Counting My Blessings.
Since writing my last post about my love and appreciation for the virtues of males of the species I was given some amazing examples that brought forward clearly reasons for me to continue to be thankful for and to men. I shamefully ran out of fuel on the A414 just as I was turning off towards Hemel Hempstead. If you know that stretch of road, there are 3 lanes of traffic on a bend that come to a set of lights…….I stopped at the lights and could see the petrol station I was aiming to reach and…….nothing doing, I was not moving. To make matters worse I was on the curve by the far side; cars coming onto the camber thick and fast, not a great place to be stranded. Nevertheless, I had a jerry can in the boot so off I went to get some fuel. Upon my return to the car, after a frantic search I realised that I didn’t have the pipe that screwed onto the can to decant the fuel from said can into the car – man oh man……..it was at this point that a young chap stopped behind my car and jumped out. He looked very worried by my predicament. He explained that he was concerned about the position of where I had stopped because it was dangerous and he wanted to get me moved to a safer place. I told him that I had collected fuel, but the funnel was amiss. He valiantly tried to fashion a funnel out of some cardboard, but unfortunately, my fuel receptor doesn’t have a removable cap but a permanent cover that is only dislodged by a sturdy object such as a fuel pump, so no joy there. He then told me that he would push the car down the hill to a little lay by where I could safely pull over and then get a pipe for the Gerry can or whatever I had to do. I was mortified at the thought of trying to cross 3 lanes of really fast moving traffic on a bend, and to the right of the lane that I had stopped at was another set of 3 lanes feeding into the road. However, he was determined for mine and my car’s safety so he said get in, and go, go, go!!!
Bless him, he ran clear across 3 lanes of traffic to get the car moving and then managed to jump in his car with hazards flashing behind me to secure my safe passage to the more sensible stopping point. Once we reached the area, he made sure I was alright and asked if I needed any money before he bid me adieu and went on his way. I went to 2 petrol stations both of which were distinctly short of Gerry cans let alone Gerry can pipes. So I had to make a very sheepish and embarrassed call to the RAC. Luckily, the operator was sympathetic to my plight as he (not sure if was saying it to make me feel better or not) had had a similar experience upon lending his Gerry can to a neighbour resulting in a missing funnel when he too needed to use the can (I mean what are the chances??) He was very responsive and had an Orange van out to me in literally 3 minutes; by the time I had walked back to the car from the second petrol station the patrol was just pulling up. This young man had another little effort on his hands as the pipe he had for his Gerry can did not fit my can…….so he had to transfer the fuel into his can before it could be poured into my car. (I have a new appreciation for the beauty of diesel; a very pretty rainbow coloured substance, I had never and will probably never see it again in this context, so what a hidden blessing was contained in this situation.) The technician continued to be very efficient and helpful, because those of you who have ever run out of fuel in a diesel engine know that it is not as simple as putting fuel into the car to get it started, you have to wind the engine of the trapped air bubbles. This took a little doing (obviously I had no intention of keeping things simple….) but again, my aide was most amenable and he carried his work out in a jiffy. I was so grateful for the seamless assistance I received effortlessly and in such timely synchronicity to the sentiment that I was carrying generally at the time (there is a whole lot to be said about that too!).
So gratitude……. We all have our stories, our script, our monologues of life, of why we are, what we are, how we are, when, where, why we can, can’t, should, shouldn’t, know, don’t know, care, don’t care, understand, don’t understand, see, don’t see, feel, don’t feel. (…….I am thinking you are knowing my meaning here?) It is a constant stream of endless information churning around and around in our minds at terrifying speeds convincing us that it is real when in fact these are ego thoughts that we have are created to protect and keep us safe from perceived danger by separating us from reality and from others; the way the mind and ego does this is by basing thoughts on 3 basic separating viewpoints – fear, doubt and judgement. When we perceive life from any or a combination of these perspectives it becomes impossible for us to see and maintain a positive outcome for any situation let alone truly act from that space. Dr Wayne Dyer great spiritual teacher and humanitarian said it eloquently “Realising that the ego is a traitor is what ultimately sets you free”.
