after cold, but the doctors were forever saying ‘your fine and really very healthy’!
MY sense of hearing was becoming even more acute, when meditating I could hear everything, even the sound of a mosquito in my room, the sound of distant car horns beeping, the hustle and bustle of 25 million people moving around outside my home in Shanghai (everything was highlighted, bigger than life) but yet I was at peace, totally relaxed and in the now ‘but what was I experiencing’? what were these changes I was going through?
I noticed people on the street, total strangers looking at me differently, some with vicious, maybe even slightly evil looks focused toward me! And on the other hand I was also experiencing the total opposite, ‘beaming smiles, happiness, eyes widely open and warmth sent my way’! I noticed a real difference from young children, they were looking at me differently, I mean really looking, not the look a westerner usually gets from local Chinese but a look that transcends cross cultural/ ethnicity difference, the children were really focusing on me and smiling, ‘really smiling’, also a few old people were coming up to me and touching me, and smiling, which is not normal, especially here in China where everyone usually keeps some distance.. And, when I came across anyone with a disability or some sort of injury, then; that reaction was even stronger and more obvious. At this particular juncture we lived very close to a local hospital, on two separate occasions I crossed paths with two patients who were out with their relatives for a walk, one young man I guess in his twenties had some sort of head trauma as his head was heavily bandaged, as we crossed paths, he looked straight in my eyes and his eyes opened widely and his eye contact did not divert from mine at all even when he was across the road from me, the second encounter was the same but this person was in a wheel chair, she looked ok but had some sort of drip infusion attached to her, but her smile was beaming and eye contact was extremely purposeful and very direct…I felt totally calm and very relaxed by both encounters and I felt happy too!
On the other side of this happiness and feeling of calm and security, I also experienced a more hostile/darker side…Often when I was walking on the street, I found people were walking ‘At ME’, they were not making any effort to move away or around me, just walking ‘at me’, I mean actually barging into me on the street, my wife would have no problems walking along side me but she also noticed this almost direct assault on my personal space, but why?…Was I doing something different from normal, we switched sides but so did the people walking toward me, I even started carrying a large umbrella, brightly colored and holding it horizontal so people could clearly see it, a form of barrier defense between me and other pedestrians on the street, or I would swing shopping bags whilst walking so people could see them and move slightly so as to not knock into me!…walks with my wife became a challenge and the trauma of being knocked into started to take a toll on my mind, I was becoming more aggressive as a form of self defense…what to do?, Who knew!
A friend of mine suggested I go see a clairvoyant and I found out a lady was coming over to Shanghai from Cyprus, I called and made an appointment, gave them no information just my first name. A couple of weeks later I met with the lady from Cyprus, I will call her Joyce…On entering the room she said ‘Wow’, your energy and Aura is so intense, so strong, you are an ‘Old Soul’, your vibrating at a very high frequency!..I sat down and the session began….Wow, what a ride, she did not stop for an hour, her eyes closed for the majority of time, constantly talking to her guides, my guides then stopping to provide me with information and guidance on what she was being told.. she told me all about me, my family, parents, children, wife, business, why I was on this earth, what I was here for and also took me back to three previous lives…I’m not going to go into detail but this session BLEW me away, I cried and cried like a baby, physically sobbed for a great part of the session, my life was starting to make sense to me now, all the things I have done throughout my life were very clearly linked, what I have experienced throughout my life and my reason for being here in China, all a fact and a part of my spiritual journey. Joyce provided me with a much needed clarity, she was physically drained by the intensity of our session and we were very clearly connected! WOW….Now I understand more clearly, I MUST follow my destiny, I must follow my spiritual pathway, I must try to help people, I need to use the gifts bestowed upon me to do good on this earth and truly help people along my way….This was and is an amazing experience but only a small part in what I have experiences since this session with Joyce…

Part 3 of my spiritual journey will follow ASAP.

 

Stop, Listen, Smell and Feel.

Published 01/11/2012 by inspiringyourspirit

 

The sun is shining brightly, the sky is clear and blue, it’s a beautiful morning here in Shanghai. I can hear the sounds of children laughing as they play in the kindergarten below, the distant hum of cars travelling on to their destinations and the birds singing in the trees.

Oh I have so much to be grateful for, my life is filled with love from family and friends, I live with joy happiness and peace, so why do we allow our Ego’s (our inner voices) to take control of our lives?

‘This is bad, he/she is bad, don’t do that, don’t go there, I hate this or that, rushing here, rushing there, never stopping to take time out and look at what is all around us, taking a moment to feel the breeze on our face, the warmth of the sun on our skin, to touch and feel the delicate texture of flowers, trees or grass.

Stop! Take five minutes to look, listen, smell and to feel…

Take a look at the faces around you, what do you see? Some faces are filled with happiness, love, joy and peace, smiling faces, they exude happiness in their voices as they speak, they take the time to interact with others, to communicate and enjoy their day, that moment in time because it’s special and it will never be repeated….
While others have a stern look, furrowed brows, contempt and anger in their eyes and mistrust for everyone they meet, they rush here and there, barging into people as they go, without a care in the world!…..

Which do you prefer?…It’s your choice, you are in control of your life, your future and your destiny…. Choose a life of love, compassion and happiness, a life of joy, of communication, live in the moment and enjoy everything that comes to you for what it is…a gift from a higher place, from your God.

Start today with a smile, greet your day with thanks, be grateful for what you have and start living your life to the full.

Namaste

Mark

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