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Transform Your World

I was always waiting for things to get better, knew that something great was just around the corner. Fulfilment, though, has always been just out of reach, seemingly a privilege only others are entitled to. I yearned for it, but didn’t know in which direction to go to find it. Then, when I saw a quote, I suddenly realised what needed to be done:

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you. You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you”. James Allen

It was clear to me – I must seize control of my mind, to pilot it towards fulfilment.

I sought out psychotherapy, enlisted a psychologist, bought self-help books, spent hours challenging my fundamental beliefs. It soon became apparent that nothing external needed to change. I had to change my mind. And that meant truly seeing what was around me, not what I expected to see. It meant ripping myself away from being controlled by my “autopilot”, which runs on an internal model stored in your mind, built from your interpretation of life. It works relentlessly on solving perceived problems, often focussing solely on them at the expense of awareness. Although it does have its uses, there is a time and a place for it. Left unchecked, it can automatically try to solve life, which is a futile and consuming exercise. I’ll give you an example of “autopilot” in action: Have you ever made a journey somewhere and upon arrival, thought, “How did I get here?” You may as well have been asleep, as you had no conscious involvement. Meanwhile, the “autopilot” was busy solving the problem at hand – how to get to your destination.

I needed to wake up to what was happening around me – LIFE!! I had been searching all around for fulfilment in life, when instead I should have been taking fulfilment for being in life, and appreciating the potential fulfilment already within me. I worked out that all you need is a slight shift in perspective to transform your world into a thing of wonder; a shift in your focus from what you don’t have, to what you do have. It’s truly liberating when you realise that although you can’t control this volatile substance we call life, you can control your reaction to it, and so reclaim the purpose to your existence.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. Marcel Proust

Lately, I have spent more time in my head, than in this wondrous world around me. I developed a meditation to help re-establish my connection with reality, and appreciate who I am within it. I am sharing this meditation in the hope that it may help someone. If you want to give it a go, please spend as much or as little time on any part of it as you see fit. It is specific to my personal problems, so may not be completely relevant for you. It usually takes me around 15 minutes.

  •  Sit on a firm seat, with your eyes closed and in a dignified position.
  •  Don’t try to change anything – you and all your faults have done amazing things to get you this far. Be proud to be you.
  •  Listen to what propaganda is playing in your mind. Acknowledge it with endearing amusement, as if it were a child that doesn’t know any better. Realise that your mind is just constantly generating ideas based on it’s experiences; whether you choose to pay attention to them is entirely up to you.
  • Ground yourself in this moment. Feel any sensations in your body – notice the contact with whatever is supporting you, your clothes/any wind against your skin, any aches and pains, smells etc. Come home to the body. If your mind wanders, gently escort your attention back to the here and now.
  • Appreciate that this moment will never happen again, and that every time you do this meditation, it is closer to the end of this “extended holiday*”. Don’t be annoyed about any distractions; instead, embrace them for helping make part of your moment. Apply this to life – after all, it is nothing more than a moment in existence.
  •  Now focus on your breathing, on your abdomen changing on the in and out breaths, any pauses between these.
  • Feel the life around you. Breath it in as pure bright energy. Synchronise it with your breathing like waves in an ocean. On every in breath, imagine the life flowing to each part of your body, leaving it glowing with energy, feeling any sensations intensely as if for the first time. Feel it revitalising and regenerating everywhere it goes. It should eventually fill every fibre of your being. At this point remind yourself – you ARE life!
  •  Alternate between thinking of past / future achievements:

Think of an achievement, one which made / will make, you feel proud of yourself. Go back/ forwards to that moment. Imagine you’re there, feeling all the sensations, within and without. Especially focus on the emotions.

  • Keep that emotion in the forefront of your mind. Now, on every in breath, repeat “I love myself”. Feel the contentment and security, knowing that you will always be truly loved on a level that transcends reality. Remind yourself that you’ll always be looked after by someone who has achieved amazing things; who knows everything there is to know about you. That you will never be alone if you just listen to your “higher self” / soul calling out his help.

