Sow Before Bedtime

Sow before bedtime

“Ah, the seeds of dreams!” I thought to myself as I laid there in the bed, exhausted. I had spent the night wandering through a distressing dreamscape disturbed by nightmares. Now, I was wondering why the unconscious mind seemed to fixate on so many negative imaginations – its creative genius perverted to divert me from a good night’s sleep.

There was some comfort in tracing the seeds of those dreams back to the activities that had planted them that day. As I get older, hairs grow inside my ears – a ridiculous if somewhat bemusing state of affairs. I can perceive no purpose for them there. Penelope has a passion for removing them, so she had spent a happy ten minutes deforesting my own miniature Eden project biomes! This seed became a dream about going deaf – very unpleasant, but I could see the link. The other nightmare was about my studio burning down – guilt, I think, because I hadn’t checked on it when I was down in the town that day. Clearly, I sowed the seeds. My unconscious was the gardener. And emotion played her or his part in the direction of growth.

I don’t like nights like that. So I revisited an age old question: can we direct our destiny? Even if this is only partially true, it offers hope. Here, I had the ‘evidence’ that my own activities, emotions and thoughts had played their part in the drama that had developed.

So before bedtime: sow before bedtime. I will deliberately seek a happy emotion to be my resting state before sleep (and, believe me, I know how hard that will be at times – but I will ‘seek’ it.) I will load some wholesome thoughts that I purposefully choose – perhaps through reading some poetry or inspirational quotes. And I shall act as Director even if I cannot play the full role as Producer. I shall be very direct with my inner Producer and suggest that he should create a pleasant masterpiece in the Theatre of the Night!

Dream on!

Words, Will and Ways

Professor Sue Black, the forensic anthropologist, was the guest on “The Life Scientific” (Radio 4) this week. Aside from her excellent taste in music, what she shared was fascinating. She had grown up in a remote Scottish village where her Grandmother had sown seeds of possibility deep in her psyche. Granny had consistently called Sue her, “Varsity Girl” – instilling the idea of going to University.

At school, Sue spent some time gaining experience as a laboratory assistant and had enthusiastically declared to her biology teacher that this was what she wanted to do with her life. Her teacher was a refined man and so shocked her into a change of vision by uncharacteristically swearing at her – saying that she shouldn’t be so (expletive) stupid – she was going to go to University! He recognised her talent, and shoved her firmly in the right direction!

Two influential members of the cast of Sue’s life drama had said the right ‘magic’ words at the right time, nudging the course of her development in the right direction for her. Positive words have power.

Of course, in her heart, Sue agreed with this direction – she was in alignment with it. In fact, she had a very unhappy time at one school and used her will-power to knuckle down to study so that she could qualify for a more appropriate academy. As another demonstration of her will-power, later, she withheld some of the truth about her University funding so that her parents wouldn’t bear the financial burden of seeing her through college. She worked her way through herself. Clearly, Sue is a ‘driven’ personality.

But what touched me most was how she dealt with grief. Her Grandmother smoked over 40 per day and eventually paid the price. As she lay there dying, she told Sue not to worry because she wasn’t “going away”. She said that any time Sue needed her, she’d be at her shoulder to watch over her and guide her. Sue shared on the programme that although she had Christian values, she was not religious and had never had a spooky experience – but that this thought had comforted her throughout life and had influenced her behaviours.

Grief is a difficult subject, but one that should not be avoided. I finished listening to the programme wondering how I might be the messenger of good words into the lives of others – sowing the seeds of possibility. How might I nudge them forward towards bolder choices in life when I could see potential that they hadn’t fully recognised? And I considered how I might be a comfort to my loved ones as Grandmother’s wisdom had sustained Sue years after her passing. It was a moving experience that has empowered resolve in my life to be a more positive influence on those around me.

[After reviewing this, I wondered if there was value in a new definition of “Teacher” – “one who sees potential in others that they have not fully recognised or realised in themselves”?]

Planting Trees

Planting Trees

The wise teacher asks, “When is the best time to plant a tree?”

I can let you into a secret: the answer they are seeking is, “20 years ago!”

So, when is the second best time to plant a tree? Of course we could say, “19 years ago…” and so on, but the answer I am holding onto today is… “Today!”

Having seen the Dalai Lama recently, several important matters became far clearer to me. One was that “Happiness” is definitely an inside job. Happiness has surprisingly little to do with external materialism. The undoubted value of material wealth is nevertheless eclipsed by: enriching relationships, being in the now, learning, growing, appreciating, giving, and creating a sense of purpose and direction. If I win the lottery this week, I shall be joyful, but that material wealth will only serve to fuel the other elements I’ve listed. Poverty, of course, can severely impact relationships, our ability to learn and grow, and can even sometimes make us reluctant to give. But money clearly isn’t the answer it’s been made out to be. It is not of prime importance.

A second important matter was that emotional change takes time. Becoming resilient takes time and experience and review and reflection. Resilience, like a tree, needs nourishment and nurturing. And so does learning to be happy.

I’d thought of planting financial trees that would help me in my later years, but I hadn’t thought of planting the seeds of becoming more happy, more resilient, more at peace. I certainly hadn’t considered that these trees might take 20 years to come to maturity. Of course, many trees can bear fruit within a few years – so I might be surprised by joy earlier than expected! However, the important lessons for me were that happiness really is up to me, and I need to be planting the seeds for the harvest I want now. With nourishment, those seeds can then grow and bear fruit year after year after year.

What trees would you like to plant? If money isn’t the answer we’d been promised, are we focusing on it too much? Is there a better use of our time?