There is a lot of talk about ‘Having an Attitude of Gratitude’ and ‘Counting Your Blessings’ but what does all of this actually mean, and how does one actively maintain such a perspective when we live in a world and societies so peppered with the need to constantly want, do and be more? - If you aint striving, you aint thriving kind of thing. As I see and understand it every single day of my life, there is ALWAYS a myriad nay plethora of things to be grateful and appreciative of, and the smaller more seemingly insignificant happenings are in many ways the most miraculous. Let’s face it, every time we open our eyes after a night of sleep (whether or not it was restful) is nothing short of all kinds of marvellous. An elegant balance and interplay of hormones and bodily functions of which we have no cognitive awareness carry out their delicate dance in order to support and coordinate this phenomenon. The extent to which our thinking mind processes and understands all our automatic bodily happenings sells short the everyday miracle of living. If we actively had to participate in the maintenance of the day to day workings of our bodies, how many of us would be able to complete the waking cycle, movement out of bed and so on? It is very clear to me that the time that I REALLY have love for my healthy body and all that it does is when illness befalls me. What a leveller that is. When everything that I usually don’t give a moments’ consideration to is brought squarely to the forefront of my attention because I just can’t do it the way that I expect to, now there is something undoubtedly worthy of constant gratitude.
How about the transitions we make in life that cause us to stop and take stock? My youngest daughter started secondary school this September; it has been a testing and tricky time for us all. I have been worried at how she has been adapting to the newness of her life at this time, new school, new routine, new set of rules, standards, expectations and all of that in amongst the newness of a body changing and developing at the speed of knots flushed with uncontrollable hormonal whims. She has had moments of overwhelm, excitement, trepidation and much uncertainty. There were minutes that I thought back to the old routine, and despite the sameness and monotony of it, it was easy for everyone concerned because we all knew what was what and what to expect. This allowed me to see the gratitude having had the ease of familiarity as well as now being able to celebrate the newness of the rites of passage and the growth, exploration and development that accompany them whilst knowing that every encounter is ultimately for her greatest good.
My family and I spent a considerable amount of time in South Africa when my children were very young. The decision to go there was not a long thought out and planned exercise, it was a knee jerk response to a very difficult situation I was going through at the time. We arrived to a completely unknown situation, country and culture with not much of a plan. Needless to say I learnt a lot during that time for which I will always be thankful, but one of the really clear lessons on gratitude that was hit home for me every day was just how much most of us have that we may rarely stop to consider. I am talking about the things that as human beings are essential to our survival, not the man made precepts of human necessity based on desirous ideals of importance. Food, clothes, clean water, a safe shelter the ability to educate our children and somewhere to go and be treated if we are sick and ailing. Daily I would see mothers rummaging in dustbins for scraps of food (imagine how hot it was, the food was most likely always rotting) to give to their children, children that were barely clothed or who were wearing clothes ragged from use. There are of course many connotations as to why poverty reaches these levels in many countries in the world and it is not my intention to consider or explore the whys and wherefores, but just to remind myself and speak to the re-membering of how much we have daily that may not be counted as much, but is surely is a huge deal to so many who have not.
I questioned a lot of things during my time in South Africa. I was tested to my limits in a lot of ways; I had to stop and really examine what I was doing and where my life was at. That is not easy especially so many miles away from everything that I knew and all the people that I had grown with and always imagined would always be there. During my time there, the 7/7 bombings happened. I remembered getting a text from my mum saying she was alright; I had no idea what she meant at the time the text reached me because we were out in town and there was no sense of what had happened. Slowly news images began to filter through and information was broadcast on the radio and the scale and ferociousness of what had happened started to hit home. All my friends were in London at the time, and a good many of them worked or had husbands who worked in the City. My wait to communicate with them one by one was complete agony; it was such a relief to know that no one close to me had been seriously affected by it. I spent a lot of time during those weeks and months in meditative reflection and ruminations on what my life was about and how I wanted it to develop. I dabbled with my mediation practice at that time and practiced yoga a lot because there was so much emotion that I couldn’t handle and I did not realise it at the time but it was constantly reinforcing unhealthy habits and ways of thinking and being that I would take with me for a very long time, but when you are in your late twenties and life is happening all around and to you, it is sometimes very difficult to see the wood for the trees.