*When I went on a holiday to Tenerife, I was so much more motivated and enjoyed what was around me, much more than usual. I thought how much I’d dearly love to replicate whatever had so much of a positive effect on me, so asked myself, “Why was this?” It was because I was seeing this place for the first time, so my “autopilot” wasn’t engaged. Plus, I was acutely conscious that I was only there for a limited time so had to make the most of it. By looking at my normal life back home as just a longer version of my time in Tenerife, an “extended holiday” in England, I gain a much-needed shift in perspective.

Trip Up in the Sun

This year has been emotionally gruelling for me. From within a situation, you can become overwhelmed, not knowing which way to turn. I needed to take a step back and reassess my priorities. So, I booked a flight to Tenerife. I cast my mind back to my wish to go travelling so decided to see this as a test run. I deliberately didn’t make plans, no itinerary, no expectations. Was I going to find myself? Lose myself? Only time would tell…

I was waiting for the taxi early Monday morning, around 2 AM I think. I was “bricking” it. I have never been out of the country on my own, much less in an electric wheelchair, which is in itself, quite restrictive already. I’d not slept for some time, so the stress was already starting to take its toll. I only became more nervous when I saw Stansted airport looming. To say I was daunted would be the mother of all understatements. It reminded me of venturing into the corporate world when I had only been a factory worker. I asked myself am I biting off more than I can chew? When I had checked in and was waiting to board the plane, a helpful member of staff came over and informed me that it was unlikely I’d be able to transport my cumbersome electric wheelchair, being that it doesn’t fold down. Brilliant, my test run had potentially crashed before it had even taken off. He explained that he’d see what he could do, so I boarded the plane hoping that my wheelchair would be waiting for me in Tenerife.

When the plane landed four hours later, I got off the plane and my wheelchair was indeed waiting for me. Happy days! I pointed at it to the Spanish staff member who didn’t understand much English. He understood enough, though, to inform me that it wasn’t mine. I had quite a compelling argument as to why it WAS, but he couldn’t understand it. I sat in the wheelchair and firmly refused to budge while he had a debate with his colleagues. I’m not sure what the outcome was, but I managed to “steal” it and get out of the airport, and waited for a bus. For some unknown reason, I’d decided to stay in Santa Cruz at the other side of the island. The right bus came but wasn’t equipped to take my wheelchair. I waited for the next bus and had the same problem. And the next, and the next. I decided to call the local bus station and enquire. They explained that there are only two accessible buses for this long journey, that I’ve missed the first and the next is in a couple of hours. Looking at the hundreds of people going about their adventures freely, and me not even being able to get out of this airport, I was feeling lower than low. Couple that with the tiredness and stress, and I was a mess. When the accessible bus finally came, the driver had to drop everything, holding everyone up, to operate a complicated lift system. He got me onto the bus and strapped me in like a useless piece of meat. This wasn’t what I’d envisaged his trip to be like at all! I got to the hotel after having a meltdown and feeling about as upset as you could possibly be. I was cheered up immediately when I got there and got a much-needed early night.

I did a bit of research and found out about a local beach which had been made accessible. I took a bus (all of the inter-urban buses are accessible) and went to the nearby beach. It was lovely and I sunbathed for most of the day. I got chatting to some people who are employed simply to help the disabled visitors. They explained how they can take me out into the sea. I expessed how I would very much like this and they dumped me in the sea and left. THIS was more what I had in mind!

I went back to Santa Cruz in high spirits and sat “people watching” outside with some rum. I then went back to the hotel, did some more research and made some enquiries. The rest of the holiday became a bit of a blur. I know that I went to see the new Star Wars movie a day before UK release.

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I also went on a tour of Teide National Park. I was able to take some great photos.