Ten Good Friends

Ten Good Friends

I am active – feeling full of energy

I am enthusiastic – showing eagerness

I am alert – being quick to notice and act

I am interested – wanting to be involved in something

I am attentive – paying close attention

I am inspired – feeling the desire to do something

I am excited – looking forward to things

I am determined – being resolute, showing determination

I am strong – feeling able to cope with difficulties

I am proud – feeling a real sense of achievement today.

Saying these out loud simply feels good.

I am sure we all recognise these ten good friends. If you are a fan of practical psychological tips, you’re likely to have come across several experiments where hearing positive words and phrases has improved the listeners’ mood and state. When surrounded by positive words, there is a tendency for humans to behave more tolerantly and to be more generous.

I’ve been told, “Be careful what you wish for!” But far more fundamental is, “Be careful what you think about!” What we think about has a habit of expanding until it consumes our attention… and everything we think about has an emotional charge associated with it. Our ten good friends have a positive charge, and they work well together. They are worth thinking about often.

So I got thinking to myself, “What would have to happen for all ten good friends to join me today?” It will be different for all of us, but it’s a fun exercise which I am recommending to you.

To feel full of energy, I certainly would have to have had a good night’s sleep – one undisturbed by bad dreams or too many loo breaks! A good shower and an excellent coffee would allow my child-like curiosity and enthusiasm permission to emerge. I’d also be naturally alert – especially in the morning – my best time. So, assuming I wasn’t aware of anything boring or horrible in the day ahead, I’d be off to a great start with at least three good friends. And knowing how positive friends, like birds of a feather, are likely to flock together, I’m sure the other magnificent seven would check-in somewhen during the day!

I wonder what would jump-start your day in a positive way?

Would you share?

 

The Three Gifts

The Three Gifts

I address you today as if you were the richest person in the whole wide World.

I share with you today as if you are the luckiest person in the Universe.

I stand in awe of you today because of the phenomenal power you shall possess.

I believe you are the richest person I know because you have 168 hours to spend every week. No one can take that away from you. Oh, of course, you can trade it to spend on others but it is always yours – and always will be.

You are the luckiest person in the Universe because you have the gift of consciousness. You have self-awareness. You have self-identity. You have self-knowledge.

And the power you have that I stand in awe of is the phenomenal power of choice. With it you can change your future.

 

You can choose how to use the gift of consciousness today in the abundant time you have that no one can take from you.

What will you do with these three gifts?

Life to the Max

Life to the Max?

[Audio version: Life to the Max]

I’ve got a little friend called, “Max.” Max is my neighbour’s dog. He looks like “Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy” if you’ve ever seen the Lynley Dodd books (or care to Google the image).

Max is an enthusiast. Nothing is held back. I have known him try to draw me through the garden fence by the power of his nose suction alone. This little black, wet nozzle of a snozzle finds a tiny gap under the fence and inhales as if his life depends upon it… His wagging tail causes a small tremor that can be felt through the ground… he is truly inspirational!

I think it would be fair to create a verb in Max’s honour: to be Maxed. To be Maxed means to be enthusiastically ‘assaulted’ by an energetic bundle of hairy love!

I’m pretty sure Max’s love is unconditional, or perhaps indiscriminate. It still feels nice – if you’re not wearing your posh togs.

Walking to the shop the other day, I saw Max in the distance, and thought to myself, “Today, I do not wish to be ‘Maxed’!” I wondered how I could politely avoid being pounced upon without offending him or his owner. My concerns were unnecessary. Max was ‘elsewhere’. He had found some fascinating scent along the bottom of another fence and was busy pursuing this trail. Nose down, he was blissfully unaware of anything else.

Max had found joy and freedom through single-minded focus. One thought, one purpose, one pursuit. I don’t think he has many worries, but if he did, he wouldn’t have been troubled at this time. His mind was absorbed.

Could you find joy and freedom in single-minded focus today? Could you make a promise to your brain that you’ll come back to the other stuff it’s fretting about later but in the meantime just focus enthusiastically on something lovely and absorbing?

Live life to the Max.

 

The Gentle Moon and the Pull of 90 Minutes

Part One

Here is my L’exercise regime per annum…

1 Joined a Gym in January;

2 Fought the Flab in February;

3 Managed more Mindfulness in March;

4 Attitude Adjustment in April;

5 More Mindfulness in May as My Memory… erm;

6 Jogged dutifully in June;

7 Jumped Joyously all July;

8 Added Additional Attitudinal Adjustments in August… from the Beach;

9 Sought Solace in Sacred Silence in September;

10 Ought to do more in October, but didn’t;

11 Not much in November neither;

12 Decided in December to do more again… in January!


I go through “Cycles of Good Intent” – and the cycles continue because I inevitably run out of enthusiasm… or time!
No deep message today save that of, “be gentle with yourself” and “honour the Seasons of Your Soul.”

You see, your body is one amazing set of clocks and cycles.

You work in cycles: daily, monthly and even down to major changes every 90 minutes.
Sometimes we attach our commitment to the wrong cycle.
For example, we might set a goal for the year ahead whereas we would be kinder and more sensible to think a month ahead.
This is the kindness of the Gentle Moon in contrast with the righteous intensity of the Sun.

Even the Sun has Seasons in the Temperate Climates – 90 days is enough to make a change.
So set a goal for Spring;
Another for Summer… it is here!
Like a Fashion House, work on your Autumn/Fall Collection;
And remember Winter has it’s unique charms.

Part Two

If you have s-t-r-e-t—c——-h———-e—————d too far, come back a bit and think,
“Is this a goal for a Season? No? How about a Month? No? How about the Week Ahead? No? How about Just For Today?”

And sometimes, just sometimes, the gravitational pull of the next 90 minutes is quite enough to cope with.

Loving thoughts from Lex!