If we don’t stop and allow ourselves the time for quiet contemplation, whether by taking a walk outside, undertaking some type of movement or having total stillness, how will it ever be possible to really reconnect with the authentic truth within? I ask this because after much discomfort and juggling the pain of disconnection to self I have decided to live my life in a particular way and without exception, I have consciously undertaken to dedicate a proportion of my day to rituals that support my connection to me and depending on your point of view, God, Spirit, Grace or the Universe. The reason I made this choice was to me the alternative was not a sustainable option. We all experience the trials and tribulations of life which whether we like it not leave lasting imprints on us; we ‘manage’ and ‘cope’ with these imprints by adopting patterns of behaviour and or habits that satiate their hold over us; we will watch a lot of TV, eat too much, drink, smoke, take drugs, use sex, exercise excessively – anything to supress, repress and dull the sense of discomfort. These habits and patterns of behaviour anesthetise us and usually suppress or divert our attention away from the effect of the imprints and we can thus function in day to day life, so we feel we are doing ok. For me, it was exhausting to keep on carrying around my stuff, to keep ‘pushing through’ the sense that something was not quite right even though on the surface I was doing everything that I was supposed to be doing. I had talk therapy, that was great, it made me feel better, but even though I understood and could intellectualise how and why I had put myself in certain situations because of experiences I had had in my past, I couldn’t quite distance the feelings that caused me to keep recreating them because they were familiar, so they kept reappearing in slightly different guises with subtly different protagonists, yet there they were. It was not until I started to work with my energetic history that really things started to change for me.
Yoga was a really big part of the initial shift that got my life moving with total freedom. Being able to move and breathe into parts of my body that gave me feedback and told really clear and vivid stories about how I had reacted to and held onto deep feelings that I could not even verbalise or visualise made me feel so different. During and after practice I knew the power of moving in this ancient way, so very different from feeling good after a ‘workout’ or ‘training’. Meditation also supported my ability to feel and cope better with the day to day, to be able to get ‘out of my head’ and distance myself from the constant jibber jabber that I recognised as being real, but only in being able to move away from the constant stream of thoughts was I able to get some space which allowed me not to worry or stress so much. Reiki for me was such an unexpected advantageous move away from haunting ways of living, being and doing that I my embrace of it was so tender and constant because I understood how it healed me and thus projected me forward and out of the barrenness of servitude to my old and painful past. One of the special things for me about Reiki particularly is how passive the ‘act’ of relaxation and healing is. There is no requirement to do, just to be. Being able to lie or sit and receive deep relaxation and healing with no activity on my part had very deep benefits for me at all the significant points of my contact and development with Reiki, and it continues to nourish me in this way for which I am and will continue to be eternally grateful. Then there comes the Breath. For me the Breath is the Crown Jewel in my trinket box of treasures because in my personal experience, and that that I have witnessed in others, it gets right to the core and moves things in no uncertain - terms for good. It has a tangible intangible way to make me feel so unaffected by things that used to tie me up in knots for days and keep coming back to plague and preoccupy me. Also as a person who suffered from panic attacks and anxiety my breathing showed up really strongly with messages that I needed to change the way I was living because I was not right; not being able to get enough breath in, the quiet incessant fear of everything felt physically even though I could intellectually separate, my body was giving me an entirely different messages and the huge anvil that inhabited my chest – being able to move on and away from that – total emancipation.
One of the unexpected side effects of taking control of my emotional and energetic fate was the gift of appreciation, of understanding a wholly different dimension to life, a space in which my gratitude could flourish. I had always been able to look at life, my experiences and fortunate aspects of my existence and be pleased and feel happy for the life I had, and gratitude was something that I understood and felt, but my deeper connection was expanded in being able to reconnect within and reduce the influence of my thinking mind more and more. This reconnect reinforced a more profound access to the hidden knowing of the miracle of all things that I experienced all day every day; I woke up, I got out of bed, I had a flushing toilet and clean water to wash and bathe in the morning, there was always food in cupboard for breakfast – the lists were and continue to be endless. This was a beautiful human expression of my spiritual existence, that I at times forget when I get caught up in my humanity of wanting to be, have and do more.
I like nice things, and I have gaols and aspirations of the types of experiences that I would like to share with my girls, friends and family and what I would like to see and do in my lifetime. There are also some things that I would like to possess, not just for the sake of possessing them, but because if I am going to have a laptop to support my work, I would like it to be my favourite lightweight HP one. Does that make me a bad person for wanting these experiences and things? No it does not. Does it make me wrong for striving and wanting to extend my life possibilities, experiences and chances? No it does not. Whilst I work toward the achievement, expansion and extension of myself, it would be rather short-sighted of me to neglect to look around me and what I ALREADY have. To understand, know and be thankful for the breadth of support and experience that I already achieve on a daily, weekly, intermittent, occasional and constant basis is for me where I have learned for it to be at. When I get clear on how amazing, wonderful and timely the events of my life are, when I learn to get real and see the blessin’ in the things that leave me stressin’ and get away from the falsified chatter that tries to inhabit my head gratitude becomes second nature, it becomes a state of being that continually reinforces and reiterates itself in my mind and in my life; another one from beloved Dr Dyer “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.