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The tour guide said, “Hey, I’ve got a gift for you.” He handed me a piece of obsidian. I don’t know if this is merely coincidence, but from here the holiday became amazing and I managed to make some tough personal decisions. Since looking at the symbolism of obsidian, it is told to remove negativity and help cut attachment cords. This great day was rounded off when I went to take a closer look at the National Auditorium. I thought wouldn’t it be cool if I could see an orchestra play here?
I went in to see if there were any tickets available for anything during the duration of my stay. The girl behind the desk explained that there was only the gospel choir playing within the date range I’d given her. Then added, “The Symphony Orchestra are playing tonight…” Amazing! And they were just that.

I got a reply back from one of the enquiries that I’d made; I’d explained my mobility issues to a company who specialise in paragliding from Teide. They told me it would be entirely possible. I arranged to be picked up from my hotel, armed only with a walking frame. The lead up to this experience yielded this beautiful picture:

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Here is me doing the jump:

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Feeling a sense of elation, I went back to Santa Cruz and found out just how generous this Spanish are with their glasses of rum. I woke up the next day regretting having made this discovery. With the state that I was in, I resigned to just get a replacement case for my sunglasses and go back to the hotel to feel sorry for myself. As I was rolling up the street, I thought I’d heard English sounds emanating from a couple up ahead. Having only spoken to Spanish folk in the manner that you would talk to a baby, I was missing exercising my vocabulary. I stalked them for some time until they sat down by the side of the road, on a shop window ledge. I approached them and we got chatting. They were a couple, Taciana from Argentina, Joe from New Zealand. They explained how they had just travelled across Europe, paid for only by music. They fascinated me, living a life I had dreamed of.

They were currently busking to raise money for a guitar for Joe, which he normally played while Taciana (or Tash) sang. They had a speaker and microphone but the adapter for these broke, so Joe went in search of a replacement. They said I was welcome to stay and watch Taciana sing a cappella while he was gone. I did this.

She sang a Spanish song, and it was beautiful. I could hear her passion for life in her voice. I can hardly comprehend someone going to such lengths, simply to enjoy this world. I then got thinking about how I am only where I am, because people have helped me. It’s time to give back. I approached Tash and told her that I would buy them the guitar. When she’d finished telling me that I didn’t have to do that, she was over the moon and couldn’t wait for Joe to get back. She excitedly managed to give him the good news and he disappeared yet again, this time to procure a guitar. Upon his return, wearing a smile like the Cheshire Cat, we set off so that they could buy me some drinks to say thank you. Joe’s smile didn’t fade, apart from when he started beat boxing and playing his guitar while walking; he had so much music pent up in him. They are my kind of people; we had the best conversation about life. They played me a few songs, some of which Joe had written himself, one which he dedicated to me as it resonated with me. It was called I’m Not Stuck in the System; I’m sure most reading this know that I indeed should be, should have been written off with no hope of life. Of THIS! We went back to the spot where we had met, and they sang with their new guitar, to raise enough money so they could buy me dinner. I loved watching passers-by taking joy from these two, a woman even grabbing the guitar and singing a song! We had dinner and agreed to meet the next day.

When I met them the next day, they were with Bart, a nice Polish chap who was travelling in the same manner. I saw the Law of Attraction at work, as these sort of positive people seem to group together. We all went for a drink and everybody passed the guitar around and laughed (apart from me, I just laughed).

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bart

Then the “guitar grabber” walked past and did her thing. She grabbed and sang. She is filled with an immeasurable energy and love, which is highly infectious.

mariaa

She said that she was having a party in the mountains tomorrow, and that we should all come! I said that I would get us all a taxi up there, but the next day she was to turn up at my hotel having procured the use of her friend’s minibus. I went off to the mountains.

