Observation As The Gateway

Friday 22 September, 2017

If it’s correct that we are so wrapped up in the worldly self and the experience of life, then how do we extricate ourselves from their allure and rest in the true self. One very good way is to observe. While composing this piece, I looked for the earliest example of observation in my writing and found the entry, Silent, Attentive & Aware, which came a week after I had begun my journal. It is a short piece but an excellent description of my early forays into observation and the distinct benefits I gained from it.

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Friendship & The True Self

Saturday 16 September, 2017

The wedding I wrote about in the previous post was more than a wedding for me. I came away from it contemplating the nature of the connections with my friends. I was struck by their solid nature and uplifting effect, regardless of how transient or tenuous the friendships may be. Eventually my thoughts led me to another connection: the one between the worldly self and the true self. This post is about how our long-standing friendships can help us connect more firmly with who we truly are.

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So Much Love In The World

Thursday 7 September, 2017

I attended a friend’s wedding last weekend. She’s an old friend, so there were other friends there, too, all of whom I have known for nearly 30 years. Some of my closest friends were present and I was naturally delighted to see them, but I was also struck by how appreciative I was of others – people I had not seen for a decade or more. There is an obvious maturity about our connections, and to spend such quality time in the company of people who have grown together and aged well, but who in many ways have not changed at all, somehow served as recognition of my own self.

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The List

Wednesday 16 August, 2017

What follows is a list of many of the most important pieces from this blog. The list makes it easy for you to understand at a glance what is necessary in this work. It takes you through the process of self-development and self-realisation – from awareness, observation and reflection, and back to awareness – offering you guidance on what to expect along the way and what you can do to help yourself.

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Tell Yourself A Story

Monday 31 July, 2017

A friend claimed recently that if we were to take a group of people and put them in the forest with no cultural information whatsoever, within 50 years they’ll be worshiping something. Whether a god or a tree spirit, they would inevitably create a vessel for their beliefs. Her reasoning was that we love to tell stories. And she’s right. Storytelling lies at the heart of so much of our life. We listen avidly to other people’s stories, and we’re keen to tell our own. We unconsciously buy into the stories the advertising world pitches to us, and we daydream about stories we wish were true. We even go to war over differences in our stories.

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Begin Again

Friday 28 July, 2017

This entry is an example of what I alluded to in the previous post about using the words of others to remind me of what I easily forget. Listening to a Q&A with Sharon Salzberg, who has been teaching meditation for decades, all it took was two words – begin again – to jog my memory in a number of ways. The first related to her topic: meditation. She explained that when you notice your thoughts have taken away your attention, start over. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to do it, just begin again. And again, and again. Do that and you’re meditating.

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Distractions Of The Familiar

Wednesday 19 July, 2017

My training was tough at times. It was confrontational and challenging, and I left exhausted but forever different. For years afterwards I questioned the intensity of Karaj’s exacting approach, but in 2014 he and I met again and began a series of conversations about the whole adventure. Time and again we touched on the question of my progress compared to that of the others in the group, but we had so much to talk about that the question repeatedly got lost. Earlier this year he raised it again.

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Astonishingly Simple

Tuesday 11 July, 2017

Standing on my head, looking across the room at the empty wall, I wondered whether I might put a poster there, upside down, to remind me of a few simple things I forget to do on a daily basis. Simple but powerful practices which, when done regularly and in a focused way, can improve my life. A couple of days later I thought about it again and three things came to mind: smile, breathe, and let go. This post is about the astonishingly simple things which can transform our experience of ourselves and of life itself, and how important it is to practise them whenever we can because, when we need them most, they can be slippery and elusive.

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The Paradox Of No Choice

Friday 30 June, 2017

Having emphasised in the previous post the influence of choice on our lives – the unconscious nature of so many of our daily choices, and the need for awareness in order to make better ones – it can also be very helpful to have no choice at all. More specifically, it can be helpful to give yourself no choice. Having no option but to pursue a certain course of action means there is no internal dialogue; no time or energy wasted flipping between need and desire (‘I should but I don’t want to!’). You have to do it, so you get on with it.

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The Choice Is Always Yours

Thursday 22 June, 2017

Every action, every word, every thought is a choice we make and for which we are responsible. What we seldom realise is that we have always been choosing. We may have been conditioned by others to make certain choices – and to make them over and over again – but we always had the freedom to make different ones, no matter how limited that freedom may have seemed. We have been choosing for so long, and doing so thousands of times every day, that our choices have become automatic, passive, unconscious, habitual. Over time, familiar pathways gradually become deeper and deeper furrows, so even if we become aware of it, it can seem too difficult to find a way out.

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It Is What It Is

Thursday 15 June, 2017

In 2001, during my recovery from back surgery, the physiotherapist explained, ‘You will have good days and you will have bad days. On your good days, don’t overdo it!’ There is so much wisdom in that advice because, indeed, there are days when things work, and there are days when they don’t. Equally, just as it is important not to get too excited and carried away on the good days, it is also wise not to allow yourself to get too down on the difficult days.

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Infinity In A Box

Saturday 10 June, 2017

One common and understandable conclusion we draw in this work is that ‘If I work hard enough I will rid myself of the issues I have. One day, I will no longer feel anxious or angry, and I will stop wishing the world were different.’ I used to look forward to a time when all my problems would be solved. I used think I would wake up one day and be different because the painful parts would be gone and the struggle would be over. And I used to think that working on myself was the way to do that. It is, but it’s only half the story because self-development is a stepping stone to a greater awareness that we already possess what we desire.

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Better Than Yesterday

Wednesday 31 May, 2017

There are a few barriers to personal development, but there is nothing in the external world which can compare with the obstacles we place in our own way. It starts with our expectations: we expect too much. It’s not that our goals are unrealistic, it’s just that we seem to want everything too quickly (not to mention with as little effort as possible). This means that, because we are looking for fireworks, we miss the the incremental steps we make every day. Sometimes those changes are so small as to be indiscernible, and if that happens for too many days or weeks in a row, we tend to give up and, before we know it, the show is over.

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We Think We Know

Saturday 27 May, 2017

We think we know, but we don’t. We think we have a good idea of how life should be – our own life, other people’s lives, life in general – but we don’t. Given the magnitude of it all and the small scales we operate on, how can we possibly think we can see the biggest picture? From our narrow perspective it’s unfathomable, and with our arrogance of assuming we know we restrict ourselves and make life unnecessarily complicated.

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