5 reasons to love December 2012

30/11/2012 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Solstice 2012“What is all this about December 2012?” asked a meditation student. “I’ve been hearing some scary stories about the 21st, the Solstice. Should we be worried? Should I be preparing in any way?”

“What kind of scary stories?” I asked, though I had a pretty good idea.

“Oh, that there’s going to be some kind of natural disaster. You know, the world coming to an end; the Apocalypse…I’ve been reading about it.”

“Okay,” I said. “I’m going to give you some good reasons why we should love December  2012.” And here they are…

1) December 21st 2012 is the shortest day of the year, and also the date when a long cycle in an ancient South American calendar system, known as the Mayan Calendar, comes to an end. It has been suggested that this date will bring calamity. But calendars don’t create or predict events. They simply mark the days. And in any case, a new Mayan cycle starts on December 22nd.

Borders are always significant, and this border between two vast periods of time creates a pause. Within that pause there is an opportunity for old, outmoded ways of thinking to vanish, and a new, more humane outlook to flourish. This can be good for all of us.

2) Alarmist predictions about this month can actually teach us how to tell the difference between our ungrounded fears – in this case, a fear of the unknown – and our intuition. Intuition literally means ‘in-tuition’ and it is a form of teaching. We all know that good teachers care for their students and help them to achieve their best. So true guidance, whether it’s within you, or from someone in the wider world, is reassuring and uplifting – always. Trust your guidance.

3) A date can have powerful symbolic meaning, and this can be used in good and helpful ways. So, for example, December 21st 2012 is acting as a powerful focus for the ever-growing holistic movement. This movement can be summed up as this: the realization that we are all one. Humanity is one, magnificent, glorious being who is just beginning to learn that the only person we’ve been fighting all this time is ourselves – and that when we are kind to others, we are kind to ourselves.

4) This month may truly turn out to be an Apocalypse, in a positive way.  The word ‘apocalypse’ comes from ancient Greek, and originally meant ‘uncover, reveal’. It developed an additional meaning of ‘insight’ or ‘vision’. So perhaps we are living through an apocalypse; perhaps it has already started. But this is a good thing. Over the past 12 months we’ve had covert wrong-doings exposed in people who run countries, businesses, banks and charities.  We are living in a more transparent time, and that is to be welcomed. We are also, finally, accepting our intuitive and visionary abilities, having learnt in the last century that science and logic can lead to inhumane actions on a planetary scale.  We need our insight. We need our vision.

5) Each of us can use the potential energy of this time in excellent ways. You can focus during the whole of December, and especially around the time of the Winter Solstice on the 21st, on love and peace, feeling it in your own heart, towards yourself, your family, your community, your country, and this whole beautiful planet. While you do this, you will know that countless other people are doing the same, all over the world. What we think and feel does manifest in the outer world – and the positive energy we can generate together is beautiful. Be loving to yourself, and loving to the world.

That is the real meaning of this amazing time that we are living in.

PS For your free copy of my Happiness Meditation mp3, just click here. 

The good nurturing guide

09/03/2012 at 6:48 pm | Posted in Happiness, Healing, Parenting, Wellbeing | 9 Comments
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The author and youngest child, in baby-wearing days.

‘Nurturing’ is a very ancient word, and we all know what it means… don’t we? It’s about being loving, caring, helping young ones to grow and develop. But remove centuries of common usage, and we get a much simpler concept. This is it.

‘Nurture’, ‘nutrient’, ‘nourish’ and ‘nurse’ all come from the same ancient Proto-Indo-European root: ‘nu’, or ‘snu’. That root means, quite simply, ‘to flow, to let flow, to suckle’. The Sanskrit word is very similar: ‘snauti’ means ‘she drips, gives milk’. The ancient Greek is ‘nao’, meaning: ‘I flow’.

So to nurture means, literally, the act of giving milk to an infant. That is it – nothing else.

Why does this matter?

When you give milk to an infant, you give the milk, and that is it. True, you also look after the infant – the love and practical care you give them is extraordinarily important, and makes the difference between thriving and just surviving.  It is right that we include that sense of loving care within our modern definition of nurturing.

But the actual act of giving milk – the ‘nu’ or nourishment – is one of letting go. The milk is an unconditional gift. You don’t expect the infant to do anything in particular with it. You anticipate that they will grow. But the way they do this is not in your control. Their own particular combination of genes and psyche will blend with environment to create a unique human being.

Nowadays, arguably too often, the concept of nurturing includes a sense of sculpting and shaping the young individual so that they grow up to be a properly socialised human. Parents feel a sense of responsibility to get this right. Well-meaning manuals and playground conversations collude to create the pressured sense that parents have an awfully big role which we are highly likely, regularly, to get wrong. As the English poet Philip Larkin put it so memorably in This Be the Verse: “They fuck you up, your mum and dad/ They may not mean to, but they do/They fill you with the faults they had/And add some extra just for you.”

These past weeks I’ve been working on the theme of nurturing with students and clients in my meditation studio. The pickle humans collectively get ourselves into over this word has become obvious to me. I have found two basic sub-themes.

One is a sense of not having being nurtured – emotionally and perhaps also nutritionally – as a child.

The other is a well-meaning and futile impulse to shape and sculpt young people who are way past the infant stage.

If we take ‘nurturing’ back to its original meaning, of giving milk – or sustenance, if you will – to an infant, then these two themes of profound human disappointment take on a different colour.

When we understand that the sustenance we received – flawed though it may have been – was an unconditional gift, then we realise that our own growth and flowering is ultimately up to ourselves and the laws of nature. We may choose to care for those aspects of ourselves that have been frozen in childhood patterns of trauma, want or need, and bring them to a more enlightened and happier adult reality.

When we understand that other adults do not need to be nurtured by us, it lifts the most enormous burden from our shoulders. Instead of trying to fix or rescue others, we give them the respect of one grown-up for another. And frequently we find that they do flower as a result of that respect.

Nurturing is a simple act that happens in the present moment, and then is gone. Once we have given it, we no longer own it.

Isn’t that a relatively carefree feeling?

Three Happy Moments Game

23/11/2011 at 8:17 pm | Posted in Happiness, Parenting, Uncategorized, Wellbeing | 1 Comment
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The unexpected fragrance of a flower as you pass by.

This is a great game to share with a child, partner or friend at the end of the day. And it’s guaranteed to make the toughest days seem better…

Simply take it in turns to share a first happy moment that happened during the day; then a second; then a third. Choose anything that comes to mind; they don’t have to follow chronological order. Here are some examples:

* seeing a tree with brightly coloured leaves, with the sun shining through them

* a letter containing good news

* thoughtful praise from a colleague

* sharing a laugh with a friend

* seeing your child’s face light up when you picked them up from school

* a blissful half-hour of meditation

* the unexpected fragrance of flowers as you walked by.

* a healthy work-out at the gym, or a yoga practice.

Over time, you get a very clear idea of the things that make you and your loved ones happy. And the more you focus on those, the more often those happy things happen. This is a win-win game.

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