That night I saw a side of life I have not yet had the privilege of knowing. It was a group of people, many of whom had never met, whose only motives were to make sure that everybody had as good a time as they did. It was like I had known them for many years, and it was an honour to be accepted in this way. I stayed up till 5 AM, drinking and singing and laughing, enjoying more happiness than I have done in a long, long time. They next day, I was sat on the porch, overlooking spectacular views while the fiesta continued (minus the drinking!) Joe started playing with some beats he’d made from scratch with an app on his phone, which was connected to a speaker. I got excited and asked him to play my song, which I promptly recorded. I can’t believe that this music sprang out of nowhere without warning, most of it being improvised “on-the-fly”. This sort of thing has been happening constantly, but I was too busy enjoying it to be recording. Caution, the following video contains some naughty words (the picture is the amazing view I was looking at):

P.S The guitar get’s amazing!!

My only regret is that I didn’t re-book my flight and stay for longer. I have taken a lot from this holiday. One of the main things I noticed was my differing reaction to the two amazing events of the previous day. I have been recording the summary of the days events using a dictaphone. When describing the epic paragliding experience, I was quite calm and reserved. However, when I was describing the invitation to the party, it started, “OH! MY! GOD!” So, it appears that I get much more fulfilment from amazing people than I do amazing experiences; that amazing people to me are amazing experiences! The other main thing I took from this holiday is a note I wrote to myself, to be repeated to me every day:

Look at the things people overcome to experience this beautiful world. They mainly contend with money, you don’t have to. Instead, you have mobility problems. Swings and roundabouts. You owe it to yourself to not waste this opportunity.


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This has to be my favourite picture from Tenerife – some of my new amigos

This trip lifted my spirits beyond belief and reinforced that there are endless possibilities if you can only dream them.

What is love

 

I was recently asked, “What is love?” I realised then, that I do not know the answer, only that I believe true love should lead to happiness. After thinking about this for some time, I have concluded that this should never be asked in a relationship unless there is something missing. Love is like ageing, it happens to everyone, and is not something you would try to analyse unless you are concerned with what is missing. But what does the “full package” look like?

My ideal is best illustrated by the lyrics of a song by Howard Jones:

Love is letting each other be who we are without fear of censure. Love is not wanting the other to become a clone of ourselves. ‘Other’ offers resistance, pushing us to find what is self. Love is actively embracing our equality and pushing each other to realise our full potential and make our full contribution to the world. Love is facing forward, both fighting for a common goal – both strong, both independent and positively choosing a knowing dependence. Love is always leaving the door unlocked and continuing that love when ‘other’ may choose to use the exit. Love is letting go and wishing well. Love is aching joy. Love is the safe haven. Love is arriving home.

I think Aristotle was onto something too when he said, “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”

I have a confession to make. I went to see the Trolls movie at the cinema. It’s funny how kids’ movies often have deep and meaningful messages. The movie finished by explaining that you can’t ingest happiness, it is already within you. To ingest something, you take in something external. If love is happiness, should I be searching for it within myself? After all, nobody else has been with me more, through all the good times, the bad times, knows all my hopes and dreams, and has the power to completely change every aspect of my life. So, is love where you combine your happiness with someone else’s, to create an elevated state of happiness? Or does love help you to find your happiness within? Or both?

I would LOVE to hear people’s opinions.

Believe in Love Birds

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Love Birds by Nick Verron (click on image to see it hi-res on my Flickr page)

So, it’s Valentine’s Day on Sunday. We all know how amazing a thing love is. I’m sure a million people will be reiterating exactly why, so I will not waste your time. All I will say on the subject is:

It’s such an amazing thing when two free and independent souls happen to cross paths; when these two unique individuals inexplicably combine to create something beautiful. If you are lucky enough to currently be experiencing this wondrous phenomenon, treasure it. If you are single, don’t feel sad this Sunday. Instead, look forward to  soon meeting the love of your life! No matter what the causes of you being alone this Valentine’s Day, listen to the following song and hopefully like me, you will smile:

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